The Anmeldung: 16 tips on getting an address registered in Germany
The Anmeldung (registration appointment) is the process of registering your residential address with the local citizen’s office (Bürgeramt). In Germany, everyone who is staying in the country for more than three months must register their address within 14 days of arriving.
What is the Anmeldung?
Registering is one of the most important tasks to complete in your first few weeks in Germany, as it is how you get your Anmeldebescheinigung - a little piece of paper that will open many doors for you, including getting a residence permit, a tax ID, health insurance, a bank account, and a German phone number.
But just because it’s important doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy! From struggling to find an appointment to failing to bring the right paperwork, there are plenty of factors that can stop the Anmeldung from being a straightforward process. To ensure you get it right on the first go, here are 16 tips to help you get your registration finished.
1. Find your local Bürgeramt online
You can find your local citizens’ office via a quick internet search. Type “Bürgeramt + [town / city name / postcode]” into the search bar. Some offices will also let you book appointments online.
2. Book an appointment early
Citizens’ offices are busy places that handle lots of different administrative processes, so appointments can be hard to come by. It’s worth booking your appointment around a month before you’re due to arrive in Germany, so you can get registered within the 14-day window.
3. Know how many appointments you need
It’s worth knowing that each person who wants to register needs their own appointment. If you are a non-married couple, be sure to book two appointments. Married families only need one appointment.
4. Make sure you can register at your new place
When you’re searching for somewhere to live, make sure you always ask whether it’s possible to register at the address. Sometimes landlords won’t let you register, which could leave you in a sticky situation if you’re new to Germany.
5. Find out what you need to bring in advance
When it comes to attending your registration appointment, the list of documents you need to bring is pretty standard, but there may be some differences depending on your personal situation, so it’s best to be prepared. Find out what’s required by contacting your Bürgeramt or checking their website.
6. Get your certificates in order
If you are married and registering together with your partner, you’ll need to bring your marriage certificate. You’ll also need birth certificates for your children, if you have any. Note that you might need to get these documents translated and certified if they are not in German or English.
7. Get your Wohnungsgeberbestätigung sorted
To register, you’ll also need to present a proof of residence certificate (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung). Your landlord is legally obliged to fill out this standard form to testify that this is your address.
8. Ask someone who can speak German to accompany you
Generally speaking, the administration staff at citizens’ offices are not allowed to speak to you in English, in case they give incorrect information. If you’re not so confident with your German, it’s a good idea to take a German-speaking friend with you to help translate.
9. Arrive on time
The appointment shouldn’t take longer than 10 to 15 minutes, so if you arrive late you risk missing it and having to wait and book again. Best to arrive early with all of your documents ready and wait for your turn. If you were given an appointment number, make sure you have it to hand.
10. Understand the implications of specifying a religion
On the registration form you will be asked to state whether you identify as religious. If you say that you are Protestant or Catholic you will be obliged to pay church taxes in Germany, so do some research in advance to help you decide.
11. Bring some cash, just in case
Registration is usually free, but it’s a good idea to have some cash on you, just in case there are fees to pay - and you can’t rely on there being a card machine!
12. Keep your registration certificate safe
At the end of the appointment, the official will give you a document called a Meldebescheinigung (the registration certificate). Keep this document in a safe place as you will need to present it in lots of different situations, like if you want to open a bank account or take out health insurance.
13. Look out for your tax ID in the post
Your tax ID will be sent to you later in the post, so look out for the letter. If you haven’t received it within a few weeks, you can contact your local tax office for more information.
14. Remember to re-register if you move
If you move house, you are required to re-register your address (Ummeldung). For this you will need to make another appointment and bring the same documents again.
15. You need to deregister if you leave Germany
If you leave Germany permanently, you need to de-register (Abmeldung) within two weeks of moving away.
16. Register on time
You should aim to complete the registration process within 14 days of arriving in Germany. Otherwise, you risk having to pay a fine when you do register.
Get your Anmeldung done!
Until you’ve finished your Anmeldung, your life in Germany is pretty much on hold, so it pays to get this simple task done as soon as possible. You will breathe easier once it’s done, so get to it!