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Berlin parents waiting up to three months for babies’ birth certificates

Due to the capital city's understaffed, bureaucratic offices, parents are having to wait months until their newborns are legally recognized - meaning they also must wait to receive social benefits - according to a media report.

Berlin parents waiting up to three months for babies' birth certificates
File photo: DPA.

Parents of newborns in Berlin are having to wait up to three months to get birth certificates for their new bundles of joy, in part due to understaffed offices, according to a report by Tagesspiegel on Monday.

One young couple welcomed their infant daughter into the world on March 9th, but then had to wait eight weeks to receive her official birth certificate. Without this certificate, parents cannot apply to receive monthly state-sanctioned child and parental allowances.

On top of that, babies are often co-insured with their mothers’ health insurance up to six weeks after birth. After that, parents must register them separately – and this also requires a birth certificate.

“If I was a single parent, I don’t know how I would pay for my rent, my groceries and my doctor’s fees for myself and my baby,” new mother Christin Kidszun told Tagesspiegel.

Getting in touch with the responsible registry office – the Standesamt – was a hassle: her neighbourhood office was still working on birth certificates from February, and Kidszun said she unsuccessfully tried dozens of times to call the office on the phone. She was ultimately told to show up at 5am to stand in line to then get a waiting number at 7am.

“For me as a young mother, that is not an option,” Kidszun said.

A spokesperson for the Berlin interior department declined to comment to The Local on the Tagesspiegel report.

The councilwoman for Kidszun’s neighbourhood of Mitte, Sandra Obermeyer, told Tagesspiegel that she was aware of such delays, which can last as long as three months, and Mitte currently has more than 1,000 certificates still to issue. According to Obermeyer, the problem is due to understaffing.

“Our personnel situation is dramatic, and on the job market there are no trained registrars available,” Obermeyer explained.

In Mitte, the registry office has 15 positions, but five of its employees quit within the past year, leaving the remaining ten to have to regularly work overtime as well as on the weekend, she added.

“Due to the high workload, several employees have become sick for long periods of time. Therefore the bashing of the registry office makes me angry.”

Three workers are currently being trained to work at the registry office, but this training will last until the autumn.

Obermeyer further told The Local in an email that Mitte also has a high birth rate.

“The colleagues in the office try their very best to help parents, but we are reaching the limits,” she explained, adding that they expect to show improvements in the situation in the coming months for next year.

“Only more personnel will help, which cannot be done overnight… Fundamentally, all the registrar offices in Berlin have difficulties and need more staff.”

Kidszun in the end wrote a letter of complaint about her baby’s delayed birth certificate, and soon after she received the document. Now she can apply for children's allowances – though she is still expected to wait weeks for this as well.

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'

LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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