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?

You get a Fiktionsbescheinigung if your visa or residence permit expires while you wait for a new residence permit. The Fiktionsbescheinigung proves that you can stay in Germany while you wait.

How a Fiktionsbescheinigung works

With a Fiktionsbescheinigung, you can…1

  • Stay in Germany after your visa or residence permit expires
  • Continue working, studying or freelancing
  • In some cases, travel outside Germany

A Fiktionsbescheinigung gives you the same rights as your previous residence permit. It does not give you 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

German Fiktionsbescheinigung
A German Fiktionsbescheinigung

How to get a Fiktionsbescheinigung

You get it from the Ausländerbehörde while you wait for a new residence permit.

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 expires 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.17 You must insist. You have the right to get a Fiktionsbescheinigung, even if you don’t have travel plans or plane tickets.15 They have no legal reason to refuse. I asked them 5 times before they gave me one. If necessary, hire a lawyer.

They might send your Fiktionsbescheinigung by post, or you might need to pick it up at the *Ausländerbehörde.2 There might be a 13€ fee.12

If you can’t get a Fiktionsbescheinigung, you can usually stay in Germany anyway. After you get an Ausländerbehörde appointment or apply for a residence permit, the Fiktionswirkung applies. It allows you to stay in Germany until you get your residence permit. The Fiktionsbescheinigung is just a proof of that Fiktionswirkung. The Fiktionswirkung applies even if you don’t have a Fiktionsbescheinigung.

If you currently have a tourist visa, you can’t get a Fiktionsbescheinigung. Usually, 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

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.16 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 is confirmed by the Bundespolizei, a few travellers, and my own experience.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.18

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.14
  • §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

Need help?

Where to ask immigration questions

Sources and footnotes

  2. Personal experience (2024) 

  3. §81 AufenthG, Fem.os (September 2019), Wikipedia,,, (November 2023) 

  4. Fem.os (September 2019),,, Auswärtiges Amt, 

  5. §81 AufenthG 

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

  7. Fiona Macdonald, immigration lawyer (December 2023) 

  8.,, (2023) 

  9. Email from the Ausländerbehörde (December 2023) 

  10. VAB 81.3.0, 

  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), my own experience (April 2024) 

  14. 18 B 8/09 (2011) 

  15. 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) 

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

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

  18. Email from the Bundespolizei (December 2023)