On the 23rd June 2016, Britain held one of the most debated and important referendums in its political history. The Question – should Great Britain remain a member of the European Union? 51.9% of the public voted to leave the European Union, kickstarting almost three years of turmoil, backstabbing and chaos in British politics. Now with Great Britain set to leave the EU, potentially with a ‘no deal’, on Halloween 2019 (scary), our Brexperts have gathered all the important information for migrants living in Germany – and show you why volunteering should be a part of your life right now.
So you’ve got comfortable with all those benefits that come with being part of the EU, you could say you’ve been spoilt by the right to work in equality with your German buddies. Well now your overbearing and interfering parents are cutting you off and you might not be so lucky in the future.
Until 31st October 2019, British citizens continue to have the same working rights, social security and right to equal pay. So that’s something. Brits already registered and living and working in an EU member country will hopefully have these rights covered if and when Brexit finally Brexits. However, if you move to anywhere else in the EU in the future, you may have to obtain a working visa first. This is all up in the air still and will likely only be resolved when 1) we know what kind of Brexit is happening and 2) when trade talks between the EU and the UK are finalised.
Good News. The German government have already approved a bill stating there will be a transitional period for working conditions for British citizens. There have also been talks to extend this period in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but at the moment it remains at three months.
By the way: If you´re still waiting for your work permit, but don’t want to lose grip on your profession, it’s the perfect time to volunteer. This way you maintain your skills, meet other professionals and like minded people, learn German and give something back to society. Check out the project Active Newcomers. Our team will help you to find the social project that fits your needs.
Living in Germany after Brexit
Thanks to the freedom of movement agreement, British citizens and their families are allowed to live in Germany as long as Great Britain remains in the European Union. If a Brexit withdrawal agreement is reached, a two year transition period begins and British citizens can remain in Germany unaffected until 31st December 2020. Great Britain will be treated as a member of the European Union until the end of this transition period.
The withdrawal agreement also states that a lifetime of free movement applies to British citizens living in EU host states. EU citizens (and their families) living in the UK are also granted a lifetime of free movement after the transition period.
Registering in Germany
British citizens moving to Germany before 31st December 2020 need to register with the local residents registration office within two weeks of moving into their apartment. This is to provide evidence of having an official address in Germany. In the case of a no deal Brexit at any point, there is some good news – no British citizen will be required to leave Germany immediately. The Federal Government will activate a three month transition period. This allows British citizens to remain in Germany as they previously had for those three months.
When the three month transition period after a no deal Brexit is over, British Citizens will require a residency title or another right to residency to live in Germany. The residency title can be applied for at the local Foreigners Registration Office and will be subject to review.
Berlin is already accepting applications for this residency title. To apply for the residency title to remain living in Germany after Brexit, fill in the form here to submit your application. As this is German bureaucracy, we’re sure the process will be simple and stress free.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Germany permanently for over eight years, you are eligible to apply for German citizenship. The same applies if you have been married to a German for a minimum of two years, and have been legally living here for more than three years.
Access to Healthcare
Although Health Minister Jens Spahn warns that Brexit may lead to a shortage of medical items in Germany, there is little to suggest that British citizens will have their access to healthcare revoked in any way. Like the conditions of residence rights mentioned above, this is dependant on the transitional period and, therefore, the final withdrawal agreement.
Basically, until further notice, if you are signed up and paying for health insurance you have the same access to healthcare as German citizens. Please keep wearing that bike helmet though.
This is a grey area like most of the details surrounding British migrants’ positions after Brexit. So keep in the loop to see whether you will need to apply for a visa in the future.
While the UK is an EU member state, British citizens are entitled to the same benefits available as German citizens. These include benefits for being unemployed, the possibility of BAföG (study credit), subsidised health insurance and paternity benefits.
According to the Agency for Work (Agentur für Arbeit), there are two scenarios for British Expats receiving benefits in Germany after Brexit. If a withdrawal agreement is agreed upon before 12th April 2019, then benefits will not be affected until 31.12.2020. If, however, a “No Deal” scenario occurs, meaning no transition period, then the benefits received will end abruptly on 31st October 2019. Balls.
Driving in the EU with a British Licence
If you have a British driving licence live in Europe, you should exchange your British licence for a local EU licence before 31st October 2019. You could be required to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in if there is a no deal scenario after that date. You can exchange your British driving licence for a German driving licence here.
What Should I Do Now?
To prepare yourself for a soft, hard or well-hard Brexit, here are some tips. Most importantly, apply for a residence permit. Start collecting references from previous employers and any certificates from your educational background, should you need to meet any requirements post-Brexit.
And if you want to work and improve your German, but don’t want the hassle of loads of bureaucracy, our top tip is voluntary work. It’s not only a great way to develop new skills and experience, but you also become a part of a supportive community.
At GoVolunteer we focus on expanding the volunteering community and bringing newcomers and locals together. Head over to our website to browse the voluntary options available in your area. We also hold regular events where people from all backgrounds are welcome to come and enjoy themselves in a relaxed and friendly environment. Check out our Facebook page to see what’s coming up!
On a final note, we’d like to highlight the importance of enjoying yourself as much as possible, despite any concerns you may have. Germany is a wonderful country to live in and all is not lost yet.
Feel free to contact your Brexperts with any questions you might have regarding being an adopted Berliner facing Brexit, or about GoVolunteer!
Having a bad day? Feel like you’re not good enough at your job? Then sit down, take a deep breath and remember – no matter how badly everything is going, it can never suck as much as Brexit does for young British people.
About the authors
Paul Miller is an artist and social worker who is part of the Coaching team at GoVolunteer hailing from London. When he isn’t rapping about fruit, he’s probably explaining what Brexit really means to Remainers.
For all other enquiries about GoVolunteer or questions about the article, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emilie Holdsworth made the move to Berlin from Norwich, a.k.a Nodge, seven months ago and is part of GoVolunteer’s Community team. Her other interests include painting women and mountains and trying to visit and nap in every single park in the city.
For any questions about anything (including parks), email email@example.com