Guidance

Living in Germany

Official information for UK nationals living in and moving to Germany, including guidance on residency, healthcare and driving.

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.

Stay up to date

You should:

The Withdrawal Agreement

If you were legally resident in Germany before 1 January 2021, your rights will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

You should check that you are correctly registered and should get a new residence document by 30 June 2021 to evidence your rights.

You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.

Visas and residency

If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than 3 months, you must register at your local registration office within 14 days of arrival. The office has different titles locally such as Einwohnermeldeamt, Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt.

If you move home in Germany, you must register again at the local registration office for your new address.

If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, you should obtain a new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB).

To get this document you must report your residence to your local Foreigners Authority (usually called Ausländerbehörde) by 30 June 2021. Your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement will not be affected if you do not meet the deadline. However, we recommend that you obtain your new card as soon as possible in order to evidence your rights.

You will need a valid UK passport when you request your new residence document. Check with your local Foreigners Authority if they have a minimum passport validity requirement.

For more information, read the German Federal Interior Ministry residence FAQs.

Additional support

UK nationals who were resident in Germany before 1 January 2021, and need help to complete their residence application or registration, can get support from organisations funded by the UK Nationals Support Fund.

This support is only available to people who need additional help to secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. They may include pensioners, disabled people, people living in remote areas or people who have mobility difficulties. Support available includes:

  • answering questions about residence applications, such as the documents you need and how the application process works
  • guiding you through the process, if necessary
  • support if you experience language barriers or difficulty accessing online information and services

Across Germany, two organisations are providing this practical support: SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, are covering Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) covers all other federal states.

If you, or someone you know, are having difficulty completing residence paperwork or have any questions, contact the organisation that covers the region where you, or they, live.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Contact details:

SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity

Contact details:

Moving to Germany

Check the entry requirements for Germany.

If you have arrived in Germany and intend to stay longer than 90 days or to work, you will need a residence permit. Read the German government’s guidance on residency permits for third country nationals.

Applying for German citizenship

If you are resident in Germany, you may be able 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 should carry your residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB), as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung).

If you have not yet applied for a residence document GB, you should carry evidence that you are resident in Germany. This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebestätigung), tenancy agreement, or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.

If you cannot show that you are resident in Germany, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in Germany.

Passports

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You can apply for or renew your British passport from Germany.

You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). This requirement does not apply if you are entering or transiting to Germany, and you are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

Please note: If you are requesting a new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB), you will need a valid UK passport. Check with your local Foreigners Authority if they have a minimum passport validity requirement.

Renew your passport before booking your travel if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

As a non-EEA national, different border checks will apply when travelling to other EU or Schengen area countries. You may have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing. You may also need to need to show a return or onward ticket.

Entry requirements

You can travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.

To stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, to work or study, or for business travel, you must meet the entry requirements set out by the country you are travelling to. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit.

Periods of time authorised by a visa or permit will not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

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

Travel and the UK and Ireland has not changed.

Healthcare

Health insurance is compulsory in Germany. As a resident in Germany, you must register with a health insurer (Krankenkasse) to access healthcare. This is usually done through your employer. Ask your employer’s HR department for more information.

You are able to 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 registered.

You should also read:

If your UK employer has sent you to Germany temporarily, your access to healthcare is different. Find out how to access healthcare as a posted worker.

State healthcare: S1

If you have a registered S1 form and were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, your rights to access healthcare will stay the same if you are either:

  • receiving a UK State Pension
  • receiving some other ‘exportable benefits’
  • a frontier worker who lives in Germany and commutes to work in the UK

Read our guidance on how to get an S1 Form and ensure you are correctly registered for healthcare.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Germany, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC for healthcare in Germany. If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC if you’re:

  • a UK student in Germany
  • a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
  • a frontier worker with a registered S1

Apply now for a new UK EHIC.

An EHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance.

For more information read our guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe and advice on foreign travel insurance.

You can find an English-speaking doctor in Germany.

Students must:

Working in Germany

If you are legally resident in Germany before 1 January 2021, your right to work in Germany will stay the same, as long as you remain resident in Germany.

For further information:

If you are planning to come to Germany to work, you may need a visa. Read the German government’s guidance on how to apply for a visa and any other necessary documents.

You may need a:

Frontier workers

If you live in Germany and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country, before January 2021 you may need a permit to show you are a frontier worker. You also need to report your residence to your local Foreigners Authority.

If you live in the UK or another EU or EFTA country and regularly commuted to work in Germany before 1 January 2021, you must apply for a new frontier worker document (Aufenthaltsdokument für Grenzgänger-GB), at the local Foreigners Authority for your workplace.

Read our guidance on residence in Germany for information from your local Foreigners Authority.

Education and professional qualifications

You will be eligible for the same tuition fees as German nationals, as long as you were legally resident in Germany before 1 January 2021. You also need to report your residence to your local Foreigners Authority.You should read:

In Germany, schooling is compulsory for any child above the age of 6.

Moving to Germany to Study

If you are planning to study in Germany, make sure you meet all visa requirements before you arrive. Contact the relevant Higher Education provider in Germany to check what fees you may have to pay.

For more information read studying in the European Union.

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 subject to the third country regulations.

For help with this:

If your qualification was officially recognised by the relevant regulator in Germany before 1 January 2021, make sure you understand the terms of your recognition decision by checking with that regulator.

Money and tax

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

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Germany have not changed.

Read guidance about:

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.

For help with taxes in Germany:

National Insurance

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

Banking

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in the EEA is a matter of local law and regulation. Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on banking, insurance and financial services changes for more information on cross-border banking.

Declaration of assets

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

Pensions

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

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

If you retire in Germany, you can claim:

For more information on how pension entitlements are calculated, read the German Pensions’ Authority’s guidance (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 need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

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

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

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

You may be entitled to German benefits. Read the German government’s guide on social security in Germany.

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC, if you are asked for this.

Read the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs’ guidance on family benefits for UK nationals (in German).

Driving in Germany

When you move to Germany, you should exchange your UK driving licence for a German one within 6 months. If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, you can use your UK photocard licence to drive in Germany until 30 June 2021, provided that it remains valid in the UK.

The UK is currently engaging in bilateral discussions with Germany regarding long-term arrangements. Before these take effect, you may need to take a test if you apply to exchange your UK licence for a German one.

Driving licences are issued at local authority level in Germany. Your local Bürgeramt can advise you whether you can currently exchange your licence without the need to take a test and where you can go to do so. An International Driving Permit is not a suitable alternative to exchanging your licence.

We will update these pages if there are any changes to the rules. For more information read the German Transport Ministry Brexit FAQs (see ‘Will it be necessary to make any adjustments to my driving licence?’ section).

If your UK driving licence is lost, stolen or expires, you will not be able to renew it with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) while you are resident in Germany.

Read more guidance on:

Driving in the UK with a German licence

You can use your German licence in the UK for short visits without the need for additional documentation.

German licence holders residing in the UK will be able to exchange their licence without the need for a re-test. They can use the licence as long as it is valid subject to UK licence renewal requirements e.g. a car licence must be renewed at age 70 or at 3 years after the holder becomes resident, whichever is the later. In the future, these rules may change depending on the outcome of the discussions with EU countries.

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. To do this, contact your local vehicle registration office (Zulassungsstelle) (in German).

Read the European Union’s guidance on car registration rules and taxes in Germany. You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so, you will need certificates of exemption.

Voting

You cannot vote in elections in Germany.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections.

Births, deaths and getting married

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

If someone dies in Germany:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

You may also need:

Accommodation and buying property

Read our guidance on buying a property abroad.

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

For fire or medical emergencies dial the European emergency number on 112 or German police on 110.

Users 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 your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Returning to the UK

If you are returning to the UK permanently, you must deregister with your local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt).

In addition, tell:

  • your health insurance provider (Krankenkasse)
  • local service providers
  • your bank

To move your pension to the UK contact:

If you get healthcare in Germany through the S1 form, you must contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999 to make sure your S1 is cancelled at the right time.

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

Disclaimer

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

Published 17 May 2013
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on pet travel and moving to Germany

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

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

  4. 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.

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

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

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

  14. 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

  15. 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

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

  17. 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

  18. 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".

  19. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  28. 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.

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

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

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

  32. 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.

  33. 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

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

  35. Updated January 2017

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

  37. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated

  38. First published.