Applying for your residence title is one of the two most pressing topics to take care of once you have landed in Germany. The authority you will be dealing with is the "Ausländerbehörde" (foreigners' office). You can reserve appointments online for it - however, appointments are rare. As a consequence, often you will need to go in person and accept waiting in a queue.
ENTITLEMENT TO A GERMAN RESIDENCE TITLE
Whether or not you are entitled to a long-term residence title in Germany, that means for a stay longer than 90 days the preliminary visa allows to, is determined by German law. It applies whichever destination city you have. Read more about requirements and conditions here.
Generally speaking, once arrived you are allowed to stay for a limited period of roughly speaking 90 days, either because of your preliminary visa or because of your nationality.
People with citizenship of the below countries can apply for their long-term residence permit, including a work permit, from within Germany.
- New Zealand
If you are a member of one of the states listed, please remember you are NOT allowed to work. The only things you are allowed to do are:
- Attend meetings and briefings
- Undertake negotiations
- Conclude contracts with German businesses
- Buy goods
- Work as senior manager on a CEO/CFO level
- Attend group internal training
- Install sold ready-to-use machines
The process in Berlin requires two important steps:
1. Register with your new adress
This is the first step on your way. To be able to register you need to have three things:
- Your passport
- A paper of your landlord confirming you are living in his apartment for rent (the so-called "Wohnungsgeberbestätigung")
- The completed registration template
- An appointment reservation
We have compiled a full separate article for the registration in Berlin.
2. Reserve an appointment at the Foreigners’ Office
The second hurdle to take is to get an appointment at the foreigner's office. Which office is the right one depends on the type of residence title you apply for. There are two foreigners' offices ("Ausländerbehörde") in Berlin: one at Keplerstrasse in Charlottenburg and the other at Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer, Moabit.
Read about the documents to bring, levies to be paid, forms to be completed. After successful application, it will take between 4-6 weeks before the title is issued. Hence our recommendation to book the appointment very early in the process. Some of the documents needed are marriage and birth certificates. A strict requirement is, that marriage certificates and birth certificates are to be legalized if issued by a foreign state (with apostil). This can normally be done by the local embassy of the country having issued the certificates (or a notary). And it takes time.
The responsible Foreigners' Office is situated at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer. See opening hours here and search for an appointment here. The latter page is available in English language.
Children born in Germany
The link refers to the respective website of Berlin.de giving information on documents to bring, levies to be paid and forms to be completed. The appointment can be made in any district office. Usually, the residence title is put into the child's passport as a sticker on the date of appointment. As a consequence you need to apply for a passport at your embassy first. This is important to remember when you intend to travel. Lead time for appointments is the usual 2-3 months!
Regular Work Permit
The link refers to the Berlin.de page and gives information on documents to bring, levies to be paid, forms to be completed. There are a lot of documentary requirements which you will have complied with already when applying in your home country, should you not have the citizenship of a privileged nation. In such case, you need to inquire from time to time with the foreigners' office, if your data have already been sent over by your local German embassy and if you are registered in the system. If you are not, you don't need to attend any appointment. The appointment system allows rescheduling the appointment. The procedure then is basically settled on the day of your appointment and you will receive a sticker in your passport. In case you are only applying from within Germany you need to book two appointments, one for the application and one for the pick-up. Assume a proceeding time of 4-6 weeks. The responsible Foreigners' Office is situated at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer. See opening hours here and search for an appointment here. The latter page is available in English language.
Bluecard applicants benefit from a separate location and thus easier availability of appointments. The link refers to the respective page of Berlin.de and informs about information on documents to bring, levies to be paid, forms to be completed. Proceeding time is between 6-8 weeks. The responsible Foreigners' Office is situated at Keplerstrasse. See opening hours here and search for an appointment here. The latter page is available in English language.
Transfer of your residence title into a new passport
It happens that your passport expires while being in Germany. In such case, you will need to apply for a new one at your country's embassy in Germany. After you have your new passport in hands you need to transfer your residence title from the old to the new. This is one of the very few services where an appointment is a strict requirement. Thus, once you know how long it will take to issue your new passport go and book an appointment. For regular residence titles check here - appointments can be made at any Buergeramt. For Bluecards check here - appointments at Keplerstrasse only.
For all other residence titles please refer to the respective pages on www.berlin.de.
What, if your residence title expires prior to the first available appointment?
Don't panic. Since the city of Berlin is aware of the long waiting list, your current residence title stays valid until the date of the appointment. Automatically. There is no need to apply for a prolongation. However, first: you need to be able to prove that you booked the appointment within the validity of your residence title, thus keep your booking confirmation ready at hand! Second, you are NOT allowed to travel abroad once your original residence title is expired! Third: you MUST attend the appointment!
Online appointments are rare. However, most of the services rendered by the foreigners' offices can be booked without appointment, too. Still check, which office is the right one and then go during opening hours. Expect to wait for a couple of hours. We have seldom experienced that we did not get an appointment on the date of showing up. Avoid Mondays and days following a holiday.
Both tasks are rather challenging for non-German speakers. Since it is almost impossible to log an online appointment you will end up going to the Buergeramt or Foreigners' Office without an appointment at 7:00 am and spent your morning waiting in a queue, and hopefully in the right line. Both offices are currently unfortunately seriously understaffed. Having a German speaker at your side will be very helpful when it comes to arguing your case and not be sent away because you don't understand to procedures.