Since January 2021, British citizens are no longer able to work easily in Germany. Since January 1, 2021, British citizens are considered third-country nationals. Now, they need a visa and work permit to be employed or self-employed in Germany. Exceptions are made for Brits with EU passports.
The most important factor determining your options in Germany is whether you are covered by the withdrawal agreement or not. Moreover, it’s no longer possible for British citizens to apply for dual citizenship.
Anyone who accepts German citizenship since January 1, 2021, must give up their British citizenship. This article explains all about working as a British citizen in Germany after Brexit.
Also read our article on how to work for a UK company and live in Germany.
Can you work in Germany as a UK citizen after Brexit?
Since January 1, 2021, British nationals will need a work residence permit to work in Germany.
An exception applies to British employees, British self-employed persons based in Germany, and British cross-border commuters who have already lived and worked in Germany before December 31, 2020 (at the end of the transition period).
The Withdrawal Agreement protects these categories of workers.
Other British citizens must get a work permit to work in Germany after Brexit. With that said, if you plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you need to get a residence permit.
No employment relationship exists; hence, no residence permit is possible if you work in Germany for a total of less than 90 days within a period of 180 days.
Read this guide on moving to Germany from the UK in 2022.
Do you need a visa to work in Germany?
As of January 1, 2021, British nationals coming to Germany to work will be treated the same way as any other third-country nationals regarding work permits. However, they benefit from visa-free entry and stay for up to 90 days.
That said, British nationals require a residence and work permit to work in Germany.
An exception applies to British employees, British self-employed persons based in Germany, and British cross-border commuters who have already lived and worked in Germany before December 31, 2020. They are covered by the withdrawal agreement.
British citizens can easily apply for a residence permit after they arrive in Germany visa-free.
The withdrawal agreement
Whether you need a visa to work in Germany depends on the date you started living and working in Germany.
Therefore, when obtaining a work permit, a distinction is made between British workers who worked in Germany before December 31, 2020, with the right to Freedom of Movement, and those who only wish to enter Germany for gainful employment after this date.
The withdrawal agreement covers the first category, and is eligible to reside and work in Germany. In contrast, the latter will need to prove the reason for their stay and apply for corresponding permits.
Moreover, you are eligible to get a residency in Germany if:
- you have a secure livelihood and health insurance in Germany before and after December 31, 2020
- before December 31, 2020, you have had a part-time job with a company based in Germany or another EU country
- you were studying in Germany before December 31, 2020, alongside your job
- you are married to an EU citizen
Who are Old-Britons? British citizens and their family members who were living and working in Germany at the end of the transition period or who left Germany before December 31, 2020, but have worked in Germany prior to that.
They are covered by the withdrawal agreement, meaning they continue to have the right to work and live in Germany without any restrictions.
Who are New-Britons? British nationals who are entering Germany any time after 01.01.2021 and seeking employment for the first time. They are considered third-country nationals. If you fall into this category, you must apply for a work permit following general immigration rules.
New Britons can come to Germany visa-free and stay for up to 90 days to look for a job. Once you have found an employer, you can apply for a residence permit in Germany. For this, visit one of the local foreign offices in your city (“Ausländerbehörde”).
If you already have a job offer on hand and want to start working immediately, you can apply for a work visa at the German embassy in the UK.
Different rules apply to business travelers coming to Germany for a short period of time. They can enter and stay visa-free for up to 90 days within 180 days to do business in Germany.
However, they aren’t eligible for any type of residency. This rule also applies to anyone employed at:
- The company is based in Germany but operates abroad.
- The foreign company abroad, but which is conducting meetings or negotiations in Germany.
- The foreign company abroad that establishes, supervises or controls a German part of a company.
A business trip under German immigration law is regulated by law and limited to certain activities, such as attending meetings or negotiations, participating in business deals, or signing contracts.
By law, these activities aren’t considered employment; hence, they don’t require a permit.
However, any activity that goes beyond these requirements is deemed to be “working,” which will require a separate residence permit.
Cross border commuters
British nationals who only cross the border for occasional work in Germany continue to have the right to work in Germany even without living there.
Visa options for new Britons
In general, there are several visa options available. The eligibility is usually based on one of those factors:
- Studies at university
- Family reunion
Consequently, if you are coming to Germany to work, study, undertake a vocational course, or reunite with family, you can apply for a temporary residence permit.
The most critical factors that are evaluated by German authorities when you apply for a visa:
- School or university education
- General conditions of employment
- Special qualifications
- Language skills
If your goal is to work in Germany, you can apply for these visas:
1. Job seeker visa – This visa allows you to stay for up to 6 months and look for a job. After you have a job offer, you can apply for one of the options below. However, it’s not really necessary since, as a UK citizen, you can come visa-free and stay for up to 90 days to seek a job.
2. EU Blue Card – A work visa for highly skilled individuals. Only highly qualified professionals are eligible for this visa. To qualify for this visa, you must have a job offer in Germany, and the job must meet the minimum salary requirements of €58,400 or €45,552 for shortage profession (2023).
3. Intra-corporate transfer visa – This visa is perfect if the employer sends you to Germany due to work.
4. General employment visa – This visa is the most common one among non-EU citizens in Germany. It’s suitable for both high and low-qualified professionals.
5. Self-employment visa – is suitable for someone looking to start a company/business in Germany. This can be anything from a solo proprietorship to LLC.
6. Freelance visa – if you are a freelance worker, you can also apply for a residence permit for freelancers (Freelancer visa). To qualify, your profession must be recognized as a liberal in Germany, e.g., science, engineering, arts, teaching, professional writing, doctors, dentists, and lawyers.
Visa options available without a job
If you don’t have a job offer yet, but what to live in Germany regardless, you can apply for the following visas:
- A Job Seeker visa – allows you to stay in Germany for 6 months and look for employment; upon finding the job, you can apply for a work permit.
- A self-employment visa – can be a good choice if you are serious about starting a business in Germany.
To be granted a self-employment visa in Germany, you’ll need to:
- Prove that you can financially support yourself
- Prove the business will fulfill a need in Germany and benefit the country’s economy
- Show a valid business plan
- Show evidence of business funding
- Prove you have the relevant experience
If you are over the age of 45, you will need to show proof of your own pension provision.
If you are a freelance worker, you can also apply for a residence permit for freelancers (Freelancer visa). To qualify, your profession must be recognized as a liberal in Germany, e.g., science, engineering, arts, teaching, professional writing, doctors, dentists, and lawyers.
Finding and getting a job in Germany from the UK
Getting a job in Germany as a Brit is relatively easy. Many international companies are looking for English speakers. You have excellent career opportunities across all industries.
The best websites to seek jobs in Germany are:
Moreover, you can visit dozens of job fairs (Job Messe) that happen regularly across the country. That way, you can get to know your future employer personally.
Facebook became another valuable resource for a job search in Germany. You can search for groups in your city or your industry.
Working in Germany for a UK company: what to keep in mind
Even if you are working for a UK company in Germany, you will need a residence and work permit. Moreover, you pay income taxes in Germany and not in the UK. The British company does payroll in Germany too. Read an in-depth article on working for a UK company in Germany.
If you are sent to Germany by a British company to work, you must apply for a residence and work permit like any other New Briton.
Thus, you aren’t covered by the withdrawal agreement. However, if your UK company is located in Germany or another EU state, you can get all the needed permits.
Check out this article about working for a US company while living in Germany. It might be helpful.