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Moving to Germany From the UK


Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

8th Sep 2021 (Last updated on 6th Mar 2024) 16 minute read

Germany is a fantastic country to consider moving to from the UK. Not only does it have a strong economy, its public transport is fantastic and the country is environmentally conscious.

The culture in Germany is varied and it’s easy to see why over 98,000 British expats have chosen to make the move.

If you’re considering looking to Germany, there are several things to consider. This useful guide covers everything you need to know from applying for a visa to the healthcare system.

  1. Why Are People Moving from the UK to Germany?
  2. How to Move Your Belongings from the UK to Germany (The Process)
  3. Cost of Removals to Germany from the UK
  4. How to Apply for a German Visa and Temporary Residency Permit
  5. Types of German Permits and Visas
  6. How to Rent or Buy Property in Germany
  7. Property Prices
  8. How to Find a Job in Germany
  9. The German Job Market
  10. Cost of Living
  11. Healthcare
  12. Education and Where to Study
  13. Importing a Vehicle to Germany
  14. Culture/Art
  15. Is it Worth Moving to Germany from the UK?
Here are some useful facts to know about Germany:
  • Average Shipping Costs from the UK - £953
  • Population - Over 83 million
  • Currency - Euro (EUR)
  • Main Language - German
  • Number of British Expats - over 98,000 British expats
  • Number of British Expats Compare My Move Have Helped to Relocate - 800+ people
  • Most Popular Cities for Expats - Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt

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Why Are People Moving from the UK to Germany?

There are many reasons why people in the UK are choosing to make the move to Germany. One of the biggest driving factors is that Germany has a stable economy. In addition to this, businesses are successful and unemployment rates are generally low.

Their public transport systems are fast and reliable. The country is in a convenient location and has good transport links to other areas of the world.

The work/life balance in Germany is better when compared to the UK as there is a higher emphasis on having time off work for leisure. As a society, Germany is diverse and welcoming, making it a great option to consider.

How to Move Your Belongings from the UK to Germany (The Process)

The process of moving your items from the UK to Germany can be complicated. This is why it's useful to contact an international removals company to assist you with this. They will arrange all of the transport and the details of the move so you don’t have to worry.

You can use the following modes of transport when shipping goods to Germany:

  • Sea Freight
  • Air Freight
  • Road Freight
  • Part Load shipping (LCL)

The option you choose will be based on when you need the items, the volume of goods and the distance travelled. Whether you choose to use a removal company or you want to move items yourself, you will need to pay customs duties and taxes.

For more information, read shipping container costs from the UK to Germany.

Cost of Removals to Germany from the UK

According to our international removals cost data, shipping will cost around £953. This is based on the cost of shipping a 40ft container. This size is equivalent to the contents of a 3-bedroom house.

If you require extra services during the moving process, such as packing, this will cost around £250 on top of the total shipping costs.

Overall costs will differ depending on the shipping option used and the volume of personal belongings you have. The cost will also vary depending on your chosen location and city. The further the location is from the UK, the higher the removal costs will be.

Here at Compare My Move, we can assist you with your removals to Germany by placing you in contact with up to 6 international moving companies. Each partner is trusted and verified. We can also help you to save up to 70% on your removal costs.

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How to Apply for a German Visa and Temporary Residency Permit

To apply for a long-stay visa, you will need to visit your local Visa Application Centre in the UK. The UK’s German embassy can assist you with your application process. They will talk you through everything you need to support and complete your visa application.

You will need to fill out and send the relevant visa application form and provide the following documentation:

  • Valid UK passport
  • Proof of Health insurance
  • Proof of finances (this includes bank statements)
  • Visa fees (fees will vary depending on the visa you’re applying for)

After filling out the application form, you will need to arrange an appointment at your local German embassy office. They will then carry out an interview for your application and send the relevant documentation for you.

It’s recommended to apply for and arrange your visa around 6 months before your moving date. This will provide you with enough time to be accepted and to receive your visa.

A residency permit must be obtained after you move to Germany from your local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). You will need to register within two weeks of moving to the country. After this time you will have up to 90 days to apply for your residency permit.

After receiving your German Visa and Residency Permit, you will be given a German Identity Card. Residents will need to carry their ID cards with them in Germany.

Types of German Permits and Visas

It’s fairly straightforward for British citizens to move to Germany and apply for a visa. However, since Britain left the European Union, the process of applying for a visa has become slightly more complicated.

In January 2021, the Withdrawal Agreement meant that the freedom of movement of UK citizens to move to the EU ended. Now UK citizens have additional visa steps to follow.

Germany is part of the Schengen area. If you’re travelling to Germany for less than 90 days in any 180-day period, you aren’t required to have a visa. For any stay longer than this, you will need to apply for a German visa.

From 2024, if you stay in Germany for a short time before moving permanently, you will need to obtain a European Travel and Authorisation Visa (ETIAS). This will cost £7 and is valid for 3 years.

There are several different German visas to consider depending on the purpose of your stay, these include:

  • Work visa
  • Visa for IT professionals
  • Visa for jobseekers
  • Visa for studying
  • Family reunification

If you’re looking to stay in Germany permanently, you will need to apply for a long-stay national visa. These are also called D visas.

German Residency Permit

As the UK has officially left the EU, you now must have a valid residence permit when moving to Germany to live. This is in addition to your visa.

Having the correct documentation will ensure that you are ready to proceed with the immigration process. Here are some of the requirements you will need when applying for a residence permit:

  • A valid passport
  • No criminal record
  • German health insurance
  • A health check that proves you’re healthy enough to work and/or study
  • To be proficient in German in at least a B1 level

There are different types of German Resident Permits to consider based on the length of your residency and the purpose behind it. It's important to research and consider these before applying for your residence permit to follow the correct process.

It’s important to note that this is a Temporary Residence Permit and is valid for two years. After this time, you will need to renew your permit to continue living in Germany. The Germany-Visa website covers each permit in more detail, which can help determine the most suitable choice for you.

German Citizenship

If you want to become a German citizen you will have to renounce your British identity under the new laws created after Brexit. However, for those who have dual citizenship for January 2021, this can remain in place.

Naturalisation is the most common way UK nationals can become German nationals. To be accepted you will need to:

  • Have a valid residence permit
  • Lived in Germany for 8 years
  • To be proficient in German in at least a B1 level

Alternatively, you can become a German citizen through Descent and marriage. You can apply for citizenship through the BVA website.

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How to Rent or Buy Property in Germany

The property market is different in Germany compared to the UK as many people choose to rent rather than purchase a property. However, the process of buying and renting homes in Germany is similar to the UK.

You will need to ensure you have proof of a steady income to obtain a mortgage. It’s fairly easy for expats to be accepted for mortgages and rentals in Germany.

Property Prices

The average house price per square meter in Germany is €5,963.33 (£5,096.08) within the city centres. Outside of the city centre, the average house price is €4,882.51 (£4,172.45).

In the UK, city centre house prices are around £5,107.42 per square meter. Outside of city centres, house prices are lower at around £3,853.52.

Here are the rental costs for Norway and the UK:

Type of PropertyGermany (PCM)UK (PCM)

1 bedroom property (City Centre)

€942.53 (£805.46)


3 bedroom property (City Centre)

€1,718.98 (£1,468.99)


Buying a property in Germany is typically more expensive within city centres compared to the UK. However, the cost of living outside of the city centre is cheaper compared to the UK. Rent is significantly cheaper in Germany which is great for those looking to rent after relocating,

The most popular places to live in Germany for British expats are Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg. Leipzig and Halle are less expensive options for those looking to move on a budget. Whereas, Frankfurt and Stuttgart are more expensive.

*Data taken from Numbeo statistics

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How to Find a Job in Germany

The best way to find a job in Germany is by being accepted for a job visa and moving to the country as a result of this. This is the route that many British expats use.

However, it is possible to move to Germany without having current employment planned out. The Bundesagentur für Arbeit ( The Federal Employment Agency) can assist you with finding a job after you have made the move.

Searching online is another successful way for you to find a job in Germany. Similar to the UK, Germany has online job portals where you can search for current vacancies. The most popular options include and You can also network and contact local companies regarding current vacancies.

The German Job Market

The German job market is known for its fantastic opportunities and job openings for migrants. The average wage in Germany is around €49,260 (£42,038) a year. This is roughly a €4,105 take-home each month. In the UK the ONS state that the average salary in the UK for 2023 was £34,963.

According to Visit World, some of the most popular jobs in Germany for expats include:

  • IT
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Science
  • Tourism industry

Here are some examples of popular job vacancies in some German cities:

CityPopular Job VacanciesReason for Vacancies


  • Finance
  • Law
  • Real estate,
  • Media
  • Other professional service

Frankfurt is the major financial capital of Germany and Europe. It’s the home of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange and German Federal Bank. The city has a high concentration of highly skilled jobs


  • Science-related roles
  • Engineerin

Darmstadt holds the title of ‘City of Science’ with a strong chemical and pharmaceutical industry. It’s a major centre for scientific research and institutes.

In the UK, jobs aren’t too dissimilar to Germany. The 2021 Census data shows that the most popular jobs are:

  • Wholesale, retail and motor trade
  • Health and social work
  • Education
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Real estate,
  • Media
  • Other professional services

When moving to Germany, you will receive an identification number (IdNo). This is a tax ID number that is unique to you specifically.

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Cost of Living

The average cost of living in Germany is 24% less expensive compared to the UK. As it’s a cheaper place to live, UK citizens moving to Germany will likely have a higher amount of disposable income to spend.

Cost of Living ExamplesGermanyUnited Kingdom

Public Transport Pass (Monthly)

€64.15 (£54.80)


Utility Bills (Monthly - One Person)

€149.84 (£128)


Gym Membership (Monthly)

€33.36 (£28.50)


Taxi (5 Miles)

€20.37 (£17.40)


Inexpensive Restaurant Meal for 2 People

€55.49 (£47.40)


1 Cinema Ticket

€11.57 (£9.88)


Beer (0.5L)

€0.87 (£0.74)


Chicken Breast (1kg)

€11.71 (£10.00)



€3.37 (£2.88)


* Data taken from LivingCost.Org


Germany’s healthcare system is decentralised. This means that decisions within healthcare are made between the federal and state levels depending on the purpose.

Germany doesn't have a national health service like the UK. Instead, everyone living in the country must have a form of health insurance. Everyone is entitled to Statutory Health Insurance (SHI). This is known as Gesetzliche Krankenkasse.

To have private health insurance (Private Krankenkasse) you will need to meet the specific criteria. This includes but is not limited to being self-employed, working in the civil service and having a high-income role of above €69,300.

You’ll need to get a Health Insurance card and social security number to be fully covered whilst living and working in Germany. Health insurance is typically paid through employers and will cover the vast majority of health services. Your employer will pay half of the monthly cost and the rest will come out of your monthly salary. This is usually around 15% of your wage.

Education and Where to Study

The German Education System does differ from the UK’s in some aspects. In Germany, children begin school at the age of 6 and finish education between 15-19. However, children can be enrolled in Kindergarten from the ages of 1-5. Children in the UK are required to be in compulsory education from the ages of 4-16.

Each state in Germany has its own system. As a result, education can vary slightly depending on the area you are relocating to. Children will attend Grundschule from the age of 6-8. After this, there are four common secondary levels of education to consider:

  • Gymnasium - This is a grammar school for pupils to attend until the age of 18. It’s for students who are high performers and are looking to apply for higher education.
  • Realschule - Students study until the age of 16. After this, they can carry out a vocational diploma or apply to study at a Gymnasium school. These schools are for less academic children. After education students can study a vocational course on a part-time basis.
  • Gesamtschule - This school is a combination of Realschule and Hauptschule

Many German schools offer German language courses for pupils who aren’t yet fluent in the language. These courses are called Deutsch als Zweitsprache. The best schools in Germany include Frankfurt International School and Bavarian International School.


There are over 420 different universities to choose from. While their universities don’t rank as well as some other European countries in general, Germany is still a fantastic country to study in. They also have a wide range of courses to consider. Some of the top universities in Germany include:

  • Technical University of Munich
  • Humboldt University of Berlin
  • University of Bonn
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich
  • Heidelberg University

The education system in the United Kingdom is generally seen as more successful than in Germany. There are over 160 universities to choose from. However, the benefit of studying in Germany is that University tuition fees are very low compared to the UK.

There are many public universities available, meaning you can study there free of charge. You just have to pay semester fees which are typically around €250 for a semester.

Private universities cost roughly €10,000 - €20,000 depending on the course according to This can be more expensive than fees in the UK, which are up to £9,250.

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Importing a Vehicle to Germany

If you’re planning on taking your UK-registered vehicle to Germany for more than 12 months, it will need to be registered. This will be at your local motor vehicle registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle). Some of the documentation you will need includes:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of German address
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • Vehicle registration papers
  • Proof of insurance

The vehicle must also pass a technical inspection for roadworthiness and safety, as well as an emissions control test. Once you have registered it, the car will need to pass the German equivalent of an MOT (TUV).

There are a few safety items you’ll need to keep in your car by law, including reflective jackets, a reflective warning triangle and a first aid kit. You will also be required to either manually adjust your headlights or add deflector stickers.

Driving in Germany

Once you have imported your car, you can drive in Germany for up to 1 year with your existing licence plates. After this time, you will need to exchange your UK plates for German license plates.

A UK driver's licence is valid in Germany for 6 months, after this time you will need to exchange it for a German licence. You won’t need to have an International Driving Permit to drive in Germany.

In Germany, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Their motorways (Autobahns) are slightly different to the UK and parts of the Autobahn are de-restricted. This means there are no speed limits.


Germany is a very welcoming country, especially when it comes to LGBTQIAP+ and worker’s rights. However, German people tend to be more direct compared to Brits,. Christianity is the predominant religion, and there is also a large Muslim population.

As German is the native language it would be beneficial to speak the language fluently before moving. Expats will need to be proficient in German to be accepted for a German visa.

Germany is well known for its beer and food. Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, Schnitzel and Pretzels are popular German foods. Oktoberfest takes place in Munich each year and is a popular festival for Germans and people all across the globe.

Kaffee und Kuchen is popular in Germany and is similar to afternoon tea. Families and friends gather to have coffee and cake together.

Germany is well known for its music and art. The Berlin Wall is one of the largest and most well-known pieces of graffiti art in the world. German traditional folk music is often played. Germany was home to many famous classical composers including Bach, Strauss, Beethoven, Handel and Brahms. In modern music, pop, rock and electronic are particularly popular.

Is it Worth Moving to Germany from the UK?

If you’re looking to relocate, it’s certainly worth considering moving to Germany. The job opportunities are excellent and the country has a high quality of life. Before making your move, here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Lower tax rates compared to the UK
  • Easy to access other European countries
  • Good transport links that are less expensive than the UK
  • Lots of job opportunities
  • Good healthcare system
  • Lower crime rates
  • Plenty of universities to choose from


  • Language barriers if you’re not fluent in German
  • Healthcare isn’t free
  • The country is stricter than the UK in general
  • Sundays are quiet days in Germany, shops, public transport and petrol stations tend to be closed
  • The quality of education is considered lower in Germany compared to the UK

All costs listed in this article are correct at the time of writing. Costs may vary slightly and this is just an estimated number.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to Open a Bank Account in Germany for Brits?

Opening a bank account in Germany is straightforward. You will need to visit a local branch and provide the following information:

  • Germany Residency Permit
  • Proof of German address
  • Passport or other relevant ID
  • Proof of income
  • Credit rating (for some banks)

How to Move Your Pet to Germany?

If you’re looking to move your pet to Germany, you will need to ensure you are following the correct procedures. Your pet will need:

  • To be microchipped
  • Have a valid rabies vaccination
  • Have an Animal Health Certificate

On your travel day, you can fly your pet to your chosen location. They will typically need to be placed in a travel container that is clearly labelled. Some airlines may allow cats and small dogs in the cabin, but this is down to their discretion.

Your animal should be insured and upon arrival in Germany, you will need a licence for dogs. This can be obtained at your local Rathaus.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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