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Registration and residence permit: HOW TO OBTAIN A RESIDENCE PERMIT

As soon as you have found accommodation, you have to register with the local residents' registration office. The office gives you a written confirmation of Registration (Meldebestätigung). After that, you can apply for your residence permit.

by the Editors (last updated May 2019)

Student with documents registering at a public office  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Registering at the residents' registration office . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

Every international student who moves to Germany has to register with the residents' registration office – usually within one week. At the Residents' Registration Office you have to fill out a registration form. Then you receive a written confirmation of registration. Be sure to keep this document because you will need it to obtain a residence permit from the foreigners’ registration office.

1. STEP: REGISTRATION CONFIRMATION AT THE RESIDENTS' REGISTRATION OFFICE

As soon as you have found accommodation in Germany, you have to register with the local residents' registration office. In some cities, the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) is also called Bürgerbüro or Bezirksamt. You should register within one or two weeks (varies depending on the requirements of the local residents' registration office), or you could have to pay an administrative fine (Bußgeld). Sometimes you don’t get an appointment within one or two weeks. What is important is that you booked an appointment as required within one or two weeks. You can usually arrange an appointment online at your residents' registration office.

Documents for the residents' registration office

For registering at the residents' registration office, you will need:

  • a passport (possibly with visa) or personal identification card and
  • a completed and signed housing confirmation from your landlord,
  • possibly a registration form from the residents' registration office.

The residents' registration office will give you a registration confirmation when you register with them. Be sure to keep this document! You will need it when you apply for a residence permit at the foreigners’ registration office.

Housing confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)

You can download a form for the housing confirmation on the website of your residents' registration office. You send this form to your landlord, who has to fill it out. If you live in a dormitory, student services will fill out the form for you.

Fees for the residents' registration office

Normally, registering at the residents' registration office is free of charge.

Tip: Don’t forget: If you move again during your stay in Germany, you have to re-register with the residents' registration office within one or two weeks!  If you move within the same city, you register with the same residents' registration office. If you move to a new city, you need to register with the local residents' registration office there.

2. STEP: RESIDENCE PERMIT FROM THE FOREIGNERS REGISTRATION OFFICE

Do you come from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland?

Then you do not need a residence permit, but often you have to provide proof of health insurance and proof of financial resources in order to register with the residents' registration office. In that case, the residents' registration office will give you a confirmation of your right of residence when you register there for your place of residence.

You do NOT come from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland?

If you are not a citizen of one of the above countries and you would like to study in Germany for more than 90 days, you also have to go to the foreigners’ registration office in the city where you are studying. You can obtain the address from the International Office or search for it in the data base of the BAMF. You have to apply for your residence permit at the foreigners’ registration office of the city where you are studying within the first three months.

Documents for the residence permit

You apply for your residence permit at the foreigners’ registration office. You have to go to the foreigners’ registration office in person to get a residence permit. You will need the following documents:

Tip: It is best to take all of the documents you have, even if they may not be required. If any documents are missing, you have to arrange a new appointment. That takes unnecessarily long!

Residence permit in passport  © DAAD/contentküche
Residence permit . © DAAD/contentküche

The residence permit is issued in the form of a so-called “electronic residence title“ (elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel). That’s a card with an integrated chip that holds certain data, for instance your passport photo and your fingerprints. After four to six weeks you can personally pick up your residence permit from the foreigners’ registration office. It is initially issued for at least one year and no more than two years, but it can be extended. The extension depends on your studies progressing “regularly” (meaning you should adhere to the standard period of study). You need documentation from your university to show this. It is imperative that you apply for the extension before your current residence permit expires!

Fees for the residence permit

When you first apply, you have to pay a fee of up to €110. The extension costs up to €100.

Tip: It is important if you stay in Germany longer than the date on your residence permit that you extend the permit in plenty of time before it expires!

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