Moving to Germany From the UK: The Complete Step-By-Step Guide

According to recent estimates, almost 100,000 UK citizens have relocated to Germany in the last thirty years.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. With an excellent quality of life, fascinating castles, and 74 symphony orchestras and 55 opera houses, it’s easy to see why Brits find Germany so fascinating.

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Are you thinking about moving to Germany from the UK? In this article, we’ll go over the things you should consider before booking your flight, so you’re fully prepared for your big international move.

1. Decide Where to Live

We all know Berlin is a cultural centre, a flourishing city full of amazing festivals and an exciting arts scene. But Germany is full of great options. From Frankfurt, a financial centre usually compared to Manhattan, to Munich, home to the best beer gardens and to the iconic Oktoberfest, this country is full of wonderful choices.

In the end, where you decide to live will depend on your preferences. Are you looking for a cosmopolitan city? Then you may want to go to Frankfurt, where a quarter of the population is made up of foreigners. Are you looking for a quiet life in contact with nature? Then you should definitely buy a cottage in the Alps?

If you want to compare quality of life indicators including housing, cost of living, perceived crime rates, and access to healthcare, you may want to take a look at.

2. Get the Appropriate Visa

Thinking about moving to Germany from the UK? Not so fast! Since Brexit ended the free movement around Europe for UK citizens, to be accepted into Germany, you need to have a valid reason to relocate.

Do you wish to study in Germany? If that’s your case, you can apply for a German student resident permit. You can either apply to a university before getting a visa or apply for a residence permit that allows you to find a University program once you arrive in the country.

Have you been offered a job in Germany? Awesome! If you have a work contract, you’re eligible for the German contracted work residence visa. In that case, your company will help you out with the immigration process.

So, is company sponsorship the only way to work legally in Germany? Not at all. If you’re an independent professional, you can apply for a freelance permit, which has two distinctions: Freiberufler, self-employed people who have their own company, vs. Selbständige (freelancers who do small projects for German clients).

Other German Visas and Permits to Consider:

  • Au pair visas, which are 12-month permits for 18-26-year-olds who can communicate in German.
  • Artist visas: a specific type of freelance permit specifically created for those moving to Berlin
  • Job seekers visa, which allows you to stay in Germany for 6 months to apply to jobs that match your professional profile.

3. Start Learning German

Knowing at least some German will be essential for your new life in Germany. While most Germans have a high level of English, if you’re moving to Germany from the UK, you can’t expect them to use your language all the time. In fact, it is estimated that 44% of the German population does not speak any English at all!

This means that, once you have decided to relocate to Germany, The first thing you’ll need to do is taking a German course.

At Language Trainers, we offer both private courses and group lessons, and you can opt for online or in-person classes. What’s more, we work exclusively with native German teachers who’ll be able to help you to improve your pronunciation and fluency in no time.

If you’d like to get started learning the basics of the German language, check out our Open-Group German lessons for just £6 per hour!

4. Registering in Germany

British citizens don’t need a visa to enter Germany as tourists, but this doesn’t mean you can stay there forever. If you plan to spend more than 3 months in the country, you’ll need to present your documentation at the nearest Einwohnermeldeamt, i.e., the Residence Registration Office.

This mandatory process needs to be done within 14 days of your moving to Germany from the UK and, of course, the papers you’ll need to submit will vary depending on your reasons for immigrating and the type of visa you have got.

However, there are a few things that everyone moving to Germany from the UK must have:

  • A valid reason for immigrating
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Health insurance
  • A valid German Visa

5. Start Looking for a Place to Rent

Finding the best place to rent requires some research on both your budget and the property you would potentially be moving into. The most important factor to take into account, of course, is location. Down payment, utilities, maintenance fees and up-front payments will depend on how accessible, popular or touristic the area you’re looking at is.

But you’ll also have to consider move-in expenses. Are you financially prepared for up-front costs? When you rent an apartment in Germany, you’re often required to pay a security deposit as well as administration fees and even pet fees. So, before making a final decision, make sure you have reviewed the move-in fees carefully.

Having said this, there are a few rental sites that can help you with your choice. Some of the best housing agencies and estate agents in Germany are Deutsche Wohnen, Gewobag, Stadt und Land, and Wohnungbaugenossenschaften.

Of course, once you’ve found the place of your dreams, you’ll need to provide a few documents that everyone moving to Germany from the UK should have at this point.

These formalities include:

  • A copy of your passport or ID card.
  • Proof of income.
  • A Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung (possibly) – this is a report from your last landlord which states your payments were up to date.
  • A visa or permit (see the different types above).

6. Register Your Address With the Authorities

Now, before you start posting pictures of your new home on Instagram, there’s something else you mustn’t forget to do —a process known as Anmeldung.

Anmeldung is the formal process by which you register your address with the official authorities, thus receiving your Anmeldebestätigung or Meldebescheinigung, i.e., your certificate of registration.

This is one of the most important documents you’ll need to sign in Germany, and it must be processed within 14 days of your move.

As this is an in-person procedure, it will be one of your first experiences communicating in German. But don’t get nervous! We are here to help. If you think you need extra help preparing for your interview, we can pair you up with a German teacher for a few private lessons who will help you practise all you’ll have to say.

7. Open a Bank Account

Opening a bank account in Germany is an essential part of your moving process.

Without a bank account, you won’t be able to do such basic things as getting a job or signing up for internet service. What is more, you will have to pay a hefty fee every time you get cash at a German ATM from your British bank account.

For all these reasons, finding the best bank should be among your priorities as soon as you arrive in Germany.

What are the best banks for people moving to Germany from the UK? Well, you may opt for DKB, which allows you to sign up from abroad, offers free cash withdrawal, and has no account fees. But there are other solid options. Postbank, for example, offers new clients a bonus of up to 250€ worth of vouchers. N26, on the other hand, allows quick money transfers to other customers of the same bank.

In the end, which bank you choose will depend on your needs and priorities, but make sure you make this choice a top priority if you’ve already decided to relocate to Germany!

8. Get a German Phone Number

How can you get a mobile phone contract in Germany? You can either sign up online or by visiting a nearby office. Are you moving to a small town? Don’t worry. Even villages have at least one telecom store. To register for a mobile phone contract you will have to present the following things:

  • Personal ID
  • Address information
  • Details of your German Bank Account

Bear in mind that, if you sign up online, the process of getting your papers processed will take a few business days.

Alternatively, you can get a prepaid SIM card, which is more expensive when it comes to making phone calls, but gives you a lot more freedom in terms of changing providers whenever you want.

9. Understanding German Healthcare

If you’re moving to Germany from the UK, your European Health Insurance card won’t do. In order to be fully covered whilst residing in Germany, you’ll need to hire a German health insurance company and get a social security number.

Luckily, Germany has one of the oldest and most reliable health care systems in the world. Health care is provided by a wide range of Krankenkasse, which is how Germans call health insurance companies. If you don’t have a job yet or don’t plan on working while in Germany, you can choose the most common state health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenkasse), or you can opt for private health insurance (Private Krankenkasse). That will depend on your budget.

If you go to Germany with a job offer, you will normally get signed up with a Health Insurance company through your employer. Then, half of the monthly costs will come out of your salary (normally about 15% of your income) and the rest will be taken care of by your employer.

If your income is higher than €4,350 a month, you can ask for a transfer to private health care. Either way, you’ll get your German Health Insurance card and number.

So, that’s it. You have come to the end of your step-by-step guide for Brits who want to move to Germany.

As you can see, most of the procedures mentioned above require that you know basic German. Whether you want to hire a phone service, find the house of your dreams or register your German address with the authorities, feeling confident about your language is the best way to start off on the right foot!

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Luckily, we can help you with that part. Try a one-to-one lesson with a native German teacher, or join a group course! Contact us now and we’ll be delighted to pair you up with the best face-to-face or online tutor so you can start getting ready for your move to Germany as soon as possible.

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