My wife and I recently moved to Germany. She's a Swedish citizen, and I'm American. It'll be December before I can actually apply for my residence card, because my appointment to register our address is so far out - the local police station was all booked out and we didn't get an apartment right away.

I imagine that I won't be getting my residence card until well after Christmas, by which time my 90/180 days will be passed. What if I want to leave to, say, London for the holidays? Will I be allowed back in? I hit day 90 around the 21st of December. I could maybe leave on day 89 and come back on day 90 (with my wife and our marriage cert), or use this Polish solution: US Citizen in Poland more than 90 days in a 180 day period, since I can't be expelled from Germany for overstaying my visa while my application is processing.

Both of those seem a bit risky though. Am I reading too far into it, or is this a legitimate concern? Will I get some sort of documentation saying I have a residence card application processing?

  • You can speed up the process of getting the Meldebestaetigung by looking at 6 in the morning every day at all the different Buergeramt's websites. You don't need to go to the one for your district (Bezirk). Just check every morning on the appointment website for each of them and be ready to leave at 7am to go to on. More often than not one shows up because people cancel. I've done it this way, and it works well. – simbabque Oct 25 '16 at 10:50
  • Maybe unrelated: at the moment Berlin is not giving out new cards for people getting a Niederlassungserlaubnis (permanent residence). I don't know why. Maybe Bundesdruckerei is so backlogged that they cannot fulfill the usual 4 weeks of production time for those cards any more. – simbabque Oct 25 '16 at 10:51
  • And in reply to your concerns raised in chat about getting proof of residence, that paper will be printed and stamped immediately when you're at the Buergeramt. There is no waiting. It's just an A4 paper that doesn't look very official. But for foreigners it's one of the most essential documents that you keep at home in a protective plastic document sheet and take with you to every appointment in any municipal or state office, to the bank, to court and so on. – simbabque Oct 25 '16 at 10:56
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Under Directive 2004/38/EC, the residence card is so called, rather than being called a "residence permit," because it serves merely as evidence of your right to reside in Germany as the spouse of an EU citizen. The right exists independently of the document, solely because you have moved with your wife to Germany. Because you are staying in Germany as a family member of a union citizen, you are not subject to the limitation of 90 days in a 180-day period, regardless of the fact that you do not yet have your residence card.

You should therefore be able to enter the Schengen area with evidence of your marriage and that your wife is an EU citizen resident in Germany. To that end, you can travel with a certified copy of your marriage certificate, a certified copy of your wife's passport or national identity card, and a certified copy of some document showing that she resides in Germany.

You may be asked to prove that you are either traveling with her or joining her wherever she may be in the Schengen zone. The first will be easy to prove if it is the case, of course; for the second, you may want to have her on standby with a mobile phone at the time of your arrival and departure.

In practice, since US citizens enjoy visa-free entry into the Schengen zone, you will only need this evidence if someone tries to fine you for overstaying in the Schengen zone, to show that you are not subject to such a fine, or if someone tries to deny entry, to show that you are not subject to a denial of entry on those grounds. More likely, you'll just be allowed in.

Strictly speaking, as a "person enjoying freedom of movement" under the directive, you're allowed to use the "EU passports" desk when you arrive in a Schengen country. If you have all those certified copies I mentioned, you might give it a try. Otherwise, I would probably just use the "all passports" desk and only bring up the freedom-of-movement angle if it seems appropriate based on the questions you're asked by the officer.

To address the scenario in your question, if you apply for entry along with your wife, and in possession of a copy of your marriage certificate, there is no way they can deny entry except on grounds of public safety, public health, or public policy, regardless of how many days you've spent in any EU or Schengen country.

You might be mixing several different registrations here.

People living in Germany are required to register their place of residence with the municipal authorities. People living in several places must designate one as the primary place of residence. There are deadlines for doing so, but some cities (notably Berlin) have failed to handle their end of the process in a timely manner. The authorities are aware of this problem; I don't think anybody was ever penalized for simply missing the deadline as long as there was a good faith effort to start the process in time (i.e. having an appointment).

Then there is the card to show the immigration status, as mentioned by phoog. I guess you can't get that until your wife has registered as a resident. Depending on where you live, it may be possible expedite that by getting into the waiting line instead of making an appointment, if she has the time. That depends on how the city/county is organized. They can handle urgent cases, but they don't like to ...

  • I don't think I'm mixing different registrations. My wife and I both have to register our address, not just her. Things work a bit differently if she lived here before I moved to Berlin, but we both have to register our addresses within two weeks of moving (pushed out because of a lack of appointments). We went to stand in line, because we thought they might just take us, but they just scheduled our appointment, and said it was ok to miss the two week deadline as they were all backed up. That part isn't the issue, but we have to take everything in steps. – Christian Oct 23 '16 at 13:38
  • I don't think my case will be considered urgent, and I've been told that the authorities will never consider me a priority, because, as phoog said, the card doesn't give me any sort of "right". It merely confirms an existing one, which can be confirmed by nothing more than my wife's ID and our marriage certificate. This is illegal as EU law says this card is to be issued "on an expedited basis," but it seems to be nonetheless, common practice. This makes sense, but does seem to leave me at a disadvantage. – Christian Oct 23 '16 at 13:40
  • In order to get the Aufenthaltstitel (that's the residence card @Christian is talking about) at the Auslaenderbehoerde (the foreigner's office) wants to see your Meldebestaetigung. That document is an official paper given by Einwohnermeldeamt or Buergeramt (depending on which city those things are called different). That paper is essential to prove that you have a registered address. – simbabque Oct 25 '16 at 10:47

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