My wife is a Bulgarian citizen and she wants to move to Germany or Austria. What is the procedure in order for me to join her? Can we apply upon arrival? We both hold B2 certificates in German.

  • When she takes up residence in Germany, she must register her place of residence when she gets apartment/flat. You (as a spouse of an EU-Citizen) should go with her. Depending of the state, all needed paperwork is done upon registration. May 25, 2021 at 12:15
  • I can go 3 months with serbian citizenship as a part of the free movement agreement, and then go back... can i go with her the same time as a tourist? Together in other words ? And to wait the registration and then apply? And how much isnthe waiting part do you know ? May 25, 2021 at 18:34
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    When accompanying or joining your EU-Citizen spouse, you will enjoy the same conditions as your EU-Citizen spouse. May 26, 2021 at 0:35
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    Different states do this differently. In Baden-Württemberg the registry office will send the application for the residence card automatically to the Immigration office. In Berlin you must make the application yourself after registration. The actual printing of the card can take a long time, but you will recieve a confirmation of your residence status immediately. May 26, 2021 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


As long as she is entitled to free movement (e.g. working, more details here) then you are entitled to live with her. The procedure is much more flexible than it is for other foreigners or for the spouses of German citizens so you can indeed travel together and apply upon arriving.

Unlike a Serbian citizen coming on their own, the spouse of an EU citizen doesn't require to secure a long-stay visa before entering the country and can transition from a short stay to a longer period of residence, completing all required formalities without leaving the territory.

In practice, you can simply apply for the residence card at the same time as your registration or immediately afterwards (see e.g. the procedure in Berlin). Speaking German is great and will help you but it is not a requirement for the spouses of EU citizens.

I haven't done it recently but in my memory, the registration of your place of residence (Anmeldung) is processed immediately, you leave the building with the confirmation in hand. You might need a separate appointment with another office but you can use that document to apply for the residence card without any wait.

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    I don't know about the technical details of the German implementation, but under both the free movement directive and the Schengen visa code there is no need to speak of "transition" or "short stay." The Serbian citizen who travels to Germany with a Bulgarian spouse is a "person enjoying freedom of movement," so resides in Germany for up to three months by right, not by virtue of the "short stay" provisions that normally apply.
    – phoog
    May 26, 2021 at 1:17
  • @phoog I meant that in a very literal sense, you don't need prior permission to enter with an eye towards long-term residence, you travel with no special document and you eventually get a card (which is not necessarily called a “permit” either). I was trying to contrast both regimes in one sentence, which is why the terminology is not ideal. Upon reflection, I am not convinced that “short stay” is completely inappropriate, the provisions are very different from those of the regular Schengen regime but the directive does make a distinction.
    – Relaxed
    May 26, 2021 at 9:50
  • Perhaps. It is true that "short stay" doesn't necessarily implicate the provisions of the Schengen codes, but "transition" implies a change of status that isn't really happening from a technical point of view. Under these circumstances, the Serbian spouse is never a "third-country national" for the purposes of the SBC, thanks to its (unfortunately somewhat counterintuitive) definition of that term. Would you speak of a "transition" for the Bulgarian spouse if she arrives in Germany without a job, under 2004/38/EC Art. 6, but then takes employment there, remaining under Art. 7?
    – phoog
    May 26, 2021 at 14:23
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    @phoog Avoid the use of the term short stay all together, since neither of the 2 words are used in DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC. Chapter III: Right of Residence ; Article 6: Right of Residence upto 3 months: 6(1) Union citizens, 6(2) family members of Union citizens ; Article 7: Right of residence for more than three months 7(1) Union citizens, 7(2) family members of Union citizens May 26, 2021 at 17:29
  • @phoog Since the registration of residence (where required) can be done earlier, 'transition' could be replaced with: The registration of residence (where required) should be completed within 3 months after arrival in the host Member State. May 26, 2021 at 17:53

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