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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.

People enjoy the view on the Elbphilharmonie terrace in Hamburg.
People enjoy the view on the Elbphilharmonie terrace in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

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] 

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‘Happy to work here’: How refugees in Germany are easing labour shortage

As Germany struggles with a growing worker shortage, a new startup is matching immigrant job-seekers with companies. The Local visited a bakery in Berlin which has employed several foreigners, including refugees from Ukraine.

'Happy to work here': How refugees in Germany are easing labour shortage

On a hot summer’s day in Berlin, Hugue Mpumpu is wearing a hair net and checked trousers as he packs up burger buns at the Bekarei, a family-run business based in Mariendorf. 

Mpumpu, who’s from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled Ukraine after Russia invaded the country on February 24th. 

He is grateful to be earning money, but never expected that life would lead him here. 

Mpumpu, who was studying for a medical degree in Kharkiv, explains the traumatic experience of leaving his home the day after the invasian started, and trying to get across the borders out of Ukraine, through Poland and onto Germany in freezing temperatures and chaotic conditions. 

“We didn’t have clothes for winter,” he says. “Everything was painful, my whole body. I just asked God to give me strength.”

Like other so-called ‘third country’ (non-EU) students who were in Ukraine have reported, Mpumpu has faced extra obstacles, from the different treatment to non-Ukrainians at borders and racism, to navigating complex migration laws.  

He is dealing with the daunting task of looking for a flat in Berlin, but is also trying to liaise with authorities to find out how long he is legally allowed to stay in Germany.

‘Everyone affected’ by worker shortage

Mpumpu managed to secure a job at the bakery thanks to Fixkraft, a startup which pledges to match immigrant job-seekers with firms by connecting them to relevant jobs, and taking care of the bureaucracy involved. 

Like many workplaces in Germany, the Bekarei is struggling to fill vacancies. 

George Andreadis, who co-owns the business with his wife, tells The Local: “It’s a general situation and everyone is affected at the moment – we don’t have enough people. Or maybe there are enough people but just not enough people who want to work.

George Andreadis, who co-owns Bekarei with employee Hugue Mpumpu.

George Andreadis, who co-owns Bekarei, with employee Hugue Mpumpu. Photo: Rachel Loxton

“The other situation you have is the people that come to Germany and would like to work but it’s just such a hurdle to get all the paperwork done and start somewhere. And we ourselves, with our own strength, are not capable of doing all this paperwork. This is a lucky coincidence that we found there is someone doing this paperwork and he brings in the people, like Hugue.”

Andreadis, who is originally from Greece, says the bakery is an “international workplace” with staff from all over the world. And one big advantage for job-seeking foreigners is that there is no requirement to speak German. 

Constantin Weiss, who co-founded Fixkraft “to aid immigration into the labour market” reached out to the Bekarei who were advertising for logistics jobs. 

“Our company does the vetting,” he says. “When people register we interview them and we make sure all the documents are in order.”

As The Local has been reporting, Germany is suffering from a drastic shortage of workers. A recent report by the IAB Institute for Employment Research found 1.74 million vacant positions across the country. As the older generation retires, the situation will get worse. 

READ ALSO: Germany looks to foreign workers to ease ‘dramatic’ worker shortage

The coalition government of the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats say they want to make Germany more attractive to skilled immigrants to encourage them to come to Germany and work.

Germany is also planning to relax citizenship laws as part of its overhaul of immigration policies, which will mean non-EU nationals will be allowed to hold more than one nationality. 

But Weiss says there are people – like Mpumpu and other refugees or migrants – who are already in the country and ready to work. Andreadis agrees that one of the major issues is the length of time it can take for immigration authorities to approve foreigners to work in Germany. 

After politicians changed the rules, refugees from Ukraine have automatic access to the labour market. But others going through the asylum system often have to wait weeks, if not months, says Weiss. 

People stand in front of Berlin’s Office for Immigration in May 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

“There’s a lot of people here wanting to work, and a lot of companies who are in need of people,” says Weiss. “We take care of all the paperwork and we’re just the matchmaker. Companies can tell us who they are looking to hire and we can connect them to relevant candidates from our database.”

Weiss says Fixkraft can help all foreigners already in Germany to find jobs in Berlin, and he hopes they will expand to include the whole German job market in future. 

As well as bureaucracy, obstacles for immigrants include struggling to get their qualifications recognised and not being able to speak German.

“94 percent of the people in our database have job experience,” says Weiss. “They have skills and are knowledgeable about something.

“They’re here and they’re not allowed to participate and it’s ridiculous.”


‘Happy to learn’

At the bakery, Hugue Mpumpu talks of his sadness of leaving his life in Ukraine, his studies and part-time job.

“When I was in Ukraine I wasn’t thinking about going to Germany today or tomorrow,” he says. “I was thinking about studying in Ukraine, and after that doing my PhD programme and to go back to my country and help people.”

He describes how difficult it was for him to get a visa and leave his home country to study in Europe. For that reason he can’t just go home, he says. 

For now Mpumpu wants to continue to work in Germany and find a stable living situation. 

“Working in the Bekarei for me is very good,” he says. “The colleagues are very kind. They can help you, they can speak with me. On my second day I also tried to bake bread. It was interesting for me to do that. I’m happy to learn. I need to learn. I’m happy to work here, to pay tax. I’m not illegally working here.”