EU, EEA, Swiss citizens moving to Germany

A guide for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to Germany

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EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can live and work in Germany without restrictions, but will need to register with the local German authorities.

As an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, you can enjoy freedom of movement around the countries of the EU, so you don't need a visa or permit to come and live and work in Germany. There are some exceptions, however, which are listed below.

To live in Germany, you need a valid passport or ID document and you will have to register with the residents' registration office in the town in which you live within three months of entering the country.

Permits for Croatian citizens

Citizens of newer EU member state Croatia will need work permits potentially up until 2020. Exceptions include graduates working in jobs corresponding to their qualifications (and their family members) and trainees on in-company training programmes, or those Croatians who have already lived in Germany for three years. Otherwise, you must hold a permit from the Federal Employment Agency and a definite job offer.

Permits for Swiss citizens

Swiss nationals can also enjoy freedom of movement within the EU but have to apply for a purely declaratory residence permit for Swiss nationals from the Aliens Authority (Ausländerbehörde) in their town of residence in Germany.

Permits for relatives

If a relative who is not from the EU/EEA/Switzerland wishes to join you in Germany, he or she will have to apply to the German embassy/consulate in the home country, for a residence permit for the purpose of family reunification.

See our guide on permits for family reunification in Germany.

Mandatory registration after you arrive

Registering your residence

Within a week of moving into permanent accommodation, you must register with the police at the local residents' registration office of the town hall (einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt)). This is a rule that applies to everyone, even German nationals.

You will need to take:

  • your passport or ID card;
  • a copy of the lease or rental agreement for your accommodation (if applicable); and
  • a completed registration form (Anmeldeformular) countersigned by the landlord, which you can get from your local registration office or newsagents, or download from your area's local government site.

Once you've registered, give the confirmation of the residency (Anmeldebestätigung) part of the form to your landlord. Any further change of address should also be registered.

Right of residency certificate

While you already have the right of residence by EU law, you still have to apply for a right of residence certificate within the first three months of your stay in Germany. You can apply at the Einwohnermeldeamt (Residence Registration Office) or the Ausländerbehörde (Foreign National's Authority) where you live.

As well as your passport or ID, you'll need to take along supporting documentation. Depending on your own circumstances, this may include:

  • An employment contract/offer of a job.
  • Registration on trade register/membership of a professional body.
  • Proof of receipt of a pension, if you're retired.
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • Proof of monthly earnings, if you're self-employed.
  • Marriage certificate.
  • Birth certificate.

The ‘right of residence' certificate will last indefinitely and will only need to be renewed if you change your passport or ID number at some point in the future.

The certificate may be limited to the duration of, say, your employment but can be extended. Note that it's only valid when it's shown with your ID or passport. If you change your status during the validity of the certificate, you can change the status.

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Note: The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the German embassy or consulate in your home country.

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Debora Pedroni posted:

    on 25th February 2014, 20:11:01 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator. Please direct expert questions to our 'Ask the Expert' service]