Free movement of UNION citizens Certifying permanent residence

EU and EEA citizens who have acquired a permanent right of residence can apply to the Immigration Office for a certificate of the existence of this right.

Nationals of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) do not need a residence permit to enter and stay in Germany.

If you are an EU and EEA citizen and have legally resided in Germany for a period of five years, you can acquire a permanent right of residence. The permanent right of residence arises directly by law. You can apply to the Immigration Office for the issuance of a certificate of permanent residence.

Under certain conditions, you can already acquire a permanent residence right before the expiry of five years, e.B if you:

  • have resided permanently in Germany for at least three years, have worked in Germany or in another Member State of the European Union for the last twelve months and have since retired from working life due to your age (reaching the age of 65) or due to an early retirement scheme;
  • have given up their occupation in Germany or in another Member State of the European Union as a result of a complete disability resulting from an accident at work or an occupational disease which establishes a right to a pension in The Federal Republic of Germany;
  • have given up your occupation in Germany or in another Member State of the European Union as a result of a full disability, having previously resided permanently in Germany for at least two years, or
  • have been permanently employed in Germany for three years, are now in employment in another Member State of the European Union, but still have a residence in Germany to which you return at least once a week.

The certificate of permanent residence is issued by the Immigration Office after it has checked whether you have reached the required periods of residence in Germany. For this purpose, it is not necessary that you have stayed continuously in Germany during the required period. Certain absences from the federal territory are irrelevant for the acquisition of the permanent right of residence. Thus, even when leaving the federal territory for a total of six months a year, for the performance of military service or a replacement service or for good cause, a permanent residence can be assumed once for up to twelve consecutive months (e.B. due to a serious illness, a study, a vocational training). Periods of serving a custodial sentence that have not been suspended shall not be taken into account for the acquisition of the permanent right of residence.

If you have interrupted your stay in Germany for a longer period of time, it is not possible to add up previous and subsequent periods in order to reach the minimum length of stay required for the acquisition of the permanent residence right.

If necessary, the Immigration Office can also check the legality of your stay, i.e. whether you have fulfilled the requirements of the right to free movement during the entire period.

With the acquisition of the permanent right of residence, you will receive an improved ("solidified") legal status regardless of your nationality. For example, the permanent right of residence is independent of the continued existence of the conditions for freedom of movement. In addition, your protection against expulsion increases. However, if you leave Germany for more than two consecutive years, this may result in the loss of the permanent right of residence.

The certificate is issued for an unlimited period and confirms that you have acquired the permanent right of residence. The document does not constitute an identity document, i.e. You cannot prove your identity with the certificate. Therefore, it does not carry a photograph, nor is there an obligation to update the information in the document in the event of changes (e.B. you do not need to have the certificate updated if you have a new passport or identity card issued or if your address changes).

If you have not yet reached the age of 18, your legal representative (e.B. the person entitled to care for the person) must agree to the planned stay.

  • Consent of the legal representative to the planned stay if the age of 18 has not yet been completed

The Immigration Office may require the submission of the following documents:

  • Recognised or otherwise approved valid passport or passport replacement
  • Proof that the right to freedom of movement has been exercised for the periods of stay completed (e.B. confirmation of registration, employment contract, business license or proof of self-employment, sufficient resources and sufficient health insurance cover, certificate of enrolment)

In individual cases, the Immigration Office may request further documents.

  • Online procedures occasionally possible
  • Written form required: yes
  • Personal appearance required: yes


  • You are a citizen of the EU or the EEA
  • You can show the required periods of residence in Germany (usually five years, in special cases two or three years are sufficient).
  • You are legally resident in Germany, i.e. You have fulfilled the requirements of the right to free movement throughout your stay.
  • If necessary, you can provide the proofs and documents mentioned under "Required documents"


Note for nationals of Switzerland :

Because Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA, a different regulation applies to Swiss nationals. The right of residence for Swiss nationals is governed by the agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other part, on the free movement of persons.

Note for British nationals (Brexit) :

On 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the withdrawal from the European Union was completed. For British nationals entitled to freedom of movement and their family members, the right to free movement initially continued to apply until 31 December 2020.

The competent immigration authority provides information on which regulations will apply in individual cases from 1 January 2021

Related Links

  • § 2 FreizügG/EU
  • § 4a FreizügG/EU
  • § 12 FreizügG/EU (EEA states)
  • § 47.3 sentence 5 AufenthV (fee)
  • Annex D15 AufenthaltsV
  • § 5 paragraph 5 sentence 1 FreizügG/EU

The certificate must be applied for at the immigration office responsible for your place of residence.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Depending on the immigration office, an application via the Internet may be possible. Find out whether your immigration office offers the electronic application.

In the event of an electronic application, the Immigration Office will contact you after receipt of your application in order to request additional documents and to make an appointment with you at the Immigration Office. During the appointment, your documents will be checked (bring them to the appointment in the original if you are asked to do so).

  • If the application is only possible in person, make an appointment with the immigration office. During the appointment, your details will be accepted and your proofs checked (bring them with you to the appointment in the original if you are asked to do so).
  • After completion of the examination, you will immediately be issued with a certificate of permanent residence or a rejection notice.
  • The collection must always be done in person. At the Immigration Office you must sign.

Responsible for the content
Ministry of the Interior and Municipal Affairs of the State of Brandenburg

Last update or date of publication