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German Law/Travel in EU with German Niederlassungserlaubnis


QUESTION: Hi Andreas, thanks a tonne for putting all the excellent information out there  i had a question - the citizenship via marriage law reads as the following:

Spouses or registered same-sex partners of German citizens are eligible for naturalization after three years of legal residence in Germany. They must have been married or in a registered partnership for at least two years at the time of application. The general requirements for naturalization also apply.

I'm a bit confused, is it
a) 3 years after i get my permanent residency and i'm married for 2 years
b) 3 years of just living in Germany and being married for 2 years

Thanks a lot :-)

ANSWER: It's answer (b).

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QUESTION: Thanks for that! Although I still got one more question -

Does the status "legal residence in Germany" requires a minimum amount of time I should spend in Germany out of a year?  I usually travel quite frequently and I want to make sure I'm not overstepping any rule.

Thanks a ton!

ANSWER: Your German residence permit becomes void once you leave the country for more than 6 months, unless you obtain prior approval from the immigration authority.

If you travel within Schengen, nobody will notice of course.
If you travel outside of Schengen, it would help if all your economic, financial, business and tax activities took place in Germany.

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Awesome thanks a lot Andreas!!!

Hope you don't mind if I got another question (this one is the last I promise :)

Lets say I got my Niederlassungserlaubnis and are married for 2 years - do I require visas to travel within the schengen zone? I mean what if I'd love to go for a holiday trip to Italy with my wife - would I need visas for countries outside of Germany?

It's much better than that:

1) Once you are married, you do not need any residence permit for travcel within the EU (not only Schengen), as long as you are travelling with yiur wife. You fall under EC Directive 2004/38: At border crossings or airports, you only need to show your passports and the marriage certificate.

2) Once you have a residence permit of Germany, you can travel (but not work) to all other Schengen states, even when traveling alone.

3) On top of that, there are a number of non-Schengen and non-EU countries (particularly in the Balkans, which might be Europe's most exciting part) which will accept a residence permit og one Schengen state as a substitute for a visa.

So, you can travel quite a lot!
Keep in mind though that if you want to apply for German citizernship after 3 years, you would need to speak German and show a certain level of integration, so you can't be away from Germany all the time.

Enjoy Europe!

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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