The United Kingdom (UK) has declared that it will leave the European Union (EU) on 29th March, 2019. But at the EU Special Summit on 10 April 2019, the EU27 and Mrs. May agreed to extend the withdrawal period until 31 October 2019, giving the UK until the end of October to adopt and ratify the withdrawal agreement (so withdrawal from the EU can take place earlier if the withdrawal agreement is adopted earlier). This decision will impact your right of residency as a British citizen living in Germany, since it means that you will no longer be an EU citizen but rather a citizen of a (non-EU) third-country.
It is not currently possible to say what the exact consequences of the UK leaving the EU will be and how it will affect your right of residency in Germany. Much depends on whether the ultimate Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU enters into force or not.
If the agreement does enter into force, there will be a ‘transitional period’ until the end of 2020, during which British citizens will continue to benefit from the existing EU free movement rights of EU citizens. The provisions of German residency law covering third-country (non-EU) citizens would then only apply to you from 1st April 2021, taking into account any particular privileges granted to British citizens in the Withdrawal Agreement.
On the other hand, if the Withdrawal Agreement does not enter into force on the date the UK leaves the EU (‘no-deal Brexit’), Germany currently expects to adopt a national regulation to cover a three-month transitional period. Under these circumstances you would, as a UK citizen already residing in Germany, be exempt for a further three months (until 31st January 2020) from the standard requirement for third-country nationals to obtain a residency permit. Accordingly, your continuing residency in Germany, as well as your continuation of any economic activity here, would remain lawful until 31th January 2020.
Further steps for British citizens
However, as things currently stand, residency beyond this date is not assured. Consequently, by 31th January 2020 British citizens will be required to apply for a residency permit to ensure that their continuing residency in Germany and the continuation of any economic activity here remains lawful beyond 31th January 2020.
This application can be submitted in Hamburg. It is not necessary to go through a specific visa application procedure from abroad in advance. To submit a residency application a valid British passport will be required. By completing the application, the rights of British citizens will be safeguarded until a decision on their application is made. It is thus sufficient to apply for a residency permit by 31th January 2020. Provided that you apply by this date, both your continuing residency and the continuation of any economic activity in Germany will remain lawful beyond 29th January 2020, even if the Foreign Nationals Office (Ausländerbehörde) does not make a decision on your application until after that date.
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 an online registration platform will go live expected Mid/End of April 2019 on the website of the Central Residents Office (Einwohner-Zentralamt) at www.hamburg.de/eza. 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.
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: 15. April 2019