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Law on Freedom of Movement (November 1, 1867)

The Law on Freedom of Movement from November 1, 1867, made it possible for inhabitants of the North German Confederation to move their abode from one federation state to another without serious disadvantage. Municipal authorities were allowed to refuse a new resident domicile only if they could prove that he could not support himself and his family. (Local authorities often denied such permission on the grounds that newcomers were paupers and would burden their adopted community.) This significant law, like many others settled upon by Bismarck and the liberals in these years, enhanced the freedom and autonomy of the individual, loosened constraints on Germany’s modernizing economy, and contributed to the consolidation of the new union. It was adopted as a Reich Law in 1871.

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Law on Freedom of Movement (November 1, 1867)

§ 1. Within the territory of the Confederation, any citizen of the Confederation has the right to:

1) stay or reside in any place where he is able to secure his own dwelling or accommodation;

2) acquire real estate of any sort;

3) pursue any occupation, whether he be on the move or in his place of abode or residence, under the same legal regulations applicable to local residents.

In exercising these rights, provided that the current law does not allow exceptions, the citizen of the Confederation must not be hindered or restricted by burdensome conditions put in place by either his hometown authorities or by the authorities of the town in which he wishes to stay or reside.

No citizen of the Confederation may be denied abode, residency, the pursuit of an occupation, or the acquisition of real estate on the basis of religious confession or because he lacks citizenship in a given state or municipality.

§ 2. Anyone making use of the rights derived from citizenship in the Confederation is obliged, if requested, to furnish proof of citizenship in the Confederation and, provided the individual is a dependent, proof of permission by the person under whose (paternal, custodial, or marital) authority he or she stands.

§ 3. Inasmuch as convicted persons can be subjected to restrictions on residence by the police authorities in accordance with the state laws, the regulations remain as they are.

Such persons, that is, persons who are subject to such restrictions on residence in any federal state or who have been convicted in any federal state within the preceding twelve months on counts of repeated begging or repeated vagrancy, can be denied abode in any other federal state by the police authorities of that state.

With this, any special laws and privileges that were issued by individual towns and districts and that allow restrictions on residence are revoked.

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