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Updated: The ultimate Brexit checklist for Brits in Germany

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Updated: The ultimate Brexit checklist for Brits in Germany
It's time to plan and prep for Brexit. Photo: Depositphotos/Rawpixel
16:30 CET+01:00
We don't yet know what will happen when the October 31st Brexit deadline arrives. But whatever the scenario, it's best to be prepared.

This article was updated on August 28th, 2019.

We've compiled information on how you should prepare for Brexit, whatever the scenario. There is a list of helpful websites at the end of the text and links throughout the story which you should also consult.

SEE ALSO: BREXIT: What complications do Brits face in obtaining residency permits?

British people already living in Germany

If you're living in Germany then you will have likely registered (angemeldet) already. If not you should do so immediately at your Einwohnermeldeamt. All citizens are required to do this within 14 days of arriving in Germany if they are staying longer than three months.

In some places the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. When you change addresses in Germany you must deregister from your old address and register at your new one.

An overview of all Einwohnermeldeämter is available here.

What happens if there is a deal?

If a withdrawal agreement is agreed, then a transition period will begin after the UK leaves the EU on the agreed date.

An anti-Brexit campaigner in London. Photo: DPA

During this time the UK will be treated like a member state of the EU. EU rules on freedom of movement will continue to apply during this period. 

SEE ALSO: How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)

What happens if the UK leaves without a deal?

In the event of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, no British citizen will be required to leave Germany, according to the German federal government.

Axel Dittmann, head of the Brexit Task Force for the German government also told the Local: "Our very clear political objective is to ensure that all British citizens living in Germany can continue to live, work and study here.

“No British would have to leave Germany as a result of Brexit, including pensioners and welfare recipients.”

The German government says it is planning to launch a three-month transition period which, as The Local revealed, it is planning to extend to the end of the year (nine months in total). During this period all British citizens within the EU will be able to continue to live and work in Germany as before.

Germany is also planning to introduce a no-deal Brexit residency law, called the Brexit-Aufenthalts-Überleitungsgesetz (Brexit Residence Transition Act), which goes a step further to provide reassurances to British nationals.

SEE ALSO: New law set to guarantee Brits residency in case of no-deal Brexit

The Local has been reporting how Brits have been applying for residence permits from their local Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) and the difficulties they face due to the different processes across Germany's 16 states.

We also exclusively revealed that 8,000 Brits in Berlin still hadn't applied for a residency permit ahead of Brexit, even though the registering process opened up in the capital in January.

For details on what kind of residence permits are being given out to British people in Germany, check out our story here.

Register for a residence permit 

But to be able to stay in Germany long-term, British citizens are required, before the end of the transition period to apply for a residence permit. Britons have permission to stay in Germany while their application is being processed, authorities say.

SEE ALSO: Brits' anxiety, residence permits and 'Freundship': Brexit experts talk to The Local

As Germany is a federal country, states differ on how they are implementing the residence permit process. Some states are already asking people to register and apply for a permit voluntarily before Britain makes its exit.

Some states have issued letters asking residents to book an appointment with the immigration office, while others are asking British people to fill in a form online.

If you've not already done so, get in touch with your local authority. Find your relevant Foreigners Authority here. Note that you need a valid passport to be able to apply for a permit.

Authorities will also look at forming a new law that would make it easier for groups such as pensioners, unemployed people or low earners to meet the requirements for a permit.

Brits across Germany are being urged to look into applying for a residence permit as soon as possible.

Renew your UK passport if needed

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. You should have at least 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival. If not, you should get your UK passport renewed. You can check a passport for travel to Europe by clicking here.

Travelling in the event of a no-deal

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, nothing will change until the end of 2020. In this time Brits can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with a valid UK passport.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be new travel rules. The German government has said that Brits who leave the country after a no-deal Brexit should allow extra time when re-entering Germany.

Dittmann told The Local: "We ask for your understanding that delays and inconveniences may occur at the German border due to Brexit.

“Third-country nationals are subject to stricter inspection requirements than the entry of Union (EU) citizens. We therefore recommend calculating delays when travelling. In order to facilitate border control.”

The government also says residents should carry documentation that proves they are a long term resident, such as a residence permit, Meldebescheinigung (registration certificate), correspondence concerning social insurance contributions and work or rental contracts. For further information read the Federal Interior Ministry Brexit FAQs (in German).

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the European Commission has said Brits shouldn't need visas for short stays (up to 90 days in a 180 day period) elsewhere in the Schengen area or the EU. Germany has said it plans to back these proposals. There is no advice yet on what happens in the case of longer trips.

Change your driving licence

Holders of UK driving licences who live in Germany and want to continue driving in Germany after Brexit should exchange their UK licence for a German driving licence before Brexit.

SEE ALSO: How to swap your UK driving licence for a German one

Photo: DPA

Think about your qualifications

The European Commission has published guidance on professional qualifications. Where UK nationals have already been recognized by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU.

If you hold a UK qualification which has not yet been recognized in Germany, you might want to consider requesting a recognition of your qualification before Britain leaves the EU. Through this website, you can check if it is recognized in Germany or if you should take action.  You can also contact the governmental organization through the website if you have any questions.

“If you have UK qualifications that have not yet been recognized by Germany, the European Commission advises that you start the recognition process before Exit Day,” Sir Sebastian Wood, UK Ambassador to Germany, told The Local.

Make sure you have health insurance

The UK government has or is seeking agreements with countries on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after Brexit.

If you are resident in Germany, you must register with a Krankenkasse (health insurance provider) – through your employer or get in touch with healthcare providers if you're freelance – to access healthcare. German residents are either state insured (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) or privately insured (private Krankenversicherung).

The Federal Ministry Labour and Social Affairs has detailed information about German social security, including health insurance. This document details out the different health insurance systems.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and there is no agreement with Germany to continue reciprocal healthcare arrangements, UK nationals (eg pensioners) would no longer receive coverage through the S1 form.

In this case, people should take out German health insurance. According to German no-deal laws, those affected will be able to join a statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) within three months of the UK leaving the EU, without being subject to the normal restrictions on age, etc. Those affected would be required to pay towards this insurance.

Contact your Krankenkasse for more information and read the Association of German Health Insurers' Brexit FAQ.

Top up on medication

Campaign group British in Germany recommends making sure you have a good supply of regular medication (if you need it) in case there is short-term chaos during the changeover.

“Making sure that you have the permitted 3 months of long-term medication would mean that you'd avoid having to pay full whack for your meds while the situation was resolved,” BiG wrote on their website.

Think about your pension

BiG also recommends that if you have a personal pension in the UK (this doesn't apply to state or public service/occupational pensions) and have not yet retired, think about getting advice about how to deal with this.

You should write to your private pension company in the UK to ask them what plans they have for post-Brexit scenarios.

Think about applying for citizenship

Applicants who file an application for German citizenship before the date on which the UK leaves the EU but who do not receive a decision until after Brexit are to retain their previous German or British nationality, that is if they have fulfilled all the other criteria before the Brexit date, the German government says.

After any transitional periods in future it is likely that British people applying for German citizenship will not be able to retain their dual citizenship. 

Think about changing your driving licence. Photo: DPA

SEE ALSO: Brits should try for German citizenship even if they don't think they qualify

Think about limiting your travel time around Brexit day in the event of a no-deal

Everyone is of course allowed to go about their lives but keep in mind that things might be up in the air come Brexit day, quite literally. In the event of a no-deal, the UK will automatically leave the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). Discussions are currently being held on what measures can be taken to avoid the resulting disruption to air traffic.

Consultations on the proposal are still ongoing in the EU.

Studying in Germany or the UK

At the moment, it is still not possible to say whether the UK will stay in the Erasmus+ Programme and what the UK's future status will be in the Erasmus+ Programme, according to authorities. That will all depend on the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations between the EU and the UK, says the German government. 

Useful websites:

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.

You should also check out the German Federal Government's website with answers to frequently asked Brexit questions, this Living in Germany guide by the UK Government and British in Germany's no-deal checklist.

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