Brexit latest: Germany plans visa-free travel for British visitors

Germany wants to allow British nationals to enter the country visa-free – even in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Brexit latest: Germany plans visa-free travel for British visitors
A Brexit protester in London on Monday. Photo: DPA

Germany's Interior Ministry has backed EU proposals to allow Britons to enter the Schengen zone without a visa during short trips, reported the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The proposals, detailed in a five page letter seen by the newspaper, are designed as a guideline for the country’s 16 states. No information has been given on how to process Brits who are visiting Germany for longer periods.

As The Local has reported, the UK Ambassador to Germany already told us that the move was expected.

Sir Sebastian Wood said the European Commission has proposed that the UK is placed on its list of visa-free countries, “which would mean that UK nationals would not need a visa for short visits – whether for tourism or business”.

“For stays longer than 90 in every 180 days, this will depend on the approach taken by the EU and individual Member States. The FCO's (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice page provides the most up-to-date information on entry requirements for travellers, and will be updated regularly.”

As the Local has reported, all UK nationals living in Germany have to apply for a residence permit if they want to live in the country after Brexit.

However, the government has assured Britons that no-one will be refused a permit and forced to leave.

In the briefing, the Interior Ministry advised states to guarantee residency rights to Britons.

“No British would have to leave Germany as a result of Brexit, including pensioners and welfare recipients,” Axel Dittmann, who is head of Germany's Brexit Task Force, told The Local last week.

We also revealed that the German government is planning to extend the transition period for Brits, in the event of a no-deal, from three months to a total of nine months in order to give people more time to prepare and apply for a permit.

SEE ALSO: Brexit: Germany plans to extend transition deal for Brits in case of no-deal

SEE ALSO: Brits' anxiety, residence permits and 'Freundship': Brexit experts talk to The Local

New law planned

Authorities will also look at forming a new law that would make it easier for groups such as pensioners, unemployed people or low earners to meet the requirements for a permit.

The government has also advised foreigners authorities to get the message out that permits are needed by Britons. The ministry says consultation hours and telephone hotlines would be beneficial.

Franziska Brantner, spokeswoman for European policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, called for close coordination of the government with the EU.

“British citizens who already live in Germany need above all legal security,” Brantner told the SZ. Brantner added that it would also be the job of the German government “to strengthen the cohesion of the EU in the course of further negotiations with Great Britain”.

Fears over travelling

Some British people living in Germany have also raised concerns about travelling to and from Germany if a no-deal Brexit happens.

In this case, German authorities have told The Local there could be delays and have advised people to travel with documents proving that they live in Germany.

Dittmann said: “Third-country nationals are subject to stricter inspection requirements than the entry of Union (EU) citizens. We therefore recommend calculating delays when travelling. In order to facilitate border control.

“We further recommend that you carry documents to substantiate your previous long-term stay in Germany, e.g. residence cards and certificates of permanent residence under the Freedom of Movement Act, certificate of registration, employment or rental contract, etc.”

'Big shitshow'

Meanwhile, Germany’s minister for Europe has launched a verbal attack on UK politicians, accusing “90 percent” of the British cabinet of having “no idea how workers think, live, work and behave”.

At the centre-left Social Democratic party’s (SPD) conference on Saturday, Michael Roth described Brexit as a “big shitshow”.

Michael Roth. Photo: DPA

He also said British politicians responsible for Brext were “born with silver spoons in their mouths” and went to private schools and elite universities”.

Roth added: “I don’t know if William Shakespeare could have come up with such a tragedy but who will foot the bill?”

It came after the SPD unveiled their European Parliament election poster, which ridiculed Brexit and Boris Johnson.

SEE ALSO: 'We must learn from this': The German view of 'Brexit chaos'

British Brexiteer tweets AfD video

In another interesting spat, Conservative backbencher and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended his decision to tweet a video supporting Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Rees-Mogg tweeted a video of a speech by Alice Weidel, a senior member of the far-right, anti-Islam AfD.

He said he did not endorse the party’s views but that the opinions in the video were of “real importance”.

In the video Weidel said German Chancellor Angela Merkel was partly responsible for Brexit by showing too little flexibility when David Cameron was trying to reform the EU, and said Merkel should help the UK stay in the single market.

Rees-Mogg defended his tweet, stating on LBC Radio that he thinks “it’s important people know this is a strand of German political thinking”.

“I don’t think retweeting is an endorsement of things that other people stand for,” he added. “It’s just pointing out that there’s something interesting that is worth watching.”

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EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

Many Brits may be considering spending time in Germany or even moving for work or to study. Here's a look at the rules.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

The Brexit transition period ended on January 1st 2021, but it’s been a turbulent few years with Covid-related restrictions, which mean many people may not have travelled abroad since then. Here’s what you should know about the rules for travelling and moving to Germany post-Brexit. 

Can I visit Germany from the UK on holiday?

Absolutely. But you do have to stick to certain rules on how long you can stay in Germany (and other EU countries) without a visa.

“British citizens do not require a visa for the Schengen Member States, if the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period,” says the German Missions consular service in the UK. 

You can find a full explanation of the 90-day rule from our sister site, The Local France, HERE, along with the Schengen calculator that allows you to work out your allowance.

READ ALSO: Passport scans and €7 fees: What will change for EU travel in 2022 and 2023

Note that if you were living in Germany before January 1st 2021, different rules apply. People in this scenario should have received a residence permit – known as the Aufenthaltstitel-GB – from the German authorities, which proves their right to remain in Germany with the same rights as they had before Brexit. 

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

Can I move to Germany from the UK after the Brexit transition period?

Yes. But if you are coming to Germany to live and work, you will need to apply for the right documents, like other so-called ‘third country nationals’. All foreigners from outside the EU who want to to stay in Germany for more than three months have to get a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). 

As we touched on above, citizens from some countries (including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland) are allowed entry into Germany without a visa and can apply for a residence permit while in the country. You can contact the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) in your area to find out how to get a residence permit.

You’ll need various official documents, such as a valid passport, proof of health insurance and proof that you can support yourself. You usually receive your residence permit as a sticker in your passport.

Passengers wait at Hamburg airport.

Passengers at Hamburg airport. Brits coming to Germany have more things to consider after Brexit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Germany has a well-documented skilled worker shortage at the moment so there are work permit options to consider that may suit your circumstances. 

For the work visa for qualified professionals, for instance, your qualifications have to be either recognised in Germany or comparable to those from a German higher education facility. 

You may also be able to get an EU Blue Card. This residence permit is aimed at attracting and enabling highly qualified third-country nationals to live in the EU. 

It comes with benefits, including the right to to request and bring family members to the country, and shortcuts for applying for permanent residency. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How German citizenship differs from permanent residency

When applying for a Blue Card in Germany this year, you have to earn a minimum gross salary (before tax) of €56,400 – down from €56,800 in 2021. 

In so-called shortage occupations (Mangelberufe), where there is a high number of unfilled positions, the minimum gross salary is €43,992 – down from €44,304 in 2021.

Shortage occupations include employees in the sectors of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and medicine.

If you want to come to Germany from the UK to study then you also need to apply for a visa. For this you may need proof of acceptance to the university or higher education institution of your choice and possibly proof of your German language skills.

Check out the useful government website Make it in Germany for more detailed information, as well as the German Missions in the UK site, which has lots of info on travel after Brexit, and on visas.  

What else should I know?

The German government plans to reform the immigration system, although it’s not clear at this stage when this will happen. 

It will move to a points-based system, inspired by countries like Canada, where foreigners will have to score above a certain threshold of points to get a residence or work permit.

This scoring system will be set by the government, but it will include factors like language skills, family connections to the country, specific qualifications or work-related skills, or the amount of money in your bank account.

Keep an eye on The Local’s home page for updates on the changes to immigration laws. 

Have you moved to Germany – or are thinking about moving – after the Brexit transition period and want to share your experiences? Please get in touch by emailing [email protected]