Information for nationals of the European Union, the countries of the European Economic Area or Switzerland
Nationals of the member states of the European Union (Union citizens) 1 and their relatives enjoy freedom of movement, as well as the right to enter and stay in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The same applies to nationals of the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) 2 and likewise to Swiss nationals.1 Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic Republic of Hungary, Cyprus
2 Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein
Departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit)
Enter and Stay
- A valid ID card is sufficient for Union citizens and nationals of EEA countries to enter and stay in Germany – a passport is not necessary.
- They do not need a visa in order to enter Germany.
- If you wish to stay in Germany for longer than three months, you need to register your address at a citizens’ registration office of your choice after you have moved to Berlin..
- You do not need a residence permit if you enjoy freedom of movement as an economically active person or as a non-economically active person with sufficient means of subsistence. Therefore, you can apply for a residence permit only in exceptional cases.
- Members of your family who are not nationals of a member state of the European Union or of the European Economic Area will receive a residence card. This card can only be issued by the Foreigners’ Registration Office. To obtain a residence card, please book an appointment online.
More information about the residence card and booking an appointment
After you have stayed for three months, you will have a right to freedom of movement only if
- You are pursuing an economic activity, education or training,
- You are looking for work (as a rule, this is possible only for 6 months),
- You have obtained a permanent right of residence, or
- You have sufficient means of subsistence of your own and health insurance.
Union citizens, EEA nationals and their relatives from third countries can take up any self-employment or occupation that they wish. They do not need a separate permit or certificate. In this respect, they are treated as equal to German workers.
As of 1st July 2015, this also applies to Croatian nationals.
Permanent right of residence
Union citizens, EEA nationals and their relatives will receive a permanent right of residence if
- They have lived in Germany continuously for at least 5 years, and
- They have consistently exercised a right to freedom of movement as economically active persons or as non-economically active persons with sufficient means of subsistence.
- Permanent residence card for family members of citizens entitled to freedom of movement from the EU and the EEA
- Certificate of the right of permanent residence for citizens from the EU or EEA
Your permanent right of residence will expire if you leave Germany for more than 2 years. Please consult us if you intend to stay abroad for a longer period.
Freedom of movement certificates (Freizügigkeitsbescheinigungen)
- Because of an amendment to the German EU Freedom of Movement Act (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU) in early 2013, freedom of movement certificates (Freizügigkeitsbescheinigungen) are no longer issued. Nor are any other certificates issued concerning an existing right to freedom of movement.
- In any case, the freedom of movement certificate was never necessary in order to exercise a right (e.g. an economic activity) or to carry out administrative formalities.
- If you are asked by other authorities to submit a certificate from the Foreigners’ Registration Office concerning an existing right to freedom of movement, please refer to our leaflet on the discontinuation of the freedom of movement certificate
Union citizens and their relatives have no statutory right to participate in an integration course.
The Foreigners’ Registration Office cannot issue Union citizens or their relatives with qualification certificates for integration courses. Therefore, it is pointless to apply for them or to come into the office to ask about them.
Nevertheless, it is possible to be admitted to an integration course if an integration course provider has places available. You need to submit your application for admission in writing to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
You can find the necessary forms and information on the BAMF website
Swiss nationals and their relatives
By virtue of the agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation, Swiss nationals and their relatives enjoy a right based on the right to freedom of movement for Union citizens.
- A valid ID card is sufficient for them to enter and stay in Germany – a passport is not necessary.
- They do not need a visa in order to enter Germany.
- They can take up any economic activity.
- Swiss nationals and their relatives will receive a residence permit for Swiss nationals if they wish to stay in the Federal Republic of Germany for longer than three months.
- Please book an appointment for a residence permit for Swiss nationals