Anmeldung: residence registration – simply explained.

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Who knew that one of your first encounters with German bureaucracy could be so terrifying? This step is so essential to landing on both your feet. It’s however not so easy when arriving here without help, German skills or proper context.

what is anmeldung english

This small guide is explaining how to do the Anmeldung in English in Germany. It also aims at giving you tips to save time, stress & money. And if everything fails, you can always ask a question in the comments.

What is the Anmeldung in Germany?

In English: Anmeldung is Germany is registering your current address with the local authorities. This is one of the most important administrative steps for anybody moving to Germany. Anmeldung comes from “An/melden“, to register in German. This needs to be done in person.

When doing so, you will be given the “Meldebescheinigung“, a residence registration certificate. This innocent piece of paper will be necessary in many aspects of your life in this country. You will be asked for this if you want to sign-up for health insurance, open a bank account, set up an internet connection or simply obtain a tax ID number.

Update Jan 2021: Corona is still here to stay folks, the Anmeldung can often not be processed in person. Some cities in Germany will accept to do this via email/post/phone but other might not. You will need to contact your local Bürgeramt in your own district and see what ways they offer. Good luck!


How to do the Anmeldung in Germany:

1- Secure an appointment

In larger cities, it is strongly recommended to book an appointment to avoid long waiting times. In some cities like Berlin, it is even compulsory to book an appointment before-hand.

You will be given an appointment number, unique to you. Make sure to store it safely. Without it, you won’t be able to attend.

2- Bring the right documents with you

As you could expect, Germany loves a long list of documents. Bring these to the appointment with you:

  • The form called Anmeldung bei einer Meldebehörde“. You will find it on your city website or use Appmeldung instead to fill it in easily in English 100% digitally. This form lists your personal details, addresses, document details, etc.
    Here is a small guide on filling in the Anmeldung form in English.
  • The form called “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung“. This document is a statement from your landlord that you have moved in at the address. The main tenant can also fill this in, in case of sublet or flatshare.
    You can use this guide to fill in the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung in English.
  • A valid ID card or passport.
  • Your tenancy or sublet contract for good measure. If you are simply temporarily staying at a friend’s or a relative’s while looking for something more permanent, have them write and sign a letter stating that you are staying with them. Here is a draft you can use.
  • A birth certificate (optional).

You may also need the following documents:

  • If you are in Germany on a visa, bring your residence permit with you.
  • If you are married/in a partnership, they will also want see a relevant marriage certificate, translated in German by a certified translator.

3- Attend the appointment

Armed with your trusty stack and your appointment number, show up on time. A few elements to remember and/or consider:

  • Most city workers won’t be speaking English to you. It’s not because they can’t, it’s simply because they are liable if they mistranslate or misrepresent something to you. You can bring someone with you, if you need assistance with the language.
  • Registration includes giving away your religion. It’s completely normal as there is a church tax in Germany.
  • If you come here to work, it’s best to mention it during the appointement. The worker will then request a German tax ID for you.
  • You can usually request 1-2 extra copies of your registration certificate for free. Extra copies will cost you 5-10 euros. Cash only usually.

If everything is in order, the city worker will give you your registration certificate, complete with stamp. Store your Meldebescheinigung safely.

Trendier what queuing up at the club: your Bürgeramt appointment. (Credits: Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash)

Things you should know

Who needs to do the Anmeldung in Germany?

Everyone who becomes a German resident must register their address with the local authorities, as stated by law (§17 of the Bundesmeldegesetz). The reason of your stay in the country or your nationality makes no exception to this rule.

This is also a requirement if you simply change addresses, it is then called the Ummeldung.

Visitors staying in Germany for less than 3 months:

Another piece of law (§27 BMG) states that visitors do not need to register in the following cases:

  • You are visiting the country for less than 3 months, typically tourists.
  • You are registered somewhere else in Germany, and stay in another city for less than 6 months.

In this case, be aware that you will be deprived of some possibilities. You won’t be able sign up with a mobile phone provider, so make sure you can sort that out through other ways.

About registration deadlines, and possible fines

The German law states that the Anmeldung must be done within 2 weeks after your move-in date (§54 BMG). Anyone failing to do that exposes themselves to fines up to 1000€.

This can cause some stress because newcomers are sometimes faced with one of those situation:

  • They didn’t know the Anmeldung was compulsory and failed to register.
  • They can’t find any appointment to register within the time limit.

However, there is no cause for concern because there is no usually no harsh consequences involved. Fines are very rarely applied when it’s a honest mistake or if there were no appointment slots available. You might get a harsh look but that’s about it.

Also, do know that the deadline is extended further in the future when using short-term accommodations, considered “commercial” as per German law (§29 BMG). It is then 3 months after move-in date.

Who can fill-in the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung

It’s a legal duty to provide the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung to anyone who signs a tenancy contract (§19 BMG). The following people are able to provide/sign this document:

  • A landlord: that can be a private person or the estate management company (Hausverwaltung). This is the most common case.
  • A main tenant: this is common in flat shares or in sublets. However, do make sure that the landlord is aware of it.
  • A friend lending their couch: Even if you don’t pay rent, your friend can also do that. Again, in theory, the landlord must be aware of it. This applies also if you move in with your partner/husband/wife.
  • Yourself: when you own your place, you are the landlord. So you do it yourself.

Bürgeramt, Bürgerbüro, Rathaus, or Kundezentrum?

This post was originally meant to be read by Berliners only, thus only the term Bürgeramt was used here. However, since people from everywhere in Germany are reading this, it’s worthwhile to say that it’s called differently in other parts of the country. So check the local lingo. 🙂 Those terms can be used interchangeably in this post.

Filling-in the Anmeldung forms online in English, is that possible?

If you really don’t know any German and don’t know anybody who can help, this simple task can be hard to achieve. There are so many things to think about when moving to Germany, so it’s sometimes nice to take a little shortcut! To make your life easier, you can turn to Appmeldung, which lets you fill in the Anmeldung form in English for Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. Disclaimer: Appmeldung was built by the guy behind this blog.

How to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt, fast

The demand for appointements is so high that the first available slot is usually weeks away. This can be a real challenge, especially if you need to get your life in order now. You can use those 2 tips to increase your chances:

  • Check the booking system at 8 a.m. This is when the whole system is refreshed and it often shows open slots when it didn’t a few minutes before. Especially on mondays.
  • Keep refreshing the page, or else use a browser extension that can detect changes on the page. It can warn you when a new slot is available. Try this for Chrome.
  • In larger cities, you can often go to any Bürgeramt in the city. Offices located outside the city center tend to be less busy. Sometimes, you can even get something for the same day!
  • Use your phone. Larger cities have setup dedicated hotlines to book appointments. This may help too.
    • Call 030 115 in Berlin.
    • Call 040 115 in Hamburg.
    • Call 069 115 in Frankfurt.
    • Call 089 23396 000 in Munich.
    • Other cities, try googling “Anmeldung hotline [cityname]”

Et voila, you are on the fast track.


FAQ about the Anmeldung in Germany

I am subletting a room. Do I really need to have the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung filled in by the landlord? Can the main tenant do it?

The German administration wants landlords to fill in that document to confirm that you moved in. This also makes sure that the landlord is aware of the sublet, which is required by law. It also seems that the Bürgeramt employees don’t care and/or don’t check. It’s up to you to take that risk.

I am subletting a room but the main tenant doesn’t want me to register there. Why?

This probably means that they are not allowed to sub-rent their room. They maybe live in a WBS flat (where rent is subsidized by the city) or they haven’t let the landlord know about it. This is a bad bet if you need to register to start working and stuff.

I am staying at friend’s before finding something more permanent, can I register with them for now?

It’s obvious, to register your flat with the Anmeldung, you need to have found one. But for many of us, we haven’t found one yet. A simple letter from a friend letting you stay at their place will be enough to register. Same goes in case of a sublet situation. Bear in mind that in theory, the landlord should always be aware of who is living in the place, providing a written confirmation that you have moved in there.

Which Bürgeramt accept people without appointements? The next available appointment is in 3 weeks, i need something sooner.

Each Bürgeramt seems to have its own policy regarding appointments. The best is maybe to call one to check with them. If they do accept walk-ins, go queue there 30min before opening time to make sure you have a ticket. You may also want to go to less busy offices. Read onto the next question for more details.

Do I need to register at a Bürgeramt in the Bezirk where I live?

You can register at any Bürgeramt in Berlin but check for other cities. This is especially useful if you need to register fast. You can travel to a less popular Bezirke that has less traffic to get an appointment sooner. You’d need to check about that for other cities than Berlin.

Is there a maximum amount of people that can register in a single living space?

It depends on a few factors and on where you live. In Berlin, the law says that for each adult person, there should be at least 9 sqm, and for kids only 6 sqm. In Bavaria, that is 10 sqm per person over 6 years old, 6 sqm per person under 6 years old.

I need to register fast & I don’t have time to register or I‘m afraid to do mistakes because of the language, can i send someone else to do it for me?

Absolutely. Someone can represent you and do all this for you provided this person has all the required documents together with your ID/Passport and a Vollmacht (a procuration) for this person.

I didn’t intend to stay longer than 3 months so I did not register. Now I’m going to stay longer than expected. Should I register now? Am I in trouble?

No, you will be fine. If you could have been considered a temporary visitor until now but your plans have changed simply book an appointment asap.

Is it possible to do the Anmeldung without contract?

Most cities do not require a tenancy contract anymore to do the Anmeldung. Check your local city’s policy. It’s still a good idea to bring it with you for good measure.

Is it possible to do the Anmeldung without Wohnungsgeberbestätigung?

This document is required to be able to do the Anmeldung. However city workers usually don’t have the time or resources to check who filled-in that document during the appointement. Keep in mind that it is illegal to produce a fraudulent version of that document.

Can I do the Anmeldung online?

No. Welcome to Germany.

I hope this guide about the Anmeldung in English helped to answer some of your questions. Feel free to ask more in the comments.

Bastien

Sources: 1, 2, 3