For members


Post-Brexit visa rules: How can Brits move to Germany in 2021 and beyond?

With the end of free movement, British citizens who are still in the UK now face greater hurdles when moving to Germany. Nevertheless, there are still a number of routes to take for those who want to emigrate after Brexit.

Post-Brexit visa rules: How can Brits move to Germany in 2021 and beyond?
A British flag in Berlin by the 'Ampelmann'. Photo: DPA

On January 1st 2021, Britain officially left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, completing the country’s long and laboured exit of the European Union. 

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, Brits already in German at the date of exit are entitled to live and work in the country indefinitely. For those still in Britain, however, moving to Germany has become a more complicated process. 

READ ALSO: Brexit: What changes in Germany from January 2021

So what are the new rules for Brits moving to Germany, and is it still possible to take the leap?

Brits are now third-country nationals 

From now on, anyone with a UK passport looking to move to Germany will be treated much like anyone from any other so-called third-country – or non-EU – nation. That essentially means that if they want to stay in the country for an extended period of time, they’ll need to apply for a visa, much like someone from the US, Australia or Japan might have to. 

The good news is that there are still a number of immigration routes to choose from, including studying for free at a German university or technical college, securing a job offer from a German employer or setting up a business in the country. 

A British and German passport. Photo: DPA

Additionally, UK nationals are allowed to enter the Schengen Area for up to 90 days at a time in any 180-day period, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to secure your residence permit before you travel.

If you’re considering swapping life in the UK for life in vibrant Berlin, bustling Frankfurt or the soaring Bavarian Alps, here are few possible ways you can go about it.

Popular German visa categories

  • Employment

For most people planning to work in Germany in a skilled profession, an employment visa is likely to be a good option – especially if you work in a field where there are shortages of skilled labour, such as medicine, engineering or programming. 

Once you’ve found a suitable job, however, there are a number of conditions that have to be met by you and your employer, including proving that the position couldn’t be filled by an EU or German worker and guaranteeing you the same employment conditions as someone from the EU.

It’s by no means impossible to meet these standards, particularly if your work is highly skilled or in short supply in the German market, but fulfilling these conditions may make your job hunt a slightly more drawn-out process. 

  • Freelancer 

Another option is to opt for self-employment and apply for a freelance visa instead. To secure one of these, you’ll need to prove that your freelance work will have “positive economic or cultural effects” – which generally means working for German clients – and that you can support yourself financially. Artists and journalists who plan to live in Berlin can also apply for an Artist’s Visa – a unique visa category that isn’t available in other parts of Germany.

READ ALSO: What NOT to do when you’re freelancing in Germany

  • Student 

If you’re coming to Germany to study in higher education, you can get a student visa for the duration of your stay, which also gives you the option to stay on for up to a year and a half after your course to look for a job. If you’d like to take this route, the first step is to find a suitable course for you and apply to the university or technical college as an international student. 

Be aware: some courses may require a very high level of German (C1 or above) for entry, while others aimed at international students may require none at all. If you don’t speak German fluently, look for programmes taught in English on portals like DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service, that allow you to search for courses by language, subject and level. 

  • Training / Internship 

In order to move to Germany to intern at a company or undertake a traineeship, you’ll need to get a training or internship visa. Once again, you’ll need to be accepted as an intern before applying for your visa, and the company hiring you will need to supply information about the duration and terms of your internship with them. 

  • Jobseeker 

If you’re a skilled worker with a degree or vocational training and some experience in your profession, you may be able to get hold of a jobseeker’s visa that will allow you to stay in Germany for up to six months while you look for employment.

READ ALSO: How non-EU nationals can apply for a job seeker visa in Germany

For this visa, you’ll have to prove that you have enough money to cover your stay and stand a good chance of finding employment while in the country – and if you can’t find a job by the end of the six months, you may be heading back to the UK sooner than planned. 

Another option: the EU Blue Card 

Compared to most German visas, the EU Blue Card comes with a huge number of benefits: your immediate family can work in Germany without delay or limitations; you can secure permanent residency in just 2-3 years (depending on your level of German), and you have the opportunity to move freely within the EU after living for 18 months in Germany. 

Two German Blue Card holders proudly displaying them. Photo: DPA

That said, EU Blue Cards are granted based on your salary and occupation  – with the salary requirements rising every year – meaning you have to be a relatively high earner to obtain one.

READ ALSO: Here’s how much salary requirements for a Blue Card to Germany rose in 2021

As of 2021, this means a gross annual income of €56,800, although this can be reduced to €44,304 for people in “shortage occupations”, such as scientists, mathematicians, software developers and doctors. 

The visa application process

Applications for German visas can be completed at any German consulate or embassy, either in Germany or in the UK. You’ll need to book an appointment at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your planned trip (or 2-3 weeks in advance of the end of your 90-day Schengen trip), and bring a number of documents with you to the appointment, which might include: 

  • A signed residency permit application form.

  • Proof of accommodation in Germany 

  • Bank statements or a statement of future earnings to prove you have sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay.

  • Health insurance coverage in Germany, either from a private vendor or a state insurance company such as TK or AOK.

  • A passport that’s still valid for at least six months. 

  • Evidence of a clean criminal record. 

  • Evidence of your previous education, such as an MA, BA or vocational training certificate, if applicable. 

  • Evidence of your level of German, if applicable. 

  • A job offer / employment contract or confirmation of your traineeship or university place, if applicable. 

You’ll also have to pay a visa application fee of €75. 

Do I need an immigration attorney?   

Generally speaking, most people applying for a residence permit shouldn’t need the assistance of an immigration attorney. Nevertheless, if your situation is especially complicated, it could be worth seeking professional advice before embarking on the application process. 

For more detailed guidance on visas and residence permits, check out the German government’s advice portal for foreign professionals, Make it in Germany.

READ ALSO: ‘A big worry’: Why Britons living in Germany still face bureaucratic headaches over Brexit

Member comments

  1. If you are qualified in any medical profession or a teacher learn German. They have shortages here.

  2. Is it possible for a pensioner to move to Germany?. I am a retired teacher with fluent German, which I used to teach, amongst other subjects. My income from pensionscis enough to support myself .

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.