I am writing this about our experience moving to Germany under the EU Free movement Directive/2004/EC and getting back into the UK via what is known as the Surinder Singh route.

Disclaimer: This is my point of view and our experience alone. I have read up on a lot of things but I am not all knowing by any means. We flew through this by the seat of our pants so to speak. I am happy to answer questions and give advice but keep in mind that this is not legal advice.

After a honeymoon in Slovakia we arrived in Berlin. For the first 2 weeks we stayed in a temporary sublet. Try sites like airbnb or urbanapartments.

Now Germans love their pieces of paper. There are a number of things you need to do once you arrive. Beware of odd opening hours and long waiting times. Organising time to do this is a pain in the ass.

  • Register your address. We did this once we got a rental contract. You will probably need a contract or failing that a letter from the landlord. Also take your passports and marriage certificate.
  • Bank account. We used Berliner Sparkasse and the lady who worked there was really helpful and spoke English. This was the only easy thing to do. Go in and ask for an appointment and what you need to bring. Getting a joint bank account will also help your EEA FP application back to the UK.
  • Health insurance. There is no NHS, you need health insurance to live in Germany. Once the EU spouse gets a job, ask the employer about health insurance. My husband’s employer said we would need to organise it ourselves and then we found that it was being deducted from his wages anyway. As a dependent spouse you should be included in the health insurance for free.
  • Job. If you can use your current skills then great! If you know German this is a big advantage obviously. Use contacts if you have any or just blanket touristy areas with your CV where your English skills will be valued.
  • Ausländerbehörde. This is where you need to apply for your residency card. You don’t need to wait for the residency card as it takes them about 6 months to give you one. This is a soul crushing place. We made an appointment a month in advance and were told “nein” with no other explanation. The next visit we were told “nein, computer error”. Third time lucky I received my certificate of application. They also tried to charge us for this at first which is wrong so beware of that.

Check out as there is more information about the above steps.

So once you are all settled, keep all your documents, particularly relating to the employment as this is the most important thing when applying for the EEA Family Permit. We applied after 3 months of my husband working (about 13 weeks).

At this stage you need to go to and click on apply for a visa. Make sure it is an EEA FP that you are applying for. Once you complete the application you then need to make an appointment for your biometrics and documents to be taken. Our appointment was the following week. I would advise that the EU spouse also attends.

These are the documents I took with me:

–         My Australian Passport

–         My Husband’s British Passport

–         Marriage Certificate

–         Completed application form and passport photo

–         Certificate of application from Ausländerbehörde regarding my 6 month residence permit

–         Our proof of residence in Germany

–         Joint lease in Berlin (oddly enough, not needed)

–         My husband’s payslips X 3

–         Letter from my husband’s employer as proof that he has exercised his treaty rights under Surinder Singh ruling

And further proof of a genuine and substantial relationship to the EEA national:

–         Previous joint lease in UK

–         Further proof of address together (letter from council)

–         EEA national’s German bank account documents including contract of power of attorney given to me (not statement)

–         Our wedding photos (not needed – submit with Residence card application once in UK)

–         Pictures of us together (not needed – submit with Residence card application once in UK)

–         Letter from spouse confirming he will travel with me back to the UK to live

–         Joint travel insurance policy

That’s it, no financials or proof of where we will live in the UK (although my husband’s letter stated this). Of course it’s always good to bring along too many documents than not enough. They didn’t take our lease in Berlin which I found odd but I believe that the proof of residence (what you receive when you register your presence) is what they needed. As you can see we were told the photos weren’t needed and we didn’t bring texts, emails or IMs (as I think it’s too personal anyway!) However they did say we could submit the photos with the Residence Card application as they want proof that you are a geniune couple.

10 working days later I received my family permit back. We were told when we submitted our documents that we would only be getting our passports back but this was not the case, we received all documents back but I would advise having a back up copy of everything.

Hopefully our experience has given some people more insight. I will update about our experience at the border (though I am hoping it will be hassle free!)

Related links:

BBC News: The Britons leaving the UK to get their relatives in

UKBA TNT petition

Expatica Germany

Our exile (Surinder Singh route)


11 comments on “Our exile (Surinder Singh route)

  1. thanks for this – extremely useful information for us on our pending journey. technically more difficult (bringing wife’s Mother and Son with us back to the UK)

    best of luck

  2. Wow!!! Finally found someone that actually did it, lol, Please let us know how Things went for you two. My wife (British) and I (Brazilian) are about to do the same in a few weeks, and the more we find out about the proceedings, the better. Thank you very much for spending your time posting such valuable info. Congrats 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂 A lot of people have done it 🙂 When we went to submit documents other people had been through the same so it was comforting. See my latest post for an update of what happened at the border.

  3. We are doing this shortly as well, at the start of January, heading to Dublin, Ireland. My Husband (UK) and I (USA) are also dragging our 14-month old along (she is also a UK citizen and has US/UK passports). We are getting lots of useful information from all websites, thanks for posting your experience!! =]

  4. Nat and I are heading to Portugal. We’re planing to do just like Kate, make a blogg and let everyone posted with the news. Wish us luck 😉

  5. Hi there.

    Having succeded with my own spouse and helping countless others, I would like to include info on germany on my surinder singh route information page. I went via ireland, but am hoping you might be able to help with germany….

    I have no intention of stopping helping ppl with this route simply because my family is sorted. If you would be interested in contributing, please email me.

    I have created a few step by steps ie register self employed , ppsn etc in ireland.

    There are also facebook groups such as EEA Visa… and BritCits is a registered charity fighting the rules with help from numerous other charities and groups.


    • Hi Wayne,

      It’s so great to read about people succeeding in migrating using this route.
      I’m a UK citizen currently visiting the US and hoping to move to Ireland in just over a month with my new US spouse.

      I’d be really love to hear of any tips you might be able to give me in dealing with the whole process. It can quickly get very intimidating when you’re confronted with some of the legal documents they link to on the official immigration pages!

  6. Kate,
    I am looking to do the same as yourselves but for my parents to join me in the UK via Germany.
    In your case, on what German visa did you live in Germany with your British husband before you applied for the UK visa? It would help to know.

    • I didn’t need a visa to enter Germany, I entered the Schengen area as a tourist then applied for a residence card once there. I think your parents may need a schengen visa.

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