Guide: Residence Registration in Germany, aka the Anmeldung
Last updated: 02 April 2020 / by Sam Williams
A note about COVID-19: This guide is based on the general rules, but there may be some temporary restrictions in place due to the presence of the COVID-19 virus. We are keeping the situation under close review and will update our guidance as necessary.
When you move to another country, there is far more to organize than simply finding a place to live. Rules and regulations in every country are different, and you may even encounter concepts that do not exist in your home nation.
Anmeldung (registering your residence) is an excellent example of this, but if you’re planning on staying for longer than three months in Germany, it’s something that you need to do.
The idea of registering your residence may sound complicated, but the process is not as difficult as you might think. Here is a comprehensive guide to Anmeldung appointments and how to register in Germany.
Residence registration: the basics
In Germany, every resident needs to be registered at their address if they will be staying in the country for longer than three months. This is a legal requirement and failure to comply could earn a penalty fine of up to €1000.
The process of registration must be completed each time you move, and de-registration is required if you leave the country.
Most of the administrative tasks that you need to carry out to set up your new life in Germany will require you to be registered. Whether it is organizing your utilities, finding a job, paying your taxes or opening a bank account, you’ll need to be registered.
Compulsory registration, Meldepflicht, applies equally whether you are a German citizen or moving to Germany from another country.
What is Anmeldung and why do I need it?
The process of registering is known as Anmeldung and comes from the German “an/melden“, which means to register. When you have registered, you will be given a formal certificate of registration known as a Meldebescheinigung.
Strictly speaking, you only have 14 days to complete the process of registering after moving, but this can be difficult because of the time it takes to get an appointment.
If you are going to be staying in Germany for less than three months and will not be working, you may be able to spend your time as a tourist and escape the need for registration. Of course, that means you will not be able to work, open a bank account or access other facilities available to long-term residents.
You will need a registration certificate to carry out many of the functions of daily life, such as getting a job, paying taxes, securing a rental lease and opening a bank account. It is, therefore, not just a legal requirement; it is essential for being able to lead your life.
The Anmeldung is the appointment you will need to attend to receive your registration certificate. German society is very structured, and the registration requirements are an excellent example of this.
How to make Anmeldung
Every state within Germany has its precise procedure for completing registration. As we mentioned above, you will need to re-register every time you move. There is no central registration for the whole of Germany, instead, it’s dealt with on a local level.
All the registrations (and de-registrations) are dealt with by the Bürgeramt in your city. If you live in a large city, you may find there are several Bürgeramt spread throughout the area. Different states manage the process in different ways, but the one thing they all have in common is that you will need to provide documentation to register successfully.
Each of the states has its online site for the Bürgeramt, and for the vast majority, it is now possible to book an appointment online. In some cities, such as Hamburg, you can specify the Bürgeramt you want for your registration appointment while other cities allocate you an office, without any option to choose.
Regardless of which area you are trying to register in, you will notice that there are very significant waiting times for an appointment. These typically far exceed the required two-week notification period, so if you can book in advance, it is an excellent idea. It is not uncommon to be waiting for at least two months for an appointment.
If you do not want to book online, it is usually possible to telephone the Bürgeramt to make an appointment. The telephone numbers for each of the Bürgeramt can be found on the online booking site.
When you finally get round to having your registration appointment, the whole process will only take 15-20 minutes. You will need to carry certain documentation to prove your identity and address. If the provided documents meet the requirements, they will issue the certificate.
How to Fill in the Anmeldung Form
As the Anmeldung einer Wohnung (to give it the full title) is intended for German residents who will be living in the country, it is perhaps not a complete surprise that it is conducted in German.
The form is in German and the interview will probably be conducted in German too. You may be lucky and get a clerk who speaks English, but you should not assume that will be the case. You can take a companion with you to the appointment and if you do not speak German, this is advisable.
You do not need to have advanced German to be able to understand the form, as it is relatively straightforward. You can find a sample of the Anmeldung form in English here which walks you through each of the required answers. If you’re still struggling, this website will pre-populate the form based on your answers and email it to you to print off.
The standard process is for the official at the Bürgeramt to complete the form based on the answers you provide during the interview. If you are registering for anyone who will not be present for the interview, the form will need to be completed in advance.
One element of the form and questionnaire worth drawing attention to is the section on religion. Many people may describe themselves as a specific religion, even though they do not attend church.
In Germany, if you declare yourself as Jewish, Catholic or Protestant, you will be expected to pay church tax, which is approximately 8-9% of your income. You can choose not to pay this tax, but you will not be able to get married in a German church, have Holy Communion or go to confession.
The documents required for the Anmeldung will vary slightly from one Bürgeramt to another, so it is essential to check with the office you have the appointment with. You can usually find details of the documentation required to complete the registration on the Bürgeramt website.
As a very general rule of thumb, you can expect to be asked to provide the following:
- A valid passport or national ID card (a driving license is not acceptable)
- A visa, if needed
- Your wohnungsgeberbestätigung (proof of residence certificate) – see more below
- Marriage certificate, where applicable
- Completed registration form (only if someone is going on your behalf otherwise the official will complete it during the Anmeldung)
A wohnungsgeberbestätigung is a document that should be supplied to you by your landlord and confirms your residence. A copy of your rental contract will not suffice for the purposes of your Anmeldung, you must get proof of residence from your landlord.
Historically there have been some difficulties with this process, as landlords often wanted to see your Anmeldung registration before offering a rental contract – and you could not get an Anmeldung without confirmation of a rental agreement, creating a vicious circle!
Things have improved somewhat in recent years as in 2015 the federal government passed a law, compelling landlord to co-operate. If you ask your landlord for a wohnungsgeberbestätigung, you should not encounter any problems. If they are not willing to provide you with one, you might want to think carefully about whether it’s the right place to live.
How to get an appointment at Bürgeramt quickly
As we have established, getting an appointment at the local Bürgeramt can take a significant amount of time, and this may be a problem. To complete your registration, an Anmeldung appointment is necessary; it is not possible to simply turn up at the office and wait. This used to be the case in some places, but the process has changed. It is very unlikely that you will find any Bürgeramt which still offers the option of attending without an appointment.
However, waiting a couple of months for an appointment is less than ideal if you need to get your residency registered, and leaves you vulnerable to being fined. You also will not be able to organize essentials while you are waiting, such as finding work or opening a bank account.
The good news is that it is sometimes possible to get an appointment much more quickly – and possibly even on the same day.
There is no simple trick to finding an early appointment, but if you’re patient and persistent, there is a very good chance you’ll be lucky.
The new tranche of appointments for bürgerämter is usually released on a Monday. If you are quick, you might be able to grab a slot that is opened. Be prepared to travel to any office in your city (where is that is offered) and be flexible about the time. If you want a quick Anmeldung appointment, you cannot afford to be fussy!
Aside from the bulk release of appointments on a Monday, new slots are often made available throughout the day. If you keep refreshing a page, you will find that randomly an opening will appear which you can book straight away.
This can be time-consuming to do manually, so some plugins tell you when a page changes. There are many different ones available, but VisualPing works well for Chrome and Check4Change works for Firefox. (Use these extensions on your own).
You could also try ringing the Bürgeramt; often, they have appointment slots that they have not released online. Expect the line to be busy as everyone who needs the Bürgeramt, not just for an Anmeldung, will be calling the same number.
Finally, if you are ready to pay for the privilege, some services offer an Anmeldung package. These include a German-speaking person who will accompany you to the appointment and much shorter waiting time. If you do not speak the language, this can be an excellent option to help you to navigate the red tape of German bureaucracy.
Remember: an Anmeldung appointment is just for that purpose alone. You can’t amalgamate different reasons to visit the Bürgeramt into one single visit; separate appointments are necessary for arranging other documentation, such as an international driving permit.
Contact details for Bürgeramt in Germany
If you want to book your appointment, you will need to find your local Bürgeramt. Here is a list of 15 of the largest cities in Germany and the contact details for the registration office in each.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Berlin
T: (030) 115
There are approximately 50 different Bürgeramt located around Berlin. You can register at any of the Bürgeramt; you don’t have to use the one that’s nearest to you.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Hamburg
T: (040) 115
There are 15 Bürgeramt in Hamburg; the above website has an Authorities Finder to get the contact details for the one in your area.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Münich
T: 089 233-96000
In Münich, the Bürgeramt is known as the Bürgerbüro. There are a number of locations across the city that can be downloaded from the website; choose the one which is the most convenient for you.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Cologne
T: 0221 or 115
Cologne has nine Bürgeramt available for residents to complete their Anmeldung.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Frankfurt
T: +49 69 115
There are 11 locations around the city and it’s possible to register your Frankfurt residency at any of these.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Stuttgart
T: +49 711 216-93720
There are 22 Bürgeramt around Stuttgart and residents can make an appointment at any of these offices to complete their Anmeldung.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Düsseldorf
T: 0211 8991
The online form directs everything through a single office, but you can make an appointment at any of the Düsseldorf citizen offices to complete your Anmeldung.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Dortmund
T: 0231 / 50-29834
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Any individuals who are not German or EU nationals must use the Citizens’ Services International to register their residency.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Essen
T: 0201 88-33222.
Nationals from outside the EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein must register with the Aliens Authority in Essen before completing Anmeldung.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Leipzig
T: (0341) 123-0
Leipzig has 15 different Bürgeramt locations throughout the city offering registration services.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Bremen
T: (0421) 115
There are four main Bürgeramt throughout Bremen; the online process will allocate an office for your appointment.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Dresden
There are 12 available Bürgeramt available in Dresden.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Hanover
T: +49 511 168-32000
There are eight citizen’s offices located within Hanover.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Nuremberg
T: 09 11/2 31-0
In Nuremberg, the Bürgeramt are organized into areas: the north, south and east.
City Registration Office (Bürgeramt Anmeldung) Duisberg
T: 0203 94000
Nationals from outside the EU and classed as third-country citizens must contact the immigration office first.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are new to the process of Anmeldung, you may still have some questions. Here are some of the most common queries and answers.
Do I need to be in permanent accommodation to complete the Anmeldung?
No. Every resident in Germany must register their address, and it is okay if the accommodation is only temporary.
Can I use an Air BnB or a hotel as my address?
Although you can use temporary accommodation for your Anmeldung, you cannot normally register at an Air BnB or hotel. The only exception is if your stay is longer than 6 months. If this is the case, the proprietor becomes obliged to provide you with a wohnungsgeberbestätigung and permit registration.
What happens if I cannot get a Bürgeramt appointment within the required two-week period?
Although strictly you only have two weeks to register, if the waiting times are much longer, you should not receive a fine if you can prove you were trying to make an appointment within the allotted time. You should continue to try to get a quicker appointment at the Bürgeramt.
I am staying less than three months - do I need an Anmeldung?
If you are planning on working or studying within the three-month period, you will need to register.
Can I start work before my Anmeldung takes place?
You may be able to start work, but you will have to pay higher taxes until you have your registration details.
I am subletting from a friend - does the main landlord need to sign the wohnungsgeberbestätigung?
Although subletting with the landlord’s permission is fine, you still need the landlord’s written confirmation for the Anmeldung. The wohnungsgeberbestätigung must always be signed by the landlord, even if you are sharing a room with another tenant.
Do I need to attend the Bürgeramt for my Anmeldung or can someone go in my place?
If you are not happy going alone, you can either choose to be accompanied or someone can go in your place. Providing they have your passport and the other required documents; it makes no difference if you don’t attend in person. Some cities will require a Power of Attorney if you choose to send someone in your place, and they are not a member of your immediate family.
How much does Anmeldung cost?
There is no fee for completing the Anmeldung.
Is Church Tax compulsory?
No. You can avoid church tax by not placing yourself in any of the applicable religious groups when you complete the Anmeldung. Just be aware that although you can still go to church, you will not be able to access certain services such as a wedding.
Do children have to register their residency?
Parents are responsible for registering their children at the residence. This can be done during a single Anmeldung appointment. If both parents will not be living at the same address with the children, it is customary for the Bürgeramt to request written authorization from the non-resident parent.
Easy but essential registration
The Anmeldung is not as daunting as it may first seem and once you’ve gone through the process, you’ll feel much more comfortable about the idea the next time you move.
It’s considered a vital way to collect German data, and is an administrative task that you will need to tackle without any delay. Our guide provides all the information you need to approach Anmeldung with complete confidence right from the start.