Your dream has come true – you’ve finally moved to Germany! You get to your new home, kick off your shoes and get ready to start your new life abroad.
Wait – not so fast.
First things first, you need to make an appointment for an Anmeldung (address registration) at the Bürgeramt (citizen’s office). But never fear. This process doesn’t have to be like something straight out of Kafka.
Below we’ve gathered some of the typical questions people ask about making Anmeldung appointments – plus a handy vocabulary list that will put you in the know before you go.
- Do I have to make an Anmeldung appointment?
- When do I need to make the appointment?
- How do I make the appointment?
- What do I need to bring to the appointment?
- How long does the appointment take?
- Do I need to speak German at the Bürgeramt?
- The ultimate Bürgeramt vocabulary list
Do I have to make an Anmeldung appointment?
If you plan to stay in Germany longer than three months, you definitely do. Anyone who lives in Germany has Meldepflicht (compulsory registration), which requires them to register their home address.
Yes, but do I really have to register my address in Germany? Isn’t this just a formality I can skip?
Not all countries require their citizens to register their address, so some people might find the idea strange. However, at the Anmeldung appointment, you will receive a document called an Anmeldebestätigung (registration certificate). You need this document for many administrative purposes in Germany, like applying for residency, getting a tax ID, finding a job or opening a bank account. Unless you plan to hole up in your apartment and keep your money under your mattress, life without a registration certificate in Germany would be very difficult indeed.
Still not convinced?
Remember, this registration is compulsory, and yes, potential penalties are involved. Anyone who does not register, registers late or gives false information faces a fine of up to €1000.
When do I need to make the appointment?
Technically, you need to make an appointment within 14 days after moving into your new home. This can be tricky if you’re first living in a hotel or AirBnB, which generally do not allow you to register. The same is sometimes true for sublets, so clear this up before moving in. However, as long as you have a lease, your landlord is required to let you register. They fill out a form confirming you rent their property which you then bring to the Bürgeramt.
Can’t make an appointment on time? No worries. Depending on where you live in Germany, Bürgeramt appointments can be difficult to come by. Just make sure to book the appointment within two weeks after you’ve moved in. Even if the actual appointment takes place later, you’ll be good to go.
How do I make the appointment?
In most cases, the easiest way to book an Anmeldung appointment is online. To do so, search for the term Meldeangelegenheiten (registration matters) and the name of a city or municipality in Germany where you’re moving. In some cases, it may also be possible to make an appointment over the phone or in person.
It’s free to make an appointment, although some agencies (particularly those offering information in English) may charge a nominal fee.
If you’re moving to a big city, it’s a good idea to book well in advance, even before you arrive in Germany. Anmeldung appointments can be tough to come by, especially in Berlin, so the earlier the better.
Once you book the appointment, you will be given a Vorgangsnummer (registration number). You will need this number at your appointment. If you lose it for some reason, you can call 115 and ask for it.
Need to register in a rush?
You can always go to the Bürgeramt and try to get a drop-in appointment. In this case, get there as early as possible, take a number and be prepared for a very long wait – if you get in at all. However, making an appointment is always your best bet to ensure things go smoothly.
What do I need to bring to the appointment?
At your appointment, make sure you bring the following:
- Your Vorgangsnummer: This number will tell you when it’s your turn to register
- Your Wohnungsgeberbestätigung: You get this proof of housing document from your Wohnungsgeber (housing provider), such as a Vermierter (landlord). If the Hauptmieter (main tenant) has received permission from the landlord, they can also give you this.
- A fill-out Anmeldungsformular: This registration form is in German, but you can find a handy English translation here if you are registering in Berlin.
- A valid form of ID: This is either your passport or your EU national ID
- Your residence permit: If you have one already, bring it along
- Your birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Vehicle registration papers (if applicable)
Please note that the registration is free, but you do need to pay a small fee for registering vehicles. Payment can either be made in cash or with your Girocard.
How long does the appointment take?
Your Anmeldung appointment won’t take long – about ten to fifteen minutes max.
However, don’t be late!
Get to the office a little early, take a seat in the waiting room and wait for your number to be called. If you’re not there yet, you run the risk of losing the appointment.
Do I need to speak German at the Bürgeramt?
Although some Bürgeramt employees might speak some English, the process will mostly be done in German. If you don’t speak German yet, it’s best to bring a German-speaking friend along. Many larger cities like Berlin also have agencies that send a German speaker with you on the appointments for a fee.
The ultimate Bürgeramt vocabulary list
Here is a great list of words to help you navigate your Anmeldung appointment in Germany:
- Vorgangsnummer: registration number
- Anmeldung: address registration
- Anmeldeformular: registration form
- Anmeldungsbescheinigung: registration certificate
- Bürgeramt: citizen’s office
- Wohnungsgeberbestätigung: proof of residence certificate
- Aufenthaltstitel: German residence permit
- Personalausweis: personal ID, e.g. a passport of EU/German identification card
- Steuerliche identifikationsnummer: tax ID number
- Vollmacht: Power of Attorney letter (what you need to use if someone else is registering for you)
Your Anmeldung appointment … made easy
Nobody says it’s fun, but if you follow our advice, your registration process will go smoothly. Just make the appointment and gather all the documents you need, show up on time and register – that’s it. Now you can move on to living life to the fullest in your new home!
Rebecca Dean is a freelance writer originally from California who specializes in writing about travel, education, culture and language learning. A long-time Wahlberlinerin (Berliner-by-choice), Rebecca became a dual US/German citizen in 2019. In her free time, she writes fiction, makes jewelry, sings and hangs out with family and friends. You can find Rebecca professionally on LinkedIn and personally on Instagram.