Q&A: Will I be able to move to Germany after the Brexit transition period?

Brexit will change the lives of British people living in Germany, and for those Brits who want to move in future. In the second part of our question and answer with experts we looked at travel, citizenship and moving to Germany.

Q&A: Will I be able to move to Germany after the Brexit transition period?
A plane leaving from Frankfurt in March. Photo: DPA

How will life change for British people living in Germany after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st? And will Brits still be able to move to the Bundesrepublik in future?

We put some questions on these issues to Sir Sebastian Wood, British Ambassador to Germany and Axel Dittmann, head of the Brexit Taskforce in Germany.

For the first part of the Q&A on general rights for Brits in Germany click here.

The Local: Will British people in Germany lose the right to freedom of movement throughout the EU after the transition period?

Sir Sebastian Wood: I understand onward movement rights – the right to move to live and work in another EU member state after the end of the transition period – are an important issue for UK nationals living in Germany. Unfortunately, these are not protected in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The British government sought the inclusion of onward movement rights during the first phase of negotiations on citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement, but the EU took the view that this was a benefit closely associated with membership in the EU and therefore should be excluded. During the transition period, UK nationals will be able to move to other EU member states as before. 

Axel Dittmann:  British citizens will be allowed to travel to other Schengen States, using the newly introduced residence cards for British citizens which serve as documentation of their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. They can stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day period.

However, they will no longer be allowed to work in any other EU or Schengen State without a permit from that state. There are special rights under the Withdrawal Agreement for frontier workers who have been living in a different state than the EU member state where they were working on 31 December 2020. They will be permitted to continue their frontier work, and will eventually receive appropriate permits from both of the states involved.

The Local: After Brexit, do British nationals in Germany need to carry any documents when travelling (other than a passport)? Will they be able to get back into Germany easily? Are British people in Germany still able to use the ‘EU passport’ line during the transition period?

Axel Dittmann: During the transition period, British people will enjoy the full rights of freedom of movement and will therefore be able to use the EU passport line. After it ends, however, they will no longer be entitled to use the EU line. They should be able to provide documentation of their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. After 30th June 2021, they will be required to show the new residence document, or a temporary substitute upon entry and exit.

READ ALSO: 'With chemo you can't stop giving medicine': How Brexit healthcare fears pushed a UK family to Germany

The Local: Will British people who are eligible to apply for German citizenship after the transition period be able to retain their British passport (dual citizenship) or do they lose that right? 

Axel Dittmann: British people with dual German and British citizenship have the right to retain their dual citizenship. Furthermore, transitional arrangements are in place so that British citizens who apply for naturalisation before the end of the transition period may retain their British citizenship, even if the authorities do not complete processing their application until after the end of the transition period. In these cases, all relevant conditions must be met at the time of application and at the time of naturalisation.

However, British citizens who apply for German citizenship after the end of the transition period will be required to give up their British citizenship.

READ ALSO: Explained: What you need to know about applying for German citizenship

A German and British passport. Photo: DPA

The Local: After the transition period ends, will British people still be able to move to Germany? Will they be required to meet any conditions? And if so, which conditions?

Axel Dittmann: The Withdrawal Agreement does not specify rights for British people wishing to move to Germany after the end of the transition period. The future rules on the movement of persons between the UK and the EU depend on the current negotiations. If there is no agreement, the same rules as for other third-country nationals will apply. Websites like Make it in Germany show the available paths to live and work in Germany.

As an experienced and welcoming destination country for third country nationals, Germany will still be open to people from all over the world – including from the United Kingdom. And British people married to a German national will generally have the right to move to Germany under a special scheme for family reunification.

READ ALSO: Can Brits still move to Germany after Brexit day?

The Local: How are British students planning to study in Germany after the transition period affected by Brexit?

Axel Dittmann: Since the UK is part of the European Higher Education Area with 48 countries involved, there will be no changes in accessing or progressing within the German higher education system when it comes to pursuing a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD degree.

When it comes to fees, British students who plan to start studying in Germany after the transition period will probably be subject to the same rules as other non-EU country nationals. However, only one of sixteen Länder (Baden-Württemberg) currently charges fees for third country nationals.

The Local: What will British nationals moving to Germany after the end of the transition period need to do to ensure they have healthcare coverage?

Sir Sebastian Wood and Axel Dittmann: For British nationals moving to Germany after the transition period, the teams negotiating the future UK-EU relationship are discussing the issue of healthcare coverage at present.

Do you have any other questions about Brexit that The Local can try and answer? Email us: [email protected]

Useful links

You can find more information, and keep up to date with any developments, by subscribing to the Living in Germany Guide on the UK government website.

Visit the German government website for further general information.

For more information about qualification recognition this is a helpful German website.

If you are receiving BAfög, the German student and trainee loan, you find information on this website.

For more information on German citizenship visit this website.

The British embassy recommends reading  UK nationals in the EU: essential information, attending one of the embassy's citizens outreach meeting and following your local British Embassy on Facebook and Twitter.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.