Residence

Residence

As an EU citizen entitled to free movement, you do not need a visa or a residence permit to enter or stay in Germany. 

1. Arrival and residence

The residence status of EU citizens is regulated by the Freedom of Movement Act/EU (FreizüG/EU). However, some provisions from the Residence Act also apply to EU citizens, e.g. when accessing German courses (§ 11 Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU). If the regulations of the Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU are not applicable, because, for example, the right to freedom of movement was withdrawn by the Foreigners authority by means of a so-called “loss assessment”, the Residence Act applies.

All you need to enter Germany is a valid ID (passport or identity card). Entry and stay for a period of up to 3 months are not subject to any conditions or requirements.

You enjoy the right to stay for more than 3 months if you:

  • are working as employed or self-employed,
  • are doing vocational training ,
  • are looking for work with a reasonable prospect of success,
  • are not gainfully employed but rather have sufficient means of subsistence and health insurance coverage (also applies to students) or
  • have legally resided in Germany for at least 5 years (permanent right of residence).

2. Relocation of residence to Germany

If you move your place of residence to Germany, you must, like nationals, register with the registration office of your place of residence in Germany within 2 weeks of moving in. To do this, you need a “Landlord confirmation” from your landlord. The landlord confirms the moving in. When registering, the identity cards or passports must be presented for all newcomers. The Registration Office responsible then transmits the necessary data to the Foreigners authority responsible.

Please note: If you miss the registration deadline, in individual cases you can face a fine of up to € 1000.

Tip: If available, it is advisable to have a certificate from the employer or the employment contract ready when registering at the Registration Office. The Registration Office then sends these documents together with the registration data to the Foreigners authority.

The Foreigners authority normally assumes that the requirements for the right of free movement and residence for EU citizens are met. In accordance with the European Free Movement Directive, however, it can demand that the fulfilment of the requirements be proven. To do this, it can request the submission of certain documents (§ 5a Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU). These can be for example: 

  • a confirmation of employment or a certificate of employment from the employer,
  • proof of a self-employment activity,
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence and health insurance coverage for non-employed persons,
  • if you are looking for a job, proof that you have been seriously pursuing your job search with justified chances of success.

Tip: Our authority guide shows you which authority in Germany is responsible for what and how you can find this authority.

3. Residence of family members

Family members who accompany or join an EU citizen who is entitled to freedom of movement also have the right to freedom of movement. This right applies regardless of the nationality of the family member, i.e. also for third-country nationals. Family members who are not gainfully employed must have sufficient means of subsistence and health insurance coverage.

Family members of EU citizens who are entitled to reside in Germany have the same rights and obligations as EU citizens. For example, they may be employed or self-employed from the first day of their stay in Germany.

The following family members are allowed to come to Germany with the EU citizens who are entitled to free movement or to join them:

  • Spouses:
  • Registered life partners (life partnerships according to the German Life Partnership Act or on the basis of the legal provisions of another EU Member State or the States Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein),
  • Own children or grandchildren of the EU citizen, spouse or life partner who are younger than 21 years of age.
  • Own children or grandchildren who are older than 21 years, as well as relatives in a straight ascending line (parents, grandparents, etc.), however, only if the EU citizen, their spouse or life partner provide them with maintenance.

In addition to a valid ID (passport or identity card), the Foreigners authority may request proof of the family relationship with the EU citizen who is entitled to freedom of movement. In addition, the Foreigners authority can request the submission of the registration confirmation of the EU citizen.

As proof of the right of freedom of movement and right of residence of a family member, the Foreigners authority issues a “residence card” to family members belonging to third-countries. This should be issued within 6 months and is usually valid for 5 years.

Please note: Family members who are not EU citizens themselves (third-country nationals) require a visa to enter Germany, depending on their country of origin.

4. Residence of related persons

People who are close to the EU citizen can apply for a right of residence as a related person at the Foreigners authority. This applies to people who are not already entitled to freedom of movement as EU citizens or family members, which are generally third-country nationals. This is intended to enable reunification if there is a close and stable family or partnership relationship with the EU citizen. Related persons are:

  • Relatives in secondary lines of kinship (e.g. siblings, uncle and aunt, cousin, etc.), also the relatives of the spouse or partner, meaning also people who are related by marriage to the EU citizen,
  • minor children (under 18 years of age) who are under the guardianship of or in a foster child relationship with the EU citizen,
  • Spouse of an EU citizen (without the existence of a recognised civil partnership), if there is a verifiable, long-term community (similar to marriage). The acceptance of a characteristic as a life partner is always excluded for persons who are married or have a civil partnership at the same time.

Please note: In addition to being a related person, other requirements must be met. There must be a reason for the residence (“Reason for stay”). In the case of relatives, this can be maintenance by the EU citizen or the care of the relative by the EU citizen. In the case of a partner, it is necessary that they will live with the EU citizen in Germany on a permanent basis ( § 3a para. 1 Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU).

The Foreigners authority decides on the application on the basis of a detailed examination of the personal circumstances, whether the residence of the related person is necessary, taking into account their relationship with the EU citizen and other aspects (e.g. financial dependency or degree of kinship). In their overall assessment, the authority can take positive account of the fact that a close person has good prospects of integration (e.g. due to existing German language skills).

In addition to a valid ID (passport or identity card), the Foreigners authority may request proof of the family relationship with the EU citizen who is entitled to freedom of movement. In addition, the Foreigners authority can request the submission of the registration confirmation of the EU citizen. The applicant must be able to prove the reason for the residence (e.g. proof of maintenance payments). In the case of life partners, the evidence relates to the circumstances of the existence of a permanent relationship with the EU citizen. The “related persons” receive a “residence card” according to § 3a Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU, which should be valid for 5 years, as proof of their right of residence. 

5. Right of permanent residence

EU citizens who have resided legally in the Federal territory for 5 years in accordance with the provisions of the right of free movement acquire a permanent right of residence. This means that they then have a right of residence regardless of whether the conditions for freedom of movement are met. Upon application to the Foreigners authority, EU citizens will immediately be certified as having their right of permanent residence.

This also applies to family members and related people if they have been legally resident in Germany with the EU citizen for five years. They will be issued a permanent residence card within 6 months of submitting their application if they are not an EU citizen themselves.

Tip: In special cases, EU citizens have the right to permanent residence before the expiry of 5 years. This can in particular be the following constellations: Giving up gainful employment over 65 years of age, entering early retirement, full reduction in earning capacity in the event of an accident at work or occupational disease ( § 4a para. 2 Freedom of Movement Act FreizügG/EU).