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I currently live in Germany and am a German citizen.

My passport is from the United States of America as I used to be a citizen there.

I am moving to England (UK) alone.

I am 14 years old and will be flying internationally. I am unsure what problems I might run into in both airports, as I am a minor and will be travelling solo.

I have already seen posts about people travelling abroad as minors and have seen that security and police might question me.

Yes, I have an in-date passport, but I do not know if I will be able to get a visa if needed (I do not exactly understand what a visa is- I apologise.).

And no, I cannot get a letter of permission from either of my parents (It is a... Complicated situation... Don't ask.)

So my question remains, can I safely travel from Germany to England alone as an unaccompanied minor?

Also, do I need a visa? (Once again, I am unsure of what a visa is. Sorry.)

  • 27
    Where is your German passport? – Michael Hampton Jun 23 at 21:00
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    As to your visa situation: You say you "were" an American citizen and are a German citizen. I assume that with "citizen" you refer to the legal status rather than just the fact that you were living there. If you are no longer an American citizen your American passport is no longer valid for travelling. Even if you still have it and the date has not expired it is no longer valid and emigration in Germany and Immigration in the UK likely will notice that. If your only citizenship is German you will need to travel with a German ID: Passport or some countries may also accept a Personalausweis. – user12889 Jun 24 at 6:11
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    "I am moving to England (UK) alone." Move as in going to live there? As an unaccompanied minor, where neither parents is on board? This sounds like emigration while running away from home, not even remotely like regular travel. – Chieron Jun 24 at 10:22
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    Autumn it really sounds like you're in a lot of trouble. Whether of your own making or of your parents is irrelevant - you need help and fast. Based on the answers provided, it sounds like there is a lot of help available to you in Germany - please take advantage of it. As a father who has managed to get three kids through the teenage years, I know they can be exceptionally difficult times. It will get better, but just running isn't the answer! – FreeMan Jun 24 at 12:52
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    @Bee if you read the whole article you will notice that "Children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight" is the advice of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It is not a legal opinion, much less a legal requirement. But I would extrapolate further that no immigration officer is going to allow a child of that age to leave the immigration checkpoint without an idea that the child is going to be in the care of a responsible adult with the permission of the child's legal guardian, be that a parent or otherwise. – phoog Jun 24 at 20:48
82

My answer will be about how to get help in a "complicated situation". Other people have already explained that you need permission from your parents to travel; and the police will return you to your parents if they notice you haven't one.

While we do not know you situation, there are a number of ways to get help to resolve a difficult situation. Even if you don't know any adults that you trust, or if you don't want to call the police.

Many Germans speak English quite well. If you do not speak German (or do not speak well), you can still try any of the numbers below and try to speak English. If it does not work, just try and call again.

If you don't know what to do: 116 111 (14:00 - 20:00)

  • If you don't know what to do, you can call Die Nummer gegen Kummer. This is a special help line for young people, for any kind of problem.
    • The number is 116 111. It is free of charge from any phone.
    • Lines are open from 14:00 to 20:00 (or 2pm to 8pm), except on Sundays
    • You call is anonymous. They don't know who you are, and you do not have to give your name or any details if you don't want to.
    • You can ask about anything. They will also know where to find more help if needed.
    • You can also ask a question online (though you need to read some German to figure out how to log in)
    • They have a video on youtube that shows you how they work

Serious problems at home?

  • If you have serious problems at home, you can also contact the Jugendamt. This is the same as Child Protective Services in the US.
    • To contact them, you can google "Jugendamt" and the name of your city
    • If you go to the police, they will also call the Jugendamt
    • They will eventually contact your parents. But: If they think you are in danger, they will not send you home or leave you alone with your parents.
    • They can try to help with the situation at home.
    • If necessary, they can take away your parents' power over you (for example by letting you live in a protected group, or by making some other relative responsible for you).
    • Important: Those people will ask for your name, and they must do something if they see a problem.

In danger? Call the police

  • If you are in any danger, call the police: 110
  • The Bundespolizei is only responsible for train stations, airports and such. If you call them, they'll put you through to the "normal" police.

I did not answer the original question

I didn't answer the original question. Other people have already done that, and I agree that the original plan will most likely fail.

I felt it was important to give some concrete leads on where to find help, other than a generic "just talk to someone"; and to make clear that you can call somewhere anonymously if you need to - even if this is somewhat out of scope for Travel SE.

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    While it doesn't answer the question asked, it definitely gets to the root of the problem. Thank you! – FreeMan Jun 25 at 12:17
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    @RonJohn We have no idea what the situation is. In every conceivable case it is better to talk it through with someone who takes your seriously, than to try to "move" to a foreign country without the knowledge or consent of your guardian(s). – averell Jun 26 at 6:26
60

If you don't know what a visa is then you haven't begun to understand the complexity of what you seem to be attempting.

You can visit the UK on a US passport without a visa, but you can't live there. If you show up at the UK border you can expect to be asked about your plans. If you don't have a credible plan for your stay, including how you'll return to Germany, you'll be denied entry and returned to Germany, or possibly, depending on your status, sent to the US.

That's probably irrelevant since it's likely that without parental consent you'll be stopped before you can board an aeroplane.

  • 3
    @Darren Probably not, but there's much that's not clear here. If the OP has German citizenship then they almost certainly no longer have US citizenship since Germany doesn't allow dual citizenship with non-EU countries. Since the OP doesn't understand what a visa is it's likely they don't really understand what citizenship means either. I went with what is clear here, but it remains likely that entry to the UK won't become a concern. – Redd Herring Jun 24 at 20:29
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    @ReddHerring it is entirely possible to be a German and US dual citizen. For example, the child born in the US to German citizens would be. – phoog Jun 24 at 20:32
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    @phoog Granted - I hadn't considered that. However, give the OP's evident lack of understanding of visas I don't think we can necessarily take her claims of citizenship at face value. She makes no mention of a German passport, so proving German citizenship for a 14yo at a foreign border will be exceptionally difficult and will attract attention. – Redd Herring Jun 24 at 20:42
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    @ReddHerring Regardless of German law, a parent cannot renounce US citizenship on behalf of a child, and it is unusual for a child under 16 to be allowed to renounce. The US probably regards the OP as a citizen. See Renunciation of U.S. Nationality Abroad, especially section F. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 25 at 0:31
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    @PatriciaShanahan I never intended to suggest that the US citizenship was in doubt. The OP does claim a US passport. Rather, the German citizenship is questionable given her lack of understanding. – Redd Herring Jun 25 at 2:37
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The German Bundespolizei suggests that to leave Germany as a minor you should have a letter by both/all of your legal guardians, stating

  • your identity,
  • their identity and contact details,
  • your travel plans,
  • the identity of any adults other than your guardians you're traveling with.

This is completely independent of your passport or immigration status.

Regarding your "complicated" situation, you may feel that adults are not going to help, but if you want out of your current situation you will need them.

Google Kinder- und Jugendnotdienst and the name of the city you're in. There should be a phone number to call. If you're in a small village, try the name of next large town. You won't have to tell your name to talk with them.

  • 9
    Note that Kindernotdienst generally refers to the emergency medical services for children, i.e. where physically ill children should be brought on weekends or late night. The Kinder- und Jugendnotdienst or the local Jugendamt might be a better place to call. – berendi Jun 24 at 7:20
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    @berendi, Good point, but how to explain it simply for somebody who speaks no German? – o.m. Jun 24 at 7:36
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    I've tried to explain just that. Googling for Kindernotdienst results in a list of hospitals in the area. Turning up there with a "complicated situation", one would only get a flyer of the nearest Jugendamt, possibly with severely outdated contact information. Only when continued exposure to the situation would threaten one's physical or mental health, would a doctor do something about it, e.g. write a cerified recommendation that would help with bureaucracy later on. – berendi Jun 24 at 8:05
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    The OP contacting the local Jugendamt about their situation would probably be the best bet (address the cause of wanting to travel alone to the UK). In the event they don't speak English (well enough), they do have access to translators. Also, in larger German towns, there will be street social workers (often semi-independent) who specialise in working with young people. At youth clubs (most towns), there will also be social worker (again often independent) to talk to in confidence. – Pete Jun 24 at 8:54
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    @Pete, the Jugendamt may side with the parents if they don't accept the cause, so it may be helpful to go to other social services first. – o.m. Jun 24 at 9:52
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  1. If you have a US passport, you don't need a Visa to travel to the UK .
  2. Most airlines allow you to travel alone when you are 12 or older. Different airlines have different rules, you should check with your airline
  3. Some airlines may require a letter of consent from your parents or guardian (Erziegungsberechtigter)
  4. You may get some questioning at check in or at passport control exiting Germany or entering the UK. It's hard to predict what may attract the attention of an officer. If you get questioned, chances are they will want to contact your parents.

Not answering the question: It looks like you are in a difficult situation and you probably need help. Going alone to a different country without the permission or maybe even knowledge of your parents is unlikely to make it better and can get you into a potentially dangerous situation. Before you do anything like this try to reach out to an adult you trust (teacher, relative, guardian, clergy, youth group leader, coach) for a second opinion and some advise.

Answering the question: You need permission from your legal guardians to travel. There are no mandatory controls for this but there is a good chance that someone will take notice and stop you.

  • 9
    This is all correct, but do need the advice in Redd Herring's answer: if you show your US passport at the UK border and say you're planning to live in the UK, you'll be turned away regardless of your age. As you say you're a German citizen, you should get a German passport - with this you're free to live in the UK. – Joe Malt Jun 23 at 20:33
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    The OP would need the support of a parent or legal guardian to get a German passport. See Passport for applicants under 18 years of age – Patricia Shanahan Jun 23 at 21:16
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    Immigration officials generally will not take "It's a complicated situation, don't ask" for an answer. They are going to want a thorough explanation, with supporting documentation. Unless OP presents evidence of an extraordinary situation, the officials will probably contact the parents and arrange to return OP to their custody. If that somehow does not happen, then the next step is likely going to be an international custody battle between OP's parents and some arm of the UK government. There is basically no situation where OP "just walks out of the airport." – Kevin Jun 24 at 5:41
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    @Hilmar You don't get unaccompanied 14-year-olds with a German ID card and a (no longer valid) US passport arriving at UK airports every day of the week. Any half-awake airport official will want to know the back story. Illegal child trafficking is a thing! – alephzero Jun 24 at 12:37
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    @gnudiff I've traveled to the UK via plane, ferry and Eurotunnel and the controls are the same everywhere. – Diego Sánchez Jun 24 at 15:12
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Frame challenge (, I think they say here ....)

@Autumn - how do you plan on supporting yourself when arriving in the UK?

As a minor, you will not be able to work, rent property, or open a bank account in the UK. I don't know your situation, but as you've not mentioned friends or family I'm concerned you may be planning to meet somebody you've met on the internet. If this isn't the case - please ignore!

But if it is - be aware that people you meet online may not be what they seem. Please, at the least, talk it over with some trusted friends, relatives or teachers, and listen to what they say.

  • 4
    This is a very real possibility which should have been raised sooner. If you can expand the answer a bit and address it to OP rather than the admins, it should stand in its own right. – phoog Jun 24 at 20:38
  • Thanks @phoog. As stated, I'm new here. I've edited to address the OP as best I can, but please dive in and improve if you can. Ta. – Mr HGV Jun 24 at 20:48
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    I agree, I don't think there's an EU country where you could legally be employed before you're 16, not to a degree where you could hope to become self-sufficient. So if anyone is offering to support or employ you, the job can only be illegal, and is likely to be both unpleasant and downright dangerous. Prostitution rings recruit precisely like this, emphasizing differences with parents to vulnerable young people. Please, please OP try to talk to an adult you trust before going off on an adventure that could end very badly – George M Jun 24 at 22:14
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    "I'm concerned you may be planning to meet somebody you've met on the internet." That's the first thing I thought when reading "it's complicated ... don't ask". – RonJohn Jun 25 at 22:19
  • @GeorgeM The limit is 15, but can be higher in certain EU countries. There are restrictions for people under 18 that must be fulfilled. – Vladimir F Jun 26 at 13:02
6

(Once again, I am unsure of what a visa is. Sorry.)

Citizens are allowed to live and work in their homeland. Foreigners need permission. The details depend on the laws of the destination country, the country of origin of the applicant, and the length and purpose of stay.

  • Sometimes the application must be made before arrival. This is called a visa or an ESTA. The applicant fills a form and usually she sends the passport in to have a stamp or sticker added. (The US insists that an ESTA is different from a visa, but if it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.)
  • Sometimes the application can be made at the border on arrival. This is called a visa on arrival or some other names. There is a stamp in the passport and a time limit for the visitor to leave.
  • Sometimes no stamp is necessary and no record is made, really visa-free travel. That only happens if the countries trust each other that there will be no illegal immigration or similar problems.

As a German citizen, you are a citizen of the European Union. With your parents' permission, you can travel to any of the 28 EU member states. Once you are old enough, you can live and work there. The exception would be if you, personally, get deported and banned from an EU state, but you would have to do something outrageous to make this happen.

You cannot get a visa for any EU member unless you lie about your German citizenship, because you don't need one.

You will need no passport in the EU once you have your German identity card (Personalausweis) at age 16.

The United Kingdom is about to leave the EU. It is unclear when that will happen and which rules apply afterwards, but in all likelihood you will either need a visa on arrival or no visa at all for a visit. Living and working there will require permission.

Some EU states (and some others) have formed the Schengen travel area. This actually makes little difference for you, because you have visa-free travel in those states anyway.

5

The bad:

  • You can travel as tourist using your American passport to the UK for up to 6 months.
    • You cannot move and start living in the UK using your American passport. You would need a visa for that (without a parent/guardian and money you will highly likely not be able to get it).
    • If you manage to arrive to the UK border and you mention you want to move here forever, you will be sent back to Germany (letting your parents know where you are).
  • You can immigrate (moving to a different country permanently) to the UK using your German ID card or passport.
    • Being 14 I will be very surprised if no one stops you and you succeed. They will probably tell your parents when they stop you.

And actually the interesting question is from me to you: What are you planning to do if you arrive to the UK?

To pay for accommodation (place to live) you need a parent or a guardian (an adult who is legally responsible for you), to join school you need a parent/guardian, to sign up for a doctor you need a parent/guardian, bank account - parent guardian, you cannot really do anything without a parent/guardian until you're 18. It might not seem so but most of the things you've done so far in your life is because a parent or a guardian agreed to it.

The good:

Now, on the bright side, this all gives you one good option. Right now, you need to find someone, an adult, you can speak with or who you trust. School teacher? Doctor? Dentist? Your best friends parents? You can speak to anyone from the government (policeman/policelady, fireman, ambulance people). You can just walk into a police station, your doctors building or any other building where these people are and they will listen to you. Tell them about your parents and what happened. Unfortunately, without any adult you cannot do much until you're 18, so you need to find someone who you can talk to and they should listen and help.

If you are scared, you can also call them for free and explain your parents situation and they will help - 0800 6 888 000

If you don't do that, your only option is go back to your parents. Pick which of the two you want.

  • 2
    You've said "you can also call them for free" - who exactly is "them" referring to? – Anthony Grist Jun 24 at 13:51
  • @AnthonyGrist the number I used is for Bundes­polizei, there of course can be a more related number for this specific case (government people/charities who help children) but I don't know what number that would be unfortunately. – kiradotee Jun 24 at 13:56
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    It would probably be helpful if your answer explicitly said that, so they have some idea who to expect to be talking to if/when they decide to use it (which hopefully they will). Your previous paragraph mentions lots of different options so if you don't know the number it's not clear who it is for. – Anthony Grist Jun 24 at 14:03
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    See my answer. The Bundespolizei may not be not best place to call if you're a young person and in trouble. Their responsibility is trains, airports and such and in the best case they'll put you through to the "normal" police, or make you call 110. It is also important to know that there is an option to call someone who is not the police, if in trouble. – averell Jun 24 at 17:35
3

The main issue for you that nobody mentioned so far, is that nobody can accommodate you. Hotels, hostels, Airbnbs etc. won't accommodate unaccompanied minors.

And if you are travelling to the U.K. to stay with a non-family member without permissions from your parents, your parents can file criminal charges against said person, and have you deported back to them in Germany.

You are also not allowed to stay longer than 3 (or maybe 6) months in the UK without a residency permit (which you cannot obtain as a minor)

So in short, what you're asking is not feasible.

(This advice applies to all minors travlling, not just for people in OPs situation)

  • There's a comment to the question: how would one aged 14 go about legally opening a bank account, renting accommodation, joining school (this all assuming he must have a stash of gold somewhere otherwise who would pay for it) – Bernhard Döbler Jun 25 at 7:24
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    @BernhardDöbler well, this answers at least part of it :) Which is to say, not possible. (And a lot of good answers in this thread for minors traveling in general) – Claus Jørgensen Jun 25 at 8:35
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A visa is a document from a country that authorizes the identified individual into that country and defines what they are allowed to do while in that country (school, work, apply for residence) and how long they are allowed to stay. It is typically attached to a passport.

If you have either a US or German passport a visa is not required for a visit, if you intend to stay indefinitely that would change.

As a practical matter, if you fly into the UK you are going to go through an immigration checkpoint, and as an unaccompanied minor, they are going to want to know where you will be staying and with who, the purpose of your visit and how long you will be staying. Note that these are questions they can and do ask adults, the main difference being that as a minor, instead of refusing entry, you will probably be taken into protective custody and held pending arrangements to return you to the physical custody of your parents.

Imagine a parent and a 8 year old traveling together, where the parent dies during the flight — while officials are determining what to do (return the child to home country, hand them off to a relative in the destination, whatever), the one thing they aren’t going to do is stamp their passport and let them wander away. You will be in the same position.

protected by phoog Jun 24 at 22:41

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