Address registration (Anmeldung) is the first step you need to take after moving to Berlin. The meaning of this step is registering as a resident of this wonderful city, which will provide you with access to state-services, such as education for your children and visa services, as well as will provide you with an appendix to your identity document, which is to be presented while setting up a bank account or getting a public library card.
This first and super important step is performed in a governmental office called "Bürgeramt" which is roughly parallel to city hall. There are different Bürgeramts (in German: Bürgerämter) in the different districts of Berlin. You are free to register in any one of those "branches" around the city, and not necessarily in the one closest to where you live.
What is it, actually?
The address registration document (Anmeldung) is your most important document in Berlin, apart from your passport. This document determines that you are, in fact, a resident of Berlin and contains basic personal information about you, which means: your name, your address and your date of birth. Officially, the document is a part of your identification document (passport or ID card), so that you are officially obligated to carry it with you. You will need it in different occasions in Berlin; for example, while applying for a residence permit in the immigration office, while opening a bank account (in most cases), in order to be registered as an employee, when registering to the public library and when renting a DVD in any video rental shop (some people still do that!). It is also important to mention that when registering in Bürgeramt, some duties are applied to you, such as paying TV tax. We will refer to those further down this article.
What do I need to do?
In principle you need to go to the Bürgeramt within two weeks after moving into your apartment and register as residents. However, since it is not easy to get appointments at Bürgeramt, you will probably not be fined if you will arrive a bit later than two weeks after moving into your apartment. If you're subletting, it is recommended you discuss the Anmeldung situation with the person you're signing the contract with before you sign it, in order to prevent misunderstandings and disapproval of the registration from the side of your landlord, which might cause difficulties in settling down in Berlin.
What do I need to bring with me?
The address registration process is bureaucratically simple. You need to bring your passport, a filled out form and a confirmation from the person who rents the apartment to you. You might have to show further documentation. For example, if you are married, you will be asked to present your marriage certificate, sometimes along with a certified translation into German. If you have children, you will be asked to show their passports and birth certificates, again, sometimes with a certified translation into German.
What do I get?
You will receive a page in which your address in Berlin, your name, your date of birth and an original stamp of the state of Berlin. Keep this document very safe. We recommend scanning the document and saving it on your cloud or any backup device. Additionally, you should carry a printed copy with you, along with your passport or European ID-Card.
And how much does it cost?
The address registration process (Anmeldung) is free of charge.
Do I need to make an appointment in advance?
We highly recommend booking an appointment in advance. Due the long waiting periods for appointments in Berlin, we always recommend trying to book an appointment before you arrive in Berlin.
You can, of course, also try to just drop in and try to get your Anmeldung at the same day. If you choose to do so, you might face a situation in which all waiting numbers for that day are already given.
The best way to book an appointment is by calling the Berlin-Hotline 115 (however service is usually provided in German). Here you can find a list of all the Bürgeramts in Berlin and the availability to make an appointment in each of them.
Should I be accompanied by a German speaker?
Most of the newcomers in Berlin deal with the registration by themselves even without speaking German, as it is a simple process which does not require much interaction with the case worker. It is recommended to take someone with you if there are certain emphases you want registered in the data pool, such as familial status issues, or if you don't feel confident to do it by yourself.
I'm registered. Now what?
Congratulations, you have now registered your address in Berlin! In the next few weeks, you will receive two letters via post: In the first letter you will find your tax identification number. You will recognize it as it has a black box in the upper righthand side, in which the number will appear. You can also recognize the words "steuerliche Identifikationsnummer". You will need your identification number when you start to work, and until then, you should keep it with your documents. In case you didn't receive the number via post within three weeks from your registration, you can go to any Bürgeramt in the city and ask for it. You should receive it free of charge and on the spot. The second letter you will get will contain information about the public broadcasting tax, as well as a request to register yourself in their system.
When is my address registration cancelled?
The address registration is not cancelled if the mailman can drop your official mail in your mailbox. This means that the registration is not automatically cancelled when you move to a new apartment, even if your lease expires. You are obliged to change the address in Bürgeramt after each time you move.
Please note that it also works the other way around: if the mailman will not find your mailbox, your address registration might get cancelled. In case that your name is not mentioned on the mailbox, try adding your last name to both the mailbox and doorbell at the front door of your house, or, if this is not possible, registering with someone by using the field "bei" in the application form for the address registration. If you used the "bei" field, the official mail will be posted to you, but the mailman will know in which mailbox the letter should go. In this case, your address will look, for example, like so:
c / o Hauptmieter
Pay attention: if your name does not appear on the mailbox, your full address will include the "bei" or "c/o" line. You will have to provide that detail whenever you give your address.