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German Permanent Residence Permit

All about Permanent Residency in Germany 

A German Permanent Residence Permit, sometimes known as a Settlement Permit, can be issued to non-EU citizens who have lived in Germany for more than five years. Among the benefits of such a residence title is that it does not require any prolongation and allows free movement within the eurozone. But it is not the same as becoming a German Citizen (naturalization). 
Those looking to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit should familiarize themselves with the process and the many requirements for the application, which we’ll look into in this article.

What is a Permanent Residence permit?

A permanent residence permit allows individuals to stay in Germany for an unspecified period

It is not the same as getting German citizenship and having a German passport, but permanent residency offers much more security than having a Temporary Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).

Those from the EU or EEA do not need to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis), sometimes called a settled permit or German settlement permit, because they already have the right to live and work in Germany and also have the option to apply for the EC long-term residence permit, also known as an EU Residence Permit.

UK citizens, along with all other non-EU and non-EEA citizens living in Germany are able to apply for this Permanent Residency Permit, after a period of at least five years in the country.

In some instances, it is possible to gain a Germany Permanent Residence Permit in just two years. This applies to those who have graduated from a German university and then lived and worked in Germany for two years.

Individuals married to German citizens may be able to apply for Permanent Residence Permits for themselves and their family members after three years. The other way to be fast-tracked for a permanent resident permit is if you are a highly qualified professional in a specific technical/research area.


UK individuals living in Germany are currently advised to apply for settled status in light of the British exit from the European Union.

How can I stay in Germany permanently?

Those with a Permanent (Settlement) Residence Permit can stay in Germany permanently as a German Permanent Resident. However, the next step, should you choose it, is to apply for naturalization (becoming a German Citizen), which is possible after 8 years as a permanent resident.

How do I become a resident of Germany?

You are technically already a resident of Germany if you have any long-stay visa or temporary/current residence permit. But, if you want to become a permanent resident of Germany, then you need to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit.

These are only issued after living in Germany for a period of more than five years, and you must have had a temporary residence permit or visa for that length of time. You will need to have sufficient knowledge of the German language, as well as an understanding of local legal and social order and German society as a whole.

Can you travel with a German Residence Permit?

Yes, with a Permanent Residence Permit you can travel freely in the EU.

What happens if you overstay your visa in Germany?

Visa are granted for a range of time periods, often dependant on the length of a study period or a job contract. It’s really important not to overstay the time granted on your visa. Overstaying on a visa is a legal offence, renders you an illegal immigrant, and could result in deportation.

Requirements for a permanent residence permit

Is it easy to get permanent residence in Germany?

If you meet all the necessary criteria, have all the required documents, and successfully sit the interview, then yes: it can be easy to gain permanent residence and permanent residency status.

Documents needed to apply for Permanent Residence Permit

This is a list of all required documents needed to apply for a permanent settlement permit and the local Foreigners' Office:

  • Completed application form (Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis)
  • Proof of current and paid health insurance (at least 60 months of social security contributions)
  • Valid Passport
  • Recognised certificate of knowledge of the German language; at least B1 level German
  • 1 x biometric photo
  • Certificate of German university degree (if applying for a fast-tracked Permanent Residence Permit as a graduate of a German university)
  • Marriage Certificate (if applying for a fast-tracked Permanent Residence Permit as a result of being married to a German citizen)
  • Proof of being financially secure (bank statements for employed individuals and tax returns for self-employed)
  • A letter from your employer/or university
  • Proof of accommodation and registration (Anmeldungsbestätigung)
  • Professional license (if applying for fast-tracked Permanent Residence Permit as a result of being highly skilled in a field)

German bureaucratic system

It’s important to remember that the German bureaucratic system is fairly strict and any holes or gaps in your application will result in you either not being granted the residence permit in Germany or cause a long delay to your application.

Application Process

There are various steps to take to navigate the application process successfully

The first job is to pick up the correct form (Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnisfrom the immigration office and make an appointment. Then, ensure that all your paperwork (listed above) is in order.

Return for your appointment with the completed form and all the aforementioned documents. During your interview, your documents will be checked, and you may be asked questions about why you are making the application.

German law

You may be briefly tested as to your knowledge of German law, politics and society in this appointment, so make sure to prepare as if this will happen to avoid disappointment.

How long does it take to get a Residence Permit in Germany?

From the time of your interview, provided your documents are completely in order, it will usually take around 2-3 weeks for your Permanent Residence Permit to be processed.

How much is a German Residence Permit?

The standard fee for a Permit is €135. For self-employed workers, it is €200.

Dual Citizenship

Some individuals choose to progress from being a Permanent Residence Permit holder and apply to be a German Citizen with a German passport. This may mean giving up your original citizenship or having dual citizenship.

Unlike nations that prohibit dual citizenship, it has long been possible to have dual citizenship in Germany, provided the other country also allows dual citizenship.

Whilst it is allowed, it isn’t actively encouraged for individuals to have two passports. However, for EU nationals naturalized in Germany, dual citizenship is common. It is also permitted for refugees from countries where it is not possible to renounce citizenship.

Countries who do not allow dual citizenship include China, Japan and India. Individuals from those countries wishing to become naturalized Germans will need to give up their citizenship’s rights or their home country.

In order to apply for Dual Citizenship, you need to follow the process for how to become a German citizen. This usually requires having a Permanent Residence Permit for at least 8 years.

The EU Blue Card

The spouses of EU Blue Card holders can work in Germany and do not need their own visa and furthermore are not required to have any specified level of German language proficiency or speak German well.

EU Blue Card for Germany

The EU Blue Card is a relatively new type of residency permit, which permits non-EU workers to gain residency without a visa

It is aimed at highly skilled workers. The Requirements for an EU Blue card are significant and it’s certainly not a quick or easy solution to residency. For a start, individuals who would like to become an EU Blue Card holder must have a university degree and also a German employment contract and a salary of at least €53,600, or €41,808 for areas where there is a skills shortage (this includes medical and engineering fields).

The initial terms of the Blue Card will normally permit the individual to stay for up to four years, unless the work contract is shorter than this. There is, then, the option to apply for Permanent Residence Status after that time.

Once someone has been granted an EU Blue Card, they can move to another EU country after a period of 18 months living in Germany.

Benefits of a permanent residence in Germany

Learn more about the benefits of having a German settlement permit

A German Permanent Residency offers several advantages:

Work in Germany without restrictions

Any gainful employment is permitted. It is also unlimited in time and place. This means that with a valid Residence Permit, the individual can freely choose their occupation, such as self-employment. This also entails that the Residence Permit is not tied to a specific job! Hence, you can change your job without having to notify the Federal Office or the Federal Employment Agency. In addition, you do not have to apply for an extension of your Residence Permit every few years.

Better credit rating

Another advantage of the unrestricted Residence Permit in Germany that should not be neglected becomes apparent when taking out a loan. If you only have a temporary right of residence in Germany, no bank will grant you a loan. It would be too uncertain whether you can really repay the loan. An unlimited settlement permit entitles you to permanent residency in Germany and significantly increases your chances of obtaining a loan from the bank.

Travel Permit

Permanent residency in Germany gives you complete freedom of movement. This means that you can not only travel within Germany without restrictions but also leave and return without any problems. The only important thing is that you are not allowed to leave the country for longer than 6 months or with the intention to emigrate. Upon application, you may even leave Germany for longer than 6 months. This has the particular advantage that you can travel to your country of origin at any time without losing your Residence Permit in Germany.

EU Permanent Residence Permit

This unlimited Residency Permit goes beyond a temporary settlement permit. In addition to permanent living and working in Germany, a longer stay in other EU countries is also possible. Depending on the country, there is also a work permit. If this residence title was acquired in Germany, it expires for Germany, for example, only after one has resided in another EU country for 6 years.

Guaranteed Social Security

German permanent residents are entitled to social security and health insurance: this means that you have access to social benefits, such as childcare benefits, health benefits and social assistance if you lose your job or are made redundant.

Apply for financial aid to study at German universities

As a permanent resident, you can apply for financial aid to study at a German university of your choice.

Become a German national

You can apply for German citizenship after you have lived in Germany as a permanent resident for eight years.