EU Citizens as well as Non-EU Spouses and Relatives

In this section, we want to clarify the situation of EU citizens and their non-EU spouses and relatives regarding freedom of movement. Many questions are repeatedly asked, so we will provide the most common ones below.


I have a European citizenship, what permissions do I need to enter and live in Germany?

People who belong to the European Union have the right to enter other EU countries at any time, to reside in any place of their choice (right to freedom of movement) and to settle there in the pursuance of their own goals (freedom to settle). Citizens of EEA countries who are not EU citizens are treated as equal to EU citizens with regard to freedom of movement (§12 FreizügG). So just move in.

Coming from Switzerland,. neither nor is applicable for me. I want to live for a while in Germany. What am I required to do? Do I need to obtain a residence permit?

You will generally be treated as a European Community citizen. This right is based on a “bilateral” treaty between Switzerland and the European Union.

I have been living here for five years with my spouse and kids. Not planning to return, what do I need to stay here permanently?

Nothing! After five years, you and your dependents have the permission to remain here permanently. However, Non-Europeans still have to apply for the recognition of this status.

Can you describe me a bit more what kind of privilege you are talking about?

The privilege of European status is that your right to be must be explicitly denied and the denial needs to be based on very strong arguments. These strong arguments must have to come from reasons of public order (sentenced for many severe crimes), security (e.g. suicide bomber) or health (very contagious disease, e.g. ebola).

My husband belongs to an EU country, but I am a non-European. I know my spouse is entitled to free entry and freedom of movement. I suppose being married to him will enable me to have the same rights. Is that correct?

Yes, that is correct! You have the same rights as your husband. Your status is however dependent upon marriage. You are still to register at the foreigner’s office in order to get a "residence card (Aufenthaltskarte)" – not a permit. This card will make sure that no (police) officer comes up with the idea you are living here illegally. N.B. This is not a permission granted (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) but just a formal acknowledgment of your freedom of movement.

When does my husband actually have the much-praised right to freedom of movement? What are the requirements for this? What statusdoes he have then?

Your husband does not have to fulfill many requirements. As a European he must want to stay

  • as a worker,
  • for vocational training,
  • to look for work for up to six months
    beyond that only as long as they can prove that they are still looking for work and have a reasonable prospect of being hired,
  • for the purpose of self-employment
  • as a non-employed person under certain conditions,

His status is that he is entitled to live here in Germany, and it is difficult for immigration to cancel his stay. He lives here pretty much as a German but without German citizenship.

I want to live in Germany as a European to spend my old age here; I do not want to work! Can I still live here?

Yes, that is imaginable. According to §4 FreizügG you and your spouse only have to have secured your livelihood and sufficient health insurance.

Do my relatives from non-European countries have the right to follow me to Germany?

Assuming you are gainfully employed as a European (both as a self-employed person and as an employee), you have the right for direct relatives in a straight ascending and descending line to follow you to Germany. The same goes for your spouse even if he or she is from a third-land country. These persons are:

  • spouse,
  • children, grandchildren,
  • parents, grandparents.

This is also imaginable via the non-EU spouse of a European.

My European spouse and I are planning to relocate to Germany. I thought we could just enter but I heard I need toapply for a visa when entering Germany from outside Europe? Can this be?

Yes, unfortunately, you will have to apply for an entry visa, a national visa for long-term residency. However, if you have clean records, it should be no problem. Once in Europe, you already enjoy the freedom of movement everywhere – except in the country where your "better half" comes from!

You just said: "as long as the European is not in his home country"? What is this to tell me??

It means he does not enjoy the right of free movement in his country because he is at home. If you live at home, you are not treated as if you are a native, are you? For you it means, you need a residence permit according to the rules of his home country.

What does it mean to have one’s livelihood secured? Don’t tell me I have to have as much money as Rockefeller.

Your livelihood is secured if you can yourself meet the cost of living, including sufficient health insurance coverage, without having to make a claim on public funds. If have at least something like a "e;normal"e; employment, then you will be on the safe side.

How do I prove that my means of livelihood are sufficient and secured?

This can be bank statements, payslips, statement of interest from capital income, financial statements (BWAs) for the self-employed/business folks, etc.

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