Guidance

Living in Germany

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

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

This information is provided as a guide only. You should get 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 have been living in Germany since before 1 January 2021. You should read these in addition to the rest of the guidance in each section.

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

Coronavirus

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

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

Visas and residency

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

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:

  • apply for a visa before you travel, or
  • enter Germany without a visa and apply when you arrive for a residence permit from your local Foreigners Authority ‘Ausländerbehörde’ (in German). Use the side bar on the map to enter either your postcode, location or address. Check with your local Foreigners Authority whether you can book an appointment online before you travel.

You cannot work until you have the correct residence permit.

You must also register at your local registration office (in German) ‘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. You should also de-register ‘abmelden’ if you leave Germany.

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.

If you got German nationality before 1 January 2021, keep your naturalisation document as evidence for future benefit claims in the UK. See benefits and pensions for UK nationals in the EEA and Switzerland for further information.

Visas and residency 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. It also shows your right to enter Germany and exempts you from the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

The deadline for requesting the Aufenthaltsdokument-GB was 30 June 2021. You will not have to pay a fine if you request it after this date and your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement will not be affected.

If your request is refused, read your letter carefully and make sure you follow its instructions within the deadline you are given. You can get advice from an English-speaking lawyer.

Your non-EU family members who already have a residence card or permanent residence card had to exchange it for an ‘Aufenthaltsdokument-GB’ by 31 December 2021.

Your close family members continue to be able to join you and settle in Germany at any time in the future. Read more information on who this includes in the Living in Europe guidance.

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 need a visa before travel. The German authorities should issue family reunion visas free of charge.

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

Passports and travel

Coronavirus travel restrictions may affect travel to and from Germany.

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

Check the Germany travel advice for passport validity requirements.

Always carry your passport and residence card when travelling within the Schengen area. If you have citizenship of an EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) country, in addition to British citizenship, you should enter and leave Germany using your EU or EFTA passport.

If you stay in Germany with a German residence permit or long stay visa, this time 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. This applies even if you have a German residence permit. You are responsible for counting how long you stay under the Schengen visa waiver, and you must comply with its conditions. You should carry your residence permit in addition to your valid UK passport.

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, 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. If you have applied for, but not yet received, your Aufenthaltsdokument-GB, show 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 stamped, the stamp is considered null and void when you can show evidence of lawful residence. Read EU guidance for UK nationals on entering and leaving the Schengen area.

If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can enter and exit Germany with a valid passport. You do not need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you are travelling.

Healthcare

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

Travel insurance is not intended to cover healthcare costs if you live overseas.

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 guidance:

You should also read the guidance if you need to travel with medicines.

Working in Germany

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

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

Read:

If you work in Germany, even if you work for a UK-based company, this may affect where you pay National Insurance-type contributions. Read the National insurance and social security contributions section for more information.

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work, under the Withdrawal Agreement. The easiest way to show you have this right is if you have an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB. 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. You will need an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB and may also need a frontier worker permit in your country of work.

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. A third country national is someone who does not have EU, EEA or Swiss nationality.

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 decision. Read the German government’s guidance on recognition of professional qualifications and get advice from the relevant regulator.

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:

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021

The studying in the European Union guidance includes information if you were already living in Germany before 1 January 2021. Read the German government’s FAQs on BAföG funding (in German)

Tax

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:

Read:

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 do this, or if you give incorrect or incomplete information.

National insurance and social security contributions

National Insurance-type contributions (NIC) are called ‘social security contributions’ (SSC) in Germany. Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Germany.

If you plan to move to Germany and work, even if you continue working for a UK-based company, you and your employer may need to pay social security contributions in Germany. These social security contributions would entitle you to certain benefits, such as healthcare, in Germany.

Read guidance on National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland.

You can check your UK National Insurance record.

Benefits

UK benefits

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

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.

German benefits

Read:

Pensions

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

Read 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 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.

Money and banking

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in the EEA depends on 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.

Accommodation and buying property

Read our guidance on buying a property abroad.

Driving in Germany

You cannot renew or replace your UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence if you live in Germany. Read the guidance on what you must do to drive legally in Germany:

Third party car insurance is compulsory in Germany. If you live in Germany, you must take out a German insurance policy.

Your vehicle must pass a general inspection, a TÜV (MOT equivalent) every 2 years. This is undertaken by TÜV.

Exchanging your UK, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence

UK driving licence holders living in Germany can drive on their valid UK licence for 6 months after moving to Germany. After this time, your UK licence is not valid for driving in Germany.

You can exchange your UK licence for a German one at any time after moving to Germany. Your local Bürgeramt can tell you where to exchange your licence. You do not need to take a theory or practical driving test to exchange your licence. You may need to undergo an eye test or present a medical certificate, depending on your driving licence category.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of exchanging your licence.

Exchanging your Gibraltar licence

If you have a licence from Gibraltar you may currently need to take a test to exchange your licence. Sign up for email alerts, to get notified when this changes.

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 can still exchange your UK licence for a German one. You do not need to take a theory or practical driving test to exchange your licence. You may need to undergo an eye test or present a medical certificate, depending on your driving licence category.

Disabled drivers

If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Germany, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a German disabled parking card. Contact your Bürgeramt for information on how to do this. Read the EU guidance on the EU parking card for people with disabilities.

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Germany

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

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 and get a German number plate. To do this, contact your local vehicle registration office ‘Zulassungsstelle’ (in German).

Driving outside Germany with a German licence

You can use your German licence when visiting the UK. Keep up-to-date with the UK Highway Code. If you go to live in the UK, you can exchange your German licence for a UK one without taking a test. To drive in another country, in addition to your German licence you may need to apply for an International Driving Permit from your local Bürgeramt.

Read the EU guidance on:

Voting

You cannot vote in elections in Germany.

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

Births, deaths, marriage and civil partnerships

If your child is born in Germany, you can register the birth abroad in addition to registering locally. If your child has British nationality, you do not need to register the birth with the UK authorities to apply for a British passport.

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’re moving to Germany with your pet, read the guidance and ensure you comply with the regulations:

To visit other countries with your pet, check the rules for the country you’re travelling to. Contact your vet to get the travel documents your pet needs.

Read guidance on:

Emergencies

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

‘Nora’ is the official emergency call app of the German federal states. Use this app to contact the police, fire brigade and rescue service.

Dial the EU 116 000 hotline to report a missing child in the EU country where you live or in another EU country.

If you need guidance on child abduction, read the guidance on international parental child abduction; the EU guidance on child abduction and EU guidance on child abduction to another EU country.

Read the guidance if you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault in Germany.

If you’re the victim of a crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis, 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.

To move your pension to the UK, contact 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, bringing family members, tax and access to services.

Useful information

Support for British Nationals abroad: a guide sets out how to stay safe abroad, and explains how the FCDO can support you if you get into difficulty.

Published 17 May 2013
Last updated 11 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. Important information in the Working in Germany, and National insurance sections if you work in Germany, even it if it is for an employer based in the UK.

  2. Guide reviewed and updated with new information, including in the sections on visas and residency, national insurance, driving, pets, births and emergencies.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

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

  9. Updated with latest information on driving licence exchange

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

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

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

  13. 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.

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

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

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

  20. 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

  21. 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

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

  23. 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

  24. 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

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

  26. 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

  27. 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".

  28. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  37. 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.

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

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

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

  41. 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.

  42. 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

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

  44. Updated January 2017

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

  46. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated

  47. First published.