Moving to Germany from The UK

The post-Brexit landscape of the transition period has certainly brought about some confusion about many aspects of life. Whether it is work-related issues or residency procedures, British citizens in Germany and those considering moving to Germany from the UK alike have been trying to find ways of clearing up the resulting uncertainty. While many have found the current situation rather puzzling, there are a number of ready-made procedural solutions that will be of assistance in making the necessary adaptations to the new reality.

With this in mind, sketching up a working plan appears to be a good starting point. Moving to Germany from the UK is still possible and, frankly speaking, not that difficult. Once you have gathered all the necessary information, filled out a number of forms and, perhaps, paid some visits to the relevant institutions, you are but a flight away from your new home. No wonder you are looking to Germany, either. With its great variety of career opportunities, economic stability, buzzing social life and rich native cultural tapestry, it is undoubtedly a tasty bite. In our little offering here, we will walk you through the process of relocating to “the land of poets and thinkers”, so let’s go!

Preliminary Points

Now that Brexit is complete and the Withdrawal Agreement regulations are in place, it is a whole new lay of the land for Britons seeking a new life experience in the European Union. Although moving to Germany is not as such impossible, British citizens will have to go to greater lengths to ensure timely fulfilment of the new requirements.

Personal movingDecember 31, 2020 marked the end of the transition period regulated by the Withdrawal Agreement. Under its stipulations, British citizens living and working in Germany prior to that date were entitled to remain there enjoying full rights of freedom of movement permanently. To obtain appropriate updated documents, all they had to do was to register with a local immigration office by June 30, 2021 and attend an interview. For those travelling from abroad, a confirmation of prior registration was issued on request which then had to be presented upon entry into Germany. In other cases, a utility bill or a tenancy agreement dating back to 2020 would also have been accepted on the border.

As of January 1, 2021, British expats have been classified as third-country nationals, thus subject to relevant check procedures upon entering the Schengen area. However, the German immigration law bestows certain privileges on British nationals, offering visa-free entry and a number of ways to apply for residence permits.

Working in Germany post-Brexit

Despite the fact that the UK functions outside of the European Economic Area, its citizens are subject to less rigid immigration requirements than those from other non-EEA countries. Following Brexit, the general rule is that a short stay of up to 90 days over the course of any 180-day period, including business trips, does not require a visa. Those whose plans exceed the 90-day limit, will have to apply for a residence permit. Needless to say, no economic activity is to be pursued without first obtaining a suitable work permit.

Job opportunitiesFor most people looking to settle down in Germany, however, securing employment will eventually become a necessity. That, in turn, will require prior obtainment of a number of specific documents, of which it is the visa that ranks the highest. There are several variants of visas available to foreign nationals seeking employment in Germany:

  • Job-seeker visa: with a six-month validity period, the document allows entry into Germany for individuals without a prior signed job contract who intend to secure employment while living in Germany. Upon expiry and regardless of the job hunt outcome, the document must be renewed.
  • Visas for qualified professionals: a specific document facilitating immigration into Germany for holders of a certified degree in higher eduction gained outside of the country.
  • Visas for IT professionals: a type of visa dedicated for IT specialists with a minimum of three years of documented experience gained within the last seven years. Its introduction reflects the market’s demand for skilled IT workforce.
  • Self-employment visa: an immigration document dedicated to self-employed individuals who can prove to the German authorities a viable economic plan that will ultimately benefit the country’s economy. The relevant experience on the part of the applicant has to be documented. The same is true of business funding and financial assets necessary to support oneself and their family.

Expectedly, filing an application for a specific visa comes at a cost. We are not talking any big money here. Typically, an adult British citizen will have to pay an equivalent of £51 when applying for a Schengen Visa in Germany. The price is reduced to £30 for children aged between six and twelve. The youngest, aged below six, are issued visas free of charge. Long-stay visas are priced a tad higher. Here, adults will see a price tag equivalent of £64 and of £32 for children – this time irrespective of their age, as the youngest will, too, be liable for a fee.

Accommodation in Germany

Now that all the paperwork has been sorted out, it is time to pack your bags and set off on your way to Germany. But where exactly were you planning to stay? Although, compared to such countries as the UK, staying in Germany generally tends to come with an overall lower cost of living, its citizens will typically spend between a fourth and a third of their yearly income on rent. With this in mind, a bit of planning ahead will help you avoid some potentially unpleasant surprises when it comes you your abode.

Renting vs. Buying

It may come as a surprise that an overwhelming majority of German citizens rely on renting rather than purchasing an own property. As you rightly expect, the rental market in Germany is a profitable branch of business itself, with average rent in Berlin fluctuating around €1,100 per month. Naturally, opting for the most densely populated German agglomerations, such as Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg as your location will entail far greater expenditures for accommodation.

Buying propertyOn the other hand, while choosing a slightly more remote location for your dwelling will offer a chance to economise on the rent itself, at least a portion of thus saved finances will have to cover the cost of commuting. Singles and students will probably be better-off considering flat share or house share. At the end of the day, your choice depends solely on your individual situation and personal preferences. In any case, though, a careful consideration of the available solutions prior to arrival will save you that unnecessary stress.

The situation looks somewhat different for those who have got that extra stash of money and are considering taking out a long-term mortgage. Here, lenders will typically require a down payment of upwards of 40% of the intrinsic value of the property. In general terms, purchasing property in Germany is a complex process hedged about with numerous specific rules and conditions.

Rental Property Application

As you will already know, British citizens have been allowed a visa-free entry and a limited stay in Germany. While this is the case, you will, nevertheless, have to register with a local Citizens’ Registration Office in Germany within a fortnight since arrival into the country. Make sure you have your a valid ID on you together with a confirmation of your address, if you have already arranged for a rental property. Just request the document from your housing provider before booking a date.

Once you are all set, it is time to look for the actual accommodation, in case you had not already rented anything out before registering with the Citizen’s Office. Researching rental prices in a region of choice can be a long-drawn-out process with many enticing options to consider. A rental calculator may come in handy to help you analyse the overall affordability of your search results. Much in the same way as in the UK, your prospective landlord will require several documents from you before you can sign the rental agreement. You can always request this information on the phone prior to the meeting. Typically, you may be asked to present:

  • A copy of your ID or passport
  • Confirmation of no rental debts
  • Salary confirmation
  • Bank statements

Medical Insurance in Germany

Every foreign resident in Germany is legally bound to register with a health insurer regardless of the date of arrival in the federal republic. Accessing health service can be done in different ways depending on one’s circumstances. The insurance scheme is usually covered by the employer. Self-employed individuals or ones whose employers do not offer statutory health insurance, can sign up for the private healthcare in Germany. Another option available is the European Health Insurance Card or its UK counterpart – Global Health Insurance Card. You will find more information in our dedicated guide to German health insurance policies.

The Cost of Moving to Germany by Road or Air Freight

Planning your removal to Germany from the UK will likely involve a decision of what belongings you may need to take with you, if any at all. For some of you, it is going to be a fresh start, while others will be interested in sending parcel to Germany while others will need to book full furniture removal. Again, depending on the amount and weight of your belongings as well as the final destination, the average cost will oscillate around £950 per room. For a two-bedroom house, you will have to spend £1900 and a four-bedroom household removal will cost you a total of £2850. A decidedly more efficient and so substantially more pricey solution is moving with air freight. Here, you will typically have to pay around £2100 for most types of properties.

In case you have any questions related to removals to Germany, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced team of professionals.