Guidance

Living in Germany

Official information British people moving to and living in Germany need to know, including EU Exit guidance, residency, healthcare and driving.

EU Exit: what you need to know

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There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Germany while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate EU Exit, you should:

Before you go

See our travel advice for Germany and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Germany in our travel advice.

You must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) within 14 days of arrival if you are staying in Germany for more than 3 months. In some places the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. When you change address in Germany you must deregister from your old address and register at your new one.

An overview of all Einwohnermeldeämter is available here

The UK and EU have agreed the full legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in principle. The agreement on citizens’ rights would allow UK nationals to stay in their Member State of residence after the UK leaves the EU.

The German Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community published a website with information for UK nationals in Germany on 21 December 2018.

In all EU Exit scenarios, UK nationals living in Germany will need to apply for a residence permit from their local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

Some Foreigners Authorities are already planning a procedure for voluntary registration/application before the UK’s exit from the EU. See our guidance on German Foreigners Authorities.

Please be aware that it is important that you hold a valid passport when applying for the permit.

Applying for German citizenship

If you’re permanently resident in Germany, you can under some conditions apply for German citizenship.

In the UK, there are no restrictions on dual nationality. Germany only allows dual nationality in exceptional cases, including for EU citizens. According to the draft national Brexit law, in a deal scenario, UK nationals who have applied for German naturalisation and fulfilled all conditions before the end of the implementation period (31 December 2020) would not have to give up their UK nationality in order to obtain German nationality.

In addition, as part of its no deal preparations, the German cabinet on 12 December adopted a draft Social Security Transition Brexit law. This would ensure that any UK national who has applied for German citizenship before the UK leaves the EU and met all conditions on that day, but whose application has not been processed yet, would still be able to retain their UK nationality when accepting German nationality.

Healthcare

See our travel advice for Germany.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare is likely to change. The NHS has more information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Germany.

The UK government has or is seeking agreements with countries, including Germany, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals that will apply after the UK leaves the EU.

The Federal Ministry Labour and Social Affairs has detailed information about German social security, including health insurance. This document details out the different health insurance systems, who is insured and for which treatment.

If you are resident in Germany, you must register with a Krankenkasse (health insurance company) – normally through your employer – to access healthcare. German residents are either state insured (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) or privately insured (private Krankenversicherung), if your income allows it. All employees are allowed to choose their own health insurance provider. You can also ask your employer’s HR department for healthcare information.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Germany. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Germany.

Until the UK leaves the EU, you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC. Your UK-issued EHIC, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

If you plan to visit after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance for the health treatment you may need, as you would for a non-EU country.

S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Germany and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You will need an S1 form. You can apply for one by calling +44 (0)191 218 1999.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your S1 form may no longer be recognised after the UK leaves the EU. The German government has prepared a Brexit social security law, which would come into effect in this case. In addition, seeking private insurance also remains an option.

Working in Germany

See working in another EU country and working abroad.

If you are a employed by the German civil service as Beamte/r, you will need permission to continue your employment after the UK has left the EU. Please see this change to the law governing civil servants and contact your employer.

If you live abroad and require a Police Certificate from the UK, apply to the ACRO Criminal Records Office

A German criminal record check (Führungszeugnis) can be ordered from local registry offices (Meldebehörde). This will be sent directly from the German Ministry of Justice.

Education and professional qualifications

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, if you are a student or trainee receiving a support loan in Germany (called BAföG) you can still receive the loan until the end of the course, as long as the course started before the UK leaves the EU. Contact the Federal Ministry for Education and Research for more information.

The European Commission has published guidance on professional qualifications. Where UK nationals have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU. The Commission has advised holders of qualifications obtained in the UK to obtain recognition in a EU27 Member State before the UK leaves the EU.

Find information on where to request a recognition of your qualifications in Germany.

For more information see studying in the European Union after Brexit

Money and tax

If you intend to use a bank card, or other financial service from a UK-based firm in the EU after exit, this may be affected. Read more about using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU.

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

The UK’s exit from the European Union will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Germany. The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Germany to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Germany. You can search for a tax adviser.

See information about paying income tax in Germany.

You should get a Lohnsteuerkarte (income tax card) when you register your address with the local Einwohnermeldeamt (see Visas and residency). Your card will have your Steuernummer (tax number), which your employer needs.

In addition to an annual tax return, all residents of Germany, including non-nationals, must file an annual declaration of assets held outside Germany. There are severe penalties if you fail to file or provide incorrect or incomplete information.

The German finance ministry has comprehensive information on taxation, including the guide ‘An ABC of taxes’.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

The UK Government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU after the UK’s exit from the EU. Find guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

See information on German pensions.

If you’ve worked in Germany, you should contact the German pensions services (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) or your private pensions company.

If you haven’t worked in Germany, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

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

The Federal Ministry Labour and Social Affairs has detailed information about German social security.

German benefits

You may be entitled to German benefits, including:

Find out more about claiming benefits in an EU country and see what benefits you may be able to get in Germany. You can request proof of time worked in the UK from HM Revenue and Customs, if you are asked for this information.

Driving in Germany

See driving abroad and road travel in Germany.

Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country you are living in before the UK leaves the EU. For more information see driving abroad.

See driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

The Federal Ministry of Transport has information about the validity of your UK licence in Germany.

If you are resident in Germany, you will not be able to renew a lost, stolen or expired licence with DVLA. If you return to live in the UK, provided you passed your driving test in the UK or another specified country, you can exchange your EU licence for a UK licence without taking another test.

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. Ask your local Zulassungsstelle (vehicle registration office) for more information.

The Federal Ministry of Transport has information on German road traffic regulations.

Importing a UK-registered vehicle

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

See information about car registration and taxation in Germany.

You may need to pay taxes when importing and registering your UK vehicle. More information can be sought from the Zulassungsstelle (car registration office).

Voting

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

If you’re resident in Germany, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary elections.

Once the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals will no longer be eligible to vote in local and European elections. The UK pushed hard in negotiations for the right to stand and vote in local elections for UK nationals living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, but they will not form part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Passports

Check your passport here

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. If your adult passport was issued over 9 years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.

Adult and child passports should have at least 6 months remaining from your date of travel. If you renewed your passport early, extra months would have been added to your new passport. These extra months will not count towards this so some passport holders will need to have more than 6 months remaining in order to travel.

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

UK nationals will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a pet (cat, dog or ferret) when the UK leaves the EU, but the rules will change. See pet travel to Europe after Brexit for more information.

Emergencies

As well as the European emergency number 112, Germany also has 110 (police).

See Germany – emergency numbers.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

If you are returning to live in the UK permanently, it is important you tell the German authorities.

You must deregister with your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office), and let your health insurance (Krankenkasse), bank and local service providers know.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre. You will also need to contact the pension services in Germany.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information on German law should be obtained from the German authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 17 May 2013
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. EU Exit update: New information event for UK nationals in Düsseldorf, 28 March
  2. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  3. EU Exit update: addition to Working In Germany section - information concerning working as a civil servant (Beamte/r)
  4. EU Exit update: New guidance document on German Foreigners Authorities - link in "Visas and residency" section.
  5. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip
  6. EU Exit update: New education and professional qualifications section. Federal Government website information added to EU Exit section.
  7. 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.
  8. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare
  9. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving
  10. EU Exit update: New information added about residency in Germany for UK nationals
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  14. Updated January 2017
  15. Updated Information in view of a change in German registration law as of 1 November 2015.
  16. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated
  17. First published.