Where to even start?
As you might know, and everyone else on the planet, my country aka England, otherwise known as the UK!!?§#!!
Will be leaving the European Union (EU) on March 29th, 2019.
With perhaps a two weeks grace and a new date on either April 12th (to think of a different Brexit plan) if the withdrawal agreement is rejected by MPs’ in the House of Commons in a few days.
In a few days!
That is, THE FINAL WEEK BEFORE – BREXIT DAY!
Or in the unlikely event that our Prime Minister – Theresa May – does win the support of the Commons when the Brexit deal goes to MPs’ in a few days, then the UK will continue to be an EU member state until May 22nd 2019, to allow necessary withdrawal legislation to be passed.
And what a soap opera we’ve found ourselves in!
You know, that time when we triggered that awful document, otherwise known as Article 50, and found ourselves on the road to drifting apart from the EU because we wanted to rule and govern ourselves away from the European tyrant of Brussels.
We haven’t actually done that.
What we have done is to show the world how ridiculous the whole thing is, how utterly clueless we are about what Brexit actually means and how we’ve reduced ourselves to not the Great Britain – the land of fairness, truth and civilised common sense – that we all love and know, but it’s buffoon of an uncle – David Cameron – and the out-of-touch mad aunt – Theresa May – and have become the laughing-stock of our European cousins who are utterly baffled as to why Brexit is even happening.
At first, it was quite funny.
Until it wasn’t.
Many people’s lives are affected by Brexit and everything it entails.
Even I was affected!
After the very disappointing result of the Brexit Referendum in 2016, many of my fellow British citizens began to wonder whether the discussions and talks would lead to a better understanding of British / European relations, or a hardline stance.
In fact, as a Brit Abroad albeit a British-German Expat myself, I literally have to explain Brexit to my German friends, colleagues, neighbours, the casual passer-by, and the German press, each and every day!
The film is in German, but there’s a possibility to subtitle it, and I guess you can use Google to translate it!
And you know what?
Nobody knows why we even have Brexit.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen!
I certainly don’t!
I practically live on Twitter these days and the Deal or No Deal palaver is a chaotic mess.
If you speak / understand German, watch the video below!
Let’s not go there!
Watch this video instead!
There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of the dismal politics, I love both England – my original birth country, and Germany – my adoptive new country, and I don’t see why I should have to choose, as I have spent a lot of my life and money, in both.
And, I’m not alone!
Basically, I can be both British and German, and to effectively have the best of both worlds!
And while the UK is still in the EU, I certainly can!
And if you fit all the criteria, so can you.
Click here for all the details on how to be a German and on how you can apply for dual citizenship, if you’re British and live in Germany!
Now for British citizens living on the European continent, and European citizens living in the UK, what’s next, is a constant worry, and I attend many a meeting, press sessions and network groups, on this very question.
If you are British, and have the opportunity to apply for European citizenship anywhere in the EU, do so as quickly as possible as the clock is ticking, and even though there might be an extension on March 29th, April 12th, or even May 22nd, those dates will be upon us sooner than you or anyone else anticipated, and then it will be too late.
If you’re a British national of Irish descent or anybody born in Northern Ireland, you have the right to acquire Irish citizenship, so if there’s a whiff of Irishness in your ancestral tree, go and get it!
I can’t tell you what to do and where to choose, but I can give you some simple tips and guidelines as to how to apply for German citizenship, if you’re British.
If you’re not going down that road, read on:
WHAT DO I DO IF I’M BRITISH AND HAVE NO WAY TO OBTAIN DUAL CITIZENSHIP, PERMANENT RESIDENCE OR ANY OTHER THING?
Don’t panic! Here’s what to do!
Before we go any further, let me make it clear that I am not a lawyer, so if you need legal advice, go ahead and contact an expert specialised in naturalisation / citizenship matters. This post is based on information that was personally sent to me by the British Embassy in Berlin, the updates for British citizens living in Germany / British citizens who live in the EU / other parts of Europe, and my personal experience as a British Expat in Berlin. I assume no liability for the accuracy of the enclosed data.
Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s go on.
BRITAIN IS LEAVING THE EU – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Germany while the UK remains in the EU.
While the government continues to negotiate EU Exit, you should:
- Make sure you’re correctly registered as resident in Germany (Anmeldebescheinigung) and contact your local Foreigners Authority
- Read UK nationals in the EU: essential information
- Attend one of the Embassy’s citizens outreach meetings
- Follow the local office of the British Embassy on Facebook and Twitter
- Read the German Federal Government’s website with answers to frequently asked Brexit questions
VISAS AND RESIDENCY:
You must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) within 14 days of arrival if you are staying in Germany for more than 3 months.
In some places the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. When you change address in Germany you must deregister from your old address and register at your new one.
- An overview of all Einwohnermeldeämter is available here
- The UK and EU have agreed the full legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in principle. The agreement on citizens’ rights would allow UK nationals to stay in their Member State of residence after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019
- The German Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community published a website with information for UK nationals in Germany on 21 December 2018
- In all EU Exit scenarios, UK nationals living in Germany will need to apply for a residence permit from their local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde).
- Some Foreigners Authority Offices are already planning a procedure for voluntary registration/application before the UK’s exit from the EU
- Read guidance on German Foreigners Authorities
FOR BRITISH CITIZENS WHO LIVE IN BERLIN, PLEASE READ!!
According to the Berlin Foreigners Authority, up to 8,000 of approximately 18,000 UK nationals living in Berlin, have registered with them online. This is the first step of the application process for a residence permit, which all UK nationals in Berlin will need to acquire after the UK has left the EU.
- If you are a British citizen and also hold the citizenship of any EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you DO NOT need to make an application
- If you are a British citizen or live with a British family member, you must register
- No additional documents are required at the moment
- Online registration and application submission is free of charge
- There will be a fee after your application has been processed
- Everyone who has registered via the online application form will be contacted and invited for an appointment from April 2019 onwards
- Should the UK’s departure from the EU be stopped, all data gathered by the Berlin Foreigners Registration Office on the online form will be deleted immediately
- NOTE: After completing your online registration you must save a copy of the confirmation and print it out. This confirmation serves as proof of your registration and your lawful residence in the territory of Germany. Don’t forget!
- Print it out!
APPLYING FOR GERMAN-DUAL CITIZENSHIP:
- If you would like to apply for German dual citizenship, please read my article on how to get German citizenship if you’re British – How to be a German via Dual Nationality first!
- Here are the official conditions to apply for German citizenship
- In the UK, there are no restrictions on dual nationality however, Germany only allows dual nationality in exceptional cases, including for EU citizens. According to the draft national Brexit law, in a deal scenario, UK nationals who have applied for German naturalisation and fulfilled all conditions before the end of the implementation period (31 December 2020), would not have to give up their UK nationality in order to obtain German nationality. Phew!
- In addition, as part of it’s no deal preparations, the German cabinet on 12 December 2018, adopted a draft Social Security Transition Brexit law, which would ensure that any UK national who has applied before 29 March 2019 for German citizenship and met all conditions on that day, but whose application has not been processed yet, would still be able to retain his or her UK nationality when accepting German nationality
- After the transitional period, it is likely that any UK Citizen who applies for German citizenship will not be able to retain their dual citizenship, and will then have to choose one or the other
- Get on it with it then, and quickly!
- If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019, your access to healthcare is likely to change. The NHS has more information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Germany
- The UK government has or is seeking agreements with countries, including Germany, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after 29 March 2019
- The Federal Ministry Labour and Social Affairs has detailed information about German social security, including health insurance. This document details out the different health insurance systems, who is insured and for which treatment
- If you are resident in Germany, you must register with a Krankenkasse (health insurance company) – in the usual way through your employer – to access healthcare
- You can choose to be either state insured (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) or privately insured (private Krankenversicherung), if your income allows it
- All employees are allowed to choose their own health insurance provider. You can also ask your employer’s HR department for healthcare information
- You can find information about English-speaking doctors in Germany in the link
- You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Germany
- Up to 29 March 2019, you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC. Your UK-issued EHIC, will be valid only until 29 March 2019
- If you plan to visit Germany on or after 29 March 2019, you should continue to buy travel insurance for the health treatment you may need, as you would for any non-EU country
S1 FORM – HEALTHCARE PAID FOR BY THE UK:
- You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Germany and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit
- You will need an S1 form. You can apply for one by calling +44 (0)191 218 1999
- If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your S1 form may no longer be recognised after 29 March 2019. The German government has prepared a Brexit social security law, which would come into effect in this case. In addition, seeking private insurance also remains an option
WORKING IN GERMANY:
- If you are employed by the German civil service as a Beamte/r, you will need permission to continue your employment after the UK has left the EU. Please see this change to the law governing civil servants and contact your employer
- If you live abroad and require a Police Certificate from the UK, apply to the ACRO Criminal Records Office
- A German criminal record check (Führungszeugnis) can be ordered from the local registry office (Meldebehörde). This will be sent directly from the German Ministry of Justice
EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
- In a no-deal Brexit scenario, if you are a student or trainee receiving a support loan in Germany (BAföG) you can still receive the loan until the end of the course, as long as the course started before 30 March 2019. Contact the Federal Ministry for Education and Research for more information.
- The European Commission has published guidance on professional qualifications
- Where UK nationals have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications, this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU. The Commission has advised holders of qualifications obtained in the UK before the UK leaves the EU to obtain recognition in a EU27 Member State before 29 March 2019
- Find information on where to request a recognition of your qualifications in Germany
- For more information read studying in the European Union after Brexit
MONEY AND TAXES:
The UK’s exit from the European Union will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Germany. The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Germany to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.
- If you intend to use a bank card, or other financial service from a UK-based firm in the EU after exit, this may be affected
- You should get a Lohnsteuerkarte (income tax card) when you register your address with the local Einwohnermeldeamt
- Your card will have your Steuernummer (tax number), which your employer needs
- In addition to an annual tax return, all residents of Germany, including non-nationals, must file an annual declaration of assets held outside Germany. There are severe penalties if you fail to file or provide incorrect or incomplete information
- The German finance ministry has comprehensive information on taxation, including the guide ‘An ABC of taxes’
- You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances
- Read more about using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU
- Read tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad
- Read information about paying income tax in Germany
The UK Government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU after the UK’s exit from the EU.
- If you’ve worked in Germany, you should contact the German pensions services (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) or your private pensions company
- If you haven’t worked in Germany, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre
- If you’ve worked in several EU countries, read state pensions abroad
- If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t
- Read guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario
- Read State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension
- Read information on German pensions
SOCIAL INSURANCE / BENEFITS:
You might be entitled to German benefits, including:
- unemployment benefit
- family benefits
- benefits for those in need of care
- Many UK income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks
- Find out more about claiming benefits in an EU country and see what benefits you may be able to get in Germany
- You can request proof of time worked in the UK from HM Revenue and Customs, if you are asked for this information
- Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them
- Read detailed information about German social security
- Read claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad
DRIVING IN GERMANY:
Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country they are living in before 29 March 2019.
- If you are resident in Germany, you will not be able to renew a lost, stolen or expired licence with DVLA. If you return to live in the UK, provided you passed your driving test in the UK or another specified country, you can exchange your EU licence for a UK licence without taking another test
- If you spend longer than 6 months of the year in Germany with your UK-registered car, you must register your vehicle with the German authorities. Ask your local Zulassungsstelle (vehicle registration office) for more information
- You may need to pay taxes when importing and registering your UK vehicle. More information can be sought from the Zulassungsstelle (car registration office)
- For more information read driving abroad and road travel in Germany
- Read driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK
- Read information about the validity of your UK licence in Germany
- Read information on German road traffic regulations
- Read taking a vehicle out of the UK
- Read information about car registration and taxation in Germany
I don’t know about you, but the civil right to vote is so important.
But once the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals will no longer be eligible to vote in local and European elections. The UK pushed hard in negotiations for the right to stand and vote in local elections for UK nationals living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, but they will not form part of the Withdrawal Agreement.
- British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter
- If you’re resident in Germany, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary elections
The rules of travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. If your adult passport was issued over 9 years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.
- Adult and child passports should have at least 6 months remaining from your date of travel
- If you renewed your passport early, extra months would have been added to your new passport. These extra months will not count towards this, so some passport holders will need to have more than 6 months remaining in order to travel
RETURNING TO THE UK:
If you get utterly fed up and decide to return to live in the UK permanently, and it’s not a crime to do so, it’s important you tell the German authorities.
- You must deregister with your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office)
- You must inform your health insurance (Krankenkasse) of your move
- You must inform your bank and other financial services
- You must let local service providers know
- To move your pension back to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre
- You will also need to contact the pension services in Germany
SOME VERY IMPORTANT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
I’M BRITISH AND I LIVE IN GERMANY. SERIOUSLY, WHAT NOW?
If the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented, a 21-month transitional period will begin once the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The transitional period will end on 31 December 2020. During this transitional period the UK will in principle, be treated like a member state of the European Union thus, EU rules on freedom of movement will continue to apply during this period.
WHAT HAPPENS IF BRITAIN LEAVES WITHOUT A DEAL?
In the event of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, no British citizen of course, will be required to immediately leave Germany.
Germany is planning to implement a three-month transitional period, which may be extended. During this period all British citizens who are entitled to freedom of movement within the EU and their family members will be able to continue to live and work in Germany as before, without a residence permit.
However, in order to be able to stay in the long-term, all British citizens will be required, before the end of the transitional period, to apply to the competent foreigners’ authority for a residence permit and, if they have not already done so, to register with the registration authority at their place of residence. They have permission to stay in Germany while their application is being processed.
I HAVE A BRITISH PASSPORT, CAN I STILL TRAVEL THROUGH EUROPE WITHOUT A VISA, AFTER BREXIT?
The European Commission has proposed granting British citizens visa-free travel to the EU for short stays (of up to 90 days in any 180-day period) that is, on the condition that the UK grants visa-free travel for all EU citizens too.
If there is still No-Deal, British tourists face having to apply for a visa at a cost of up to €60 or £52, to visit most of mainland Europe!
This might come to pass if UK citizens wish to enter the Schengen area because of heated discussions mired in a dispute with Spain over whether the British overseas territory Gibraltar could be described as a “colony” or not!
If no solution can be found, the UK will be left in legal limbo as it is not on the list of countries where a visa is required to visit the EU, nor on a list of countries with an exemption!
It could mean UK citizens heading to Europe for Easter having to pay for a Schengen visa or be left waiting for a bilateral deal.
In a tit-for-tat move, EU citizens coming to the UK would face a similar scheme. Further down the line, the EU is proposing an electronic visa waiver system valid for three years at €7.
There is still the issue of how travellers will be treated when they arrive in Europe.
As of now, Portugal is the only EU state so far that has said it will create a third lane at airport passport control to speed Brits through. Without a deal, British visitors face having to queue with all other non-EU passport holders.
I HAVE GERMAN AND BRITISH CITIZENSHIP. DO I HAVE TO GIVE ONE OF THEM UP?
As a German citizen you are naturally permitted to reside in Germany without a residence permit. Even if you are a citizen of another EU member state, you are still entitled to freedom of movement. And that does not mean that you have to give up your British citizenship.
I’D LIKE TO STUDY IN THE UK. WHAT RULES WILL APPLY TO ME?
The UK Council for International Student Affairs’ has information supplied by Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland about the possible consequences the UK leaving the EU will have, as regards to tuition fees and student finance for students from EU member states wishing to study in the UK.
There is no further information as of now.
WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO DO AN ERASMUS SEMESTER IN THE UK AFTER BREXIT?
At this point in time it is still impossible to say whether the UK will stay in the Erasmus+ Programme and what the UK’s future status will be. That will all depend on the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations between the EU and the UK.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ORDERLY AND A DISORDERLY BREXIT?
On 29 March 2017, the British Prime Minister – Theresa May – notified the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. This launched the official process of the UK’s exit from the EU, including negotiations on a withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK.
There are two very different possible scenarios:
If a withdrawal agreement is ratified, then a transitional period will enter into force, ending on 31 December 2020. During this transitional period, the UK would continue to comply with EU rules and pay its financial contributions to Brussels. However, the UK would no longer be represented in any of the EU’s bodies.
After the end of the transitional period, new rules would govern the UK’s relationship with the EU.
On 15 January 2019, the British Government failed to win a vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, this means that the British Parliament has not agreed to the deal currently on the table.
If no withdrawal agreement is ratified (hard Brexit / no-deal Brexit), the UK will automatically cease to be a member of the EU.
As of 30 March 2019 (two years after triggering Article 50 to launch the Brexit process), the EU would have to treat the UK as a third country and the EU rulebook (“acquis”) would no longer apply to the UK.
This would have wide-ranging consequences for citizens, businesses and public administration. The UK would no longer be part of the European Single Market and would have to trade under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules instead.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY APPLICATION FOR NATURALISATION?
Applicants who file an application for naturalisation before the date on which the UK leaves the EU but who do not receive a decision until after Brexit, are to retain their previous German or British nationality if they have fulfilled all the other criteria before the Brexit date. Multiple nationality will be accepted in such cases.
WILL AIRLINES IN THE UK STILL BE ABLE TO FLY TO GERMANY? AND WILL GERMAN AIRLINES BE ALLOWED TO FLY TO THE UK?
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will automatically leave the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) on the day it leaves the EU. Discussions are currently being held on what measures can be taken to avoid the resulting disruption to air traffic.
In December 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation which grants British airlines air traffic rights for flights from the UK to the EU and vice versa – up until 30 March 2020. The condition being that the UK grants European airlines the same rights. Consultations on the proposal are still ongoing in the EU.
Before you travel, buy travel insurance!
The backstop is a fall-back solution in the event that, after the UK leaves the EU and the transition period ends, no solution can be found by which to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK).
Up until 1998, the British part of Ireland was ravaged by the bloody Northern Ireland conflict. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement, 20+ years ago, marked the end of that conflict.
Reconciliation between the conflicting parties was also helped by the fact that European integration meant that the border between the British and Irish EU partners ceased to be of relevance.
With the UK’s exit from the EU, the question has arisen as to what to do about this in order to avoid a return to a “hard border” on the island.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR THE UK TO EVER REJOIN THE EU?
However, under Article 50 paragraph 5 of the Treaty on European Union, Britain would be subject to the very long and complex procedure for joining the EU.
And each and every EU member state would have to agree to the UK rejoining the EU once again!
That’s it for now!
See you in Berlin!
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BREXIT! DON’T PANIC IF YOU’RE BRITISH & LIVE IN GERMANY. HERE’S WHAT TO DO!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are utterly my very, very own!
Brexit is going to be messy, but there’s hope!
Catch me if you can!
Watch this space!
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