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An expat's guide to Bürgeramt – how to get Anmeldung in Berlin (2020)

Business tips · 02/11/20 09:18 · Monika Butterweck

Moving to a new country is one of the most exciting and fulfilling things you can do in life. Suddenly a new world opens up, with fresh opportunities and challenges. One of the first hurdles you’ll face as an expat arriving in Germany is attending an Anmeldung appointment.

But you might have noticed that finding official guidance on moving to Berlin is difficult. The best advice tends to be anecdotal, from friends or strangers online, in expat Facebook groups and Reddit threads. Personal and timely success stories. 

So, to make life easier for you, we got in touch with a local Bürgeramt expert to hear the inside story, top-secret tips, and tricks on how to get your Anmeldung within hours, not months.

But first off...

 

What is Anmeldung?

Everyone living in Germany needs to officially register their address. And as an expat, this will be a top priority after arriving in Berlin. To get it, you’ll need to visit a Bürgeramt, or ‘citizens’ office’.

Anmeldung is the process of registering your address at the Bürgeramt.

 

During your Anmeldung you’ll get a piece of paper confirming your official address in Germany. This is called your Anmeldebestätigung, or 'registration certificate'. If you’re attending your first Anmeldung, you’ll also receive your Tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer). 

For more info on tax numbers and the Finanzamt, read our ‘Expat’s Guide to the Finanzamt – Steuer-ID, Steuernummer and Umsatzsteuernummer (2020)’.

 

Tip – Anmeldung and Bürgeramt go by many names

What everyone commonly refers to Anmeldung can also go by Anmeldebestätigung, Anmeldebescheinigung or Meldebescheinigung. They all mean essentially the same thing: registering your address in Germany. Likewise, Bürgeramt might be called something else – like Kundenzentrum or Kreisverwaltungsreferat – if you're outside Berlin.

 

How to get an Anmeldung appointment at the Bürgeramt

The days of going to a Berlin Bürgeramt, taking a ticket and waiting in line for hours are over. Instead, you now have to make an Anmeldung appointment in advance. (Or at least, so they say – but keep reading to learn about a loophole.) In Berlin, the wait times can be long – up to a few months. Berlin is popular, so in other cities the wait times may be shorter. 

Under German law you’re technically obliged to register your address within 14 days of moving to a new flat, but as the demand for appointments has increased dramatically, the Bürgeramt relaxed this rule. Now, you need to make an appointment to register within 14 days of moving.

If this is enough to help you sleep at night, you can relax. All you need to do now is sit down in front of your computer and refresh the Bürgeramt website every 5 seconds to see if any appointments have become available.

Usually appointments are updated around 10:00–12:00. When you see a little blue date bolded, that’s your cue to act fast!

 

Tip – Be ready to travel

It doesn’t matter which Berlin Bürgeramt you visit! You can live in Mitte and register in Köpenick. Here’s the page to check for Bürgeramt appointments across all Berlin.

 

How to get Anmeldung without an appointment

If you need confirmation of an official address ASAP, don’t rely on the Bürgeramt website. You might have been told that this is the only way of getting an appointment. It’s not.

Instead, try ringing 115 at around 8:00–9:00 on the day to ask if there are appointments available. Often you can get an appointment for that same day. Be aware that you might have to travel to an obscure Bürgeramt somewhere further away from where you actually live. This is because the appointments given out through 115 are available due to last-minute cancellations.

 

Top-secret tip – Show up and hope for the best

If it’s super urgent and you can’t wait, wake up early and just show up at the Bürgeramt. Not every Bürgeramt accepts surprise guests, but many do. The website for the Bürgeramt in Prenzlauer Berg (Fröbelstr.) says ‘nur mit Termin’ (‘by appointment only), but by showing up at least one hour before they opened worked for me not once, but twice. The focus is on EARLY.

 

What documents do I need to bring for Anmeldung?

Unfortunately, Berlin’s Bürgeramter haven’t arrived in the paperless future yet, so to get your Anmeldebestätigung, you need some good old-fashioned documents. There’s no way around it. You’ll need to make sure you have everything prepared before making your way to the Bürgeramt.

On the day, bring the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Anmeldeformular – completed ‘Registration Form’
  • Wohnungsgeberbestätigung – signed by the owner or landlord
  • Rental agreement or letter confirming accommodation
  • Children’s identification documents or birth certificates (for children moving in)
  • Residency Permit (for non-EU citizens)
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable)

For Berlin’s official registration requirements in English, see this page

 

What is Anmeldeformular?

The Anmeldeformular is the Anmeldung registration form. You can print it at home or pick it up at the Bürgeramt. It’s simple, but unfortunately only available in German. If you have trouble filling it out, don’t be shy about asking someone for help.

 

Tip – Google ‘Anmeldung form in English’

You can find the Anmeldeformular translated into English easily online. A PDF is all you need – be wary of any sites asking you to fill in personal details online.

 

What is Wohnungsgeberbestätigung?

The Wohnungsgeberbestätigung is a confirmation of your move, signed by your landlord. Your landlord should give you the form with the keys to your new flat. If you’re living in a flatshare as a sublessee, you might have to get this form from the flat’s main tenant (provided they have permission to sublet!).

Your Wohnungsgeberbestätigung contains:

  • Your residential address
  • Details of the owner (Wohnungseigentümer)
  • Details of the landlord (Vermieter)
  • Details of the tenant (Hauptmieter)
  • The move-in date

 

Careful – Bring a complete set of documents

Your rental contract does not replace the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung, and you can’t register without having a complete set of documents.

 

After you’ve gotten Anmeldung

German bureaucracy might be scary at first, but with a few tricks you can avoid unnecessary stress and save time and sanity. 

One of the nicest things about moving to Berlin is the sense of community. Not necessarily from true Berliners, but from newcomers. The lack of official guidance means people moving to Berlin need to figure things out on their own – and with some digging online you can almost always find support!

Getting Anmeldung is the first step in your new life in Germany. Once you’ve registered your address, you’ll be ready to register your freelance business, open a business account and get a phone contract – so you can start calling clients.

Entschuldigung, brauchen Sie noch etwas zu tun?

And once you’re registered, you can start enjoying that most wonderful of German words when settling into a new home: Gemütlichkeit.

 

Want to learn more about freelancing as an expat in Germany?

We hope this article helps simplify Anmeldung – one of the first essential steps into your new German work life. If you want to explore more expat questions, check out: 

 

Always curious? Sign up to Holvi’s blog for makers and doers.

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