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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Will Germany manage to tackle its airport chaos this summer?

Emergency plans to fill staffing gaps at airports are underway - but Germany's largest airline says disruptions could continue. Here's what you need to know.

Will Germany manage to tackle its airport chaos this summer?

What’s going on?

There have been warnings about impending flight chaos over the summer holidays for several weeks now following nightmarish scenes at airports over the Whitsun weekend. 

On Friday, when schools in the populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia broke up for the summer, those fears appeared to be have been realised. 

As The Local reported on Monday, airports in the region have struggled to cope with the sudden surge in passenger numbers. Holidaymakers were forced to wait for hours just to clear security at Düsseldorf and Cologne airports and there were reports of mix-ups at the baggage reclaim stations.

Hundreds of passengers were also sent home from Düsseldorf airport on Saturday evening without their bags and asked to return the next day to collect them. 

To make matters worse, airlines are also struggling to run their services on schedule and flight cancellations are becoming the new normal. 

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive three hours early’: Your tips for flying in Germany this summer

According to regional newspaper, the Rheinische Post, around 70 flights were cancelled at Düsseldorf at short notice over the weekend. 

The news follows confirmation from Lufthansa that at least 3,200 flights have been taken off the schedule this summer. Germany’s largest airline had initially announced that it would be scrubbing a 1,000 flights in the month of July, but later went on to add that 2,200 further services would be cancelled during the busy summer months.

Lufthansa’s subsidiaries Eurowings and Swiss have also cancelled flights in the run up to the vacation period, while EasyJet has also confirmed that a “small number” of flights will be taken off its schedule. 

How is the government planning to tackle this?

According to reports in Bild am Sonntag, the German government wants to step in and alleviate some of the staffing pressure by allowing German companies to recruit thousands of short-term workers from abroad. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said he was working alongside Labour Minister Hubertus Heil and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (both SPD) to “relieve the staff shortages at German airports and present a temporary solution”.

“The Federal Government is planning to allow urgently needed personnel from abroad to enter Germany for temporary work,” Heil confirmed on Sunday.

Ralph Beisel, CEO of the German Airports Association (ADV), told DPA the staff would be recruited from Turkey, the Balkan states and other countries for a period of up to three months. 

Passengers at Düsseldorf airport

Passengers with wheeled suitcases at Düsseldorf airport over the weekend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

But the opposition CDU/CSU parties have criticised the plans and argued that the problem should be solved with German workers instead.

“The airport chaos could be permanently solved with domestic skilled workers,” CDU transport policy spokesman, Thomas Bareiß (CDU), told the Rheinische Post. 

Estimates from the German Economics Institute suggest that there is currently a shortage of about 7,200 skilled workers at German airports. Airport and airline bosses fired thousands of employees in an effort to cut costs during the Covid pandemic and others sought new work during the crisis.

With highly infectious Omicron subvariants tearing through the country, the industry is also having to reckon with regular staff illness and the self-isolation regulations. This is compounding the severe staffing issues.

READ ALSO: Germany to ‘recruit workers from abroad’ to ease airport chaos

Could the situation improve in summer?

If the government lays the groundwork for an easy recruitment and relocation process, around 2,000 airport workers could enter Germany as early as July. But this may still not be enough to completely make up for the shortfalls.

So far, just one of Germany’s 16 states has commenced its school holidays. The remaining 15 are due to go on holiday in July and August. 

In more disheartening news for passengers, the CEO of Lufthansa has warned that the current staffing issues won’t be resolved until at least winter this year – or possibly 2023. 

In an open letter to customers, CEO Carsten Spohr said the sudden increase in air traffic from nearly zero at the height of the Covid travel restrictions to around 90 percent meant the industry could not deliver its usual “reliability, robustness and punctuality”.

Düsseldorf airport chaos

Long queues at Düsseldorf airport over the weekend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

“We can only apologise to you for this and we also want to be completely honest,” Spohr wrote. In the coming weeks, with passenger numbers continuing to rise, whether for holidays or business trips, the situation will hardly improve in the short term.”

The CEO said that the group, which announced it was laying off 30,000 staff during the pandemic, was in the process of rapidly recruiting thousands of new workers. “However, the stabilising effect from this will only be felt in the coming winter,” he added.

In an interview on Welt TV, Transport Minister Wissing expressed dismay at the fact that the industry had not started dealing with its staffing issues sooner.

“Securing skilled staff is not an issue that is new, everyone knows that this is one of the most important tasks,” the FDP politician said. 

In another letter addressed to employees, Spohr admitted that the management had made mistakes over the previous two years.

“Under the pressure of the more than €10 billion in pandemic-related losses, did we overdo it with savings in one place or another? Sure we did,” he said. “Quite frankly, for our management team and for me personally, this was the first pandemic we had to deal with.”

READ ALSO:

What else can be done? 

As well as the efforts of government and private companies, Germany’s United Services Union (Verdi) is also stepping in to support the struggling industry.

On Tuesday, the union called on Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings to attend a short-notice crisis summit in order to find joint solutions for employees and passengers over summer.

Verdi pointed to the recent layoffs carried out by airlines in the Lufthansa Group, including Eurowings, and said that the situation was placing “enormous physical and psychological strain” on employees.

Police officers at Düsseldorf airport

Police officers keep an eye on passengers at Düsseldorf airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

“High levels of sick leave and employee resignations are the result,” they wrote. “This subsequently results in flight cancellations with angry passengers and chaos at the airports.” 

Marvin Reschinsky, Verdi’s negotiator at Eurowings, said he was confident of finding a solution with the airline that could help ease the situation. 

“We are optimistic that with mutual determination we can succeed in finding solutions to the current situation that are in the interests of both employees and passengers,” Reschinsky said. “This is necessary to safeguard holiday traffic again.”

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