Residency law for citizens of the European Union

Inhalte aus AMT24

Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and the law on the general freedom of movement for EU citizens, govern the right of residence for EU citizens in EU member states. EU citizens only need to comply with Germany’s general registration requirement. Contact your local registry office about this. The registration authorities will forward your details to the relevant Bureau for Foreigners.

Freedom of movement means that every EU citizen is entitled to move freely within the European Union, enter any other member state, and reside there.

Entering the Federal Republic of Germany

As an EU citizen, you do not need a visa or passport to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. An ID valid for the period of stay will suffice.


As an EU citizen, you have the option of earning a living in any member state. This means working or rendering services as an employee or self-employed person. The same applies for citizens of the European Economic Area. Some transitional rules regarding employee freedom of movement in some service sectors still apply for the new Central and Eastern European member states. According to these rules, a work permit issued by the Federal Employment Agency is required.

Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement applies to

  • any EU citizen in the first three months of their stay,
  • workers,
  • settled self-employed persons,
  • service providers,
  • service recipients,
  • non-workers (e.g. pensioners, students, other unemployed persons)
  • persons holding permanent residence permits, and their families.

If you have maintained your legal, permanent place of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany for five years, you will be given an unlimited residence permit, which is not subject to the aforementioned requirements.

Unemployed EU citizens are only entitled to free movement if they have health insurance and sufficient resources to finance themselves and their families for the entire duration of their stay.

Sufficient funding means they do not need to claim social welfare.

Family members

Family members of EU citizens, who are not EU citizens themselves, must contact the local Bureau for Foreigners. They will be issued with a residence card, which is generally valid for 5 years.

Loss of right of residence

Residence permits may be revoked if an EU citizen seriously jeopardises public order and safety. In individual cases, a risk analysis must also be conducted to assess whether the EU citizen poses a future threat.

EU citizens may similarly lose their right to enter and reside in Germany if they no longer meet the aforementioned requirements for free movement.


Release note

Based on the German version authorized by Sächsisches Staatsministerium der Justiz und für Europa. 2014-07-11