Germany: Understanding the
address registration

If you are planning to relocate to Germany for work, study or family reasons, you may have heard about the “Anmeldung” process – the requirement to register with the local citizens’ office upon arrival. This is a compulsory part of your immigration journey that must be fulfilled in order to legalise your stay in Germany.

If you will be staying in Germany for longer than three months, you will need to register your home address with the local citizens’ office in the city where you live within 14 days of moving in. This process must be completed before you can apply for your residence permit. Everyone must be registered at their place of residence in Germany, whether they are a German national or a foreign national.

The registration process and requirements may vary slightly depending on the municipality in which you live. Smith Stone Walters will explore the specific processes for some popular German cities in future articles. To begin with, below is a basic guide to understanding the address registration requirement in Germany.

Why is address registration required?

Registration authorities (Meldebehörde) register persons residing in their area of jurisdiction in order to track population and places of residence. The government will also use your registered address to send you all important letters, so it’s vital this information is kept up to date.

Your registration appointment is one of the most important steps when relocating to Germany, as it provides you with your registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung). This proves that you live at your address and you will need it to access many services such as applying for a residence permit, opening a bank account, getting a German SIM card and signing an internet contract.

Basic steps for registering your address

You must register at your address within 2 weeks of moving into your accommodation.

Notably, you must have a fixed address before you can register. You will need to demonstrate this by obtaining a proof of residence certificate (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) from your landlord. Landlords are obliged by law to give it to their tenants.

It is not usually possible to register using temporary accommodation such as a hotel or Air BnB address (as they don’t provide a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung and a rental contract). However, for serviced apartments or some apartment hotels it is possible.

To complete the registration process, you will need to:

  • Make an appointment at your local citizens’ office as soon as you have a move in date. Most cities have multiple offices. You are not required to go to the office closest to you, so it may be worth attending one that’s further away if they have an appointment available sooner.
  • Prepare the necessary documents. Your citizens’ office website will list exactly which documents you need to bring with you to your appointment.
  • Attend the appointment. The process will take around 10 – 15 minutes. Please note many of the staff will not speak English so you may need to bring a German speaker to your appointment with you.

At the end of your appointment, you will get your registration certificate. With this important document in hand, you will be able to take the next steps and apply for your residence permit.

You will also receive your tax ID number through the post around 2 weeks after your registration appointment. It remains valid for life. As soon as you receive your tax ID number, you should give it to your employer as this is required by German payroll for compliancy purposes.

Changing your address or leaving Germany

If you move to a different address within Germany, you must inform the authorities. When you move, you will need to go through the same process again to register at your new address within 2 weeks. You will not need to de-register from your old address as this will be done automatically.

However, if you leave Germany permanently you are required to de-register your address, a process known as “Abmeldung”. This is to let the authorities know that you no longer live in the country and no longer need to pay health insurance and taxes in Germany.

It is possible to de-register before you move out of your German address. At the earliest, you can do this 7 days before your move-out date. At the latest, you must de-register within 14 days after departure.

Penalties for not registering your address

Registration is a legal requirement for all residents in Germany, regardless of nationality. Remaining unregistered, giving incorrect details or registering late are not permitted. If you fail to register your address correctly, you could be fined up to 1,000 euros.

Introducing SSW in Germany

Smith Stone Walters is delighted to announce that as a result of continued growth and development, we have opened a new operation in Germany.

Our Frankfurt office opened for business on 1 August 2023, and offers a range of visa and immigration services, including:

  • Work permits, registration and tax ID
  • Visa management support
  • Ongoing compliance support
  • Personal accompaniment to registration appointments.

Our new team of German immigration experts previously worked for Cheryl Koenig Relocation Services Group (CKRS), which has now closed its operations. We are looking forward to supporting our existing and new clients with their German relocation endeavours.

To discuss a German immigration query with our team, please contact us on


Disclaimer: In accordance with the German law governing legal advice and services (RDG, section 2 subsection 1) our services do not include any legal advice.

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