How does the city registration in Germany work?

If you want to study, work or live in Germany in general, you have to register yourself in the city you are living in. By that, the German government wants to ascertain the identity of all German residents and their housing. Therefore, one of the first steps after your arrival in Germany is to go to the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or to the citizen service center (Bürgeramt) in your city. Both serve the same purpose: to allow people who want to stay in Germany to register themselves. Below everything is explained that you will need to know about registration.

City registration in Germany must-knows:

The registration in Germany is mandatory for everyone.

The nationality of the citizen does not matter when it comes to registering, which means anyone who wants to stay longer than 3 months in Germany must declare if they are moving in or out of an apartment in any city. If you move into a different accommodation in the same city you are still required to register/re-register. All Germans, EU citizens and non-EU citizens must comply. Regardless of whether you are studying, working or just doing an internship, everyone has the same duty.

How much time do I have for the registration in Germany?

Most German cities have a registration period of one week. There are certain exceptions; for example, Berlin allows its residents to register within two weeks. However, we highly recommend you to register within one week.

What happens if I don’t register myself?

If you don’t register yourself, you commit an administrative offence. This means if you did not register yourself in time or in general; there is the risk that you may have to pay a fine up to 1000 €.

What documents do I need for the registration?

The following documents are required at the registration office or at the citizen service center in your city:

  • Passport or your personal ID
  • Rental contract/tenancy agreement of your apartment or a confirmation from your landlord
  • If applicable: Visa

Registration in Germany, Step-by-Step

If I am a citizen from an EU member state:

  • Go to the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or to the citizen service center (Bürgeramt) of the city you are going to stay and live in for the next months
  • If you can’t find the office’s address and opening hours, ask your university’s international affairs office or type in „Buergeramt/Buergerservice“ or „Einwohnermeldeamt“ + [the name of your city] in Google and then normally the closest location and its corresponding information will be displayed
  • Take with you the above mentioned documents (passport/personal ID, rental contract/tenancy agreement/confirmation of landlord, visa)
  • Tell the receptionist that you would like to complete your registration (Anmeldung)
  • He or she will tell you what to do. Usually you will have to draw a number and wait until your number is called
  • Consequently you will meet a separate advisor who will take care of your registration
  • After a short time of processing you will receive your confirmation of registration and your residence permit with which you are an official resident of Germany

If I am a citizen from a non-EU member state:

  • Go to the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or to the citizen service center (Bürgeramt) of the city you are going to stay and live in for the next months
  • If you can’t find the office’s address and opening hours, ask your university’s international affairs office or type in “Buergeramt/Buergerservice” or “Einwohnermeldeamt” + [the name of your city] in Google and then normally the closest location and its corresponding information will be displayed
  • Take with you the above mentioned documents (passport/personal ID, rental contract/tenancy agreement/confirmation of landlord, visa)
  • Tell the receptionist that you would like to complete your registration (Anmeldung)
  • He or she will tell you what to do. Usually you will have to draw a number and wait until your number is called
  • Consequently you will meet a separate advisor who will take care of your registration
  • After a short time of processing you will receive (only) your confirmation of registration
  • The next step is to apply for permission to reside in Germany at the alien registration office (Auslaenderbehoerde) in your city. To find it, just Google “Auslaenderbehoerde” + [name of your city]
  • Required documents for residence permit
    1. Confirmation of registration from your local registration office or citizen service center
    2. Confirmation of health insurance coverage
    3. Certificate of enrollment from your German university
    4. Proof of financial resources (if applicable)
    5. Passport (and visa, if if applicable)
    6. Health certificate (if necessary)
    7. Residence permit fee (For first time applicants: 110 €; for extension: 80 €)
    8. Rental contract/tenancy agreement/confirmation of landlord (if applicable)
    9. Biometric passport photos (if necessary)
  • You won’t get your residence permit immediately. It can take four to six weeks until the advisor of the registration contacts you to pick it up. It is a chip card that contains all your personal data and is valid for at least one year.

More official information about the registration and residence permit can be found here.