The search is over: finally you have landed your dream apartment in Berlin, your flatmates are great, you couldn’t ask for a better location… and yet there is still one thing missing. They told you that you need an Anmeldung.
Ask anyone who’s moved to Germany from abroad (or even the locals) about the Anmeldung, which is simply registering the address where you are living at, and you’ll encounter a wince, a heavy sigh and a prolonged story about mile-long queues, inconvenient opening hours, multiple visits and WHY CAN’T I JUST DO IT ONLINE?!
(Un)fortunately, registering your address in Germany is essential if you plan to stay in the country longer than three months. This document certifies that you are living at a specific address in Germany and it is required for… well, pretty much starting a normal life in Berlin!
We know that the German bureaucratic system can be daunting and complicated (especially if you have just moved) but we are here to help! So here it is for you: a fast and easy guide on everything you wanted to know about registering your apartment in Berlin (Anmeldung) and start enjoying your life in this great city!
What is an Anmeldung?
When you rent a room or property in Germany, you need to register the address at the relevant Bürgeramt (or local administrative office). You will be asked to fill out a form and present your rental contract and proof of ID. If successful, you will be issued with a stamped registration form, or Anmeldungbescheinigung: this is a document you have to keep in a safe place and it is the proof that you are living in Berlin and you are registered.
Why do I need to register?
Technically, you don’t have to. If you are staying in Berlin less than three months, you can be considered as a tourist for this period. You will, however, have to take care of your medical insurance and you won’t be able to sign any kind of contract (from electricity, to internet, to a bank account). In other words, if you are in Berlin to start a “normal” life (whether as a student or as a professional, or simply to try out a new home) you will have to Anmeld, there is no way around it.
Who needs to register?
As we mentioned, the Anmeldung is pretty much necessary for everyone who wants to start a life in Berlin. Do you want to open a German bank account? You need the Anmeldung. Will you start working and need a Tax ID? Then you need the Anmeldung. Will you be studying in Germany? You need to Anmeld. Are you planning to sign any form of contract (internet, telephone, electricity, gym membership…)? You will be asked to show your proof of registration. Are we clear? You need to register 🙂
When do I need to register?
Legend has it that you have a maximum of 14 days since you have entered the Country to go to the Burgeramt and register your new address. On paper this seems reasonable, but the reality is quite different. First of all, it may take you even more than 14 days to find a flat in Berlin, and, even when you have found it, getting an appointment at the Burgeramt will seem almost impossible. But don’t fret: literally everyone knows that each registration office in Berlin is very busy – the good ‘ol times when you could just walk in, get a number and wait in line are gone. So if you are a little late there shouldn’t be any issues, especially if you have never registered before in Germany… but bear in mind that if you are VERY late you could incur in a fine varying from 10/25€ if you are up to two months late to 70€ for longer periods.
Where do I register?
In an ideal world, you’d walk in the Burgeramt of your Kiez (neighborhood), get a number to wait in line 20 to 30 minutes, get into an office, show your documents, get your Anmeldungbescheinigung, then leave. As you have probably understood by now, Berlin is not an ideal world: chances are that the Burgeramt that is closer to you is extra busy, and would only give you an appointment in two months time. How to go about it? Every Burgeramt has its own walk in policies, so you can try and call them up and see if they accept people without an appointment. And you don’t need to go to the Burgeramt of the neighborhood where you live in order to register, in fact ANY office in Berlin can process your Anmeldung. Hot tip: try and go for the Burgeramts that are a bit out of the centre, they will probably be less busy!
How do I get an appointment?
As we anticipated, you can try your luck with a walk in office, wake up at a ridiculous time in the morning to make sure you are the first person in line, wait, wait and wait and hope for the best. If you’d rather get an appointment (we feel you) this may be tricky as well, but not impossible! You can try by calling the Bürgertelefon, a dedicated hotline for answering your questions and assisting you with your appointment. However, they do specify that the easiest way to book is online. If you want to try your luck with this method, make sure that your German is good enough to have a conversation over the phone or ask a German speaking friend to help you! Chances are that the friendly staff who will pick up the phone won’t be speaking English to you. Another option (and the preferred one) is to make an appointment online: you can find available times here (under “Termin berlinweit suchen und buchen” you will see all available appointments at any Burgeramt in town. Toll!). If all the appointments available are too far ahead, just keep a bit of patience – if you keep refreshing the page, some timeslots get freed up every now and then, and you may get lucky and get an appointment even for the following day! Keep in mind that most Bürgeramt officials will speak to you only in German, so it’s a good idea to learn the relevant vocabulary (or write it down) or better still take a German speaking friend with you.
What do I need to bring?
In order for the process to be successful (and to not annoy the lovely lady that is assisting you with your Anmeldung procedure) make sure you have ALL the documents you need ready. You will need to bring your passport, your tenancy agreement, your visa (if you need one) and the completed registration form. Don’t forget the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung form, which is necessary since November 2015 and it is basically an extra paper that has the signature of your landlord or the person you are subletting from, stating your full name, your move in date and the address of the flat. All the forms you need can also be downloaded from the “City portal”, at this page. We are making your life even easier, and you can download the form directly here, and use this version with English annotation to help you fill in your form properly. Alternatively, get our friends at at AiRelo to help you fill in the form – whatever is your main language, they can help you sort your form in a few easy steps, via a very simple chatbot!
What do I do at the registration office?
Even if you made it and YOU FINALLY HAVE AN APPOINTMENT, the process is not over. On the day of your appointment, allow some extra time to travel to the office and make sure you are there at least 10 minutes early. Burgeramt offices are normally big buildings with lots of different rooms, stairs, waiting rooms, corridors, sections… finding the right place may take you a few minutes! Your appointment confirmation (you should have received it via e-mail) should contain also your personal identification code or waiting number. Once you are in the waiting room there will be a screen with different numbers popping up: when it comes your turn, you’ll see your number next to the room and station where you need to go. As we told you already in this article, most officials will only speak German or very little English. Be prepared to bring someone along, write down some survival words and keep a big smile on your face!
I have my Anmeldungbescheinigung: what now?
You have made it this far and finally they are handing you this paper with your address written on it, a big stamp and the signature of the official who assisted you. First of all don’t get to excited too quickly: make sure you check that all the information on the document is correct, from the spelling of your name to the address, to any other little detail. If you spot any errors you can ask for a correction straight away: you will be asked for this document over and over again for every bureaucratic little step of your life in Berlin, so you want this piece of paper to be perfect!
Here’s a list of the most important Bürgerämter in Berlin
Bürgeramt 1 (Kreuzberg), Yorckstraße 4, 10965 Berlin
Bürgeramt Hohenzollerndamm, Hohenzollerndamm 177, 10713 Berlin
Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Jugendamt, Frankfurter Allee 35-37, 10247 Berlin
Bezirksamt Lichtenberg Bürgeramt 2, Normannenstraße 1-2, 10367 Berlin
Bezirksamt Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Marzahner Promenade 11, 12679 Berlin
Bürgeramt Rathaus Mitte, Karl-Marx-Allee 31, 10178 Berlin
Bürgeramt Neukölln, Donaustraße 29, 12043 Berlin
Bürgeramt, Breite Straße 24a-26, 13187 Berlin
Bürgeramt Rathaus Spandau, Carl-Schurz-Straße 2/6, 13597 Berlin
Bürgeramt Steglitz, Schloßstraße 37, 12163 Berlin
Bürgeramt Zehlendorf, Kirchstraße 1-3, 14163 Berlin
Bürgeramt Tempelhof, Tempelhofer Damm 165, 12099 Berlin