What is the Residence Registration / “Anmeldung” in Germany?
The most important first step after arriving in Germany is to register yourself with the local government at the Einwohnermeldeamt. It’s what you’ll come to know as “Anmeldung”. This is required not just when you move to Germany but also when you decide to move to another town in Germany. It is important to note the following about the German law regarding registration:
- Anyone moving into an apartment must register with the registration office within two weeks of moving in.
- Anyone who moves out of an apartment and does not move into a new apartment in Germany must deregister at the registration office within two weeks of moving out. Cancellation is possible one week before moving out at the earliest; the register will be updated on the date of the move-out.
- The registration or deregistration for persons under the age of 16 is incumbent on those in whose apartment the persons under 16 move in or from whose apartment they move out. Newborns born in Germany only need to be registered if they are admitted to an apartment other than that of their parents or mother. If a carer has been appointed for an adult who can determine the stay, this person is responsible for registering or de-registering.
- The registry offices shall immediately notify the registration authorities of the notarization of the birth of a child and any change in the civil status of a person.
Understanding the registration process in Germany
1. What is “Anmeldung”?
‘Anmeldung‘ means residence registration.
Every Expat in Germany must register their German address at the so-called registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). There’s no way around it.
If you do not register, you have to pay a fine.
2. Who is required to register in Germany?
If you are in Germany on holiday, obviously you don’t need to register your residence. However, you are obliged to register:
- If you intend to stay and live in Germany for longer than three months
- If you work or study in Germany
- If you want to sign any contract in Germany i.e. open a bank account
Why is it so important to go to the registration office?
Anyone moving into a new apartment or house is obliged to notify the authorities of their new place of residence as quickly as possible. As a rule, you should visit the residents’ registration office within the first week after moving, some municipalities and cities give new residents two weeks for this . If you let this deadline pass, you face a fine .
If you live in a big city with a busy residents’ registration office, you don’t have to break a sweat if the agreed date for the change of registration does not take place until one month after moving. What matters is the date of booking. If you have done this on time, you can sit back and relax.
3. When do I really need to register myself?
Officially you have 2 weeks to register once you move into an apartment.
Of course, sometimes finding a flat can take a bit longer.
It is sufficient to make an appointment within 2 weeks of arriving.
Because of the Corona the registration offices are extremely busy. So it’s normally no problem if you register a little late.
However, you must not forget to register. Without registration, you cannot work or study in Germany. You cannot sign any contracts either.
4. What if I can’t find an apartment to live in. What do I do?
That should not be an issue. As long as you haven’t officially moved into a place with a sublet or rental contract, you don’t have to register. If you live at a hostel or in a hotel, you are not required to register.
You can only register if you have a proper tenancy agreement. The landlord must sign a form when you move to a new place. Without this landlord confirmation you cannot register. As such, you cannot ‘just’ register at a friend’s place.
A lot of new Expats in Germany have a hard time finding a permanent place to stay. This is particularly difficult, if they have not found employment yet.
NOTE: You cannot start working if you are not registered. A bit of a catch-22.
TIP: Start by living in a hostel first. Once you’ve got a job contract you should be able to find something relatively quickly.
5. What documents do I need for registration?
As soon as you are ready, make a checklist of the following documents before you make an appointment for you registration.
Here is what you will need to bring:
- Passport – make sure that you bring your valid passport or identification card.
- Anmeldeformular (registration form) – Read through your completed registration form (Anmeldeformular) to make sure that all the relevant information is completed. There are services that will help you fill the form correctly.
- Landlord confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) – By law, your landlord has to provide you with a confirmation of your residency within 14 days of signing your rental contract. If you are the owner yourself, you need to provide the corresponding pages from the “Grundbuch” (land register) that prove that you are the owner.
- Possibly: Marriage Certificate – If you are married and have your marriage certificate and your partner registers with you; also bring children’s birth certificates if they register with you. Make sure that the officials understand the particulars and details on the marriage certificate since they are speaking German and might not understand how marriage certificates work in your country.
Without these documents your registration cannot be processed. You must take these documents to any registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt ) in Berlin. An official will make sure that you have provided all the necessary documents for your registration (Anmeldung).
6. Can I be represented at the official registration appointment?
Old Expats in Germany should be now be used to the registration process and can indeed be represented by somebody who has a power of attorney.
If you are a new Expat in Germany, it is highly recommended to go yourself, because it’s likely that the officials will not process your registration if you are registering more than one person, such a family. Just take a German speaking person with you if you don´t speak German yet. This will reduce the dread of having to answer questions using Google translator.
7. How do I find the right Einwohnermeldeamt?
You have a lot of choices depending on the German city you live in. It’s a great idea to research for the nearest location to you before you make an appointment.
- Corona has upended how the appointments work. It is mandatory to book an appointment
- Due to the lockdowns in Germany, there are so few appointments available might be staggered. Just take any appointment at any administration office you can find
What do I get at the end of the residence registration?
The official registration document
You will get a proof of residency registration in your city- This is referred to as a Meldeschein or Anmeldebestätigung.
Make sure you keep this document safe. You will need it for a lot of official matters such as opening a German bank account, getting health insurance, library card and more.
Income-tax card called Steuer–ID
If you are eligible, you will also receive an income-tax card with your tax ID (Steuer-ID). The federal tax office (Finanzamt) will automatically send it to your newly registered German address within a few weeks. Let your employer know your tax ID so they can use it to deduct applicable taxes regarding your income and social security.
Note: The tax ID (Steuer-ID) is not the tax number (Steuernummer), which is a tax number necessary for freelancers only. (The tax number has to be requested from the tax office separately)
Important Info: What is Kirchensteuer and do I have to pay it?
On your registration form, you will be requested to state your religion, a field you can also just leave blank. Nevertheless, if you want to be officially registered as Catholic, Protestant or any other Christian religion, you are required to pay a religious tax on their annual income tax bill called church tax (“Kirchensteuer”) which is normally around 9 percent of the annual income tax.
Note: You don’t want to pay German Church tax? Then leave the ‘confession’ field in the registration form blank. If you choose a confession 8% of your income tax rate is automatically deducted and goes to church activities. If choosing not to pay church tax in Germany you will not be eligible to receive communion, confession or get married in a German church.
Make sure you make an appointment online
Many offices offer the service of reserving an appointment online. This saves you long waiting times on site and enables you to register or re-register more quickly. You can also find information on the documents required for this administrative procedure on the website of your city or municipality.
If you are unsure about the language, send a representative with power of attorney to the Einwohnermeldeamt (citizens’ office)
You don’t have time to go to the registration office immediately after moving? A representative may also hand in the documents for you. He needs a power of attorney for this.
Good to know: That is what the residents’ registration office also does
You can not only do the registration or re-registration after moving at the residents’ registration office. Among other things, it is also responsible for:
- official certification of documents
- Issuing identity cards and passports (including children’s passports)
- the household certificate for child benefit
- Residence, registration and life certificates