The British Embassy held a virtual info evening on Monday along with the German Foreign Office and other government officials.
They answered questions from Brits on several topics including residency rights, working in Germany, benefits, travel and banking.
However, the event showed just how many Brexit topics are still unclear with less than three months to go until the transition period ends on December 31st 2020. Due to the sheer volume, many questions posed by Brits across Germany went unanswered.
One thing that both British and German authorities were very clear on was that Britons needed to get ready for change.
Both Robbie Bulloch, Deputy British Ambassador in Germany, and Axel Dittmann, head of the German Brexit Taskforce at the German Foreign Office, urged Britons to apply for their residency document before the deadline of June 30th 2021 – six months after the transition period ends.
“We are approaching an important date,” said Dittmann. “At the end of the year the transition period will end. The practical provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) which was concluded prior to the United Kingdom exiting the EU on 1st February will then become applicable, particularly those regarding the rights of citizens.”
Dittmann said the WA “ensures that EU and UK nationals covered by it generally benefit from the same rights to work, to study, to access other services and benefits in Germany as before the UK left the EU and we are fully committed to implementing these provisions”.
Right of residence
As The Local previously reported, Germany has proposed draft legislation which will grant people covered by the WA the right to reside in Germany by law.
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“This is a so-called declaratory process, it means the right of residence is automatic if you fulfill the requirements,” said Dittmann.
“You will retain this right as long as you remain resident in Germany and you may also bring close family members to live with you here in Germany. What you have to do is to undergo an application process to claim it.”
Dittmann said after Brits obtain this right you they get a new residence document.
“We expect this legislation to be adopted in November and to come into effect in January,” he said.
Dittmann urged Brits to register with their local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Authority) by the end of June 2021 – the deadline is six months after the end of the transition period.
“You will then be provided with a residence document with only some routine checks such as establishing your identity.”
As a first step, Brits (as well as everyone else who lives in Germany), must register their address in the UK (the Anmeldung process).
People at the event raised concerns that they hadn't heard anything from their local government or Ausländerbehörde.
A spokeswoman from the Interior Ministry said Brits should not panic if they haven't heard anything.
She said most Foreigners Authorities would not start procedures until December or even January so things won't kick into action until after the transition period ends.
However, Dittmann did say: “I would advise you to do it early, don’t wait around. Go and file for this right (to receive your residence document) quickly.”
He added that access to the labour market and social security would remain for Brits in Germany covered by the WA as before.
But when it comes to getting professional qualifications recognised, authorities urged people to take action if affected.
“If you haven’t obtained your recognition yet you have to submit your application by December 31st 2020 to profit from the current rules on recognition,” said Dittmann. “This is important if you want to exercise a regulated profession here in Germany, for example architects, medical doctors, midwives or vets.
“Formal recognition of qualifications for vocational training is only necessary if you intend to work in such a regulated profession.”
'We are in the course of setting up the system'
When it comes to health insurance, authorities said those covered by the WA will have the same rights in Germany as is the case now.
“That means you will continue to have access to health insurance on the same basis as a German national,” he said.
“So we are in the course of setting up the system to fully implement your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. I can assure you that my colleagues from the other ministries and the Foreign Office are working hard on this.”
Dittmann added that German authorities were in touch with local governments to make sure everyone knows the new rules.
“We are also in contact with the states and municipalities who have to implement it to make sure everyone in the administration knows what to do,” he said.
We will address some more of the topics touched on in the meeting in the coming weeks
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.