Brexit » From the United Kingdom to Germany

From the United Kingdom to Germany - FAQ

Do I need a visa and/or work permit for a work stay in Germany?

Special restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic (last updated 14 July 2021)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, entry into Germany from most countries outside the EU is only possible in exceptional cases. Since the respective regulations are changing quickly, it is advisable to check the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior for the most up-to-date regulations before travelling.

For fully vaccinated people, entry from third countries has been possible again since 25 June 2021. A person must have received the last vaccination dose that is necessary for full vaccination at least 14 days before the date of travel, and the vaccine must be among those listed on the website of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. The EU Digital COVID Certificate or comparable proof of vaccination in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish must be presented upon entry.

As a person who has not been fully vaccinated, you may enter Germany from the UK if you are returning to your place of residence, performing an important function or if the trip is essential. This can be proven, for example, by presenting an employment contract or a letter from your university confirming that attendance is compulsory.

Third countries for which unrestricted entry is currently permitted are listed on this list (see "Travel restriction/border control" > IV. > "What applies to air and see travel outside of the European Union/entering Germany from a non-EU member state?").

Extended entry restrictions will apply should Great Britain be declared an area of virus variant of concern.

The exemptions for skilled workers can be found here:

"Skilled and highly qualified workers may enter Germany only if they prove their obligation to be present in Germany (e.g. by presenting a job contract) and provide evidence to substantiate that their employment in Germany is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad (by providing documentation from their employer/contracting authority). The economic necessity relates to the economic relationships and/or the economy of Germany or the single market."

In the case of guest performances and events in Germany, the organiser should argue that the presence of the artist is absolutely necessary from an economic perspective – for example, if a gallery is economically dependent on the collaboration with an artist or if the cancellation of an event due to non-entry would have negative consequences for the organiser or artist (this should be substantiated with figures if possible).

  • Digital Registration on Entry and a negative COVID test from within the previous 48 hours are required for entry into Germany.
  • It is recommended to submit a travel request to the Federal Police before entering the country; they may also carry out checks at the passport-free Schengen borders.
  • For business trips, you will need to complete a form declaring that you are undertaking an essential short-term business trip.
  • The Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations (12 May 2021) regulates a uniform, nation-wide obligation to register, quarantine and furnish proof as well as a ban on carriage from areas of variants of concern. Information is available here.
  • And, of course, restrictions on travel abroad from and entry into the United Kingdom must also be observed.

Entry post-Brexit (regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic)

As of 1 January 2021, UK nationals will still be able to enter the Schengen area without a visa if they meet the criteria for a short stay.
This is because all countries that are part of the Schengen area apply the same entry rules for non-EU nationals. The Schengen area, in which there are no de facto internal border controls, acts as a kind of connected "visa area". Passport checks usually take place only on entry into and exit from the Schengen area, and selectively within the Schengen area.

Please note: The Schengen area is not congruent with the EU! The Schengen area includes the non-EU countries of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (and soon also Gibraltar), but not the EU countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Republic of Ireland, Romania and Cyprus.

A short stay in the Schengen area is limited to a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. All days of the stay

  • contiguous or not,
  • within the last 180 days,

are counted as part of a short stay.

If you are staying in the Schengen area, it is necessary to check whether you have already stayed in the area for 90 days in the respective 180-day period prior to each individual day of stay. So prior to any visa-free entry into the Schengen area, your previous history of stay in the Schengen area over the preceding 180-day period must be checked. Entry and exit days are considered full days of stay.

You stayed in the Schengen area for a total of 50 days from 1 June to 20 July 2021 in France and Belgium (visiting friends and family) and also for a total of 35 days from 1 August to 4 September 2021 in Poland and Lithuania (holiday). Now you are planning another stay in the Schengen area from 1 October to 10 October 2021 in Germany.

For each planned day of stay in Germany in October, you must check whether a visa-free entry is permissible (i.e. whether your stay qualifies as a short stay). In order to do this, you must check your previous days of stay in the Schengen area over the respective 180-day period prior to the respective day for each planned day of your stay:

  • 1 October 2021: days of stay in the 180-day period prior: 50 + 35 = 85.

The stay on 1 October 2021 is possible (Day 86). A stay on 2 and 3 October is possible as well.

  • 4 October 2021: days of stay in the 180-day period prior: 50 + 35 + 3 (1 to 3 October) = 88.

The stay on 4 October is also possible (day 89), but you must leave the country on the following day (5 October), as the maximum stay of 90 days will be reached on that day. You will not be able to stay from 6 to 10 October.

  • If you stay from 1 to 5 October, a new visa-free short stay in the Schengen area would only be permissible again from 28 November, since the day of stay of 1 June is no longer part of the 180-day period prior to November 28 and is therefore no longer counted. Note: 28 November does not start a new 180-day period; rather, the previous days of stay in the 180-day period prior to 28 November only amount to 89, since the day of stay of 1 June is now outside the 180-day period prior to November 28. You can also stay on 29 November, as the day of stay of 2 June is also now outside the 180-day period prior to November 29.

Further information:


The question of whether a visa or resident permit is required for paid work under national German law must be considered. Since British nationals are no longer EU nationals and therefore no longer have the freedom to offer their services or work in the EU, the national law of the respective EU state is decisive in such cases.

The question of whether non-EU nationals need a visa or other work document for paid work is decided on a national basis (there is very limited coordination within the EU with regard to this issue).

In Germany, this is regulated in the Employment Ordinance (Beschäftigungsverordnung/BeschV), which governs access to the labour market for non-EU nationals. Section 30 of the ordinance contains a list of activities that are not considered gainful employment for the purposes of residence law. Section 22 BeschV is particularly relevant for artistic activities. It states that the following artistic activities are not considered "gainful employment" (even if they are paid) and that no special visa must be obtained to pursue them:

  • persons, including their support staff, who, while retaining their ordinary residence abroad, engage in lectures or performances of special scientific or artistic value or in performances of a sporting nature in Germany, if the duration of the activity does not exceed 90 days within a period of twelve months (§ 22 Nr. 1 BeschV),
  • persons employed in the context of festivals or music and cultural events or posted in the context of guest performances or foreign film and television productions, if the duration of the activity does not exceed 90 days within a period of twelve-months (Section 22 No 2 BeschV),

*A "one-day show or event" is "when a special event, which is also recognisable as such to the outside world, is organised outside the normal course of business. A daily performance is generally announced in a special way, e.g. through advertisements or posters. Performances may not take place on more than two days in a row" (Source: Visum-Handbuch des Auswärtigen Amts, under Künstler 2)b.).

These regulations apply to both employees and self-employed persons.

This information of the German Missions in the United Kingdom provides an overview of professional activities not classed as economic activities/work ("Erwerbstätigkeit").

In summary, if the activities of British artists

1) meet the conditions for a short stay in the Schengen area (maximum of 90 days within the last 180 days) and

2) do not exceed the maximum duration of activity according to Section 22 BeschV (maximum of 90 days in each 12-month period),

no visa is required.

Therefore, the same rules apply to British artists after Brexit as to other nationals who may enter the country without a visa for a short stay, such as US or Japanese nationals. Based on our experience in recent years, this group of people did not encounter any particular problems when entering the country for a short stay, for example, they were not required to prove upon entry that a performance or activity met the conditions set forth in Section 22 BeschV.

Nevertheless, we recommend that you carry the following documents with you:

  • letter of invitation from the organiser in Germany,
  • confirmation of health insurance that is valid in Germany (or an A1 form and a valid European Health Insurance Card or the British successor, the "Global Health Insurance Card"),
  • information about where you are staying in Germany (address, hotel booking or similar).

What regulations apply to British nationals who are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and live in an EU country?

British nationals who lived in Germany or in another EU country on the cut-off date of 31 December 2020 and continue to live there are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and still have full access to the labour market in their country of residence – but only there. This means, for example, that British nationals living in Germany are no longer free to offer services in other EU countries. They must check in advance whether a permit must be obtained for the planned activity or whether they are affected by an exemption in the other country.

British nationals protected by the Withdrawal Agreement may visit other countries within the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period per country.

An exception is in place for "real" frontier workers who have a branch office in another EU country and regularly commute back and forth.

Detailed information on this can be found in the Instructions for the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement (pdf download, Item 9.4).

A further exception is made for employed British nationals who carry out activities for their employer in another EU state, which is also their state of residence. In this case, the embassy of the target country should be contacted to ask whether a (declaratory) Van der Elst visa must be applied for as proof. A Van der Elst visa is not required if the stay in the other country is shorter than 90 days in any 180-day period or if the British national is entitled to permanent residence in the country of stay (previous stay of at least 5 years).

This rule applies to employees only, and not to self-employed persons.

Another exception applies to activities in the Republic of Ireland. There, British nationals are allowed to stay and work without restrictions in accordance with the regulations set in place within the Common Travel Area (CTA). Information can be found here.

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Does UK health insurance coverage apply during work stays in Germany?

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishes that postings from the UK to EU member states (and vice versa) will continue to be possible. This means that the previous social security legislation will continue to apply if a posting is temporary and does not exceed 24 months.
A1 certificates will continue to be issued as proof of a posting under this agreement for a transitional period.
Information for individuals insured in the United Kingdom can be found here.

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What must be considered when transporting professional equipment (musical instruments, works of art) and items to Germany?

Import VAT is payable on deliveries that are to remain in Germany (sales). Please note: As of 1 July 2021, the tax-free allowance for deliveries to the EU customs territory will cease to apply, i.e. all deliveries will be subject to import VAT (information; further information can also be requested from the customs authorities).

An A.T.A. carnet should be requested for temporary use of equipment, musical instruments, works of art and set design. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry is responsible for issuing carnets in the United Kingdom (additional information).

Small items (e.g., musical instruments) transported as carry-on baggage will likely not require a carnet.

A CITES permit should be obtained for musical instruments made of protected woods or species and the export declared in the UK.

Transport companies from the UK or the EU are now only allowed to carry out a limited number of cabotage transports in the respective other territory (a maximum of 2 in any 7-day period). This applies to vehicles with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes. This means that for tours in the EU using UK vehicles that exceed this weight limit, only two more trips can be made after the vehicle enters the EU.

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What tax regulations must be observed?

Nothing has changed with regard to income tax (withholding tax, "foreigner tax"), as the bilateral double taxation agreement between the UK and Germany continues to apply. Information on the topic of withholding tax can be found here. Detailed information concerning the taxation of performances in Germany by self-employed artists domiciled abroad can be found in the Checklist: Withholding tax for performing artists from abroad.

The United Kingdom is no longer to be treated as a Member State concerning VAT, but as a third country. The information on third countries in the VAT section of the touring artists website applies accordingly.

Deliveries are now subject to import VAT. Please note: As of 1 July 2021, the tax-free allowance for deliveries to the EU customs territory will cease to apply, i.e. all deliveries will be subject to import VAT (information; further information can also be requested from the customs authorities).

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