If you’re a newcomer to Germany, you’ve probably already heard of the complicated German bureaucracy. You might already dread it and you’re probably wondering if registering (telling the government where you are living) is really necessary, if you must bring along a German-speaking friend or whether you should skip it altogether.
Lots has been written on the subject, but the process seems to be constantly changing so here’s one updated account on the Anmeldung process.
Registering is one of the first steps that you should complete upon arriving in Germany. Only after receiving your registration certificate can you open a bank account, obtain a tax number or do a number of things that you will eventually want to do, like get a internet or electricity contract. But the good news is: it’s less scary than you might think!
Where should you go?
Your local district’s Bürgeramt (Citizens’ Registration Office). Apparently some offices allow for registration even if you don’t live in that district but some don’t (like Neukölln) so try your local office first. A quick Google of your district name + Bürgeramt should pull up your closest office and hours.
That said, some offices are quieter than others and you are more likely to get a spot if you go to those. If you’re in a rush to get your Anmeldung, try a Bürgeramt like Lichtenberg.
Should I worry about the ‘compulsory’ time limit to register? (14 days after arrival for Berlin, 7 days for the rest of Germany)
Try to be within the time limit but don’t stress too much if you haven’t registered in time. Many people (especially German people) seem to go for a long time without registering and are able to register at a later date with no problem or fine.
Should I make an appointment or just go?
I didn’t make an appointment (I tried but none were available in the near future). However, many people say appointments are now necessary at all offices. My advice would be try to get an appointment to avoid waiting in a long line for no reason.
How to try to get an appointment?
By phone: (030) 9024990 (Open from 7:00 – 20:00)
You can also call in the morning and ask if there have been any cancellations at any of the offices.
- Scroll to ‘Appointment Booking via the Selection of Service’
- Select Meldebescheinigung beantragen or ‘Apply for Registration Certificate’
- Select Book Appointment next to your district office
Remember to keep checking back for appointments.
What happens when I go?
You will wait in a line and eventually get a ticket number. Someone will want to know why you are there. Tell them ‘to register’ or ‘complete the Anmeldung’. They will give you a form in German and a copy of the form in English. You will have to fill out the German form, so bring a German/English dictionary. You wait until your ticket number is called and go into a little office where someone will type up your answers. So long as your answers are comprehensible and you have the proper documentation, this should take no longer than five minutes.
What should I bring?
Your passport, a copy of your rental agreement or a letter from a friend saying you are allowed to stay there (preferably in German) with a copy of their rental agreement. In my case, my friend was not registered as living there but it was not a problem.
- When it asks for religion write ‘atheist’ otherwise you may have to pay a church tax
- It is important you know the name on your mailbox (and the form asks for this)
- Bookmark the appointment calendar and refresh as many times as possible
- If you don’t speak any German, try to bring a German speaker. If that’s not possible, ensure you fill out the form as completely as you can to avoid confusion when you meet with a worker