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German Law/Renewing permanent residence card?


Hi Andreas,
I'm married to a German, lived in Germany for 4 years, and obtained the permanent resident (PR)  status. However both my husband and I are now living overseas. My German PR card (Niederlassungserlaubnis) specified my current passport number. Unfortunately my passport is expiring soon and I need to renew it. My questions are:
- Do I also need to apply for a new PR card with the new passport?
- Can I do that overseas?
- Will I lose my PR status because I no longer live in Germany?
Thank you so much for your advice.

Dear Camy,

your residence permit in Germany normally expires once you leave Germany for more than 6 months ( 51 I no. 7 AufenthG) or once you leave with the intention to move to another country ( 51 I no. 6 AufenthG). This also pertains to the permanent residence permit. In that sense, a residence permit is never permanent, it just means you don't need to renew it anymore.

But as long as you will remain married, you benefit from the exception of 51 II 2 AufenthG, meaning that you are exempt from aforementioned provisions of the law. However, this only applies as long as you remain married and living together. The problem is therefore that you cannot really use it to return to Germany alone (except for visits) because by doing that, you would give an indication that you are no longer living together as husband and wife.

As to the practicalities: Usually, you simply keep your old passport. Your passport office will invalidate it, e.g. by cutting off a corner of the passport. When you travel to Europe again, you will then use your new passport and the residence permit in your old passport. The passport number is not important because the residence permit also specifies your name, date and place of birth and should also have a photo of you. So it's clear that it pertains to the same person.
I have seen this work well in practice.

Good luck!

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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