Moving to Berlin to start a new job is an exciting and daunting prospect. Exciting because it’s a great city with lots of culture, bars and cool shops. Daunting because there are lots of administrative procedures to go through. And if you don’t speak the language then ‘daunting’ just isn’t strong enough. Terrifying seems about right.
But have no fear! I recently moved to Berlin and went through the same process. Here are several posts to guide you through the registration process and help you obtain a tax and social security number and apply for a bank account.
As well as advising you on how to do all of this, I’ll include the relevant German words you’ll come across.
Important note: this advice is based on my own experience – an EU citizen moving to Germany to start work. To get onto the payroll I needed a tax number, a social security number and a bank account. I don’t think any of the procedures are different for non-EU citizens but haven’t checked this out. Check with your embassy if your’re not sure.
Step one: Residence registration (Anmeldebestätigung)
Before I could obtain any of the above, I needed to receive an Anmeldebestätigung. This is a piece of paper you receive from the Berlin local authorities to say that you have an official address in the city. You get it from one of the many ‘Bezirksamt’ offices, or local authority offices. Here is a step by step process to obtaining this piece of paper and the documentation you’re going to need to take with you.
The documentation you’ll need:
- your passport
- a copy of your rental contract (Mietvertrag) to prove you have an official address
- if you don’t have a rental contract yet and are staying with friends, then get them to write a letter to say you are staying with them. This is called a Bestätigung, in other words a written confirmation. Get them to include your full name as it appears in your passport and your passport number for good measure. And the date you ‘moved in’ to their flat. If you’re renting a short term apartment then either ask the landlord if they can write a Bestätigung or if you have any friends or colleagues in Berlin ask if they wouldn’t mind writing a Bestätigung to say you are staying at their address. Bear in mind that all the official documentation you’ll receive will go to this address. Once you move into your permanent home you can amend your official address by registering again…
- a completed copy of the Anmeldung form. This can be downloaded here: http://www.berlin.de/formularserver/formular.php?52009. It’s in German, so here’s a link to an older version of the form in English and German: http://www.berlinfo.com/images/anmeld.gif. Most of the form is the same as the one in the first link but I explain how to fill in the new bits below. I also give you some of the German words you might need to enter in some of the sections.
How to fill in the Anmeldung form
Follow the English translation except for these sections:
- 12) Religion – if you are Catholic or Protestant and enter that here you will end up paying a ‘Religion Tax’ – 8% of your gross salary. If you don’t want to pay this then put a dash through this section.
- 13) Familienstand (Marital status): put ‘ledig’ if you are single or ‘verheiratet’ if you’re married.
- 15) leave blank
- 16) tick ‘nein’
- 17) this relates to displaced persons from WWII do leave this blank unless you’re one of these
- You don’t need to fill in the second page because the information on page one will be entered into the system by the official at the town hall and automatically appear on page two. This will be printed out and stamped and will be your actual Anmeldebestätigung.
Where to go to hand in the form
Once you’ve got all of the above and have filled in your form take it along to your nearest Bezirksamt, or local authority office. It doesn’t matter which you go to. A list of them can be found here: http://www.berlin.de/verwaltungsfuehrer/dienstleistung/120686/.
Important note: avoid the queues by making an appointment online. I didn’t do this because there were no appointments left when I wanted to go. But here’s how to check availability and make an appointment:
- Go to the link above and click on the ‘Termin buchen’ link next to the name of the Bezirksamt you want to go to – in our case it was Burgeramt Rathaus Mitte.
- Available dates are those underlined in blue.
- On the next page select an available slot, a ‘freier Termin’
- On the next page enter your full name where it says Name (Pflichtangabe) and enter your email address to receive an email confirmation
- Tick ‘Ich bin einverstanden’ to agree to the appointment and click on ‘Termin eintragen’ to book it
- Check the information on the pop up box and if it’s ok click ‘Ok’
- On the next page go to the bottom and click on ‘Klicken Sie heir, um Ihre Termindaten auszudrucken’ to print out your appointment slip to take with you
- If you want to cancel or amend your appointment click on ‘Termin absagen’ (to cancel) or ‘Termin andern’ (to amend)
If you’ve made an appointment, just go along 10 minutes before your slot and go to the reception to show your printed appointment slip. I don’t actually know what happens next because I didn’t have a booked appointment but I imagine it’s pretty similar to when you turn up without an appointment and take a ticket. Your number will appear on the screen in the waiting room. Next to your number there will be another number which is the desk you need to go to.
The only day you can register at Rathaus Mitte without a booked appointment is Monday.
If you haven’t made an appointment then here’s what I did at Rathaus Mitte:
- If you want to get it over with as soon as possible then turn up on Monday at about 7.30am. It opens at 8am and this is the time I went, but by that time there were already 89 people in the queue so go at 7.30 and it should be quieter…
- Once you enter the building turn to the left and you’ll see a ticket machine on the wall next to the waiting room. Take a ticket. There are screens inside the waiting room and your number will appear on it next to the desk you’re supposed to go to. I got there at 8am and had to wait 2 hours 15 minutes…There’s a cafe but take a book and prepare for a wait.
- When your ticket comes up, head along to your desk number with your documentation. They’ll want to know what you are there for so say ‘Ich würde gern anmelden bitte’ (I’d like to register please) and hand over your form, passport and letter/rental contract. If all goes well, the official will enter your details into the system, ask you to sign (Unterschrift = signature, unterschreiben = to sign) at the bottom of the first page and check the Anmeldebestätigung form they print out and stamp. It should take about 10 minutes.
And that’s it!
Keep hold of the Anmeldebestätigung because you’re going to need that for everything that follows: going to the tax office for a tax number, going to the social security office for a social security number and getting a bank account. Next blog post: step two – how to get a social security number.