How the German Fiktionsbescheinigung works

This guide explains how the Fiktionsbescheinigung works, how to apply for a Fiktionsbescheinigung, and how to travel with an expired residence permit.

What is a Fiktionsbescheinigung

The Fiktionsbescheinigung is a proof that you can stay in Germany without a residence permit. It’s just a piece of paper.14 You get it while you wait for another residence permit.

With a Fiktionsbescheinigung, you can…1

  • Stay in Germany after your visa or residence permit expires
  • Continue your work, studies or self-employment
  • In some cases, travel outside Germany

A Fiktionsbescheinigung gives you the same rights as your previous residence permit. It’s not a permission to start a new job, start studying or become self-employed. It only lets you do the same things as before.

Your Fiktionsbescheinigung is valid until your real residence permit is approved or rejected.5

Example German Fiktionsbescheinigung
Example German Fiktionsbescheinigung

How to get a Fiktionsbescheinigung

Ask for it when you apply for a residence permit.

In Berlin, you can get a Fiktionsbescheinigung if…

  • you have applied for a residence permit, permanent residence or citizenship10
  • your current residence permit must expire in less than 6 weeks9
  • you have an important reason to travel (like a business trip or a conference)
  • you include proof of your travel plans (like flight tickets or invitations)

In Berlin, they often ignore you or refuse to give you one.18 You must insist. You have the right to get a Fiktionsbescheinigung.16 They have no legal reason to refuse.

You must pick up your Fiktionsbescheinigung in person at the Ausländerbehörde. They do not send it by post.2 There might be a 13€ fee.12

If you currently have a tourist visa, you can’t get a Fiktionsbescheinigung. You can’t convert a tourist visa to a residence permit. You must apply for a residence permit in your home country.4

Travel with a Fiktionsbescheinigung

You can travel outside of Germany if your Fiktionsbescheinigung says…

  • der Aufenthaltstitel als fortbestehend (§ 81 Abs. 4 AufenthG).
  • or Die Inhaber / die Inhaberin hat die Dokumentation eines Aufenthaltsrechts nach dem FreizügG/EU oder dem Abkommen EU-Schweiz beantragt, das hiermit vorläufig bescheinigt wird

…then you can travel with your Fiktionsbescheinigung, and re-enter Germany before it expires.

Other types of Fiktionsbescheinigung do not let you travel outside of Germany. If you travel outside Germany, you might not be able to re-enter later.8

Fiktionsbescheinigung types ↓

You might still have problems when you return to Germany. Airline employees and foreign border agents might not recognise your Fiktionsbescheinigung.17 If you can, take a direct flight to Germany, and only deal with the German border police. They are better informed.

You must return to Germany before your Fiktionsbescheinigung expires. If it expires in less than 1 week, some airlines will not let you fly to Germany.11

Travel without a Fiktionsbescheinigung

If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom or the United States, you can travel without a Fiktionsbescheinigung. You can re-enter Germany with an expired residence permit.13

This was confirmed by the Bundespolizei and a few travellers.13 It’s not guaranteed to work for you. The rules can change at any time. Ask the Bundespolizei before you travel.

Bring proof of your residence permit application. It can help you if you have problems with the border police.19

Fiktionsbescheinigung types

There are 4 variants of the Fiktionsbescheinigung:3

  • §81 Abs. 4 AufenthG
    If you have a residence permit, and you want to renew it or get another residence permit. It allows you to travel outside of Germany.
  • §81 Abs. 3 Satz 1 AufenthG
    If have no residence permit, and you applied for a residence permit on time. It does not allow you to travel outside of Germany.15
  • §81 Abs. 3 Satz 2 AufenthG
    If have no residence permit, and you applied late for a residence permit. It does not allow you to travel outside of Germany.
  • FreizügG/EU oder Abkommen EU-Schweiz
    It allows you to travel outside of Germany.7
German Fiktionsbescheinigung type field
The type is written on your Fiktionsbescheinigung

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Sources and footnotes
  1. berlin.de, vonengelhardt.com 

  2. Kathleen Parker at Red Tape Translation (June 2023), Ina Bozhilova at Noah Mobility (July 2023) 

  3. §81 AufenthG, Fem.os (September 2019), Wikipedia, Berlin.de, se-legal.de, unternehmen-integrieren-fluechtlinge.de (November 2023) 

  4. Fem.os (September 2019), reddit.com/r/germany, facebook.com, Auswärtiges Amt, gesetze-im-internet.de 

  5. §81 AufenthG 

  6. twitter.com, Kathleen Parker at Red Tape Translation (June 2023), Ina Bozhilova at Noah Mobility (July 2023) 

  7. Fiona Macdonald, immigration lawyer (December 2023) 

  8. Berlin.de 

  9. Email from the Ausländerbehörde (December 2023) 

  10. VAB 81.3.0, Berlin.de 

  11. VAB 81.4.1 

  12. VAB 81.5, §47 Abs. 1 s. 8 

  13. Immigration lawyer (December 2023), Bundespolizei (December 2023), Bundespolizei (November 2023), Bundespolizei (October 2022), §41 Abs. 1 and 3 AufenthV, Facebook (October 2022), an American reader (January 2024) 

  14. Annex D3 AufenthV 

  15. 18 B 8/09 (2011) 

  16. Fiona Macdonald, immigration lawyer (December 2023), Facebook (October 2022), §81 Abs. 5 AufenthG, confirmed by a relocation consultant (October 2023), M 25 E 16.2114 (Munich, 2020), 18 B 850/19 (NRW, 2019), Facebook (November 2023), Facebook (October 2023) 

  17. Facebook (October 2022), Twitter (December 2023) 

  18. Twitter (December 2023), Twitter (October 2023), Facebook (August 2023) 

  19. Email from the Bundespolizei (December 2023)