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LIVING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: How to prove you’re a resident in Germany

Depending on where you're from, there are different ways to prove you're a resident in Germany. Here are some important documents to keep in mind, particularly during the pandemic when there are travel restrictions.

EXPLAINED: How to prove you're a resident in Germany
People walking in Cologne in May 2020. Photo: DPA

Occasionally you may be required to prove you are legally a resident in Germany, rather than a visitor. This has become especially important with the many global travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While German people carry an ID card (Personalausweis), for foreigners there is no single system or piece of ID that proves you are a resident, and the rules are different depending on where you come from.

Here’s a rundown.

Non-Europeans

Everyone from outside the EU staying in Germany for longer than three months needs a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel).

Citizens from some countries (including the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland) are allowed entry into Germany without a visa and can apply for a residence permit while in the country.

Keep in mind, though, that current Covid travel restrictions don’t permit Americans and some other countries who don’t already have a residence permit to come to Germany.

You can contact your local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) to find out how to get a residence permit.

The rules for what you need to get a residence permit can vary somewhat from place to place and according to your status. You’ll need various official documents, such as a valid passport, proof of health insurance and proof that you can support yourself.

You receive your residence permit as a sticker in your passport and it can be used as proof of residence in Germany.

READ ALSO: Explained – How to secure permanent residency in Germany

A residence permit. Photo: DPA

Europeans

For people from within the EU or the Schengen zone who have moved to Germany under freedom of movement this is a little more complicated.

If you are a citizen of an EU or Schengen zone country your passport in effect acts as your residency card –  just owning an EU/Schengen zone passport means that you are entitled to live and work in Germany.

However, if you need to prove you are specifically a resident in Germany (and not another EU country) you should turn to your registration document (Anmeldebestätigung or Meldebescheinigung) known as Anmeldung.

You can do that at the Einwohnermeldeamt. All citizens are required to do this within 14 days of arriving in Germany (although this has been extended to six weeks during the pandemic) if staying longer than three months.

In some places the Einwohnermeldeamt is known as the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt. When you change addresses in Germany you must deregister from your old address and register at your new one.

An overview of all Einwohnermeldeämter is available here.

British people

The Brexit transition period lasted until December 31st 2020. Before this date British people still had EU freedom of movement rights but this changed after the grace period ended.

However, the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement gives widespread protection to British people who were already resident in Germany before December 31st 2020 to stay.

British people in Germany who fall into this category can receive a residency document.

Provided that a British person was living here in accordance with the EU right of freedom of movement and was registered in Germany, they can register for residence within six months after the end of the transition period and will be issued a residence document with only some routine checks, such as establishing their identity.

As for any other third-country national in Germany, this registration is required in addition to the Anmeldung of their address.

Photo: DPA

This registration is crucial as without a residence document, a person’s new status under the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be proven. So British citizens and their family members should make sure they apply for a residence document.

Brits in Germany will have up to six months after the end of the transition period to register to apply for the new residence document.

However, while British people are waiting for their residency document, they may need to provide proof of their residence in other ways – so check out the list below.

READ ALSO:

Keep in mind that there are currently strict travel rules on entering Germany from the UK.

What about other potential forms of proof of living in Germany?

Ultimately your ID card, residence permit and passport is your official source of identification in Germany. But some other documents could in some cases act as proof of being resident in Germany, or supplement your ID.

Health

You must have health insurance if you’re a resident in Germany. You will be issued with a health card by the provider when you sign up with private or public health insurance. This is needed when you visit doctors, hospitals or dentists but can also act as proof that you’re a resident in Germany (although you’d need official ID alongside it).

Work

If you are employed in Germany, keep your employment contracts and make sure you have a full collection of payslips.

You are entitled to receive a payslip giving a full breakdown of your wages and taxes/social charges every month (either electronically or on paper) so if your employer has been sloppy about this you can ask for any wage slips that you have not received.

When you’re applying for a flat in Germany you need to provide payslips for the past three months.

READ ALSO: Overnight queues and complex rules: What Germany’s immigration offices are really like

Tax

Keep any documents from tax declarations you’ve made in Germany safe as these prove you’re a full time resident and could come in useful. This is especially useful if you’re freelance and don’t have employment contracts or payslips.

Housing

Your rental documents or mortgage and property owner’s tax documents show you are a resident in Germany. Keep safe any agreements or important bits of papers or emails.

Utility bills

Gas and electricity bills don’t as such prove that you are a resident but they are useful to have as proof of your address. For example, if you don’t have your registration document (Anmeldung) yet, they can serve as some proof of your address along with your ID card or passport, for example if you’re picking up a package.

Member comments

  1. Americans here serving with NATO under the US military do not need to register and Aufenthaltstitel. We are issued SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) visas and carry those card with our regular and official passports.

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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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