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Retirement in Europe

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1. Posted by Kenny48 (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

I havent' seen much regarding this subject.

I am fast approaching retirement. I love to travel, and would really like to live in Europe. Berlin is the city I prefer, as it is a cultural center, as well as affordable.

My problem resides with something new. The Shengen agreement. I am a US citizen, not a citizen of the EU. When I was younger this posed no problem for Americans. I was able to spend as much time as I wanted traveling across Europe. However now with the Shengen agreement, we are limited to staying for only 90 days.

I have been trying to find out how easy or difficult it is to obtain a residency visa, with little success. Is there anybody out there who has experienced this? As I will be retired, I have no plans to seek work only residency. I cannot afford to, nor do I really have a desire to spend only 90 days out of each year. I wish to establish a long term residency, just as my Grandparents did here in the USA. They were "resident aliens". Is there such a thing in the Shengen countries, and if so how difficult is it?

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

There is such a thing as "resident alien" in Europe. How to get a residency permit depends upon the country where you intend to live.

The Schengen treaty regulates only short-term stays, long-term stays are still the sole business of the country in question.

For an US-citizen planning to retire Germany would be the easiest to get a residency permit, with Belgium and Netherlands coming in second and third.

If you got the money and can afford to live on your savings for several years it will be relatively easy to get a residency permit. There will be some running around and some paperwork, fighting with bureaucracy - but you should be able to get your permit in about a month or two. (That is very fast, some migrants with no money need to fight in the court for over 5 years.)

Just learn what sort of papers you need to apply for the permit and have them all in order the first time around and everything will go without a hitch.

If you read German check this site, it is the website of the relevant authority who will issue your residency permit if you live in Berlin:

http://www.berlin.de/labo/auslaender/dienstleistungen/

Here is how to apply:
http://www.berlin.de/labo/auslaender/dienstleistungen/ae-info.html

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jun-2009, at 10:24 by t_maia ]

3. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

You need to see the Immigration Department at Consulate of the country of your choosing.
They will almost definately need to interview you. Once they have your full profile, they'll tell your chances of aquiring different opportunities.
Good luck.

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Quoting Redpaddy

You need to see the Immigration Department at Consulate of the country of your choosing.
They will almost definately need to interview you. Once they have your full profile, they'll tell your chances of aquiring different opportunities.
Good luck.

Not a US-citizen retiring in Germany.

A US-citizen applying for a residency permit in Germany needs to go directly to the local foreigner's office. In Berlin this is the LABO.

In the Netherlands you also apply after entering the country.

I am not sure right now about Belgium, but I think it might have been the same.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jun-2009, at 11:55 by t_maia ]

5. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y

Not exactly right, Maia. If you want to stay long-term, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit (MVV) before coming down here. The application may involve an interview as mentioned by Paddy, but not usually in the case of Americans. More details in the Dutch immigration services' residency wizard.

update
Oops. You are right: US nationals can apply for the MVV once they entered, they don't need to do so in advance. By the way, you would need a valid purpose for applying, and wanting to spend your retirement isn't one. It would help if you had Dutch relatives, whom you could then come and 'visit'.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jun-2009, at 13:23 by bentivogli ]

6. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

As I've already said - best go see The Consulate. They're the elite experts - and have the rule books in front of them. As you can see also - the rules are often changing.

7. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Quoting bentivogli

Oops. You are right: US nationals can apply for the MVV once they entered, they don't need to do so in advance. By the way, you would need a valid purpose for applying, and wanting to spend your retirement isn't one. It would help if you had Dutch relatives, whom you could then come and 'visit'.

Similar is true in Germany, you need a valid reason. Retirement isn't one, but the authorities usually turn a blind eye to it. They give you a temporary residency permit first for "learning german" (all you have to do is say that you will be attending this language course or this or maybe actually attend a language course for a while) and then later a permanent residency permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis, NE). The NE is not tied to a specific reason. But it really depends upon the clerk that gets your application.

Belgium lets you apply for a "residency permit for retired people", this is why it can be easier there.

@Redpaddy: I do have the rulebook for Germany right in front of me. I got the same law degree the clerks at the Germany embassy or consulate have, plus I got more time to answer in detail. I am just a bit sketchy on the Belgium or Dutch rules since I my Dutch is not the best.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jun-2009, at 13:53 by t_maia ]

8. Posted by Kenny48 (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Quoting t_maia

Quoting bentivogli

Oops. You are right: US nationals can apply for the MVV once they entered, they don't need to do so in advance. By the way, you would need a valid purpose for applying, and wanting to spend your retirement isn't one. It would help if you had Dutch relatives, whom you could then come and 'visit'.

Similar is true in Germany, you need a valid reason. Retirement isn't one, but the authorities usually turn a blind eye to it. They give you a temporary residency permit first for "learning german" (all you have to do is say that you will be attending this language course or this or maybe actually attend a language course for a while) and then later a permanent residency permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis, NE). The NE is not tied to a specific reason. But it really depends upon the clerk that gets your application.

Belgium lets you apply for a "residency permit for retired people", this is why it can be easier there.

@Redpaddy: I do have the rulebook for Germany right in front of me. I got the same law degree the clerks at the Germany embassy or consulate have, plus I got more time to answer in detail. I am just a bit sketchy on the Belgium or Dutch rules since I my Dutch is not the best.

Hi again,
Thanks! T-maia is correct, in that you must apply when you are in Germany. I know this much. I already contacted the consulate here in Miami. They told me, "we do not issue residency visas, this you must apply for after your arrival in Germany".

What I wanted to know was do they accept "retirees", as in this country many foreigners come here exactly for that reason. I have Canadian and British neighbors and they "retired" here in the States. It is good to know that I should say "to study German" as here if someone said they were desiring to stay here because they "wanted to learn English" they would be laughed at. Speaking English is not a requirement, even for citizenship. However I would plan on better learning the language anyway. Why else would I move to a non-English speaking country. I am certainly not one of those who expect everyone to speak English. I do understand, and speak some German. I guess it is an American thing, that people simply assume you can live anywhere you want.

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Jun-2009, at 11:29 by Kenny48 ]

9. Posted by Kenny48 (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y

Thanks again,
I looked at the auslanderbehorde page. I already have the application downloaded.

I do have one question. They ask if you have "ever stayed in Germany" before. Do they mean as a resident, or just a visitor. I spent a summer in Germany back in the eighties, and have visited a few times also for shorter periods.

I am presuming however, that they mean "resided" in Germany. :)

10. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Yes, they want to know whether you have been a resident.

It is because all foreign residents are in a national register complete with fingerprints and biometric passport-sized picture and their file number. If you have been a resident before they'll have to unearth your file and have it mailed from one Ausländerbehörde to another.