Guidance

Living in Germany

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

Stay up to date

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.

The Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights. It sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to live, work and study in the EU broadly as you did before 31 January 2020.

If you are resident in Germany at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Germany.

Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations. Read this guidance page for more information.

In the meantime, make sure you are registered as a resident in Germany. We will update this guidance as soon as more information becomes available.

You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Germany.

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

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

If you are resident in Germany before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay. To confirm your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you will need to obtain a new residence document.

The German authorities have not yet confirmed the process to obtain the residency document, but once it is announced you will have until at least 30 June 2021 to submit your request. You will need a valid passport when requesting a residence document.

We will update this guidance as soon as information is available. For more information, read the German Federal Interior Ministry’s guidance and follow their recommended actions.

UK Nationals Support Fund

On 6 March 2020 the FCO announced funding for organisations to provide practical support to UK nationals who may have difficulty completing their residency applications.

These organisations will help individuals who may find it harder to complete the necessary paperwork to secure their residency rights, including pensioners, disabled people, those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties, and those who require help with language translation or interpretation.

In Germany, two organisations are providing this practical support: SSAFA, the armed forces charity, will cover Bremen, Hamburg, Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen and The International Organisation for Migration will cover all other federal states.

If you or someone you know may have difficulty completing the residency application, you should contact one of these organisations using the details below to discuss how they may be able to help you.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Email: UKNationalsDE@iom.int

Hotline: +49 (0)30 206066111

Website: http://germany.iom.int/en/UKNSFproject

SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity

Email: ukvie.support@ssafa.org.uk

Hotline: 0800 000 1993

Website: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/

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

The rules on travel will stay the same until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time, you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

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

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

We will update these pages with details of any changes to the rules as soon as information is available. You should sign up for updates to this guidance.

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).

If you are living in Germany or move there permanently before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, you’ll have life-long healthcare rights in Germany as you do now, provided you remain resident.

Read our guidance on accessing healthcare in Germany and the German government’s guidance on social security in Germany.

State healthcare: S1

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.

Read our guidance on how to get an S1 Form

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Germany, you must not use your 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:

There will be no changes to your healthcare access before 31 December 2020. You can also continue to use your EHIC, as you did before, during this time.

You can find an English-speaking doctor in Germany.

Students must:

Working and studying in Germany

If you are resident in Germany on or before 31 December 2020, your right to work in Germany will stay the same, as long as you remain resident in Germany.

You may need a:

For further information, read this guidance from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in German) and the Federal Employment Agency.

Education

If you are resident in Germany on or before 31 December 2020, your right to study in Germany will remain the same, as long as you remain resident in Germany.

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

For more information:

Professional qualifications

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

If you have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications, this will remain valid.

If you have not had your professional qualifications recognised, you can submit an application under the current rules until 31 December 2020.

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) when you register your address at the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). Your employer will need your tax ID 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 or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

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

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).

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 31 December 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming the UK State Pension in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.

If you are living in Germany by 31 December 2020, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.

If 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 31 December 2020.

Read guidance from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (in German).

If you are considering moving to Germany on or after 1 January 2021 and you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the rules depend on negotiations with the EU and may change. Check our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

You can continue to receive your UK State Pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension.

Benefits

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

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 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.

Benefits after 31 December 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming UK benefits in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, you will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive. This will continue for as long as you live there and meet all other eligibility requirements.

If 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 31 December 2020.

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

If you are considering moving to Germany on or after 1 January 2021 and you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the rules depend on negotiations with the EU and may change. Check our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

Driving in Germany

Driving licence exchange rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

If you are a resident in Germany, you must exchange your UK licence for a German one within 6 months of moving to Germany. 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. Driving licences are issued at local authority level in Germany. Your local Bürgeramt can advise you on where you can go to exchange your licence.

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

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:

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 local or European Parliament 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

Current pet travel rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

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

Read guidance on bringing your pet to the UK.

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 10 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. 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

  6. 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

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

  8. 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

  9. 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

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

  11. 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

  12. 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".

  13. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  22. 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.

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

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

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

  26. 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.

  27. 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

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

  29. Updated January 2017

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

  31. instructions for witnessing UK state pension life certificates updated

  32. First published.