Another german novum that only exists in few european countries is the registration of your domicile. According to the Registration Law (Bundesmeldegesetz), every person residing in Germany is obliged to register his/her domicile at the Registration Office (Meldestelle) at the City Hall within two weeks after the start of the lease contract. Likewise, if one changes his/her domicile and if one leaves Berlin completely one has to register his depart or register a new domicile (de-registration).

After registering, one gets a registration receipt that used to be a must for most economic activities. It still is a must for most places in Germany, but not anymore to that extent in the capital.

For all the European Citizens, as well as those that hold a valid residence permit within the European Union, the registration is only necessary, if one decides to spend more than two months in Germany. In that case, according to the Registration Law, this is a legal obligation, one has to fulfill with penalties pending against those that omit to do so, according to the Registration Law/Bundesmeldegesetz (BMG).

This is nevertheless rebuttable, if one resides in an other European Union Country and declares to have his/her domicile elsewhere. There is a rebuttable presumption within the european law regarding those that live within more than one countries, that at least six months or more is the time-limit to presume that one has a permanent residency in a country. If one has already a domicile registered in Germany, then he/she only has to register within the berliner Registration Office, if he/she decides to stay for more than six months in Berlin.

Nevertheless, if one decides to actively participate in the social and economic berliner life, registration has to be carried out within two weeks, as from the day of the beginning of the lease contract. For registrations that occur later than this time limit, there is a penalty depending on the delay and can vary from 10-1000Euros. (§54 Bundesmeldesgesetz-BMG)

In Berlin you can use all the available Registration Offices (40 in total) to register your domicile. The process used to be very simple. One booked an appointment with the Registration Office of his preference or showed up there without an appointment – in which case one had to wait up for his/her number – along with a. the passport/identity card, b. the lease contract and c.the registration form that one finds in the reception at the City Hall, one could register the same day at the City Hall.

As for the last months of 2015 and due to the massive move of young people in Berlin, the registration offices offer a unified hotline service where one can arrange an appointment. The Number of the hotline is: 115. So, registration now only occurs after appointment, unless they let you know otherwise on the hotline. The booking of an appointment stops the time-limit of two weeks, ie. that within two weeks tops, one has to arrange an appointment to register.

Next to that, as from 1st of November 2015, the registration is mandatory both for the landlord and the tenant, in case of lease. So, according to the Law, the landlord also has to fill in the correspondent form to register the tenant and send it over to the Registration Office. Omission to undergo this legal obligation also results in fines that vary depending on the length of the delay or the omission to register the tenant. Similarly to the tenant, the penalty varies from 10-1000 Euros (§54 Bundesmeldesgesetz-BMG)

Since Berlin is adapting constantly to the new reality of people moving over to live in the city that always partys, banks and insurances are much more flexible in registering and opening up accounts without the registration receipt, as they used to, they speak english and make everything easy. This should not let one believe though, that registration is unnecessary. There is a legal obligation that must be met and it is far better to register oneself on your own initiative, than have the police coming over to your apartment to assure you indeed live there and face a fine for not having registered, according to the law, information that they obtained from other offices, like insurances. Needless to write, that the exchange of the sensitive information of the domicile has raised many disputes over the years. However, keep in mind: Berlin is nice but it can be really nasty, if one decides to oversee these – in the eyes of some – trivial bureaucratic issues.

The Form of Registration one has to fill in is attached along with the translation in the english language.

Registration Law-Bundesmeldegesetz


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