For both new arrivals or experienced heads, bureaucratic frustrations can be common place Germany.
For most expats, the first such experience comes when sorting out the Anmeldung. The word officially translates as registration and denotes the process that every person living in Germany must go through to register themselves at their address.
Once you do so, you receive a Meldebescheinigung – a certificate which proves your registration.
Unfortunately, theres a lot of misleading and semi-factual information out there about the Anmeldung – particularly in regards to what happens when you move house or leave Germany – so weve prepared a basic guide for anyone who needs to know more about the process.
As with any of these guides, we do not intend them to replace genuine legal advice or information received from responsible authorities upon moving to Germany.
The following is just a broad overview of the Anmeldung, what it is, how it works – and what needs to take place when you melde yourself ab (or de-register yourself).
A legal requirement
It may have come as a shock to some – particularly European Union citizens who have not had to endure the German visa process – but completing your Anmeldung is a legal requirement for anyone living in Germany.
Everyone who arrives in Germany with the intention to live here is required to register within 14 days of moving in. Tourists generally dont intend to live in Germany and are an exception, meaning that they're allowed to stay three months without registering.
Even if youll only be here temporarily – for instance students – youre still required to register.
Whenever you move house, you're required to re-register your new address – regardless if you move from Berlin to Bavaria or just down the street.
If you havent done it yet – weve heard reports of Brits who have lived in Germany for a while and are just now understanding the importance of the Anmeldung process due to Brexit – make sure you act quickly.
The only thing worse than telling the Bürgeramt that youve lived here for six months without registering is telling them youve lived here for nine months without registering.
There are fines for registering late which range from €10 to €70, although reports of these being handed out are rare.
Damned if you do, damned if you dont
Aside from it being illegal – reason enough to make sure you do it – living in Germany without a Meldebescheinigung significantly limits the possibilities of what you can and cant do.
Without a document proving your registration, in the most cases youll be unable to do much of the following: open a bank account, get certain kinds of jobs, apply for a visa or residence permit, get a tax number, connect to the internet, signup for a gym membership and enrol in university or school.
You'll need an Anmeldung if you move into one of these new buildings in Frankfurt's 'Europaviertel'. Photo: DPA
Yet the Anmeldung can be a bit of a 'Catch-22': Technically speaking, you need evidence of living at a certain address in order to apply for an Anmeldung. Usually this will be in the form of bills, letters or other information – a lot of which will be hard to come by without actually having an Anmeldung in the first place.
If youve newly arrived, you might need to convince the lovely Beamter (civil servant) to let you register at the address without the necessary documentation, as you need the Anmeldung to apply for the documentation in the first place.
Most Beamte will be aware of this mind-twisting conundrum, meaning that with a little convincing – bitte bitte – it shouldnt be a problem.
OK so you know that you have to do it, but how?
Firstly youll need to have a residence where you can register – and the permission of the landlord to do so.
Youll need to bring evidence of this – i.e. a rental contract – along with what is known as a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung, which is a form signed by your landlord indicating youre permitted to live there. In some cases just the rental contract has been sufficient, although when visiting any government office youre bound to encounter a few sticklers for paperwork.
Hotels and hostels do not count, although if youve got a friend who will let you register as living with them – provided you actually live with them – then this is permitted.
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