Residence for EU citizens in Germany

Updated on
April 12, 2023

Residence for EU citizens in Germany can be taken up through The European Union freedom of movement rules, which allow EU citizens to work, study or do training in Germany without a VISA or residence permit. With just a valid national ID card or passport, you can stay in Germany up to three (3) months. This also applies to your family.

If you are planning to stay in Germany for longer than three months, you would need to provide proof that you are able to cover living expenses for you and your dependents. The same rights apply to EFTA countries - Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The Right To Permanent Residency in Germany

EU nationals automatically receive the right of permanent residence in another EU country if you have lived there lawfully for a continues period of five (5) years. You can apply for a permanent residence document which will prove you have the right to live permanently without any conditions.

It is important to not confuse it with a registration certificate, which is often compulsory in many EU countries. The permanent residence document is not compulsory. However, it can be useful when dealing with local Authorities because you are not required to prove you have sufficient resources, employment and health insurance in Germany, amongst others.

German Citizenship Through Naturalisation

If you are an EU citizen and have been living legally in Germany for at least 8 years, you may be eligible to apply for German citizenship through naturalisation. The citizenship provides full rights and obligations such as being able to vote locally and at a national level (in addition to maintaining your right to vote at a European level).

Other requirements such as having sufficient knowledge of the German language and having passed the naturalisation test are needed in order to receive your naturalisation certificate. Spouses and underage children are also entitled to citizenship even though they may not have lived in Germany for at least 8 years.

Read the full requirements and the process of acquiring citizenship through naturalisation for more information.

Employment In Germany For Citizens From EU And EFTA States

Nationals from both EU and EFTA member states enjoy the freedom of movement in Germany. This means there are no restrictions for taking up employment in the German labour market.

There is also a broad range of support options which you can make use of such as:

  • EURES Advice and Job Placement Services
  • Right To Equal Treatment Within EU Member States where the EU Equal Treatment Office in Germany can help to ensure you are being treated equally.

Automatic recognition of foreign qualifications

The Professional Qualifications Directive provides free access to domestic labour markets across all EU countries. This means that your qualifications fro EU member states are equivalent to those in Germany, and thus you do not need to seek recognition of foreign qualifications in Germany.

The Right To Study and Training In Germany

The freedom of movement within the EU provides you with the right to study in Germany at the same level as seeking employment. School leaving certificates are generally recognised in Germany and allows you to apply at higher education institutions and thereafter have access to tertiary education.

There are also funding programmes, such as the Erasmus+, which you are entitled to as an EU and EFTA citizen. These are grants provide funding to study abroad for certain periods. These can be regular studies or internships across EU countries from three (3) to twelve (12) months in each study phase. They apply to Bachelors Degrees, Master Degrees and Doctorate studies.

Registration Requirements, Integration and Welfare Benefits for EU citizens

Although citizens from EU-member states have the freedom of movement, they are required to register in Germany as soon as they have found a residence. Furthermore, a non-required integration course is offered in order to learn German.

Citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland will not lose entitlements earned in Germany either. If you have lived part of your life in Germany and another EU or EEA state, you will essentially receive two (2) retirement payments from both countries. In case you get unemployed, you will also be entitled to receive unemployment benefits in Germany.

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