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These are the documents Brits in Germany should carry when travelling after December 31st

British people in Germany have been advised to carry extra documents with them if they travel when the transition period ends on December 31st. Here's what you should keep in mind.

These are the documents Brits in Germany should carry when travelling after December 31st
Travellers in Frankfurt Airport in July. Things will change for Brits soon. Photo: DPA

As The Local has been reporting, British people who have registered in Germany before December 31st automatically have the right to remain in the country after the transition period ends.

However, they do need to apply for their residence document with their local Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office) by the end of June 2021. At the moment, though, Germany is processing the draft law so the application process has been put on pause.

This could be frustrating for the Brits who have already registered for a residence permit, such as in Berlin which introduced a system at the start of 2019, and have not heard anything yet.

On December 16th, the British government updated its advice to urge Britons living in Germany to carry their German residence document (if they have been issued one), or proof of residency as well as their passport when travelling after December 31st.

“If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung),” said the UK government in its Living in Germany section.

If you do not have a residence document or the application “you should carry evidence that you are resident in Germany,” says the UK government.

“This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebestätigung), tenancy agreement, or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.

“If you cannot show that you are resident in Germany, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped. This will not affect your rights in Germany.”

Brits will be able to travel

During an open information evening held online by the British Embassy earlier this year, authorities said that Brits who hadn't heard anything about their application should not be concerned at this stage.

It is likely they will hear back after the transition period ends. After that they can also contact their Ausländerbehörde to apply for the residence document if they haven't yet. The deadline for applications is the end of June 2021.

The head of the Brexit Taskforce in Germany, Axel Dittmann, said not having the document wouldn't mean that British people would be excluded from travel and return to Germany from January 1st 2021.

“By the time Christmas and New Year is here, no British citizen in Germany will have been issued a residence permit. But by no means you won’t be able to travel,” he said during the info evening.

“Simply take your British passport with you.”

'Might be useful to bring other documents'

Dittmann said Brits should also think about taking other documents with them that prove they live in Germany, just in case they are asked to at the border.

Until December 31st British travellers can join the EU queue when arriving at borders but from January 1st they will likely have to join different lanes. They will also face different border checks.

“It might be useful to take with you some kind of documentation that proves your residency. The lease of your apartment for example, or Anmeldung (registration document).

“But it's no problem to travel.”

READ ALSO: Q&A – What does Brexit mean for my rights as a Brit living in Germany

Brits could also carry other proof of residency such as bills, work contracts or insurance documents.

Deputy British Ambassador to Germany Robbie Bulloch said Brits should also be aware of an important point about their passport.

“From 1st January it’s very important when travelling to most European countries that British citizens have at least six months on their passport which is not something required at the moment,” he said. “It’s something you should make sure you have.”

Deadline for dual citizenship approaching

Meanwhile, Brits were also advised that if they want dual British and German citizenship they have until December 31st to apply.

After the transition period ends, British people who want German citizenship can still apply but they won't be able to also keep their British passport. That's because Germany usually only allows dual citizenship for EU countries.

“If you want to have citizenship of both countries get your paperwork together and apply by the end of the year,” said Dittmann.

If you apply by December 31st, you will still be granted dual citizenship, even if that happens after the transition period has ended.

Find more information here: What you need to know about applying for German citizenship

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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.