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Departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit)

Brexit - puzzle pieces with the flags of Great Britain and the European Union

Residence document-GB

UK nationals require a residence title or other proof of their right of residence in order to stay in Germany.

If UK nationals and their family members moved to Germany by 31.12.2020, they derive a right of residence from EU law. In that case more generous conditions apply.

You will be issued with a GB residence document ex officio. This is generally valid for 10 years and certifies your right of entry and residence. With this document you are entitled to exercise all forms of economic activity (employment or self-employed activities).


General aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement and its application in Berlin

  • What does the Withdrawal Agreement regulate and how is it implemented in Berlin?
    • Under the Withdrawal Agreement UK nationals, together with their dependants living with them, who were living in Berlin in accordance with EU law on 31.12.2020 will continue to be able to stay here. From 01.01.2021 onwards rights can no longer arise under the Withdrawal Agreement. Separate rules apply for children born or adopted from 01.01.2021 onwards.
    • Anyone who was exercising free movement rights in Germany may continue to stay here. This right only applies for Germany, but not for other EU member states.
    • The following information sets out the procedure in Berlin. If you live in another German state, please contact your local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) there.
  • Am I covered by the Withdrawal Agreement?
    • You must be a UK national or a dependant of a UK national who lived in Germany or moved here before 01.01.2021 and continue to reside here after 01.01.2021. Workers (including those in vocational training), the self-employed, students and job-seekers are all beneficiaries. Those not engaged in economic activity are also covered as long as they have enough funds for their own subsistence and health insurance cover.
    • UK soldiers stationed in Germany are counted as workers for the purpose of EU law.
    • Activities as a diplomat, member of a consular corps, employee of an international organisation or by any other holder of a special identity card (Sonderausweis) issued by the German Foreign Ministry (individuals covered by Section 1 Subsection 2 Nos 2 and 3 of the German Residence Act or Section 27 of the German Residence Ordinance) are treated as a typical permitted economic activity in conjunction with the Withdrawal Agreement.
    • Knowledge of German is not required.
  • How can I prove my right of residence? What must I do?
    • UK nationals who move their place of residence to Berlin by 31.12.2020 and continue to live in Berlin after 01.01.2021 or who move their place of residence to Berlin, will be issued with a GB residence document by us as proof of their right of residence. This also applies to their family members who do not have British citizenship.
    • To apply, please use our online appointment agreement.
    • If you do not live in Berlin, please consult your local Foreigners Authority in your place of residence.
  • What documents should I bring to the appointment at LEA?
    • The confirmation email for your online appointment lists the documents required for the GB residence document.
    • If you are not able to present some of the required documents (e.g. business registration, tax assessment), please bring other meaningful documents about your activity (e.g. orders, contracts, bank statements, invoices). If you are unable to provide proof of employment, please bring evidence of your own means of subsistence and health insurance.
    • If you are only gainfully employed in the UK while living in Germany, you must provide the same documents as someone who is not gainfully employed. I.e. proof of income and a current certificate from the insurer about sufficient health insurance coverage. As evidence of your income, the corresponding documents for employed or self-employed persons are suitable, except that these documents are issued in Great Britain and not in Germany.
    • If you have been looking for work for longer than 6 months, please bring letters of application and proof of qualifications.
  • Residence in line with the Withdrawal Agreement should have been notified to LEA by 30.06.2021. What happens if I failed to do this?
    • Failure to comply with the duty to notify is neither a criminal nor a regulatory offence. It does, however, mean that you bear the burden of any complications arising such as difficulties in proving your lawful residence.
    • UK nationals who failed to register can still apply for a GB residence document.
  • Do I retain a right of entry and exit?
    • Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement have a direct right of entry and exit provided you carry a valid passport with you, even when you do not have a GB residence document yet. This right only applies for Germany, but not for other EU member states.
    • If a GB residence document has not yet been issued, we would recommend that you carry the following documents with you when entering and leaving the country, as proof of your fixed abode in Germany: confirmation of your application for a GB residence document, confirmation of registration at the Citizens Office, other documents like rental agreement, payslips issued by a German employer and other documents with your name and your German address on them.
    • Please consult the embassies and consulates in your destination country or the responsible border authorities for particular rules governing entry and residence.
    • The GB residence document entitles you to enter for a short stay without a visa, you can travel to the following countries in the Schengen area for no more than 90 days within a period of 180 days: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain
  • I have received a GB residence document but now I have received a new passport or the validity of my residence document-card has expired. What do I have to do?
    • The expiry of the validity of the residence document-card or the issuance of a new passport has no effect on your right of residence. This is retained even if the residence document-card has expired or the passport number differs from that entered on the residence document until the validity date entered on the back of the card.
    • However, a discrepancy between passport and residence document-card validity may cause problems, e.g. during identity checks at the border, in authorities, or by banks or insurance companies. We therefore recommend that you have the period of validity of your existing right of residence transferred to a new residence document-card.
    • The service transfer GB residence document to a new passport can be provided in all local Civic Offices in Berlin as well as at LEA. Please use the online appointment reservation system.
    • The transfer of a GB residence document is subject to a fee of €37.00. For persons under 24 years of age the fee is €22.80.
  • LEA issued me with a permanent residence permit because of Brexit. How and when can I obtain a GB residence document?
    • In principle the GB residence document will be issued when your residence title needs to be updated because your passport has expired or a temporary residence title needs to be extended. Having the permanent residence document instead of the GB residence document does not disadvantage you. Your rights of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement remain unaffected, even though you are not in possession of a GB residence document.
    • The residence title issued to you means you are staying lawfully.
    • To apply for a GB residence document, please use our online appointment agreement when your residence title needs to be updated because your passport has expired. We kindly ask you for your patience until then.
    • Please do not book an appointment to transfer the residence title in a Berlin Civic Office. These offices are not able to issue you with a GB residence document in lieu of a permanent residence permit.
  • For how long can I leave Germany after receiving the GB residence document before losing the status of living here?
    • If you are not yet entitled to permanent residence, as a general rule you are allowed to be outside Germany for up to 6 months in a year. A one-time absence of up to 12 months is possible for important reasons (e.g. pregnancy, serious illness, studies).
    • If you have a permanent right of residence, you would only lose it if you were outside Germany for five consecutive years.

Family reunification

  • Who is allowed to join family members?

    Dependants of UK nationals and their spouses or partners living here can join them regardless of nationality. You may fall within scope of the Withdrawal Agreement on account of your family ties to a UK national who is a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement if these family ties existed on 31.12.2020.

    The following family members within scope are:
    • registered partners,
    • direct descendants (children, grandchildren etc.) of the UK national or spouse or registered partner up to the age of 21 or else in receipt of maintenance from them, and
    • direct ascendants (parents, grandparents etc.) of the UK national or spouse or registered partner if they are in receipt of maintenance from them.

    You can find information about this on the Federal Interior Ministry website at this link (see chapter 7).

    In cases of family reunification where the Withdrawal Agreement does not apply because applicants do not meet the necessary condition of requisite family ties existing on 31.12.2020, the arrangements for family reunification are provided for under the general framework of national residence law.

  • My child was born after 31.12.2020 / I adopted a child after 31.12.2020. Do they qualify as a beneficiary under the Withdrawal Agreement?

    In most cases the children of a UK national who has rights under the Withdrawal Agreement who were born or adopted on or after 01.01.2021 have a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement, irrespective of their place of birth, provided they are under 21 when they join their parent. Those aged 21 or over may only derive a right of residence if the UK national (or the UK national‘s spouse or partner) provides them with subsistence.

    You can find more information and the prerequisites for this on the Federal Interior Ministry website at this link.

  • Can temporary and permanent residence cards issued under the German EU Free Movement Act (FreizügG/EU) still be used after 31.12.2020?
    • No. Where a right of residence can only be derived from the Withdrawal Agreement, these cards expired on 31.12.2021. In such cases you will require a GB residence document. To apply, please use our online appointment agreement.

Economic activity

  • Does the Withdrawal Agreement affect my entitlement to employment?
    • No. Since you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you can continue work or engage in self-employed activity without restrictions. All residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement entail an entitlement to unrestricted engagement in economic activity. This entitlement only applies in Germany, and not in other EU member states.
  • Does my employer need a permit to retain me?
    • No. All residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement include an entitlement to work. This entitlement to engage in economic activity is not dependent on the possession of documents, in particular the GB residence document or the GB frontier-worker residence document.
    • Your employer does not require any additional permit in order to continue employing you. Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement can engage in a new economic activity at any time.
    • For further information for employers and employees see the fact sheet on the Federal Interior Ministry website.

Additional information