How to register your address in Germany, and get your Anmeldung
Learn how to take care of Germany’s most notorious piece of bureaucracy, and prepare your documents in advance.
4 min read
One of the first German words you’ll learn when you move to Germany is “Anmeldung.” Sure, you’ll learn a few of the basic conversational terms like danke, bitte and Entschuldigung, but we guarantee you’ll learn this one soon enough. Why? Because when you move to Germany, you have to do more than just find a place to live and find a nice local bar to celebrate.
You’ll have to register your address within 14 days of moving through a process known as Anmeldung, and receive your certificate of registration, otherwise known as an Anmeldebestätigung or Meldebescheinigung. This is one of the essential pieces of paperwork, and you’ll need it alongside health insurance, university registration (if you’re studying!) a residence permit and anything else that requires proof of residence. The German bureaucracy monster is pretty scary, but that's no reason to panic. With a few simple tips you are on the safe side, as well as with our moving calculator.
German bureaucracy’s catch-22
You may be thinking—back up a little bit, how do you even find a place to live and get a rental contract? Well, that’s the classic catch-22 of the Anmeldung. You need a rental contract to register your address, but you need a certificate of registration to get a rental contract. Some say it’s just as easy as putting your name and signature on a friend’s existing contract, or taking a signed sublease contract from a temporary accommodation. Whether or not you actually live there at the time is a separate question.
Your initial exposure to the famous German bureaucratic machine can be stressful, but you can easily avoid the angst if you follow some simple advice. First, you need to book an appointment. Look up your city’s Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt registration office online, and make your reservation long in advance, because you might not be able to get an appointment for weeks. If there are no appointments available, try refreshing the page early in the morning and throughout the day, because people frequently cancel their appointments. You can go to any location in your city, even if it’s not in your neighborhood.
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What to do to prepare
To register your German address, you’ll need the following documents:
- Valid passport or national ID
- Rental agreement from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung), usually a signed rental contract
- Registration form, either called Meldeschein or Anmeldung. These are only available in German, so fill this out beforehand.
That’s another thing to keep in mind. Anmeldung isn’t just for foreigners moving to the country, so the whole process is conducted in German. You may be lucky and get an appointment with an English speaker, but there are no guarantees. We recommend bringing a German-speaking friend with you, or sending a German speaker on your behalf. That person just needs a signed letter from you giving your consent, otherwise known as a Power of Attorney, or Vollmacht in German, in addition to the documents listed above.
One of the less familiar items on your form will be a line item about your religious affiliation. Leave it blank if you don’t want to pay the church tax, which is around 8–9% of your income tax depending on your region. The entire process only takes a few minutes, and you’ll receive your stamped certificate on the spot. Remember to put your name on your new mailbox when you get home because you’ll definitely receive mail at your registered address, and this will generally be returned to the sender if your name isn’t there. Don’t worry too much if you’re unable to register within 14 days, but do it as soon as you’re able.
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Other things to keep in mind
When you move to a new flat in the future, you have to formally change your address the same way you originally registered the old one. When you move away from the country, you’ll have to unregister completely, otherwise known as Abmeldung. This is useful if you need to cancel any long-term 24-month contracts like your phone or internet plans. The same goes for your Rundfunkbeitrag, the national TV and radio tax.
The whole address registration and deregistration cycle may feel like a nuisance, but you learn to adapt quickly, and it’s a worthwhile exercise in logistical responsibility. Figuring out the Anmeldung is one big step towards getting used to German bureaucracy and settling into your new life here.
If you found this helpful, check out our other practical how-to guides for expats here. Besides the Anmeldung, opening a bank account is another hassle, but there are ways to do this in Germany easily.
Moving to Germany means navigating a lot of bureaucratic red tape, but opening a bank account doesn’t have to be so complicated. With N26, you can open a German bank account in minutes, right from your smartphone. All you need is a German address—no Anmeldung necessary. You’ll get a local German IBAN, which means no worrying about inconvenient T&C’s that sometimes come with foreign IBANs. There are no hidden fees and you’ll always have access to English-speaking customer service, so the only thing left to worry about is settling in to your new home.
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