‚Anmelden‘: How to officially register in Germany
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If you recently moved to Germany to start a new job, you may have heard whisperings of the word anmelden. If this is an alien concept to you, fear not – we have compiled a step by step guide to the ‚anmelden‘ process in Germany.

What exactly is anmelden and why do I need to register?

Anmelden means ‚to register‚ and in this context it is process whereby you inform the authorities of your arrival in Germany and provide them with the address of your new apartment or house.

If you have moved to Germany from a different country you will need to complete this process before setting up a German bank account.

The first thing to remember is that from the day you arrive in Germany and move into your apartment, you have 14 days to register with your local Bürgeramt (town hall).

While it does not cost anything to register, if you do not complete the process within the first two weeks you will be subject to a fine of up to €500 (although this is rare in practice). If you do not register at all, you will not be able to open a bank or library account. It is best to get the Anmeldung out of the way as soon as possible.

If you are moving to Germany for a period of less than two months (e.g for a short internship) you may not need to register. It is best to ask your employer.

Where can I register?

In Berlin, for example, there are over forty Bürgerämter (town halls). Each office corresponds to a particular Bezirk and there is usually more than one Burgeramt in each Bezirk (district).

To find the one closest to your new residence simply consult this map.

Registration – Appointment vs. Walk-in appointment

Once you have located your nearest Bürgeramt, you will be able to consult their opening hours.

There are two options for registering in Germany; firstly, you can make an appointment online or secondly, you can go directly to the office on certain days. There are pros and cons to both options.

Appointment

If you make an appointment it is important to remember that the current wait time in Berlin is approximately 4-6 weeks. If you will not be commencing work for a month or two, this option is probably best as it removes the long queue time.

However, if you have already started a new job and you have not previously lived in Germany you will need a Steueridentifikationsnummer (tax identification number).

You will need to provide your employer with this number as soon as possible or your salary will be taxed at the highest rate.

You will only receive this number by post up to four weeks after registering, so in some cases it is better to go to the office and wait to speak to someone.

Walk in appointment

If you choose to go directly to the Bürgeramt, be aware that the wait times are worse than queuing to get into nightclubs like Berghain.

This writer recently waited for over four hours at the Prenzlauer Berg Bürgeramt. The office officially opens at 8 am, so 7.45 am seemed like a reasonable time to beat the queues. The early bird gets the worm, right? Wrong.

The Bürgeramt had not even opened properly and I was allocated ticket stub number one hundred and forty-five. Another ninty people joined the queue behind me before tickets stopped being allocated.

What followed was a tiresome four hours of waiting only to have a five minute conversation in Platz 11. However, I was finally given a confirmation and ta-dah! I had registered in Berlin.

What should I bring to the Burgeramt?

When registering, you need to bring your passport (Ausweis) and rent agreement (Meitvertrag).

If you have moved Germany with your family, you can all register together. Make sure that every person registering has identification, even the kids (don’t forget the Kinderausweis).

There are no forms to be filled out prior to your meeting in the Burgeramt and an antendee will fill out an application on your behalf on a computer. There is no english translation of the form but you can view a German version before you go in, here. You will be asked to sign and date a copy of this form.

Beware of the church tax

During the registration process, you’ll also be asked to confirm your marital status and religion. If you don’t want to have to pay a monthly church tax, make sure to say you do not belong to any religion.

If you come from a predominantly Catholic country, for example, the official may ask if you are baptised. If so, you will be forced to prove that you have officially left the church to avoid paying church tax.

What do I get when I register?

Once all the relevant information has been provided you will receive a written confirmation (Anmeldungbescheinigung). Keep this document safe, you will need to provide it as proof of address when applying to set up other accounts in Germany.

If after a few months you move to a different apartment or to a different Bundesland you will need to re register with your new address at your new local Burgeramt within two weeks.

Featured image: Flag of Germany – Button on Black Computer Keyboard. via Shutterstock. Copyright: Tashatuvango

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