‘I’m giving up my UK passport’: Brits in Germany share their heartbreak over Brexit day

As Brexit finally arrives, British citizens in Germany have been sharing their feelings about Brexit – from anger, frustration and sadness to feeling emotionally numb.

'I'm giving up my UK passport': Brits in Germany share their heartbreak over Brexit day
Rose Newell and her German husband René Newell. Photo courtesy of Rose Newell.

Rose Newell, 33, a Berlin-based copywriter and translator who grew up in Gloucestershire, moved to Germany in 2012.

She feels “emotionally dead” over Brexit “because it’s something that’s been hanging over me for a very long time”.

“I’m not really feeling depressed or distraught or in shock or anything anymore because I’ve known it’s been coming,” she told The Local. “But what I don’t know is if there’s much left to feel.”

Newell’s future in Germany is secure because she acquired German citizenship a year ago. But she is worried about complications she could face if she wants to return to the UK in future with her non-British partner.


David Moore, 80, in Germany said he felt “angry and horrible” that the UK was finally leaving the EU. 

Simon in Cologne said he felt “disgusted and sad” and added “it should have never come to this”. Brexit has led Simon to consider giving up his British passport.

Photo: DPA

He said: “It has made me decide not on being both British/German (currently possible), but German instead and I have decided to eventually (on my own timeline) renounce my British “citizenship”, especially as I did not have the right to vote in the referendum. 

“I am repelled by the UK and the past 3.5 hyper stressful years – and this nonsensical process hasn't even really begun yet.”

Rachel Riesner-Marriott, a volunteer with citizens’ rights group British in Germany who has lived in Berlin for nearly eight years, said: “Overall my feelings now Brexit is happening are mostly resignation and sadness.

“It is a terrible tragedy that we are witness to the removal of rights we were born with and discrimination of EU27 citizens in our home country alongside the plethora of problems that have been predicted to now follow. 

“On Friday evening I will be spending the evening celebrating our shared Europeanness and mourning the loss of my rights. This is not a happy day but a day I hope to see reversed in the future.”


Musa Okwonga, 40, a writer and poet from London, moved to Germany in 2014. He told The Local he was “at peace” with the fact Brexit was happening but added: “I’m angry about it on a wider level”.

“I’m nervous at what it will do to my health insurance costs and my bureaucracy. I’m angry for the people who will never get the opportunity to make a life for themselves in another country like I’ve had.”

Okwonga said he had built up a “far greater community in Germany than I had in the UK in just five years”.

READ ALSO OPINION – if the UK won't stand up for the rights of Britons in Europe then it's up to us

“And people from now on can’t say that,” he said. “And that’s heartbreaking. I’m worried about the next people. It’s not fair that that opportunity has been taken away from people who are now alive or people who are yet to be born. It’s so unfair.”

Suzan French in Germany said she felt “gutted, especially for young Brits”.

Neil Cummins, 53, originally from the UK and now in Berlin, said: “I feel sad, but I feel cheated more than sad. It’s happening so you’ve got to accept that it’s happening. It’s going to damage the country, it’s going to damage people’s jobs, it’s going to damage the future. 

Neil Cummins in Berlin. Photo: Rachel Loxton

“For a Brit living in Germany, we’re a laughing stock. We're like a country putting a wall round our country.”

Many of the readers we talked to said they felt particularly sad about losing their EU right to freedom of movement after the transition period.

Cummins said: “To have it taken away it’s heartbreaking.

READ ALSO: Hiding under the duvet with a bottle of wine: How Brits in Germany will mark Brexit day

“What happens is you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it. The best part of being a member of the EU and we’ve voluntarily given it up. It’s madness, absolute madness.”

But he has hope for the future.

“The Brits who didn’t get a vote, the kids didn’t get a vote: them kids wanted to stay in the European Union. We are going back in.”

Scottish comedian Chris Davis, 34, who's been in Berlin for over a decade, added that freedom of movement ending is “the worst thing ever”.

REMINDER: What the Withdrawal Agreement means for British citizens in Germany

“It concerns me very much that my British passport isn’t going to allow me the freedom of movement that I once had,” he told The Local.

“I came here 11 years ago on a whim and I've since found a career. Not just a job, a career of which I can sustain myself. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for freedom of movement.”

Davis said he'd thought about giving up his British citizenship for a German one.

“I would have no problem giving up my British passport,” he said.

Member comments

  1. I think Brits living in Germany are making a big deal over nothing. They still have freedom of movement inside the EU. No one is going to ask them for their passport. While living in Dresden as Americans no one ever asked to see out passports. We were just like German citizens with freedom of movement. Germans are not going to be hunting you down. Brits are free to take on German citizenship and still remain British. My youngest son applied for and obtained German citizenship on the strength that his mother was born and raised in Germany. He still retains His American citizenship. His wife has obtained American citizenship but retains her Swedish citizenship.Get on with life and stop whining.


  3. While I am commenting let me say that I love Germany and the German people. My wife is German, my children sre half German. My wife and I spent 18 months living in Germany in 2015/16 and we loved it. I have to say that as much as I love Germany I would not want to spend the rest of my life there. Socialism and I just do not get along. There were too many things that rubbed me the wrong way. As an American I can never accept socialism. Those of you living there have no choice. You do not possess the ability to resist the government. You basically do as you are told. You can demonstrate but nothing will change.

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How roaming charges will hit travellers between the UK and EU in 2022

Trips between Europe and the UK and vice versa may well become more expensive for many travellers in 2022 as UK mobile operators bring back roaming charges. However there is some good news for all EU residents.

People look at their mobile phones.
How travellers between the EU and UK could be hit by roaming charges in 2022 (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

EU ‘roams like at home’ at least until 2032

First the good news. The European Union is set to decide to extend free roaming until 2032, so if you have your phone contract registered in an EU country you don’t have to worry about extra charges.

In addition to waiving the charges, the new regulation aims to ensure that travellers benefit of the same quality of service they have at home when travelling within the EU. If they have a 5G contract, for instance, they should also get 5G through the EU if possible. 

Under new rules, travellers should be given information about access to emergency services, including for people with disabilities.

Consumers should also be protected from prohibitive bills caused by inadvertent roaming on satellite networks when travelling on ferries or aeroplanes.

The final text of the new regulation was provisionally agreed in December. The European Parliament and Council will formally endorse it in the coming weeks.

UK companies reintroducing roaming charges this year

And now the bad news for travellers to the EU from the UK

Customers of UK mobile phone operators face higher fees when travelling in Europe this year, as some companies are bringing back roaming charges for calls, text messages and data downloaded during temporary stays in the EU.

This is one of the many consequences of the UK withdrawal from the European Union. Because of Brexit, the UK is no longer part of the EU’s “roam like at home” initiative which was designed to avoid shocking bills after holidays or business trips abroad.

The EU’s roaming regulation allows people travelling in the European Economic Area (EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to make calls, send texts and browse the web using their regular plans at no extra cost. Switzerland is not part of the scheme, although some mobile phone providers offer roaming deals or special prices to cover travel in Switzerland.

Under EU rules, if the plan’s allowance is exceeded, the roaming fee is also capped at €0.032 per minute of voice call, €0.01 per SMS and €2.5 + VAT per gigabyte downloaded in 2022 (it was €3 + VAT in 2021). The wholesale price networks can charge each other is capped too.

The regulation was adopted for an initial period of five years and is due to expire on June 30th 2022. But the EU is preparing to extend it for another ten years. This time, however, the UK will not be covered. 

Which UK companies are reintroducing charges?

Three major UK network operators this year will reintroduce roaming charges for travels in the EU.

As of January 6th 2022, Vodafone UK will charge customers with monthly plans started after August 11th 2021 £2 per day to roam in the EU. The amount can be reduced to £1 per day by purchasing a pass for 8 or 15 days. Free roaming continues for earlier contracts, Data Xtra plans and for travels to Ireland.  

From March 3rd 2022, EE will also charge £2 per day to roam in 47 European locations, Ireland excluded. The new policy will apply to plans started from July 7th 2021. Alternatively, EE offers the Roam Abroad Pass, which allows roaming abroad for a month for £10. 

Another operator that announced a £2 daily fee to roam in the EEA, except for Ireland, is Three UK. The charge will apply from May 23rd 2022 for plans started or upgraded since October 1st 2021. The data allowance in monthly plans that can be used abroad is also capped at 12 gigabytes. 

O2 already introduced in August last year a 25-gigabyte cap (or less if the plan’s allowance is lower) to data that can be downloaded for free while travelling in Europe. Above that, customers are charged £3.50 per gigabyte. 

Other mobile operators said they have no intention to bring back roaming charges in the short term, but if won’t be surprising if they do so in the future. 

Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Protection Policy at UK consumer organisation Which? was disappointed at the changes and urged the UK and EU to “strike a deal on roaming charges” to stop companies “chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to” and “prevent the return of the excessive charges people used to encounter.” 

By law, charges for mobile data used abroad remain capped at £45 per month and consumers can only continue data roaming only if they actively chose to keep spending. 

What about EU residents travelling to the UK?

In the EU, most mobile phone operators seem keen to continue free roaming for travels to the UK, but some have announced changes too.

In Sweden, Telenor aligned UK’s prices to those of non-EEA countries on May 1st 2021 while still allowing free roaming for some plans. 

Another Swedish operator, Telia, ended free roaming with the UK and Gibraltar on September 13th 2021 giving customers the option to access 200 megabytes of data for SEK 99 per day. People travelling to the UK can also buy a weekly pass allowing to make calls, send texts and download 1 GB of data. 

In Germany Telefónica Deutschland and 1 & 1 have extended current conditions for the UK until at least the end of 2022. However companies may keep other options open depending on negotiations with roaming partners. 

A1 Telekom Austria brought roaming charges back for the UK last June. Customers now have to pay €2.49 per minute for outgoing calls and €1.49 per minute for incoming calls if they are in the UK or Gibraltar. An SMS costs 99 cents and each 100 KB of data €1.49. 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.