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Who can advise you on questions regarding the law on residence depends on whether you are a citizen of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA - consisting of the EU States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, or from another state (known as a third country) or have immigrated as an ethnic German repatriate.

Contacts for citizens of the European Union, the EEA and Switzerland

If, as an EU citizen or a citizen of the EEA, you would like to live permanently in Germany, you may take advantage of the right of freedom of movement. This also applies to family members if they themselves hold a different nationality (sections 1-3 and 12 of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU [Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU]).

Upon entering Germany, the law on residence requires you to register at the registration office, as must all Germans. The immigration office will issue you with a document concerning the right of residence ex officio (meaning that you do not have to make a separate application) and will issue a residence card to your family members if they hold a different nationality than you do.

Swiss nationals also enjoy freedom of movement in Germany on account of the Freedom of Movement agreement between the European Union and Switzerland. A residence permit will be issued to you by the immigration authority to certify your right of residence.

Contacts for ethnic German repatriates

If you are an ethnic German repatriate or a family member of an ethnic German repatriate, you can contact your local town, municipality or district administration about issues relating to nationality. The staff there can also help with all other official matters.

Contacts for people who come from states outside the European Union, the EEA and Switzerland

Citizens of states which do not belong to the EU, the EEA, or from Switzerland, must contact the immigration authority in their town or municipality with regard to all issues concerning the law on residence. This authority is responsible for all matters pertaining to legal residence, including permission to take up gainful employment, and grants residence and settlement permits as well as the permanent EU residence permit.

The town, municipal or district administration in your town or local area will assist you if you do not know which immigration authority is responsible for you.

Date 17 December 2015

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