Moving from the UK to Germany: a Paperwork Guide

Intuitively this seems like something which should be simple, with Germany being in the EU. Actually I think for the most part it is, but there are quite a few things which have come up which I wasn’t expecting. So here goes.

1. Sort out your accommodation in the UK

This means selling your property or moving out of your rented accommodation and settling up all utilities and bills. It’s an obvious one, but there can be a lot to think about here (phone, internet, water, gas, electricity, insurance, council tax, etc). It is especially important to remember to tell the council you are moving. You should also let your doctor and dentist know.

2. Inform HMRC and Student Finance

Generally you need to inform HMRC that you are moving to avoid paying tax on your earnings abroad (though this depends how many days out of the tax year you are spending out of the UK). You need your last P45 and can fill in the P85 form online.

You also need to inform student finance. Although some people try to escape student debt by moving abroad, SF are now apparently hiring international debt collectors to track you down. You will need to fill in a form and will need your contract, or the last three payslips. If you are a recent graduate, you don’t need to do this until your account enters repayment, which is at the start of the tax year (April) after you graduate. The debt can be paid by direct debit from a UK bank account.

3. Banking

You can generally keep your bank accounts open when you move abroad, and I would advise you to do so, as setting up a UK bank account (which you may need later) while non-resident is almost impossible. However, you will not be able to pay into an ISA, so do that before you leave.

Credit Union accounts in the UK are generally governed by a “common bond” which is often geographical or professional. You should contact yours to find out what they advise.

A few things to be aware of when setting up a German bank account:

  • Cash is used for most day-to-day payments in Germany
  • ATMs are less common and will often charge you for withdrawals
  • Free banking is less common and most accounts will charge a monthly fee

I have decided to set up an account with Sparkasse, who operate the most ATMs and have a reasonable fee. However, it is important to do your own research and chose the bank that works best for you.

4. Register and get a residence certificate 

After you have found accommodation (and that will be another post in itself), you need to register with the Meldebehörde, which will be located in a building called the Bürgeramt or similar. Depending on the Bundesland, you will have one or two weeks to do this. You will then be able to apply for a residence certificate within three months.


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