A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
UPDATED – OCTOBER 2020
Where to even start?
As you might know, and everyone else on the planet, my country aka England, in the UK, left the European Union (EU) on January 31st, 2020, with a deal called the withdrawal agreement.
However, that’s not all!
There’s still negotiations to be conducted and a transition period.
This transition period ends on 31 December, 2020.
In a few weeks!
What a soap opera we’ve found ourselves in!
You know, the time when we triggered that awful document, otherwise known as Article 50, and found ourselves on the road to drifting apart from the EU because we wanted to rule and govern ourselves away from the European tyrant of Brussels.
We haven’t actually done that.
What we have done is to show the world how ridiculous the whole thing is, how utterly clueless we are about what Brexit actually means and how we’ve reduced ourselves to not the Great Britain – the land of fairness, truth and civilised common sense – that we all love and know, but it’s buffoon of an uncle – David Cameron – and the out-of-touch mad aunt – Theresa May – and have become the laughing-stock – Boris Johnson – of our European cousins who are utterly baffled as to why Brexit is even happening.
At first, it was quite funny.
Until it wasn’t.
Many people’s lives are affected by Brexit and everything it entails.
Even I was affected!
After the very disappointing result of the Brexit Referendum in 2016, many of my fellow British citizens began to wonder whether the discussions and talks would lead to a better understanding of British / European relations, or a hardline stance.
Luckily, I had the foresight to listen to my instinct and apply for British-German dual nationality just a mere three months after the Referendum took place!
In fact, as a Brit Abroad albeit a British-German Expat myself, I literally have to explain Brexit to my German friends, colleagues, neighbours, the casual passer-by, and the German press, each and every day!
Here’s where I talk about it on – Die rbb Reporter | rbb – Briten in Berlin und Brandenburg –
Recording was at the British Shorts Film Festival that took place at the Sputnik Kino in Berlin.
The film is in German, but there’s a possibility to subtitle it, and I guess you can use Google to translate it!
I was also in the German newspaper – Der Tagesspiegel – (Berlin-Brexit Stories #2 on 15th January 2019 – 17:56), as well as on TV!
If you want to know about Britain, Brexit and British Expats in Berlin / Germany, follow the links indicated.
And you know what?
Nobody knows why we even have Brexit.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen!
I certainly don’t!
I have just signed this petition to #RevokeArticle50 it’s currently gaining 100k signatures an hour!— Annie Lennox (@AnnieLennox) March 21, 2019
Please join me, sign & share (the site keeps crashing under the traffic so stick with it) https://t.co/U7mTUBM5xo
I practically live on Twitter these days and the Deal or No Deal palaver is a chaotic mess.
Most importantly, it’s awful and scary for the 100,000+ British expats who live in Germany, the 1.5 million+ British expats who live in Europe, and the 3 million+ European expats who live in the UK.
If you speak / understand German, watch the video below!
And let’s not even get into the issue of Northern Ireland, otherwise known as the border that separates Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or better still the Backstop!
Let’s not go there!
Watch this video instead!
Regardless, of what has happened, I’m still a very proud British person.
There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of the dismal politics, I love both England – my original birth country, and Germany – my adoptive new country, and I don’t see why I should have to choose, as I have spent a lot of my life and money, in both.
In fact, I’ve written about both how to be British and how to be a German.
And, I’m not alone!
Basically, I can be both British and German, and to effectively have the best of both worlds!
And while the UK is still in the EU, I certainly can!
And if you fit all the criteria, so can you.
Click here for all the details on how to be a German and on how you can apply for dual citizenship, if you’re British and live in Germany!
Now for British citizens living on the European continent, and European citizens living in the UK, what’s next, is a constant worry, and I attend many a meeting, press sessions and network groups, on this very question.
If you are British, and have the opportunity to apply for European citizenship anywhere in the EU, do so as quickly as possible as the clock is ticking, and even though there might be an extension on March 29th, April 12th, May 22nd, or even October 31st, those dates will be upon us sooner than you or anyone else anticipated, and then it will be too late.
If you’re a British national of Irish descent or anybody born in Northern Ireland, you have the right to acquire Irish citizenship, so if there’s a whiff of Irishness in your ancestral tree, go and get it!
I can’t tell you what to do and where to choose, but I can give you some simple tips and guidelines as to how to apply for German citizenship, if you’re British.
If you’re not going down that road, read on:
Don’t panic! Here’s what to do!
Before we go any further, let me make it clear that I am not a lawyer, so if you need legal advice, go ahead and contact an expert specialised in naturalisation / citizenship matters. This post is based on information that was personally sent to me by the British Embassy in Berlin, the updates for British citizens living in Germany / British citizens who live in the EU / other parts of Europe, and my personal experience as a British Expat in Berlin. I assume no liability for the accuracy of the enclosed data.
Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s go on.
There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Germany while the UK remains in the EU.
While the government continues to negotiate EU Exit, you should:
VISAS AND RESIDENCY:
You must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) within 14 days of arrival if you are staying in Germany for more than 3 months.
In some places the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. When you change address in Germany you must deregister from your old address and register at your new one.
According to the Berlin Foreigners Authority, up to 8,000 of approximately 18,000 UK nationals living in Berlin, have registered with them online. This is the first step of the application process for a residence permit, which all UK nationals in Berlin will need to acquire after the UK has left the EU.
APPLYING FOR GERMAN-DUAL CITIZENSHIP:
S1 FORM – HEALTHCARE PAID FOR BY THE UK:
WORKING IN GERMANY:
EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
MONEY AND TAXES:
The UK’s exit from the European Union will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Germany. The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Germany to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.
The UK Government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU after the UK’s exit from the EU.
SOCIAL INSURANCE / BENEFITS:
You might be entitled to German benefits, including:
DRIVING IN GERMANY:
Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country they are living in before 29 March 2019.
I don’t know about you, but the civil right to vote is so important.
But once the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals will no longer be eligible to vote in local and European elections. The UK pushed hard in negotiations for the right to stand and vote in local elections for UK nationals living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, but they will not form part of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The rules of travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. If your adult passport was issued over 9 years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.
RETURNING TO THE UK:
If you get utterly fed up and decide to return to live in the UK permanently, and it’s not a crime to do so, it’s important you tell the German authorities.
I’M BRITISH AND I LIVE IN GERMANY. SERIOUSLY, WHAT NOW?
If the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented, a 21-month transitional period will begin once the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The transitional period will end on 31 December 2020. During this transitional period the UK will in principle, be treated like a member state of the European Union thus, EU rules on freedom of movement will continue to apply during this period.
WHAT HAPPENS IF BRITAIN LEAVES WITHOUT A DEAL?
In the event of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, no British citizen of course, will be required to immediately leave Germany.
Germany is planning to implement a three-month transitional period, which may be extended. During this period all British citizens who are entitled to freedom of movement within the EU and their family members will be able to continue to live and work in Germany as before, without a residence permit.
However, in order to be able to stay in the long-term, all British citizens will be required, before the end of the transitional period, to apply to the competent foreigners’ authority for a residence permit and, if they have not already done so, to register with the registration authority at their place of residence. They have permission to stay in Germany while their application is being processed.
I HAVE A BRITISH PASSPORT, CAN I STILL TRAVEL THROUGH EUROPE WITHOUT A VISA, AFTER BREXIT?
The European Commission has proposed granting British citizens visa-free travel to the EU for short stays (of up to 90 days in any 180-day period) that is, on the condition that the UK grants visa-free travel for all EU citizens too.
If there is still No-Deal, British tourists face having to apply for a visa at a cost of up to €60 or £52, to visit most of mainland Europe!
This might come to pass if UK citizens wish to enter the Schengen area because of heated discussions mired in a dispute with Spain over whether the British overseas territory Gibraltar could be described as a “colony” or not!
If no solution can be found, the UK will be left in legal limbo as it is not on the list of countries where a visa is required to visit the EU, nor on a list of countries with an exemption!
It could mean UK citizens heading to Europe for Easter having to pay for a Schengen visa or be left waiting for a bilateral deal.
In a tit-for-tat move, EU citizens coming to the UK would face a similar scheme. Further down the line, the EU is proposing an electronic visa waiver system valid for three years at €7.
There is still the issue of how travellers will be treated when they arrive in Europe.
As of now, Portugal is the only EU state so far that has said it will create a third lane at airport passport control to speed Brits through. Without a deal, British visitors face having to queue with all other non-EU passport holders.
I HAVE GERMAN AND BRITISH CITIZENSHIP. DO I HAVE TO GIVE ONE OF THEM UP?
As a German citizen you are naturally permitted to reside in Germany without a residence permit. Even if you are a citizen of another EU member state, you are still entitled to freedom of movement. And that does not mean that you have to give up your British citizenship.
I’D LIKE TO STUDY IN THE UK. WHAT RULES WILL APPLY TO ME?
The UK Council for International Student Affairs’ has information supplied by Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland about the possible consequences the UK leaving the EU will have, as regards to tuition fees and student finance for students from EU member states wishing to study in the UK.
There is no further information as of now.
WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO DO AN ERASMUS SEMESTER IN THE UK AFTER BREXIT?
At this point in time it is still impossible to say whether the UK will stay in the Erasmus+ Programme and what the UK’s future status will be. That will all depend on the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations between the EU and the UK.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ORDERLY AND A DISORDERLY BREXIT?
On 29 March 2017, the British Prime Minister – Theresa May – notified the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. This launched the official process of the UK’s exit from the EU, including negotiations on a withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK.
There are two very different possible scenarios:
If a withdrawal agreement is ratified, then a transitional period will enter into force, ending on 31 December 2020. During this transitional period, the UK would continue to comply with EU rules and pay its financial contributions to Brussels. However, the UK would no longer be represented in any of the EU’s bodies.
After the end of the transitional period, new rules would govern the UK’s relationship with the EU.
On 15 January 2019, the British Government failed to win a vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, this means that the British Parliament has not agreed to the deal currently on the table.
If no withdrawal agreement is ratified (hard Brexit / no-deal Brexit), the UK will automatically cease to be a member of the EU.
As of 30 March 2019 (two years after triggering Article 50 to launch the Brexit process), the EU would have to treat the UK as a third country and the EU rulebook (“acquis”) would no longer apply to the UK.
This would have wide-ranging consequences for citizens, businesses and public administration. The UK would no longer be part of the European Single Market and would have to trade under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules instead.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY APPLICATION FOR NATURALISATION?
Applicants who file an application for naturalisation before the date on which the UK leaves the EU but who do not receive a decision until after Brexit, are to retain their previous German or British nationality if they have fulfilled all the other criteria before the Brexit date. Multiple nationality will be accepted in such cases.
WILL AIRLINES IN THE UK STILL BE ABLE TO FLY TO GERMANY? AND WILL GERMAN AIRLINES BE ALLOWED TO FLY TO THE UK?
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will automatically leave the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) on the day it leaves the EU. Discussions are currently being held on what measures can be taken to avoid the resulting disruption to air traffic.
In December 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation which grants British airlines air traffic rights for flights from the UK to the EU and vice versa – up until 30 March 2020. The condition being that the UK grants European airlines the same rights. Consultations on the proposal are still ongoing in the EU.
Before you travel, buy travel insurance!
WHAT’S THE “BACKSTOP” THAT EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT, IN A VERY WORRIED WAY?
The backstop is a fall-back solution in the event that, after the UK leaves the EU and the transition period ends, no solution can be found by which to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK).
The backstop agreement (officially the Northern Ireland Protocol) is intended to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Ireland after The Troubles.
Up until 1998, the British part of Ireland was ravaged by the bloody Northern Ireland conflict. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement, 20+ years ago, marked the end of that conflict.
Reconciliation between the conflicting parties was also helped by the fact that European integration meant that the border between the British and Irish EU partners ceased to be of relevance.
With the UK’s exit from the EU, the question has arisen as to what to do about this in order to avoid a return to a “hard border” on the island.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR THE UK TO EVER REJOIN THE EU?
However, under Article 50 paragraph 5 of the Treaty on European Union, Britain would be subject to the very long and complex procedure for joining the EU.
And each and every EU member state would have to agree to the UK rejoining the EU once again!
That’s it for now!
See you in Berlin!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are utterly my very, very own!
Brexit is going to be messy, but there’s hope!
If you’re still having problems or would prefer a step-by-step live guide, I offer a personal consultancy which can be done in either English or German!
Catch me if you can!
Watch this space!
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I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
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Brexit is a total mess. I am so sad, I have even stopped watching the news, they depress me. I am considering getting an Italian passport, since my grandparents were Italian. Great post, it must have taken you ages to write it 🙂
Thanks so much Gilda. It did! 😊
It had to be done so that British Expats in Germany can still have a chance to get updated information, or at least, where information can be found!
Within an hour of publishing, I already started receiving abusive comments on Facebook from people who really haven’t a clue, or didn’t even read the article! 😵
However, it’s utterly worth it as I’m still getting enquiries & questions of help from the previous article I wrote 1.5 years ago on how to get dual British-German citizenship! Here’s that story: https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/how-to-get-german-citizenship-if-youre-british-how-to-be-a-german-via-double-nationality/
Brexit is an awful mess and even though I will NEVER deny my British self, I’m just utterly, utterly annoyed, angry & sad on how we came to be in this position in the first place. 😥
If you can get Italian citizenship too, go for it!
Late comer from the US writing…
Stories about Brexit regularly have been in the media here on this side of the pond. It’s not quite as constant. On the front page of the “Washington Post” Sunday edition (3/24/19), there was a photo of the Brexit protest in London. It showed a crowded street of marchers with Trafalgar Sq. and the National Portrait Gallery in the background.
I agree, it’ll be a messy business when all’s said and done. And the dates keep changing too.
Regardless of what happens with Brexit, I’m still going ahead with my 3rd trip to London this spring.
Thank you for your Email! 🙂
Yep! I’m not in the least imagining that it’s a “conversation-starter” in the US, but those in intellectual circles, have certainly heard of Brexit and are most aware. If only Brexit were ” a crowded street of marchers with Trafalgar Sq. and the National Portrait Gallery in the background,” we’d all be smiling in sympathy.
But it isn’t. It’s much, much more.
It’s a government that doesn’t have a clue.
And sadly, a country that has lost its way. In more ways than one. 🙁
Re-tourism for American visitors. Or tourism as a whole for that matter. That won’t change for US visitors. You might have to wait a little longer in the queue in the future ‘cos EU citizens might be added to the mix, but it’ll be business as usual.
Tourists are always welcome! 😀
p.s. Have a wonderful time in London, and for your 3rd trip, here’s something entirely different! https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/24-hours-in-london-24-things-to-do/
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