Guidance

Living in Germany

Information British citizens moving to or living in Germany need to know, including guidance on residency, healthcare and driving.

This guide sets out essential information for British citizens about moving to or living in Germany. Read about how our consulates in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Munich can help.

This information is provided as a guide only. You should obtain definitive information from the German authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Read general guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

To stay up to date:

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

Some parts of this guide only apply if you were living in Germany since before 1 January 2021. These are indicated with sub-headings.

You should also read our Living in Europe page for detailed guidance about citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Coronavirus

You should follow the advice of the German government and your local authority. You can also read our Germany travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Germany see our coronavirus travel advice.

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Germany and read the German government’s guidance on residency permits and how to enter and leave Germany.

If you intend to stay in Germany for more than 90 days or to work there and you do not also hold an EU citizenship, you need a visa or residence permit.

You can either:

You cannot work until you have the correct residence permit.

You must also register at your local registration office ‘anmelden’ within 14 days of arrival. The office has different names locally such as Einwohnermeldeamt, Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt.

If you move home in Germany, you must register within 14 days of moving at the registration office ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’ responsible for your new address.

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

If you have lived in Germany since before 1 January 2021, you and your family members have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. You should request a new residence document ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’ which shows that you have these rights.

We strongly recommend that you request the ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’. It also shows your right to enter Germany and exempts you from the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

Your close family members continue to be able to join you and settle in Germany at any point in the future. Find more information on who this applies to on the Living in Europe page.

They must travel to Germany and then request a residence document as your family member within 3 months of arrival. Nationals of certain non-EU countries may require a visa before travel.

For more information about your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement in Germany, read German Federal Interior Ministry residence FAQs and read our guidance.

If you need further information on how to secure your residency, you can read:

Applying for German citizenship

If you are resident in Germany, you may be eligible to apply for German citizenship (in German).

The UK has no restrictions on dual nationality. Germany only allows dual nationality in exceptional cases.

Passports and travel

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Germany.

Check the travel advice for Germany for passport validity requirements.

Always carry your passport when travelling within the Schengen area. If you have citizenship of an EU / EFTA country, in addition to British citizenship, you should enter and leave Germany using your EU / EFTA passport.

If you stay in Germany with a residence permit or long stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If you visit other Schengen area countries outside Germany, make sure you do not exceed the visa-free 90 days in any 180-day period. You are responsible for counting how long you stay under the Schengen visa waiver, and you must comply with its conditions.

Different rules apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

When you travel, especially within the Schengen area, carry your residence document ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’ or frontier worker permit ‘Aufenthaltsdokument für Grenzgänger-GB’ issued under the Withdrawal Agreement, in addition to your valid passport.

You must proactively show your residence document, or other evidence of residence status, if you are asked to show your passport at border control. Other evidence may be your address registration certificate ‘Meldebestätigung’, tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020. If you have applied for, but not yet received, your ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’, carry your ‘Fiktionsbescheinigung’ certificate.

If you cannot prove that you are a resident in Germany, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the EU. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in the country or countries where you live or work. If a passport is incorrectly stamped, the stamp is considered null and void when you can show evidence of lawful residence.

If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you do not need any extra months on your passport to enter or exit EU countries.

See what you need to do if you live in Germany and plan to travel abroad

See what you need to do if you live in Germany and plan to travel abroad.

Healthcare

Health insurance is compulsory in Germany. As a resident in Germany, you must join a German health insurer ‘Krankenkasse’. You can often do this through your employer.

You can choose your health insurer (in German) and in some cases you can choose private health insurance ‘private Krankenversicherung’ instead of the standard statutory health insurance ‘gesetzliche Krankenversicherung’.

Read our guidance on accessing healthcare in Germany and make sure you are correctly insured for your circumstances.

Read the German government:

If you plan to travel in other European countries, read our general guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe and advice on foreign travel insurance.

Working in Germany

If you are planning to move to Germany and work there, you may need a visa. You cannot work until you have the relevant permit.

To apply for a job you may need to provide a:

Read:

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work under the Withdrawal Agreement. Read the German government’s guidance for employers of UK nationals in English or in German.

If you live in Germany and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country before 1 January 2021, read our guidance for frontier workers.

Professional qualifications

You may need to get your professional qualification recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Germany. When doing this, you will be treated as a third country national.

Read guidance on:

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

If the relevant regulator in Germany officially recognised your professional qualification before 1 January 2021, or you started the recognition process by this date, make sure you understand the terms of your recognition decision. Seek advice from the regulator if needed.

Studying in Germany

If you plan to study in Germany, you must apply for the correct residence permit. Contact your local Foreigners Authority ‘Ausländerbehörde’ to discuss the options before you travel.

Contact the relevant higher education provider in Germany to check what fees you may have to pay.

Read guidance on:

For more information read studying in the European Union.

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

The studying in the European Union guidance includes specific information for those who were already living in Germany before 1 January 2021.

Money, tax and banking

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Germany so that you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

You will get an income tax ID number ‘Steueridentifikationsnummer’ by post from the Federal Central Tax Office after you register your address at the local registration office ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’. Your employer will need your tax ID number. You may also be asked to provide it to your local finance authority ‘Finanzamt’.

You should get professional advice on paying tax in Germany. Find a tax adviser (in German).

Read guidance on:

National Insurance

Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Germany.

Declaring your assets

You must declare any assets held outside Germany and file an annual declaration of assets, alongside your annual tax return. There are severe penalties if you fail to file this, or if you give incorrect or incomplete information.

UK banking

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in the EEA is a matter of local laws and regulation. Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on banking, insurance and financial services changes for more information on cross-border banking.

Pensions

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Germany.

If you are moving or retiring abroad, you must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax.

Read our State Pension guidance if you have lived in Australia, Canada or New Zealand and you are claiming or waiting to claim your UK State Pension.

If you retire in Germany, you can claim:

Read the German Pensions Authority’s guidance on pension entitlement calculations (in German).

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on pension and retirement changes for more information on cross-border pensions.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you must respond as soon as possible - your payments may be suspended if you do not.

Benefits

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Germany.

If you are moving or retiring abroad, you must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax.

Check which UK benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You can request proof from HMRC of the time you’ve worked in the UK, and of your UK National Insurance record.

German benefits

Read:

Accommodation and buying property

Read our guidance on buying a property abroad.

Driving in Germany

You cannot renew or replace your UK licence if you are resident overseas.

You must exchange your UK driving licence for a German one within 6 months of arriving in Germany. Your local ‘Bürgeramt’ can tell you where to exchange your licence. You do not need to take a driving test to exchange your licence.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit as an alternative to exchanging your licence.

If you have a UK Blue Badge, when you move to Germany it will remain valid. When it expires, you can apply for a German Blue Badge. Contact your ‘Bürgeramt’ for information on how to do this.

For information on driving in Germany, read the guidance on:

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Germany

If you spend longer than 6 months of the year in Germany with your UK-registered car, you must register your vehicle with the German authorities. To do this, contact your local vehicle registration office ‘Zulassungsstelle’ (in German).

Read:

Exchanging your licence if you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

You should have exchanged your UK licence for a German one by 30 June 2021. If you did not, your UK licence is no longer valid for driving in Germany. You must exchange your UK licence for a German one. You will not need to take a driving test.

Driving in the UK with a German licence

You can use your German licence in the UK for short visits, or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test.

Voting

You cannot vote in elections in Germany.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships

If your child is born in Germany, you will need to register the birth abroad.

If someone dies in Germany read our guidance on:

Find out how you can get married or get a civil partnership abroad.

You may also need:

Pets

If you have a pet passport issued by Germany or another EU member state, you can use it to travel with your pet to Great Britain and elsewhere in the EU.

A GB-issued EU pet passport is not valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. You should speak to your vet before you travel to get the necessary pet travel documents and ensure you’re compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations.

Read guidance on:

Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.

Emergencies

You can dial the European emergency number 112 in Germany for fire or medical emergencies, or dial 110 for police

People with disabilities can fax on 112 or 100 to access the emergency services.

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact the British Embassy Berlin or nearest consulate.

Returning to the UK

Check the COVID-19 travel guidance for entering the UK.

Tell the German and UK authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

If you get a UK State Pension, you must tell the International Pension Centre.

If you get a German pension, contact the pension services in Germany (in German).

You must also:

  • de-register with your local registration office ‘Einwohnermeldeamt’
  • tell your health insurance provider ‘Krankenkasse’
  • tell local service providers
  • tell your bank

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test, you’ll be able to access NHS care without charge.

Useful information

Support for British Nationals abroad: a guide sets out how to stay safe abroad, and explains how the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can support you if you get into difficulty

Published 17 May 2013
Last updated 10 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Visas and residency section updated: If you need support with your residency application, contact the relevant UK Nationals Support Fund organisation before 30 September 2021.

  2. If you have been living in Germany since before 1 January 2021, check if your UK driving licence is still valid to use.

  3. Guidance reviewed for people who are moving or moved to Germany after 1 January 2021. It also includes sub-sections relevant to UK nationals living in Germany since before 1 January 2021, who should request a residence document ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’ as evidence of their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

  4. Moving to Germany updated with link for the Foreigner Authorities, Travel section updated with video on travel abroad; Driving in Germany updated with Blue Badge information

  5. Visas and residency section has new guidance for visits over 90 days or working; healthcare section updated on the S1 form, EHIC and GHIC cards; working in Germany section updated with new link; education section updated on funding eligibility, and new link to guidance on recognition of professional qualifications.

  6. Coronavirus section updated with a link to guidance on vaccines

  7. Updated with latest information on driving licence exchange

  8. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on pet travel and moving to Germany

  9. Passports and travel section updated on carrying proof of residence when travelling.

  10. Visa and residency section updated on how to get the new residence document

  11. Healthcare section updated on how to apply for a new UK EHIC as a student or S1 holder. Working section updated with information on frontier workers.

  12. See the ‘attend a citizen outreach meeting’ section for details about our virtual info evening, with live Q&A session, on 28 September

  13. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021

  14. Visas and residency section updated to include information about how to access the UK Nationals Support Fund for those who may find it harder to complete their residency applications.

  15. Visa and residency section updated to include new information on residence documents: click the link ‘obtain a new residence document’. You can send us your questions during our Facebook Q&A (30 June). See the ‘attend a citizen outreach meeting’ section.

  16. New information on the Withdrawal Agreement, and an updated link to German Interior Ministry information on residency rights

  17. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity, healthcare rights and State Pension uprating if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  18. Brexit update: Register for citizens outreach meeting in Dresden (9 January) and send us your Brexit questions during our Facebook Q&A (14 January). See the ‘attend a citizen outreach meeting’ section

  19. Brexit update: Send us your Brexit questions during our Facebook Q&A (21 October) and register for citizens outreach meeting in Munich (24 October). See the ‘attend one of our citizens outreach meetings’ section

  20. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement

  21. Brexit update: Register for citizens outreach meetings in Frankfurt (10 October) and Hamburg (15 October). See the ‘attend one of our citizens outreach meetings’ section

  22. Brexit update: Register for citizens outreach meetings in Berlin (30 September) and Dusseldorf (1 October). See the ‘attend one of our citizens outreach meetings’ section

  23. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating. 

  24. Brexit Update: New event: Facebook Q&A, 6 August 1-2pm. See our events page (click on "attend one of our citizens outreach meetings") or visit www.facebook.com/BritsInGermany

  25. EU Exit update: 2 Information events for UK nationals in Berlin on Tuesday 30 April 2019. For event details and registration instructions see "EU Exit updates" and click on "attend one of our citizens outreach meetings".

  26. EU Exit update: New information in "Passports and travel after the UK leaves the EU" concerning travel and short stays within the EU and UK passport validity.

  27. EU Exit update: New information on residency and travel after EU Exit

  28. EU Exit update: Updated information on heathcare and residency

  29. EU Exit update: New information event for UK nationals in Düsseldorf, 28 March

  30. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  31. EU Exit update: addition to Working In Germany section - information concerning working as a civil servant (Beamte/r)

  32. EU Exit update: New guidance document on German Foreigners Authorities - link in "Visas and residency" section.

  33. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip

  34. EU Exit update: New education and professional qualifications section. Federal Government website information added to EU Exit section.

  35. EU Exit update: Additional information about healthcare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. New citizens outreach event for UK nationals in Cologne on 13 February 2019.

  36. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare

  37. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving

  38. EU Exit update: New information added about residency in Germany for UK nationals

  39. EU Exit update: Additional information added to the visas and residency, healthcare, working in Germany, pensions, German benefits and returning to the UK sections. Information about importing a UK-registered vehicle added to driving in Germany section.

  40. EU exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section

  41. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  42. Updated January 2017

  43. Updated Information in view of a change in German registration law as of 1 November 2015.

  44. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated

  45. First published.