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Brexit calendar: What are the future key dates for Brits in Germany?

A key Brexit date is looming at the end of the year, but for British people in Germany, there are some other important dates to be aware of in the coming months.

Brexit calendar: What are the future key dates for Brits in Germany?
Passengers in Stuttgart Airport. Travel will change for Brits in Germany after Brexit. Photo: DPA

December 31st, 2020

The transition period that has been in place since Britain left the EU on January 31st 2020 – and kept most things the same – comes to an end on December 31st.

Freedom of movement ends

This date marks the last day that British nationals can take advantage of freedom of movement. They must be resident in Germany if they wish to take advantage of the more generous provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, which guarantees right to residency, work and life-long health cover.

And if they are resident in Germany at the end of the year, moving elsewhere in Europe after December 31st won't be as easy because onward freedom of movement comes to an end at the stroke of midnight.

Deadline for EHIC cards 

British students and pensioners who are S1 holders living in the EU can continue to use the EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) after Brexit when they return to the UK.

But their current cards are only valid until December 31st, 2020, and after that date new cards are needed. S1 holders and students living in Germany are encouraged to apply for a new EHIC card if they are due to travel to the UK in the New Year. More info HERE.

Dual British and German citizenship

If you want to become German, remember you cannot get dual citizenship in future. So if you become a German citizen you have to give up your British residency which has an impact on things like tax and access to the NHS.

To keep your British citizenship, you'll have to apply for German citizenship before December 31st. If you've applied by this date, you'll still be entitled to dual citizenship.

After this date, you'll most likely have to give up your British passport to become German.

January 1st, 2020

This is the first day that the UK emerges into the world without any formal ties to the EU (apart from possibly a trade deal, if one is agreed in time).

It marks a lot of changes for tourists and people coming to Germany for a short-term stay, both for travel and the rules on length of stay.

January 1st also marks the day when UK passports will no longer be accepted for travel within the EU if they have less than six months until their expiry date – so check your passport and renew if necessary. For people who are resident in Germany, however, not a lot changes on January 1st unless they are planning to travel.

Travel over New Year

As most Brits will not have residence documents at this point, authorities have advised any Britons resident in Germany travelling around this time to bring proof of their address in Germany in case it's needed. That could be an Anmeldung (registration) document or an employment contract.

READ ALSO: Brits in Germany urged to apply for residence status by June 2021

June 30th, 2021

Residency card application deadline

Britons who are living in, and have registered (you'll have an Anmeldung document), in Germany before December 31st 2020 have until June 30th 2021 to report their residence to the foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for their place of residence in order to be able to obtain the new residence document.

Some states already started the registration process. For example, in Berlin, many people registered their details months ago and have been told the Ausländerbehörde will get back to them. However, if you are unsure, contact your local foreigners authority to ask what the process is.

READ ALSO:

There is still time but authorities have urged people not to wait until the last minute to apply for the residency document.

The document costs the same as a German identity card: €37 for people over the age of 24 and €22.80 for those under this age.

If you apply after this date, your application will most likely be dealt with under the much stricter rules for third country nationals.

July 1st 2021

The UK government previously advised Brits to change their driving licence by December 31st 2020. But now the government says Brits can continue to use their British licence in Germany until July 1st 2021.

From this date you may need to take a test to exchange your licence, so it's best to change it before July 2021.

If you hold a licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you should exchange your licence before 1 January 2021; otherwise you may need to take a test.

To obtain a German licence, start by looking up the information on what documents you need on the local government website of the city you live in. In Berlin you need to book an appointment online at your Bürgeramt (administrative office) and attend a meeting.

Generally, you need to apply for the licence through the Führerscheinstelle at your local administrative office.

An International Driving Permit is not a suitable alternative to exchanging your licence, the UK government has advised.

If your UK driving licence is lost, stolen or expires, you will not be able to renew it with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) while you are resident in Germany.

March 2022

Moving home with family

This is the final date when British nationals can move back to the UK with a European partner or spouse without them having to meet tough new criteria on income, skills and English language level.

After this date any EU citizen must meet strict immigration criteria including a minimum income level – and having a British spouse will not affect this.

READ ALSO: What Britons in Germany need to know about the law that guarantees residency

Have we missed any key Brexit dates for Germany? Please email us [email protected]

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BREXIT

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. 

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