Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

Brits who lived in Germany before Brexit are supposed to be issued a residence card - but long waits have meant that not everyone has received theirs just yet. So what do you do if you're meant to be travelling abroad in the near future?

Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?
A police office wearing an FPP2 mask stands at the border at Munich Airport on February 8th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

If you’re stuck without proof of residency just yet and want to go abroad, don’t panic. This seems to be quite a common scenario, and one that the Bundespolizei should be used to dealing with after Brexit. 

Back in 2020, just days before Britain left the European Economic Area (EEA) and free movement of people came to an end, the German police force put out a statement advising Brits returning to Germany after the New Year to apply for a Fiktionsbescheinigung from their local Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde).

This is a kind of provisional certificate recognising that you have registered your residence in Germany with the Foreigner’s Office and stating that they are in the process of issuing your card. It can be used as proof of residency in order to leave and re-enter Germany without getting a passport stamp.

At the time, however, the border services also acknowledged that Covid could make it difficult for Brits to always get a Fiktionsbescheinigung in time for their journey. Plus the certificate does cost a fee. 

READ ALSO: How Brits in the UK can get back to Germany in the New Year

“The border authorities have therefore been instructed to initially recognise other certificates as proof of the right of residence from January 1st, 2021. These can be, for example, registration certificates, tenancy agreements or even employment contracts,” they said. 

So, where do things stand now? Well, once again, the Fiktionsbescheinigung is probably the best port of call. The added bonus of taking this route is that it presents an opportunity to gently remind the Ausländerbehörde that they should aim to issue your residence card GB as soon as possible. (Just as a heads up: they are supposed to have issued these by the end of the year.) 

Other evidence you can use

If the provisional certificate can’t be issued in time, ask for a simple letter from the Ausländerbehörde confirming that you have informed them of your residence in Germany, or simply bring your Meldebescheinigung – official proof that you are registered at a German address – with you on your travels. 

As everyone has to register their address by law in Germany, you should have this somewhere in your home, but if it’s been mislaid, don’t fret – your local Bürgeramt will be happy to reissue one for you (though there may be a small fee). 

If none of these things are available, the Bundespolizei (federal police) confirmed to us on Thursday that other evidence such as a health insurance card, recent pensions statement or employment contract, or electricity bill can still be used. 

This should help you avoid being treated as a British tourist when you enter the country again, which could result in getting a stamp in your passport, which indicates that you are only supposed to be in the country for up to 90 days

What happens if they stamp my passport?

If your passport does get stamped in error when you re-enter the country, this doesn’t affect your rights in Germany in the long term. 

“UK nationals who were legally resident in Germany prior to the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020, and are therefore subject to the Withdrawal Agreement should not have their passports stamped when re-entering Germany,” the British Embassy told The Local.

READ ALSO: Passport stamps: What British residents in the EU need to know when crossing borders

“However, a stamp in your passport does not alter your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, such as your right to reside here and to receive a new residence document.”

Furthermore, since Brits don’t need a visa to enter an EU country for up to 90 days, you don’t need to worry about being allowed across the border if you can’t prove your residency right. This sort of situation is “not a problem,” a spokesperson for the police told us.

It does get trickier if you’re returning from somewhere outside the EU where Covid-related travel restrictions are in place, however. If that’s the case, it’s imperative you are able to prove your residency with a Fiktionsbescheinigung or Meldebescheinigung in order to be sure that you’ll be allowed back in. 

Member comments

  1. What happens if one is outside the EU and *loses* the Fiktionsbescheinigung or Meldebescheinigung? Are consular services available to German non-citizen residents?

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UPDATE: When will Germany’s €49 ticket start?

Germany announced a €49 monthly ticket for local and regional public transport earlier this month, but the hoped-for launch date of January 2023 looks increasingly unlikely.

UPDATE: When will Germany's €49 ticket start?

Following the popularity of the €9 train ticket over the summer, the German federal and state governments finally agreed on a successor offer at the beginning of November.

The travel card – dubbed the “Deutschlandticket” – will cost €49 and enable people to travel on regional trains, trams and buses up and down the country.

There had been hopes that the discount travel offer would start up in January 2023, but that now seems very unlikely.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €49 ticket

Martin Burkert, Head of the German Rail and Transport Union (EVG) now expects the €49 ticket to be introduced in the spring.

“From our point of view, it seems realistic to introduce the Deutschlandticket on April 1st, because some implementation issues are still unresolved”, Burkert told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Monday. The Association of German Transport Companies, on the other hand, said on Wednesday that they believe the beginning of May will be a more realistic start date.

The federal and state transport ministers have set their sights on an April deadline, but this depends on whether funding and technical issues can be sorted out by then. In short, the only thing that seems clear regarding the start date is that it will be launched at some point in 2023. 

Why the delay?

Financing for the ticket continues to cause disagreements between the federal and state governments and, from the point of view of the transport companies, financing issues are also still open.

The federal government has agreed to stump up €1.5 billion for the new ticket, which the states will match out of their own budgets. That brings the total funding for the offer up to €3 billion. 

But according to Bremen’s transport minister Maike Schaefer, the actual cost of the ticket is likely to be closer to €4.7 billion – especially during the initial implementation phase – leaving a €1.7 billion hole in finances.

Transport companies are concerned that it will fall to them to take the financial hit if the government doesn’t provide enough funding. They say this will be impossible for them to shoulder. 

Burkert from EVG is calling on the federal government to provide more than the €1.5 billion originally earmarked for the ticket if necessary.

“Six months after the launch of the Deutschlandticket at the latest, the federal government must evaluate the costs incurred to date with the states and, if necessary, provide additional funding,” he said. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn has warned that the network is not prepared to cope with extra demand. 

Berthold Huber, the member of the Deutsche Bahn Board of Management responsible for infrastructure, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that a big part of the problem is the network is “structurally outdated” and its “susceptibility to faults is increasing.” 

Accordingly, Huber said that there is currently “no room for additional trains in regional traffic around the major hub stations” and, while adding more seats on trains could be a short terms solution, “here, too, you run up against limits,” Huber said.

So, what now? 

Well, it seems that the federal states are happy to pay half of whatever the ticket actually costs – but so far, the federal government has been slow to make the same offer.

With the two crucial ministries – the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry – headed up by politicians from the liberal FDP, environment groups are accusing the party of blocking the ticket by proxy. 

According to Jürgen Resch, the director of German Environment Aid, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Transport Minister Volker Wissing are deliberately withholding the necessary financial support for the states.

Wissing has also come under fire from the opposition CDU/CSU parties after failing to turn up to a transport committee meeting on Wednesday. 

The conservatives had narrowly failed in a motion to summon the minister to the meeting and demand a report on the progress of the €49 ticket.

“The members of the Bundestag have many unanswered questions and time is pressing,” said CDU transport politician Thomas Bareiß, adding that the ticket had falling victim to a “false start”.