26.03.2021 | KPMG Law Insights

Global Mobility – Employment Law for International Employee Assignments – Business Travel and Assignments between the United Kingdom and Germany

Business travel and secondments between Great Britain and Germany

Companies have to keep a special eye on business trips and postings either from Germany to the UK, or from the UK to Germany, since January 1, 2021. The time of carefree freedom of movement between countries is now finally over. Every trip should be carefully examined for aspects of residence law before it begins. Failure to apply for (and obtain) the proper immigration clearance in advance can result in serious consequences for the traveler, the employer and the company in the destination country. It does not matter whether the receiving company is part of the same group of companies or a customer.

The Brexit agreement* includes some limited concessions for travel between the UK and the EU, as long as the traveler has either British or European citizenship. These categories are, for the most part, completely new and the way they are used will need to be monitored and tested over the next few months.

When traveling for business, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the traveler work in the UK or Germany before 12/31/20? If yes, is it possible to apply for a cross-border commuter certificate? This also allows productive work.
  • Has the traveler never worked in the UK or Germany before 12/31/20? If not, then he would have to abide by the country-specific visitor rules. These are usually very restrictive and do not allow productive work.

In relation to the Brexit agreement*, the following questions should be asked:

  • Is the traveler a British or European citizen?
  • If so, does the trip fit into one of the new categories? It is necessary to examine the definition of the category, as well as its other requirements.
  • The categories include ‘business visitors for establishment purposes’, ‘contractual service suppliers’, ‘intra-corporate transferees’ and ‘short-term business visitors’.

With respect to work visas, the following questions should be asked:

  • Does the trip definitely not fit into the business travel categories or can the facts not be subsumed under the Brexit agreement? If not, a work visa must be applied for and approved prior to departure.
  • What are the long-term plans for the employee – temporary stay, or permanent transfer?
  • Does the company have offices in the UK and Germany?
  • Does the British company have a ‘sponsor license’? This is required to sponsor European nationals for work visas.
  • Which visa best aligns with business needs? Must an employer-linked visa be applied for or does the traveler qualify for a personal visa?

In relation to UK nationals living and working in Germany since before 31/12/20 and German nationals working in the UK since before 31/12/20 the following questions should be asked:

  • Do all German employees in the UK know about the ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ and have they already applied for either ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’ there?
  • Do all British employees in Germany know that they have to apply for a declaratory residence title, the so-called “Aufenthaltsdokument-GB”? A prerequisite for issuance is that the employees are registered with the local competent immigration authority.

In all cases, it is essential to check with your immigration provider as early as possible to determine whether activities you are considering are permitted under the relevant category.

In terms of the new post-Brexit reality, companies should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Who in your company is responsible for business travelers? How do you ensure that no one travels without evaluating the activities?
  • Can you continue to secure access to relevant workers? How?
  • Do you have enough staff to absorb the new administrative visa processes?
  • Have you budgeted higher for future travel assessments and visa applications?
  • Can your systems ‘detect’ business trips and assignments early enough to trigger the respective processes (assessment and/or request)?
  • Do you have enough IT capacity to keep all documents regarding travelers from now on?
  • Are your compensation offerings in line with the market, or do they need to be adjusted to remain attractive to highly skilled workers?


KPMG will be happy to support you in clarifying all these and other questions. For more information please contact:

Denise Osterwald

Solicitor, Senior Manager, Employment / Global Immigration Services

KPMG Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH


Christian Jimenez Metzler

Attorney at Law, Manager, Employment / Global Immigration Services

KPMG Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH


* Trade and Cooperation Agreement Between the European Union and The European Atomic Energy Community, Of the One Part, And the United Kingdom of Great Britain And Northern Ireland, Of the Other Part

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