The status of EU citizens under residency law is regulated in Germany by the Act on the General Freedom of Movement for EU Citizens, also known as the Freedom of Movement Act/EU (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU). However, Section 11 of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU states that some provisions of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) also apply to EU citizens, for example when it comes to access to German language courses. Whenever the Residence Act is more favourable for EU citizens than the Freedom of Movement Act/EU, the more favourable regulation is applied. If the provisions of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU are not applicable, for example because an individual’s right to free movement has been withdrawn, the Residence Act applies.
As an EU citizen entitled to freedom of movement, you do not need a visa or a residence permit to enter Germany or live here. All you require to enter Germany is a valid passport or identity card. You may enter and live in Germany for up to 3 months without being subject to any conditions or formalities.
- You have a right to live in Germany for more than 3 months if:
you are working, in the form of employment or self-employment, or
- you are looking for work with a genuine prospect of securing employment, or
- you are not working, but have adequate resources and sickness insurance cover (this also applies to students and apprentices), or
- you have been lawfully resident in Germany for at least 5 years (right of permanent residence).
If you move to Germany, you are required - like all German residents – to register your place of residence in Germany with the registration office (Meldebehörde) within two weeks after you move in. To do this, you will need a confirmation of residence from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung), in which he or she confirms that you have moved in. When registering, the identity cards or passports of all of the persons moving to Germany must be shown. The registration office will then send the necessary information to the foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde).
Please note: If you do not register before the deadline, you are at risk of being fined up to 1000 euros.
Tip: If you have one, it is recommended that you take a certificate from your employer or your employment contract with you when registering with the registration office. The registration office will then send these documents to the foreigners authority together with your registration information.
Please note: Certain documents have to be authenticated and translated into German.
- The following family members are permitted to come to Germany with EU citizens who are entitled to free movement, or to join them in Germany:
- Civil partners
- Own children or grandchildren under the age of 21.
- However, children or grandchildren over the age of 21 and direct relatives in the ascending line (i.e. parents, grandparents, etc.) may only do so if they are dependants of the EU citizen or his or her spouse or civil partner.
Please note: Family members who are not themselves EU citizens (third-country nationals) may require a visa to enter Germany, depending on their country of origin.
As an EU citizen, you are allowed to enter Germany to look for work and reside in Germany (Section 2 (1) no. 1a of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU). All you need to enter the country is a valid passport or identity card. You initially have the right to live in Germany for the purpose of seeking work for 3 months. Once you have been resident here for more than three months, the foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde) can ask you to credibly establish that you meet the requirements for exercising the right to free movement. This means that you must state that you are looking for work, but at this stage you are not (yet) required to provide any evidence. Only when you have been resident here for more than 6 months can the foreigners authority require you to provide evidence that you are looking for work and that you have a genuine prospect of securing employment. You are considered not to have a genuine prospect of securing employment if, given your skills and curriculum vitae, it seems objectively impossible for you to be placed in employment.
As soon as you have found a job, a certificate from your employer or an employment contract is sufficient evidence of your right of residence.
Your personal details are normally taken from national passports or identity cards, and no translations of these have to be provided. However, marriage, birth and death certificates are usually used for the documentation and registration of family relationships.
In some EU countries which have signed the Convention on the issue of multilingual extracts from civil status records of 8 September 1976 (Convention), international versions of marriage, birth and death certificates can be issued. These international certificates are recognised in the member states of the Convention without any further formalities (such as an entry confirming legalisation or an apostille certificate).
Certificates from other countries have to be duly authenticated in that country and then translated into German by a sworn translator. The authentication can be carried out either by the competent agency in the individual’s home country (apostille certificate), or by the competent German mission abroad (legalisation).
Family members who are not themselves EU citizens (third-country nationals) may require a visa to enter Germany, depending on their country of origin. The visa should be applied for in good time beforehand at the German consulate or embassy. It is generally issued within 15 days and is free of charge.
As proof of their right of residence in Germany, EU citizens’ family members who are third-country nationals receive a residence card (Aufenthaltskarte) within 6 months. In order to receive this, they must produce a valid passport or a travel document issued in lieu of a passport, and prove that they are family members of EU citizens who are either already living in Germany or are entering the country with them. A certificate that this information has been provided is issued immediately. No other conditions have to be met. Family members, with a right of residence, of EU citizens employed in Germany have the same rights and responsibilities as the EU citizens. For example, they may take up employment or engage in self-employment from the first day of their residence in Germany.