Immigrate to Germany Overview
Navigating the immigration process following the UK’s exit from the European Union can be complicated, as such those who wish to move to Germany from the UK should be aware of the complexities involved in the new process.
These new regulations should be well understood when planning for the responsibilities which should be well understood ahead of time.
While it is still possible to visit Germany temporarily without a visa, you are restricted in terms of your ability to work or study unless you acquire a residence permit.
There will be a set of eligibility requirements you should ensure you meet before you send off your application for a visa or residence permit.
While the UK is being treated with more leniency for those who wish to emigrate to Germany compared to other non-EEA countries, the complexity of the rules make it such that your individual circumstances may require expert legal assistance to maximise the chances of success.
Furthermore, if you seek to stay in Germany long-term, it is important to understand the possible pathways that may allow you to apply for citizenship some time in the future.
- Immigrate to Germany Overview
- German Short Stay Visas
- German Long Stay Visa Types from UK
- Moving To Germany For Work
- Moving To Germany For Family
- Moving To Germany For Study
- Cost Of Moving To Germany
- Application Process
- Temporary Residence Permits
- Permanent Residence Permit
- Gaining German Citizenship
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
German Short Stay Visas
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements to move to Germany on a long-term visa, you may be able to visit for a short period using a short stay visa instead.
Following the Brexit withdrawal agreement, UK citizens may stay in Germany for up to 90 days at a time visa-free within a total period of 180 days. Stays any longer require an application for a visa and/or a temporary residence permit which you may apply for while in Germany.
It is important to note that UK citizens, while not needing a visa for these short stays, must register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System starting in May 2025 before travelling to any country in the Schengen area. This is to pre-screen those who are visa-exempt in order to identify potential security risks.
You may require a visa regardless and not be entitled to stay for 90 days if you have previously been refused entry into the Schengen Area or are not a UK citizen with permanent residence.
A Germany Schengen visa (also known as a C-type visa) is available for these short term visits for purposes such as tourism if you do not meet the eligibility requirements for entering without a visa. You may also be able to conduct some business such as attending a job interview under these conditions.
Other types of short-term visas include the Germany Airport Transit visa for changing flights at a German airport, the German Business visa for short business trips, and the German Medical visa for receiving medical care. Citizens of the UK typically do not have to worry about these visas as you are already entitled to enter Germany visa-free to conduct such activities as these for up to 90 days, though you are recommended to thoroughly check ahead of time if the specific activity you wish to undertake will be allowed without prior permission from German authorities.
German Long Stay Visa Types from UK
In order to stay and work long-term in Germany, all residents of non-EU countries including UK nationals need a D-type visa.
The most common type held by most foreign citizens is the National visa, this is split into multiple different types depending on the circumstances in which you wish to move to Germany.
Some of these include:
- The German Student visa and the German Student Applicant visa for those looking to study at a university in Germany.
- The German Family Reunion visa for family reunification on such terms as joining spouses, registered partners, or children.
- Work visas such as the Job Seeker visa which allows you to come to Germany for up to 6 months to search for a job, the Employment visa for those who have already received a concrete job offer, and the EU Blue Card for those outside the EU who are highly qualified and have received a job offer that meets the minimum salary of €43,800 per year, or a reduced amount of €39,682.80 for those in ‘bottleneck professions’ such as IT.
The National visa is usually issued for up to 12 months, though a temporary residence permit must be applied for in order to stay for a longer period. The National visa is usually a prerequisite to gaining a residence permit.
Moving To Germany For Work
The Visa for Qualified Professionals is available for those who have attended an institution of higher education or qualified vocational training before coming to Germany. This is similar to the EU Blue Card but does not generally have as high of a minimum salary that must be met in order to qualify.
The Visa for IT Professionals is available for those in the field of information technology with at least 3 years of experience during the last 7 years and who meet the minimum salary.
A Visa for Self-Employment is also available to whom it is relevant to. This makes it possible to start a business or work freelance while in Germany. There may be more eligibility requirements to meet for this visa as there needs to be the demand for the service you are offering and you must be able to finance your business yourself.
You may also be expected to demonstrate a competent level of reading and speaking German at least the B1 level.
In many cases during the application process you will need to provide proof that you hold valid qualifications for the visa you are applying for and that you are able to financially maintain yourself while searching for work (in the cases of such visas as the Job Seeker visa).
Moving To Germany For Family
You may get a visa if you have family members who are already permanent residents of Germany. In this case the family member acting as a ‘sponsor’ must apply at their local Foreigners’ Registration Office along with any other supporting documentation that may be required including proof of family relationship, financial means, and residential status.
It is important to note a Family Reunion visa may not be required for UK citizens hoping to join family members as it is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit regardless in Germany, even if you are the parent or legal guardian of a child under the age of 16 who has permanent residence in Germany.
Moving To Germany For Study
A Student visa may be applied for from inside Germany if you are a UK citizen or you may choose to apply in advance before arriving.
To be eligible for a visa you need to receive an offer to study the course of a degree at a German university. A lack of an offer as of yet means you will only potentially be able to receive a 9-month temporary visa until enrolling on a course is possible.
It is important to note that while you may apply for a German Student Applicant visa to enter the country while attempting to enrol on a university degree, you may be subject to larger restrictions on what activities you are able to conduct while in Germany, such as not being allowed to work as those on a Student visa may.
Those coming from an EU/EEA country may work up to 20 hours per week while those coming outside the EU on a Student visa may only work 120 full days per year or 240 half days.
It is possible to switch to a vocational training program while in Germany on a Student visa, in which case you will need to apply for your temporary resident permit to be changed.
Cost Of Moving To Germany
The application for short-stay C-type Schengen visas costs €80 per adult and €40 per child and long-stay D-type visas cost €75 per adult and €38 per child.
Some people may be exempt from these charges, such as children younger than 6, family members of EU/EEA nationals, and those travelling for the purpose of study who are accompanied by teaching staff.
Though the cost of living is lower on average in Germany than other European countries including the UK, you will need to ensure you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself while seeking a permanent move, with the estimated figure that should be allocated for the cost of living sitting between €900 to €2,500 per month.
Additional research is recommended regarding the approximate cost of the particular area of Germany you are planning to move to, as accommodation, food, utility, and clothing costs can vary hugely.
Regarding the move itself, funds should be reserved for such further expenditures as storage, transferring belongings to mainland Europe, and health insurance, which is obligatory for most residents of Germany.
Private health insurance is available, though the vast majority of residents choose to pay a monthly fee to the statutory insurer which is 14.6% of your gross salary, with half being paid by your employer. The total cost is capped at €360.
You may apply for your visa online where you may find further details such as specific fee amounts. Additionally you can apply at your local application centre, within the UK at the German Embassy in London if you are in England or Wales, or by mail to the German Consulate General in Edinburgh if you are in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Even if you are applying online or by mail, after filling out all the relevant forms you must make an appointment at an application centre where you may be asked to present supporting documentation such as a valid passport, birth certificate, letter of admission if applying as a student, and any other relevant forms of identification or proof that supports the visa you are applying for. Documents can be in English or German, otherwise they must be professionally translated.
You may be asked to supply biometric data involving your fingerprints being taken.
The processing time takes at least 5 days for applications, though you should anticipate waiting potentially weeks for a response, emphasising the importance of applying ahead of time before you travel to Germany.
There are many complexities and complicated steps in the application process for obtaining a German visa that should be navigated with the utmost diligence to maximise the chances of success. Contact Total Law today for professional help by phone at +44 (0)333 305 9375.
Temporary Residence Permits
After receiving your D-type National visa in order to enter Germany, you may apply for a temporary residence permit from the local Foreigners’ Registration Office so that you may undertake the relevant activity you have moved to Germany for.
The majority of British citizens wishing to emigrate to Germany will need to register their presence in Germany at their local registration office within 14 days of arriving in Germany, and apply for a temporary residence permit within 90 days.
You will need to specify the reason you are in the country when applying for a temporary residence permit. Upon receiving a successful response, you will receive a card stating the activity you are allowed to undertake, which may mean only exclusively being able to conduct that particular activity. For instance, you may be entitled to work, but not begin a course of study.
As with the National visa, the temporary residence permit typically lasts 12 months in allowing you to undertake the purpose in which you have moved to Germany, with the potential option of extending it or working towards receiving a permanent residence permit in the future.
Permanent Residence Permit
After spending 5 years residing lawfully in Germany, you may apply for a permanent residence permit. This may be reduced if you meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being the spouse of a German national.
In addition to the amount of time spent residing in Germany, you must meet the eligibility requirements such as being able to sustain yourself financially, being able to speak German at the B1 level, and passing an exam demonstrating the sufficiency of your knowledge of German culture.
The permanent residence permit will entitle you to stay in Germany indefinitely without any further conditions regarding your immigration status. You won’t have to renew your permit every few years and will be entitled to much more freedom regarding the choices you make with your career or claiming financial support from the state.
You can apply at your local immigration office where it will take a number of weeks for them to respond to you with a decision.
Gaining German Citizenship
If you have resided in Germany for at least 8 years on a residence permit, you may apply for citizenship by naturalisation. This is reduced to 7 years if you have completed an integration course, or even less in certain special circumstances.
This will earn you the right to vote in Germany, as well as the right of free movement, unrestricted job access, and the right to become a civil servant. It also bestows all the responsibilities of becoming a German citizen, which may include paying taxes, obeying legal orders, and maintaining the cultural standards and traditions of the nation.
You will need to pass a citizenship test as well as demonstrate you can speak German at the B1 level and prove you are able to provide sufficient financial support for yourself. You must also have no previous criminal record during your time living in Germany.
You may also apply for citizenship on the grounds of being married to a German citizen, by the ‘right of blood’ if you have at least 1 parent who is German (regardless of if you were born in Germany or not), by ‘right of soil’ if you were born in Germany, or if you were a victim of Nazi persecution or a descendant thereof.
UK citizens will typically need to renounce their British citizenship if choosing to naturalise as a German citizen, in accordance with Germany’s citizenship laws.
How Can Total Law Help?
The process of moving from the UK to Germany can be a complicated process, with so many complexities at every stage, including the very first step of even deciding which particular visa or temporary residence permit is the ideal choice in maximising the chances of successfully being able to start a new life in a new country.
Total Law has a team of experienced immigration specialists who can offer a host of services ranging from checking through all of the forms and documentation you plan to submit to ensure it is free of any errors that may hinder your application, to professional translation services.
We can help make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements and all the correct documents have been appropriately compiled in order to ensure processing times are as quick as possible.
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Unfortunately, it is generally not accepted in Germany for residents to have dual nationality. If you previously were a British citizen, for instance, this will have to be renounced before receiving German citizenship. Likewise, you will need to renounce your German citizenship should you apply in future to be a British national.
There are exceptions, however, and it is important to note you may retain another citizenship alongside your German citizenship in such situations as if one of your parents is German and the other a citizen of another nation. Being born to parents of different nationalities may entitle you to retain both national statuses in Germany.
The majority of people in Germany choose to rent their properties, with Germany typically being considered to have a more tightly regulated renting market than the UK, as such properties are typically more affordable, with the average cost of rent per week for a studio apartment in Berlin coming in at €1,300.
Before renting, you must ensure you have been properly registered at the local registry office within 14 days of arriving in Germany. You will be expected to show a valid form of ID or your passport, as well as any other documents a landlord may expect of you such as references, credit reports, or guarantor details.
You may need to sign up with a utility service to provide water and electricity unless provided by your accommodation.
At this point it is also recommended to ensure you have received your unique tax ID number which you will need before you start work if this is applicable. Applying for a German bank account is also recommended.