How to: Be a Legal Alien

The German bureaucracy likes to keep an eye on you. And it might be something in it for you as well.

German law demands that you register with the authorities, which is called Anmeldung, if you’re planning to stay in the country for a longer period (more than three months).

You should register within two weeks of your arrival in Berlin. If you don’t comply with these rules you might get slapped with a fine.

What’s in for you then? Aside from not having to pay a fine, you’ll get a piece of paper called Anmeldebestätigung from the registration office. Without this paper, which confirms your address in Germany, you’ll have a hard time applying for gym membership, opening a bank account, or renting a car at Robben & Wientjes.

Where you register depends on where in Berlin you live (although you should be fine picking the one closest to where you work or go to school as well). Here’s a list of registration offices throughout the city. You should be aware that there’s often a lot of people at these offices, so be prepared to spend two hours or more waiting for your turn. If you don’t speak a word of German it might be a good idea to bring a German speaking friend with you. While some of the clerks do speak English, it’s not to be taken for granted.

And don’t forget your passport.