Moving to Germany
Moving overseas requires a lot of preparation and organisation, more so than moving to a different place in the same country. As well as choosing where you want to live and purchasing/renting property in your chosen destination, there is a lot more administrative work required to help your move go smoothly and without issue. We’ve created this guide to help you get familiar with what is required for a move to Germany, as well as things to do when you get there to make the most of your new country.
Currently, if you are a British citizen with the right of abode in the United Kingdom, you do not require a visa to enter Germany, although these rules may change after the finalisation of Brexit. If you are a British national without the right of abode, you may need to confirm entry requirements with the British embassy.
It is essential that you have a valid British passport in order to enter Germany, but there is no minimum requirement as to the validity of said passport – it should, however, be valid for the duration of your visit.
Once you arrive in Germany, you must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) within 14 days if you plan to stay in Germany for more than three months. When you arrive at the registration office, you should have your British passport, proof of address and maybe any marriage or divorce certificates you have. Fees are not mandatory but you may be asked to pay one.
In order to obtain a social security card, you must register with a Krankenkasse (health insurance company). It is usually arranged by your employer, but if your employer doesn’t do this or you are self-employed, you’ll need to do it yourself. When you receive treatment, half of it is paid by your employer and the rest is taken from your monthly salary. Once registered, you will receive your social security number and your health insurance card – you will need to present the latter to your doctor when visiting. Any medical prescriptions may need to be sent to Krankenkasse for reimbursement (the amount of reimbursement depends on type of health service used).
The standard of schooling is generally very good in Germany, and there are a range of international schools available, too. Universities charge very low tuition fees, if they even charge at all, so student loans are not a major concern for people studying in Germany.
If you bring your car from the UK to Germany and you use it in Germany for more than a year, it will need to be registered with the authorities. Full documentation, including your latest MOT certificate is required. The driving age is 18 years old, and you don’t have to swap your British licence for a German one. The vehicle must be insured on third party insurance for the duration of the stay in Germany, and it may even be necessary to change the position of some lights to the other side of your car.
Pension and Benefits
The UK state pension is payable in Germany, but if you have received a Life Certificate from the UK Pension Service, it is important that you reply as quickly as possible with the certificate signed by a ‘witness’ to avoid your benefit being stopped. If you are in receipt of the following benefits, you must apply for them before leaving the UK:
- Contribution-based JSA
- Statutory maternity pay
- Statutory sick pay
- Severe disablement allowance
Once you have the paperwork and admin out the way, it’s time to enjoy your new home. Germany has some fantastic museums available that appeal to a wide range of interests. Berlin, for example, has a huge range of galleries and museums, including:
- Neues Museum – a fascinating collection of works including a Neanderthal skull, a bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti and several Trojan artefacts.
- Bauhaus Archives – This is the world’s most influential school of design of the 20th century, featuring a range of incredible sculptures and furniture from artists who helped pioneer Modernism.
- Jewish Museum – A striking and thorough look back at the history of the Jewish people, this museum features workshops, child-friendly tours and shows regarding the history of Jewish football and Jewish music in New York.
Germany has several royal castles that look like something straight out of a Disney film, and they are truly awe-inspiring. If you are interested in architecture or history, or if you can appreciate the grandeur and the mystique that surrounds these types of buildings, then visiting these castles should be near the top of your list.
Shopping in Germany is excellent, with department stores and big name brands as well as high street retailers aplenty. The majority of the country’s stores are totally closed on Sundays thanks to a ruling from the High Court, but some cities have made exceptions, such as Berlin, where stores are allowed to open for 10 Sundays a year.
Germany is famous for its beer and pubs, and their nightlife is fantastic. If you head to a pub or a bar and treat yourself to a beer, then you should also know about the Pfand. The Pfand is a scheme whereby you return your empty beer bottles to a certified outlet and you get a portion of the price back. It’s not a lot on the face of it – around eight cents a bottle, but if you collect a fair few, then you might be able to get yourself another beer for free!
Download our printable PDF with all the information you need about moving to Germany in a nutshell! Download