Do I need a visa as a
British citizen travelling
to Germany?

Germany is a popular destination within Europe for British people seeking to work, study or visit for business or tourism purposes.

Now that the UK has left the European Union (EU), British citizens no longer have the right to freedom of movement with EU countries, therefore you should check if you need a visa before you travel.

Whether you need a visa as a British citizen travelling to Germany post-Brexit depends on a number of factors including how long you intend to stay and which activities you intend to undertake during your stay.

Requirements for British citizens and other British nationals

British citizens do not require a visa to enter any of the European Union’s Schengen Member States, provided that the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180 day period.

This exemption also applies for other British nationals, i.e. holders of the following types of British nationalities:

  • British Nationals Overseas
  • British Overseas Territories Citizens
  • British Overseas Citizens
  • British Protected Persons
  • British Subjects
  • Holders of British passports issued on behalf of Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Montserrat, St. Helena, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

However, you may not take up any employment or pursue any economic activity in Germany unless such employment is explicitly authorised by a visa or a residence permit issued by the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”) in Germany.

Entry requirements for visa-free short stays

British citizens travelling to the Schengen Member States are subject to all entry requirements for third-country nationals.

You must be in possession of a valid travel document entitling you to cross the Schengen borders. UK regular, official and diplomatic passports identifying the holder as a British citizen are recognised for visa-free travel.

On the date of entry into the Schengen zone, your travel document must have been issued within the previous 10 years, and its validity must extend at least three months after the intended date of your departure from the Schengen zone. Travellers are therefore advised to check their passport’s issue date and expiry date before travelling to ensure it meets these requirements.

You may also be required to justify the purpose and conditions of your intended stay, and show that you have sufficient means of subsistence, both for the duration of the intended stay and for your return to your country of origin or transit to a third country into which you are certain to be admitted.

Third country nationals will also be subject to security checks and may be refused entry if you are considered to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any of the Member States.

Staying in Germany for more than 90 days

British citizens and the aforementioned British nationals require a D visa and/or residence permit for any stay of over 90 days within any 180-day period or involving any economic activity (“Erwerbstätigkeit”), unless an exemption applies.

British citizens – and only British citizens – may apply for their residence permits with the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”) after arrival in Germany and without having obtained a visa prior to travelling to Germany.

You must register your new residence with the authorities within 2 weeks of having moved in, and apply to the local immigration office for your residence permit within the first 90 days of your stay in Germany. You may only take up employment or pursue any other economic activity once you have been issued a residence permit which explicitly authorities such activities.

All other British nationals listed above and intending to stay longer than 90 days within any 180-day period or pursue any activity classed as gainful employment need to apply for a visa prior to travel.

Permitted activities for visitors

As a rule, visa-free short-term visitors may not pursue any economic activity in Germany. However, some professional activities such as standard business travel and a variety of cultural, academic and sports activities may be carried out without a corresponding visa or residence permit as they are not classed as an economic activity.

Any other economic activity for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period requires a C visa authorising such activity.

Non-EU family members of British citizens

Holders of British Residence Cards for EU/EEA family members who previously did not require visas now require a visa for travel to Germany unless they are otherwise exempt.

Non-EU family members of British and German citizens holding a visa as a family member under Freedom of Movement rules issued before 31 December 2020 and valid after 1 January 2021 must provide evidence at the point of entry into the EU that they fulfil all Schengen entry requirements.

This includes the possession of a valid travel document, proof of accommodation, employment, sufficient means of subsistence, travel health insurance, invitation letter or return ticket, documents proving the family member’s economic situation in the country of residence or the genuine intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa.

Introducing SSW in Germany

As a result of continued growth and development, Smith Stone Walters is delighted to announce that we are expanding our international reach and opening a new operation in Germany.

Our Frankfurt based team will enable us to meet the growing needs of our European clients even more efficiently and locally facilitate all German inbound immigration work with the highest level of service.

SSW has over 30 years’ experience in German immigration. Our new team in Germany upholds the same service standard our clients have become accustomed to at SSW. To find out more about the services we can offer, please call 0208 461 6660 or email


Disclaimer: In accordance with the German law governing legal advice and services (RDG, section 2 subsection 1) our services do not include any legal advice.

Share story
Back to top of page