Relax Berlin! You Can Still get an Anmeldung

Rathaus Pankow, Berlin. Photo: Erin Porter

Rathaus Pankow, Berlin. Photo: Erin Porter

Frequently I see panicked posts from other expats. They are frantically looking for an Anmeldung Termin (registration appointment).

HELP! I need an appointment for a burgeramt asap, please!

What is an Anmeldung?

The Anmeldung is a necessary – and usually pain-free – step to getting settled in Germany. It is required of everyone who lives in Germany, both citizens and foreign residents. This requires a stop at your friendly (just kidding – rarely are office workers in Germany friendly) Bürgeramt or Rathaus (note that in Munich this is done at the Kreisverwaltungsreferat or KVR).

So why all the panic?

Berlin’s Burgeramt are overloaded with requests. While the problem began sometime in 2015, it is still causing a lot of anxiety as the current calendar on doesn’t have an available appointment in sight. The rest of May, June, July and August all offer gloomy gray boxes of “ausgebucht” (booked up). In a classic example of German customer service and inefficient bureaucracy, the only advice is

In the given time, there are no appointments. Dates will be offered only with a certain lead time. Look over the options in the next few days.

Helpful! Thanks guys.

While this may seem like just a piece of paper, this registration is essential for everything from opening a bank account to getting a cell phone, let alone for applying for a visa. If you want to be paid, get an apartment or stay in the country – you need the Anmeldung. To add more pressure to the situation, you are legally obligated to register within 14 days of moving into your accommodation in Berlin (or just 7 days in other parts of Germany).

So should we all just freak out? What can be done about this mess of a situation?

My First-hand Experience Getting an Anmeldung in Berlin

For all those people fretting out there, let me assure you that the situation is not as dire as it seems. After securing a new apartment and moving in last fall, we finally registered this month. Just 200 days later than required.

And it was fine. The city has recognized the issue and has set-up many services to help you better secure an appointment and – judging on my experience – does not care when you register. As we already had a cell phone, bank account, Anmeldung for our last flat the delay didn’t cause us much of a headache. When we finally went in, we just had to go to the information desk, tell them what we needed, and were promptly given an appointment within the week. That took about 15 minutes, with the actual appointment (scheduled for 9:16am sharp!) only taking another 15 minutes of our time. A joy? No. Manageable? Yes.

Ways to get an Anmeldung appointment in Berlin

So, taking our time worked for us, but what about those of you who are just getting settled and need this important document right away? As I said, there are additional services that have been introduced to battle the backlog. And you can register at any office in the city so going to less busy neighborhoods may offer a respite. Here are your other options to get an appointment:

  • Online – While I noted above that appointments are elusive, they are not impossible to find. Be patient and stalk the website for cancellations. Watch social media for shout-outs when people give a head’s up that they are freeing a slot. I even heard from another mom that she had success e-mailing the office and letting them know that she had a newborn and would need a certain time.
  • Hotline – In Berlin, you can call (030) 90 24 99 0 to get an appointment.
  • Go in person – If you need a same-day appointment, this may be your best shot. Bring all your documents, go early (like 30 min before opening) and be prepared to wait.  

What do you need to apply for an Anmeldung?

  • Registration Form: This is usually available online so you can fill it out beforehand, or it will be available at the Bürgeramt. It is only available in German and most office business is conducted in German. While you may be able to get by with limited language skills, you may also bring a translator or friend to ease the process.
  • Valid passport (non-EU citizens) or ID card (EU/EEA citizens)
  • Visa if required for entry into Germany
  • Rental agreement (Mietvertrag)
  • Form filled out by Owner (Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers): Since November 1st, 2015 there is a new requirement. The owner of the apartment must clarify use. I worried this might take some time, but our agent got this back to us on the same day by e-mail.

Also note that you are required to notify the Bürgeramt when you leave as well in a similar process called Abmelden.

Have experiences, stories or questions to share?

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