Guidance

Living in Germany

Official information for British people moving to and living in Germany, including Brexit guidance, residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you should do

You should:

Stay up to date

The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes. You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Germany for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Germany after Brexit.

You can also:

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Germany.

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 is sometimes known as the Einwohnermeldeamt, Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt.

Whenever you move home in Germany, you must register at your new address.

Visas and residency after Brexit

After Brexit, UK nationals living in Germany must apply for a residence permit from their local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

You will need a valid passport when applying for a residence permit.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the German government plans a 3-month transition period which is likely to be extended to 9 months. During this period you must apply for a new residence permit. Your right to undertake any economic activity (such as work or study) and receive benefits you received before the day the UK leaves the EU will be protected during this period.

For more information, see the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s FAQs on residency and citizenship.

We will update this guidance as soon as information is available.

Applying for German citizenship

If you are permanently 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. Find information on the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s FAQs on residency and citizenship.

Passports and travel

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

Passports and travel after Brexit

After Brexit, the rules on travel will change. Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, nothing will change until the end of 2020. In this time you can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with your UK passport. What happens after 2020 will form the next part of negotiations.

If there’s no deal, new travel rules will apply. You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). 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.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals will not need visas for short stays elsewhere in the EU. You will be able to stay up to 90 days in another EU, EEA or EFTA country, within a 180 day period. You must retain evidence of travel (e.g. train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU, EEA or EFTA country, you will be able to transit through other EU, EEA or EFTA countries to reach your country of residence.

If there’s no deal, the German government has said that you should allow plenty of time when re-entering Germany and make sure that you have documentation to hand that proves that you are a long-term resident, such as your residence permit, Meldebescheinigung, correspondence concerning social insurance contributions and work or rental contracts.

For further information, read the Federal Interior Ministry FAQs.

Healthcare

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

Read the guidance on accessing healthcare in Germany and the German government’s guide on Social Security in Germany.

You are able to choose your health insurance provider (in German) and in some cases you can choose private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung) instead of the standard statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung).

If you live in Germany and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You must apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

If you are resident in Germany, you must not use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from the UK to access healthcare in Germany.

When you travel from Germany for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay:

You can find an English-speaking doctor in Germany.

Students must:

Healthcare after Brexit

If you are resident in Germany and have statutory or private health insurance from a German provider, your access to healthcare will not change. This applies if you are an employee or self-employed.

If there is no deal, your German-issued EHIC may no longer be valid for trips to the UK. You must purchase travel insurance for travel to the UK and other non-EU/EFTA countries.

If there is a deal, your acess to healthcare will not change as long as you are registered as resident in Germany before the end of the implementation period and remain a resident in Germany.

If you do not have statutory or private health insurance from a German insurer and there’s no deal, your access to healthcare may change significantly. You must take action now to confirm your residency status and decide how you will ensure access to healthcare.

The UK has proposed maintaining current healthcare cooperation with Germany for S1 form holders until the end of December 2020. If there’s no deal, and an arrangement with Germany to continue reciprocal healthcare has not been reached, your S1 form will no longer be recognised in Germany. According to German no-deal legislation (in German) you will be able to join a statutory health insurer (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) within 3 months of the day the UK leaves the EU, without being subject to the normal restrictions regarding age etc.

If you register with a statutory health insurer within this 3-month period, your cover will be retrospective to ensure uninterrupted cover from the day the UK leaves the EU.

For further information, please see the German Association of Health Insurers’ Brexit FAQs.

On 23 September 2019 the UK government announced transitional healthcare arrangements across the whole of the EU if there is a no-deal Brexit. If you are an S1 form holder in Germany, you will have also been sent a letter with information about this announcement.

If you are resident in Germany, you should still join a German statutory health insurer within 3 months of the day the UK leaves the EU, irrespective of these transitional arrangements.

Your UK-issued EHIC will not be valid in Germany if there’s no deal. The UK has offered to maintain the EHIC scheme if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, however this is reliant on Germany continuing to accept UK EHICs.

Read the guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in Germany and how it may change after Brexit.

Working and studying in Germany

You may need a:

Working in Germany after Brexit

If there is a deal, your right to work will not change until the end of the implementation period.

Read the guidance on providing services after Brexit if you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after Brexit.

Education and professional qualifications

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

Education and professional qualifications after Brexit

Get your UK professional qualifications recognised in Germany before Brexit. For help with this:

A professional qualification that has already been recognised by an EU country will still be valid after Brexit.

If there’s no deal, current students will continue to be able to study in Germany. Students or trainees receiving BAföG funding for courses that began before the UK leaves the EU, will continue to receive this support until the end of their course.

For more information:

Money and tax

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

Read guidance about:

You will get an income tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte) with your tax number (Steuernummer), when you register your address at the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). Your employer will need your tax number.

For help with taxes in Germany:

National Insurance

Find out if you can pay National Insurance while in Germany, so that you protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

If there’s no deal and the end date on your form is after the day the UK leaves the EU, you should contact the relevant EU or EEA authority. They will confirm whether you need to start paying social security contributions in that country after Brexit, as well as UK National Insurance contributions.

Find out more about social security contributions after a no-deal Brexit.

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.

Money and tax after Brexit

If there’s no deal, it may become more expensive to use your bank card in Germany. Read more on using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU.

Pensions

You will need to 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).

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.

Pensions after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay a State Pension to those eligible in the EU after Brexit. Your UK State Pension will be uprated in April 2020, 2021 and 2022 if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.  

Read our guidance on pensions if there’s no deal.

If there’s a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Germany, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your German pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after the end of the implementation period.

Germany’s no-deal legislation (in German), which would come into effect if there’s no deal, ensures that UK nationals living in Germany can continue to pay into Germany’s public pension system. It also ensures that any contributions you have paid in the UK for 5 years after the day the UK leaves the EU would be counted towards entitlements for a German state pension.

Read the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs’ FAQs (in German).

Benefits

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Germany.

You may be entitled to German benefits. Read the German government’s guide on German Social Security.

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

Benefits after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay the UK State Pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU. Read our guidance on benefits and pensions if there’s no deal.

If there is a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Germany, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for German contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after the end of the implementation period.

If there’s no deal, the German government plans a 3-month transition period which may be extended to 9 months. During this time, UK nationals will continue to receive benefits they received before Brexit. For further information, consult the FAQs of the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in German).

Driving in Germany

If you are a resident in Germany, you must exchange your UK licence for a German one. You can still use your German licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.

You must exchange your UK licence for a German driving licence within 6 months of moving to Germany.

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 our guidance on:

Driving after Brexit

If there is a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the implementation period.

If there’s no deal, your UK licence may no longer be valid in Germany. You must have exchanged your licence for a German one before Brexit. You can still use your German licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.

Find out more:

An International Driving Permit is not a suitable alternative to exchanging your licence.

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 may be able to vote in some UK elections.

If you are resident in Germany, you can vote in local municipal and European parliamentary elections until Brexit. Read the European Union’s guidance on elections abroad.

Voting after Brexit

After Brexit, UK nationals living in Germany will not be able to vote in local and European 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

After Brexit, you will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a cat, dog or ferret, but the rules will change. Read guidance on pet travel to Europe after Brexit.

While the UK is still a Member State of the EU, you’ll be able to travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport.

If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read guidance on returning your cat, dog or ferret to the UK.

For moving pet horses and other equines read guidance on export horses and ponies: special rules.

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, tell:

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

You must also deregister with your local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt).

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.

You can exchange your EU driving licence for a UK licence without taking another test if you passed your driving test in the UK or another specified country.

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 and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 17 May 2013
Last updated 15 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. 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
  2. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating. 
  6. 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
  7. 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".
  8. 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.
  9. EU Exit update: New information on residency and travel after EU Exit
  10. EU Exit update: Updated information on heathcare and residency
  11. EU Exit update: New information event for UK nationals in Düsseldorf, 28 March
  12. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  13. EU Exit update: addition to Working In Germany section - information concerning working as a civil servant (Beamte/r)
  14. EU Exit update: New guidance document on German Foreigners Authorities - link in "Visas and residency" section.
  15. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip
  16. EU Exit update: New education and professional qualifications section. Federal Government website information added to EU Exit section.
  17. 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.
  18. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare
  19. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving
  20. EU Exit update: New information added about residency in Germany for UK nationals
  21. 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.
  22. 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
  23. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  24. Updated January 2017
  25. Updated Information in view of a change in German registration law as of 1 November 2015.
  26. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated
  27. First published.