Published on Jan 19th, 2021
2021 will be a year of many things, but one thing that is already shaping this year is Brexit. Now that a deal has been made, what does it mean for those relocating between the UK and Germany as well as for business travelers and those who already lived in Germany before Brexit?
Short trips to Germany from the UK
One major change resulting from Brexit is that UK citizens no longer have the special rights that EU citizens possess when it comes to free movement between EU countries. Prior to Brexit, it was possible to move to Germany from the UK with very little bureaucracy involved. The rules for traveling or working in EU countries changed on 1st January 2021. It is still possible to travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Germany) without a visa, but this must not exceed 90 days in 180 days. This is suitable for tourism, visiting friends and family, or for business purposes. Here it is worth noting that time spent in Schengen prior to 1st January 2021 is not included.
Working in Germany
However, as soon as you need to stay for longer, whether for work, study, or business, you will need to acquire a visa if you do not already possess a residence permit. The rules for each of these matters are complex and require prior research. Before entering Germany, a visa has to be applied for, usually in the German embassy in London. The rules outlined by the Federal Republic of Germany state that acceptance for foreign nationals in general employment depends on Germany’s economic needs. Both a vocational qualification and a detailed offer of employment are required. There has also been a change in the procedure for recognizing vocational qualifications, with the automatic procedure for the EU no longer being valid for the UK. Qualifications obtained in the UK are now subject to the more stringent recognition procedure for third countries. The visa application process may take between 4 and 12 weeks and costs EUR 75. Upon arrival in Germany, an interview must be attended in order to obtain the work visa. Several documents must be brought to this appointment, including proof of a clean criminal record and confirmation of health insurance. The visa, or residence permit as it is also known, is valid for the duration of your contract, e.g. 2 years. This can then be extended if your work contract is also extended.
German Companies Employing UK Workers
Post-Brexit, the HR departments in German companies wishing to employ skilled staff from the UK will face new challenges. They will need to assist employees with the visa application process described above. However, there is also a new streamlined procedure for all visa applications that have been confirmed by the German Federal Employment Agency (for more details please refer to www.uk.diplo.de. This streamlined procedure should enable visas to be issued within 10 days in most cases.
For those UK citizens who were already legally resident in Germany before 1st January 2021, their rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. It is important for these citizens to contact their local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) to obtain a new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument) by the deadline of 30th June 2021. Some Foreigners Authorities have written to UK nationals; in these cases, the instructions in the letter must be followed. A valid UK passport is required in order to obtain the residence document.
Work and Business in the UK for EU Citizens
Another matter affected by Brexit is the regulations for EU citizens traveling to the UK for work and business. Trips of up to 6 months are still possible from Germany without a visa, both for tourism and for certain business activities. These include attending business meetings and conferences but do not allow paid or unpaid work for UK companies or work placements. In order to work in the UK, a relevant visa is required. There are various visas depending on the exact situation, please see the following website for more information: www.gov.uk. Please also note that there are various conditions for eligibility for each type of visa, with some requiring a minimum salary or English language skills.
All in all, the changes brought about by Brexit will have a considerable impact on many of us in 2021, not only Brits living abroad but also UK citizens who want to work in the EU as well as EU citizens with business needs in the UK. Many people will need to apply for visas for the first time and the process can be lengthy and complicated. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team if you would like our assistance with any of these relocation matters, we will be happy to help!