CONFIRMATION OF RESIDENCE, APPLICATION OF YOUR FINAL RESIDENCE TITLE, TAX ID, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, PUBLIC TV AND CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Your official recording of your whereabouts goes hand-in-hand with the issuance of your tax id, your social security id, your confirmation of your church membership, and the notification of public TV and radio. This happens automatically without you even noticing. As a result, you will not be forgotten when it comes to tax payment or the fee for TV.
A copy of your “Meldebescheinigung” - the paper issued within the registration appointment will also be needed for a couple of contracts, but most importantly for opening a bank account. Your children will also be assigned a tax ID, and that is then necessary to provide when applying for children allowance.
The procedure varies by state. The authority which will register you is in most cases called “Einwohnermeldeamt” or “Bürgeramt”. Some states call them “Kundenzentrum”. In Hamburg, you can go to any Kundenzentrum, in other cities you have to go to the one your district belongs to.
Some require a personal visit, others allow registration by a nominated person – in any case, it requires to go there in person.
Some request for appointments, some offer appointments and some require to sit and wait until it is your turn. A legal regulation states that you have to register latest a week after your move, however, often that is not even possible due to the appointment waiting list which can be 3-4 weeks and more. Some states then require de-registering when you move away, others rely on the information by the new town’s registration office.
When you live Germany, you need to de-register as towns outside Germany won’t inform your old city of residence.
Similarly, the required documents are slightly varying. There is always a registration form to be filled, and they are city-specific. The requested information also varies, and some states offer registration forms in a couple of other languages.
What you will definitely need is your passport.
Then, depending on the office and sometimes even on the officer you need to be prepared to show:
- A copy of your (signed) rental agreement
- A statement of your new landlord confirming you have moved into the apartment (the so-called "Wohnungsgeberbestätigung")
- A copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable
- A copy of your children’s birth certificates, if applicable
Since marriage certificate and birth certificates regularly will be in another language but German, you may need to present a translated version. And sometimes this needs to be notarized.
The landlord has to issue the WGB (that's the abbreviation for "Wohnungsgeberbestätigung"). You will receive a template wording for your landlord in case he does not know about his obligation yet. Some hotels or landlords of furnished apartments reject to issue a WGB. In such case, you/we shall send him this link: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bmg/__19.html This is the official stipulation of the law (§19 Bundesmeldegesetz). There is nothing mentioned with regards to a minimum rental period. He should also be aware of para (2). This deals with what you are to do if a landlord rejects too issue the WGB (which is basically that you have to tell the municipality).
If the landlord rejects to sign it, you can take the official booking confirmation. The municipality will then get back to the landlord and remind him of his obligation.
Before going all documents need to be available.
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We know the procedure, the best office to go to, sometimes even the niecest officer. We find out which documents you need to provide with the respective officer and whether they need translation or they don't.
RESIDENCE TITLE ("AUFENTHALTSTITEL")
If your residence permit is based upon a Bluecard or work visa, you would need to apply for the residence permit once in Germany. The initial period of your work permit (same for Bluecards) will be 90 days. Sometimes, when lead times in the Foreigner's Office of your destination city are longer, you will be given a 6-months visa. In order to get a permanent residence permit (to be more precise: a residence permit for the duration of your stay in Germany as requested under the visa application procedure) you will have to show up in person at your responsible office for foreign affairs, the so-called "Ausländerbehörde".
This office is usually also situated at the Bezirksamt or Bürgeramt where you have registered, and you may take a little tour to understand where exactly it is in the building. Most foreign affairs offices work on appointment basis and the lead time to get one lies between 3-5 weeks. However, in some cities, the lead time can vary significantly and we have seen up to 14 weeks lead time lately. The residence title will be given as plastic card and each person immigrating on the basis of a normal work visa will get his own card, including children. It will contain your picture as well as a fingerprint (that's why you had to have your fingerprints taken when applying for your work visa), and its data can only be read by the police, the foreign affairs office, and the registration office.
The production of such plastic card can take 4-6 weeks. Hence, time is relatively tight to stay in the 90 days period of your work visa and to register for an appointment should be one of the first things to do when arriving in Germany.
When you move within Germany, you would need to register in the new city (sometimes deregister with the old) and then have that information being updated on your residence card. This requires another in-person appointment at the new city's office for foreign affairs but is free of charge.
The office will request to see
- 1 recent biometrically readable no-smile photograph (35x45 mm without bar, light and single-colored background)
- Completed and signed application form
- Valid passport
- Prove of sufficient health insurance
- Prove of income
Prove of income can be a payroll slip and a statement by your employer or the employment contract. As with so many other regulations, it depends very much on the individual officer's interpretation. It is thus worthwhile to check with that officer upfront. And do not forget to note down the name of the person who advised you - you may need to cite him.
The issuance of a residence title is charged with 100 to 110 EUR, however, there are different types of titles which cost differently.
I want help with the residence title
Let us settle the appointment reservation, accompany you to the foreign affairs office and keep track of the issuance of the card.
GEZ - PUBLIC TV & RADIO CHARGES
In Germany, each citizen pays a certain amount irrespective of their income for public TV & radio. The concept is not unusual – many countries know this. The basic background is to enable independent news reporting free from the influence of commercial advertising.
The office collecting the fee is called GEZ, and you will be getting a letter from then 1-2 weeks after your registration. The fee is calculated by apartment/house and includes any other medium through which you could receive the public TV and radio programs (internet via PC or smartphone, car radio). It is irrespective of your income and irrespective of how many people can receive the program at the registered office.
You are offered
- a monthly payment in the amount of 17,50 EUR or
- a quarterly payment of 52,50 EUR.
You can allow automatic withdrawal or decide for a standing order. The fee is one of the reasons to monitor your de-registration once you are moving on (if you are).
Download a sample GEZ letter with explanations of the content GEZ Letter Explanation
YOUR INDIVIDUAL TAX ID
Your data is being forwarded electronically by the registration office to the “Bundesfinanzministerium”, the German ministry for Financial Affairs, in Berlin. It is reviewed and transferred into the national tax payers registry, and a unique tax ID will be issued. The procedure usually takes 2-3 weeks, and you will be receiving a letter informing you about your ID.
Independent of that letter, the Tax ID is being made available for your employer in his Payroll System, and this frees him of the burden to record all your data manually. Your tax ID will already be enriched by additional information, i.e., your tax class (dependent on your marital status) and any so-called “Kinderfreibeträge”, amounts reducing your taxable income in case you come over with children, and the information on your religion, which will induce church tax.
During the registration, you should mention if you and your spouse are going to work, and if you are going to earn pretty much the same or if one is going to be the main breadwinner. Based on this information, the best tax class is assigned. You can always change your tax class if you want to. The tax class does not influence the tax amount you will have to pay as a couple, it only has an impact on your cash flow for tax payments. Please always remember to declare your taxes by year-end, because usually, you will get money back.
Please be aware that if you are a member of the Catholic, Evangelic or Jewish church, you have to tell and pay church tax. If you don’t want to pay church tax, you have to terminate your membership with your church. If you don’t at some stage authorities will come back to you and request payment of all outstanding payments.
In case you need to get your tax ID earlier than the said 2-3 weeks you may inquire with your respective tax authority (the “Finanzamt”) if your ID has already been logged. This information can be inquired by phone. However, to get the number itself, you need to go in person with your passport for identification.
Your children will also receive their individual tax IDs, and you will need this to apply for the children allowance generally granted to everybody registered in Germany (with exceptions, obviously).
You need our Tax ID earlier?
We will inquire when your number is being recorded in the system and accompany you to the respective "Finanzamt".
YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
The Social Security Number is actually NOT issued as a consequence of the municipal registration. It is initialized by your healthcare insurance once you have signed up. The insurer will inform the respective authority in Berlin. The issuance of the number can take several weeks, especially after the summer holidays when a lot of young professionals start working the first time. 4-8 weeks is not unusual.
You will receive a letter with your unique social security ID. This number stays with you for as long as you live; hence, careful filing of the document is highly advisable. If you ever want to receive money out of the German pension system (and you are entitled to it since you have contributed), you will need the number!
Germans talk about the “Rentenversicherungsnummer” and the “Sozialversicherungsnummer”, in fact, they are the same.
Social security is only available for employees (respectively pensioners). It is not applicable for freelancers, entrepreneurs or other forms of self-employment.
Depending on your nationality there might be bilateral agreements between Germany and your home state, and depending on the presumed length of your stay you may remain in your home country's social security system.