Whether you are a German citizen, EU citizen, or have a foreign passport, everyone is required to register or “anmelden” with the authorities by law. The purpose of this is to provide information that the Government will need to carry out their duties (e.g. preparation and organization of elections, send you official mail, etc.). You will also need to have registered in order to use other governmental services such as the Job Center and the foreigner’s office.
Let this be a short guide for you on how to register in a stress free way.
You are required to register with the authorities within two weeks of arriving in Berlin. If you fail to do this, you may face a fine (anywhere between €10 to €500 depending on the case and length of time that you wait). It is also important that you are already moved in to the place that you are registering yourself.
Registrations are done at the Bürgeramt (citizen’s center), where you will have to go in person. Though there are many locations that you can visit, take a moment to look up which location would be the most convenient for you before you accidentally travel across the city unnecessarily (yes, we are talking from experience). Nonetheless, you are allowed to visit any location you choose to.
Look up the opening times of your chosen Bürgeramt and prepare to wait once you have arrived and have received your waiting number. It is not uncommon for people to line up before the office is even open (not meant to scare you!).
You also have the opportunity to book an appointment in advance online. Important: Some offices only take appointments so make sure to double check the policy of your preferred office! Click on your preferred Bürgeramt and it will allow you make an appointment from there once you have selected the service you are going for (button “Am diesen Standort einen Termin buchen” or “Book an appointment at this location”). Again, don’t be discouraged if there are no appointments available in your preferred location during the times that you need them.
Though if you really run into bad luck, you may be forced to travel to a Bürgeramt outside of the city where the wait times are not too long. Our advice: Choose your nearest location (that also takes walk-ins), set your alarm a bit earlier and go.
What To Bring With You
Make sure to bring your passport and ID card with you. Also, if you are staying with a host, make sure you know the full name of your host. Therefore, if they need to send you any mail, you will still receive it, since your host’s name will be on the mailbox. If you are staying with a host, it is important that he or she is also registered. If not, they could refuse to register you. Also, don’t forget to write down your address!
When you get your registration certificate, keep it and put it somewhere safe. This should be done for all official documents you receive. You never know when you are going to need them again!
Help If You Need It
The questions you will be asked at the Bürgeramt won’t be too complicated even if you don’t speak German. If the whole idea has you shaking your boots, ask a friend or colleague to join you. There are also services in Berlin such as Expath and Red Tape Translation that are specifically designed to help you smoothly navigate the German bureaucracy.
Stay tuned for more how tos in Berlin every Friday!