Need expat info for Germany?

Connect with fellow expats in Germany
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Germany guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Germany

Residency in Germany

Alas, taking up residency in Germany can be a tricky topic that involves a fair bit of paperwork. The InterNations expat guide is here to help: We’ll introduce the most common types of German residence permits and explain how to register with local authorities upon arrival.
If you have lived in Germany for over five years, you may apply for an unlimited “Niederlassungserlaubnis”.

Registering with the Local Authorities

Once you move to Germany, you need to register with the local authorities (polizeiliche Anmeldung). If you want to apply for a residence permit from within Germany, you need to take care of this first. However, the local registration procedure is also mandatory if you have already applied for a German visa from abroad.

All residents, whether they are German citizens, EU nationals, or third-country nationals, have to report their residence to the local authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt). Every change of address must be reported within one week of moving to a new residence or within two months of living at a hotel or a friend’s place. When moving to another town, you need to register once again at your new location.

In many cities, you can register at a special municipal office (KVR, Bürgerbüro, Stadtbüro, Bürgerservice, Meldestelle, etc.). There you receive a registration card – a paper slip with your address and the date of your move. This is not a substitute for a residence permit. It is merely an official document that shows where you are currently living. However, it’s useful for many things that require a proof of address, such as opening a bank account or getting a phone landline.

For your local registration, you need the following documents:

  • a simple registration form, which you can get at the town hall or download from their official website
  • a valid passport
  • a copy of your contract for renting an apartment in Germany, or a written statement from whoever is providing your accommodation.

A suspicious landlord might ask you for a residence permit before handing out a rental agreement, if he or she is afraid that you aren’t entitled to reside in Germany long-term. In this case, you can register with the temporary address of your first residence (e.g. a hotel, a serviced apartment, a friend’s home). Once you have obtained the official residence permit, a change of address requires only minimal effort.

There can be a small fee for registering with the local authorities, usually less than EUR 10. In many cities, it’s even free of charge.

The Aliens Registration Office

Regardless of whether or not they have already obtained a visa before your arrival in Germany, non-EEA nationals still have to go to the local Aliens Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) in order to get a regular residence and/or work permit, if applicable. If you do not need a visa to enter Germany, then you have three months to apply for a residence permit at the Aliens Registration Office.

To confirm your residency in Germany as a foreign national, the following documents may be required:

  • your registration card from the municipal authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt)
  • a valid passport
  • recent biometrical passport photographs
  • for employees / job-seekers: employment contract
  • for students: an official confirmation of student enrollment at a local university
  • for pensioners: proof of retirement benefits
  • evidence of financial support, e.g. student grant, letter from employer, payslip, recent bank statement…
  • proof of health insurance plan
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate

These requirements may vary according to your country of origin and the reason for your stay in Germany. If you are not sure which documents to bring with you, call or email your local Aliens Registration Office. The fees can also differ from city to city and from case to case. For example, in Munich it costs about EUR 100 to obtain a residence permit for one year.

Last but not least, check with your nearest embassy or consulate if you need to register there as well. This is completely independent from any registration with the German authorities and depends on your country of origin’s own regulations.


Got something to add?

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, if you spot any inaccurate info, don’t hesitate to contact us.