*This post was written over a year ago. Things are now much different in terms of requirements and waiting times.
As such take this as my experience not a guide on getting registered.
As of posting the wait for an appointment in the whole of Berlin is 2 months.*
The Anmeldung, the piece of paper than can open a few doors on the bureaucracy corridor.
So what is it? It’s a “registration” of where you live, this document although simple in form is an important foundation to getting things done in an organised fashion.
The Anmeldungbescheinigung or registration certificate that you receive will allow you to open a bank account, open a contract account (mobile phone, internet etc), obtain a tax number for employment amongst many other things.
It is also compulsory to register within 2 weeks of arriving in Berlin (often around a week in other parts of Germany) if you plan on spending more than 2 months in this fine city…..technically.
There are plenty of people who simply haven’t registered or have registered after the two week period, this may work for some having the status of I suppose a tourist but for those who wish to settle I’d recommend following the rules, like a good German in training.
The Process. (rather my process)
I have the benefit of having a German friend the benefits of which extend far from her dry humour, hatred of waiting and love of bio produce. My German is by no means fluent and you’ll come across many big and scary words that only Germany could engineer to be so complicated yet functional, almost beautiful.
If you have a German buddy bring them along for the ride as your translator it will make things easier for you and the Berlin official. There are paid services online that will assist you in registering in English should you require it.
Be prepared! As an EU citizen I needed the following;
My good friend who lives in the property that I plan to be registered at. Usually a letter will suffice or if you rent your own apartment bring the agreement with you. If you bring a buddy they will need their passport or ID or at least mine did.
Patience, a lot of patience.
You will need to register at an office called a Bürgeramt in Berlin and many large cities. You can find details for these here. You have two options in getting everything in order at the Bürgeramt.
Turn up, take a ticket, wait, get DVT from sitting on a stiff plastic chair for hours and play it cool when after two hours your number is displayed and the room number to which you’ve been summoned.
Advice: Get there early! Yes breakfast is sacred in Germany but skip it if needed, even go before opening and wait pretend you’re in the queue for the latest iGadget.
We visited Tegel Bürgeramt about half an hour after opening and all the tickets for that day had been issued, same story for the nearest Bürgeramt from Tegel too.
If the Deli method of taking a ticket sounds uncivilised then you’ll need an appointment (Termin). You can book an appointment for Berlin on the government website click on “Termin Berlinweit Suchen”to search for available appointments throughout Berlin. Appointments seem to get booked out quickly, give yourself 1-2 weeks.
Appointment booked or ticket in hand you’re ready! The folks at the Bürgeramt will take your details and those of you residence and within 10 mins a rather bland Anmeldungbescheinigung will be yours.
Sure it wasn’t fun but you’ve followed procedures, done things correctly. This was the first tangible, official government stamped piece of paper that I’d received. It feels good doesn’t it? Much like that first £/€/$ your business makes, it represents the start of something exciting, slightly daunting but most of all hungry. After all you’ve gotten up early dare I say lost sleep over excitement, waiting outside the Bürgeramt but most of all you’ve missed breakfast.
Now you can strut home, drive black on BVG all the way home and make some toast out of stodgy square processed bread which German folk call toast and make yourself a nice warm cup of tea, but please you’re living in Germany now, don’t add milk.