German Residency Requirements for UK Citizens

Created: Apr 21, 2020 | Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Brexit will change the way British citizens can travel or stay as residents in Germany. There are about 100,000 British citizens living in Germany. Many of these people are working and will probably want to continue to live and work in Germany post-Brexit. In this article, we will discuss:

  • Post Brexit: Germany Residency Requirements for UK Citizens
    • Rules during the transitional period
    • Changes after the transitional period
  • Living in Germany post Brexit
    • German temporary residence permits
    • German permanent residence permits
    • Citizenship by naturalisation in Germany
  • Document and translation requirements for German residency applications
    • Documents needed
    • Translation requirements for non-German documents

Table of Contents

German Residency for UK Citizens post Brexit

Britain formally left the European Union on 31st January this year. This will affect the way British citizens are able to visit, live, work and study in any of the 27 E.U. countries after the transition period ends. The transition period will end, unless an extension is approved, on 31st December 31st 2020. The arrangements between the U.K. and Germany will be set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. What are the new rules for living in Germany after Brexit? 

Until 31st December 2020, British citizens will be treated as de-facto European Union citizens. That means that they have the freedom to travel, live, study, reside and work in Germany or any other E.U. country until that date. The same will apply to German citizens on a reciprocal basis in the U.K.

After that date, British citizens will no longer be treated as E.U. citizens. This will affect their right to visit and live in Germany as it will be for every other E.U. country. While there are uniform residence policies across the E.U. for all non E.U., E.E.A. and Swiss citizens, it is probable that the arrangements for British citizens will depend on a unique bilateral arrangement between each individual E.U. government and Britain. 


Living in Germany during the transitional period

While the transition period is in force, there will be no effect on travel to and from Germany and the right to study and work in that country. Germany has already stated that any British citizen residing in Germany before the end of the transition period will be allowed to stay. There is no absolute certainty yet that the rights of British residents will remain exactly the same as they are now, or will be changed somewhat. 

However, any British citizen who has been in Germany for 3 months or more should register at their nearest residents’ registration office (Anmeldung). This establishes that person (and any family member living with them) as a resident at a registered address. The German government is also advising British residents to then apply for a German residence permit at their nearest Foreigners’ Authority office (Ausländerbehörde). As far as is known at present, and this could all change, British residents of Germany who have applied for a German residence permit before the end of the transition period should be allowed to stay in the country. It is not expected that residence permits will be released until the end of December 31st. Any British resident whose application is still being considered at the end of December 3q1st 2020 will be allowed to stay until they receive their permit. 

It is likely that all British citizens who are not German residents after the end of the transition period will be treated as third party nationals and will probably be in the same grouping as other non E.U., E.E.A. or Swiss nationals like Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, Japanese, etc.


Changes after the transition period

British citizens who are not living in Germany before the end of the transition period are likely to be treated as third party nationals. These are anyone who is not an E.U., E.E.A. or Swiss citizen. There are basically two groups of third party nationals: the first group do not need to apply for a Schengen visa for visits to the Schengen area (most E.U., E.E.A. countries and Switzerland) of up to 3 months in any 90 day period. These people are in what is called a visa-waiver group. At this stage, it would seem that British citizens who do not have German residence permits will be in this group. The other, second, group needs Schengen visas before coming to Germany.

To visit Germany for up to 3 months, or if you want to visit anywhere in the Schengen area for up to 3 months, all you will need is to have a valid passport. The passport is dated at the first Schengen entry point (e.g. a port like Hamburg or airport like Berlin or Frankfurt). You will then have 3 months in all Schengen countries, but only for visits as a tourist or to see friends. After the 3 months are up, you won’t be able to return for another 3 months.

The system will change a little towards the end of 2020 when the ETIAS visa waiver system comes into force. This is an electronic pre-entry application process that registers your details and provides a rudimentary level of vetting, e.g. whether you are wanted by Interpol. The ETIAS visa waiver granted should be easy to obtain online and last 3 years. It won’t affect the maximum period allowed in Germany or other Schengen area countries.


Brexit: Germany Residency From Now On 


Temporary German Residency Permits

If you're thinking of studying, starting a business, working or living in Germany for more than 3 months, you will need a temporary German residency permit. This rule is expected to apply to British citizens after the transition period if they haven’t been living in Germany; in other words, they are expected to be treated like any other third party nationals.

There should be no need to apply for a temporary residence permit before coming to Germany. These permits are granted for individual reasons: work, study, self-employment, marriage to a German national, etc. The period a temporary residence permit is valid for depends on the reason for applying for it but is typically two or three years. You make the application at the nearest Foreigners Authority office (Ausländerbehörde). The documents needed are given in detail further below. All documents needed for any German residence permit need to be in German originally or translated into German by a sworn German translator.


Permanent German Residency Permits

German permanent residence permits allow the holder to stay, study, work, or run a business in Germany indefinitely. They are available to temporary residence permit holders after 5 years of continuous residence in Germany. There are two types of permanent residence permit: one just for Germany and the other for the E.U., including Germany.

There are exceptions to the five year time period. For example, if you hold an E.U. Blue Card, have shown that you have successfully mastered the German language, graduated from a German university, are self-employed (not a freelancer), or are highly qualified, the minimum residence period may drop to anywhere between 2 and 3 years. Permanent residence applicants also need to show they have adequate funds to support themselves, German health insurance and lack of a criminal record.

British citizens who are planning to retire in Germany but have not been living in the country before the end of the transition period would not be able to do so without applying for temporary residence status first as employees or self-employed for the requisite number of years. 

The documents needed for permanent residence are given in detail further below. All documents needed for any German residence permit need to be in German originally or translated into German by a sworn German translator.


German citizenship by naturalisation

German citizenship has several benefits. Once it has been granted, you can obtain a German passport and vote in elections. With a German passport, the restriction on being out of Germany for more than 6 months with a permanent residence permit no longer exists. 

The main disadvantage is that Germany does not allow dual citizenship, with a few exceptions.

To apply for German citizenship you generally need to have been living in Germany on a valid residence permit for a minimum of 8 years. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are married to a German citizen or if you have graduated from a German university, the period of residence may be less. 

To become a German citizen you need to show evidence of your German language ability, not have a criminal record, not have been dependent on any German benefit and can support yourself with a combination of sufficient income and/or assets.

The documents needed are given in detail further below. All documents needed for any German citizenship application need to be in German originally or translated into German by a sworn translator in Germany.


Document & Translation Requirements


Documents needed for temporary German residency permits

  • valid passport;
  • a recent biometric photograph;
  • completed temporary residence permit application form
  • certificate of registration from
  • proof of sufficient income or assets (e.g. bank statements);
  • proof of German health insurance;
  • proof of reason for application for temporary residence e.g. offer of employment, course details at a German university, etc.


Documents needed for permanent German residency permits

  • completed permanent residence permit application form;
  • valid passport;
  • recent biometric photo;
  • proof of registration and address;
  • proof of period of temporary residence;
  • proof of German health insurance;
  • proof of sufficient German language ability;
  • rental agreement if applicable;
  • confirmation of contributions to a pension scheme;
  • proof of self-employed status;
  • confirmation of employment such as an employment offer or contract;
  • tax clearance certificate (from the tax office);
  • business registration.


Documents needed for German citizenship applications by naturalisation:

  • a birth certificate;
  • a valid passport;
  • a marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • proof of 8 years German residence (or less if applicable);
  • proof of financial stability (e.g. bank statements);
  • proof of German health insurance;
  • proof of German language proficiency;
  • naturalisation test pass certificate;
  • other documents where applicable.


Translation requirements for German Residency or German Citizenship

German residence and citizenship applications will need you to supply plenty of documents. It is not clear yet exactly what arrangement will be decided by the Withdrawal Agreement after the transition period, but applying for a residence permit now means you are more likely to be given permission to stay. All your documents should be translated into German, if they are not already in German. 

German government authorities want to be assured that a translated document is an accurate version of the original. Documents like birth certificates and marriage certificates, for example, are legal documents. Even if you are fluent in German, you cannot do the translations yourself. You will need a professional German English translator who is certified to provide sworn translations into German to guarantee that your personal documents are acceptable.

More about sworn translations in Germany

An E.U. directive in 2016 makes sworn statements unnecessary as long as you are an E.U. citizen, but as all British citizens are now technically no longer E.U. citizens, despite the transition period arrangement, it is sensible to ensure that you select a German translator who is certified to provide sworn translations. These sworn translators must be certified by the Landgericht, or German State Court in the German state you are residing in. Typically, each translated document should have the following:

  • the date of the translation;
  • a unique identifying number;
  • the name, seal and signature of the sworn translator;
  • a statement that the translation is a true and accurate translation of the original;
  • the name of the court which accredited the sworn translator.

Translayte works exclusively with sworn translators in Germany to support residency applications for UK Citizens post Brexit. You can read more about our services here, contact us with more information, or place an order directly on our website.

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