4. Residence status of British citizens and their dependants in Germany and entry regulations after 1 January 2021



Since 1 January 2021, UK nationals and their family members who are third-country nationals who were entitled to live or work in Germany (or another EU member state) until that date and who also exercised that right essentially have the same rights as they had before withdrawal. In other words, provided these rights were exercised, they are effectively frozen. These rights exist “by law”, which means you can assert them without having to take any further action. However, in order to be able to provide evidence that you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you must have a residence document, which you can obtain from the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for your place of residence. UK nationals living in Germany on 31 December 2020 and continuing to live in Germany had to report their residence to the local immigration office responsible for their place of residence by 30 June 2021 in order to be able to obtain the new residence document. However, this privilege only applies to British citizens (with “British citizen” on their passport) who, based on their status, were treated as citizens of the Union during the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

The website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior contains complete information covering all possible Scenarios.

British citizens (with “British citizen” on their passport) do not need a visa for visits and/or business trips involving a stay of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. However, this only applies if they will not be pursuing an economic activity. British citizens from the following Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Montserrat, St. Helena and Turks and Caicos Islands also enjoy this privilege.

For UK nationals, the Schengen entry requirements for third-country nationals not requiring a visa apply:
When crossing the border, travellers must have with them the necessary documents and evidence required for entry into the Schengen states, in particular a valid travel document and evidence of the purpose and circumstances of the intended stay. They must also have sufficient funds to cover living costs (both for the duration of the intended stay and for the return journey). This normally includes holding valid, appropriate travel health insurance cover. As a rule, from 1 January 2021 an EHIC card is no longer sufficient.

After 1 January 2021 UK nationals arriving in Germany are subject to general German law on third-country nationals. However the following applies despite Brexit:

  • UK nationals arriving in Germany for long term stays, such as study or work, do not need a visa. However, after entry into Germany you will have to apply for a residence permit from your local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). If you wish to start work before you obtain your residence permit, you will have to apply for a visa for the purpose of employment at your local German mission before entry into Germany. You can find more details on the requirements and procedure on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (in German), and on our website.
  • UK skilled workers and other workers arriving in Germany will have easier access to the labour market. The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) can approve and priority-check applications for those wishing to take up employment of any kind in Germany, regardless of where the employer is based.

Holders of British residence cards for family members of EU/ EEA citizens were able to still enter the EU without requiring a visa until 31 December 2020. This privilege only applied if they were entering the EU together with the EU/EEA citizen. It did not apply to holders of British residence cards granted under the EU Settlement Scheme. These rights have ceased to apply now that the transition period has ended.

Since 1 January 2021 these facilities granted on the basis of the right of free movement are no longer applicable for non-EU family members of UK and German nationals, either when applying for a visa, or when crossing the border.

After the end of the transition period, travellers who still hold a visa granted to a family member of a UK or German national under the freedom of movement legislation should carry with them when crossing the border all the proof they need for entry into a Schengen state, e.g. proof of accommodation, of gainful employment, of sufficient means of support during their stay, letters of invitation or return flight tickets, as well as evidence of their economic situation in their home country and their intention to leave the territory of the member states before the visa expires.

As of 1 January 2021, nationals of the following countries need a Category A airport visa for each airport transit in Germany:

Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, (special rules for transit from and to Australia, Israel and New Zealand), Congo (Democratic Republic), Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Turkey (individual exemptions for holders of diplomatic, service and other official passports)

The following persons do not need an airport visa:

  • Holders of a valid visa and national residence permit for the EU and Schengen states
  • Holders of certain national residence permits for the following countries: Andorra, Japan, Canada, San Marino, United States of America
  • Holders of a valid visa for the EEA states (EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and Japan, Canada and the United States of America.

As of 1 January 2021, possession of a British visa and residence permit no longer exempts travellers from the airport visa requirement.

The following UK convention passports still entitle the holder to visa-free entry after 1 January 2021.

  • Convention Travel Document for Refugees (1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, dark blue)
  • Stateless Person’s Travel Document (1954 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, red)

Holders of a UK Alien’s Passport (Certificate of Travel – black) still require a visa as previously.

The travel facilities for pupils of British schools who would normally require a visa will also remain in place, as far as Germany is concerned, after 1 January 2021. Under the conditions stated in the Council decision of 30 November 1994 - 94/795/JI, these pupils will not require a visa in future either. However, the British Council has already stated that from 1 January 2021 its List of Travellers visa scheme will no longer be available.

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