From 1st February 2020, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will no longer be a Member State of the European Union. After 47 years of membership and almost three years after the formal request for withdrawal, the United Kingdom has left the EU on 31 January 2020.
At the same time, the withdrawal agreement ratified by the United Kingdom and the EU will enter into force for eleven months. During this time not much will change. For the most part, the United Kingdom will continue to be treated as a Member State without being allowed to co-govern in Brussels. The more than three million EU citizens in the UK and one million Britons in the EU will be able to continue to live as before. This applies to the right of residence, employment and family reunification.
Nor will there be any changes in travel to or from the UK until 31 December 2020. A valid identity card or passport will still be sufficient for entry to the UK or from the UK to Germany. There have already been border controls in the past because the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area. Germans will continue to be covered by their health insurance when travelling to the UK until the end of the year and their driving licence will also continue to be valid.
The agreement can be extended once for two years until 31 December 2022. The EU and the United Kingdom must agree on this by 30 June 2020 at the latest. However, the House of Commons has already ruled out the possibility of a two-year extension with the implementation bill for the withdrawal agreement. An extension is therefore currently considered unlikely.
Further steps for British citizens
British nationals will continue to enjoy unlimited freedom of movement until 31.12.2020 according to the exit agreement. This means that British citizens who enter Germany after 31 January 2020 can also invoke the right to freedom of movement until 31 December 2020.
On the basis of this existing right to freedom of movement, no residence permits can yet be issued to British citizens in 2020, as they are not yet required.
From 1st February 2020 British citizens will be able to register online to apply for a residence permit. After registration, customers will receive a confirmation to print out. The relevant immigration office will then send out appointments for the application to them at the end of the transitional period.
To submit the application we ask that all British citizens register:
- their spouse / civil partner
- any children aged under 18 who are living together with them in Hamburg
- by 31st January 2020 at the latest.
For this purpose use the online registration platform (in German) provided by the Central Residents Office (Einwohner-Zentralamt). A valid British passport will be required to submit a residency application. By registering on this platform, British citizens will safeguard their rights just as if they were applying formally for a residency permit. Afterwards, those who have completed this registration will receive written confirmation of this process in a letter to that effect. This letter will also advise of the next steps in the process.
You can find additional information on the official website of the British Government.
British citizen who have been living in Germany for a significant amount of time or who are married to a German citizen may wish to consider the option of naturalisation. Even in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, British citizens may obtain German citizenship whilst retaining their British citizenship, provided that they apply and that all other conditions for naturalisation are met.
Last updated: 3rd February 2020