Moving to Germany? Register your address in 4 easy steps

7 min read

If you move to Germany, it is mandatory by law to register your address. Besides your registration certificate, you will receive your German tax ID. Failure to register your address can result in fines.

Andrea Roth Last updated on May 4, 2022
Graphic design showcasing registration through abstract 3D render

Register your address in Germany: Get registration certificate & tax ID

It is mandatory for Germans and foreigners to register at their home address with the local registration authority (Meldebehörde), whether they move to Germany from abroad, within Germany, or within a German city.

This applies to everyone who moves to Germany for work or studying, regardless of the time period. Everyone else only has to register if they stay longer than three months. This applies to both renting an apartment and a house. Furthermore, second/secondary residences in Germany are also subject to compulsory registration in Germany.

Failure to register your address within two weeks can result in fines up to 1,000 € (~1,100 USD). The period starts with the date of the rental agreement.

In fact, getting your address registered in Germany after relocating is an essential part of your migration process. It should be your first step after you arrive in Germany. You will need the registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) for all kinds of administrative tasks, including getting your residency permit, opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone/internet contract, and finding a job. Plus, you will receive your German tax ID, which you need for your employer, to take out health insurance (which is mandatory in Germany), and more.

While the process of address registration in Germany is free and straightforward, it requires multiple documents and an in-person appointment, which will be easier if you speak German.

Discover how to get started in obtaining this essential paperwork with Nioomi.

Legal background & basis of registration in Germany

The German compulsory registration law (Meldepflicht) requires everyone, except diplomats and consuls, to register their home address with the district registration office. The Federal Act on Registration and the associated instruments serve as the legal basis. To ensure the harmonized interpretation in the more than 11,000 municipalities in Germany, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community adopted a General Administrative Regulation on the application of the Federal Act on Registration.

Registering the population is an important aspect of modern municipality administration and planning. It allows each municipality to serve its community based on the citizens’ actual needs, especially in terms of fiscal and social services administration.

For example, based on the population, the number of kindergartens can be determined, and elections can be prepared. The municipality population also determines the assigned state funding. Individuals and businesses may use the public registration data of a person within the legal framework and GDPR, e.g., name, degree, and current address (fees typically apply).

Required documents for address registration in Germany

To register your address in Germany (Anmeldung), you or a representative with power of attorney must present the following documents at the district registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). While you can only download the required documents online and fill them out at home before your appointment, submitting the documents online is impossible. The registration office may also be referred to as district office (Bezirksamt) or customer center (Kundenzentrum). There are more than 5,200 registration offices throughout Germany.

  • Proof of identity: valid identity card or passport (a driver’s license is not accepted)
  • Visa (if applicable)
  • Registration form (Meldeschein, Anmeldung): members of a family can use one registration form together; if more than two people are to be registered, multiple registration forms must be used
  • Civil status certificates: for your first registration, you must present civil status documents (e.g., marriage certificates, birth certificates)
  • Proof of residence certificate (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung): the landlord must sign a form with the name and address of the landlord and, if in case he/she is not the owner, also the name of the owner, move-in date, address of the apartment, and names of the persons subject to registration (the rental contract is not accepted); this is done to prevent the registration of fake names/addresses; sublets and temporary rentals from online marketplaces typically don’t provide these certificates
  • Power of attorney (if applicable): if you appoint a representative to go to the district registration office on your behalf, he/she needs to present a signed power of attorney by the person subject to registration as well as proof of identity (identity, card, passport) of the representative

If you are registering multiple people simultaneously (spouse, children, etc.), make sure to bring their documents as well (proof of identity, visa, etc.).

With the registration certificate, you will automatically receive a tax ID (Steuer Identifikationsnummer). This is a separate document with a unique identification number from the German tax office.

Every time you move within Germany or a German city, you have to go through the same process of address registration (Ummeldung) again within two weeks. You don’t have to de-registering from your old address. However, if you permanently leave Germany, you must de-register at the registration office one week before and two weeks after moving out. This is important, e.g., in terms of taxes and insurance.

How to register your address in Germany in 4 easy steps

These are the 4 steps to get your address registered in Germany:

  1. Make an appointment at your district registration office (follow Covid-regulations)
  2. Prepare the following documents
    • proof of identity
    • visa (if applicable)
    • registration form
    • civil status certificates
    • proof of residence certificate
    • power of attorney (if applicable)
  3. Your or your representative go to the district registration office in person to submit the documents
  4. Receive your registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) and tax ID (Steuer Identifikationsnummer)

If you have prepared your documents well and speak German, the appointment only takes about 10-15 minutes. The officer will check your documents, clarify any open questions, sign the paperwork, and then give you a stamped registration certificate. Your tax ID will arrive separately by regular mail within 2-3 weeks.

The registration form also includes religious affiliation. Protestants (evangelisch) and Catholics (katholisch) are subject to church tax (8%-9% of your annual income tax). If you fill out “without religion" (ohne Religion) on the registration form, church tax does not apply to you (the registration office may verify this).

If some documents are missing or incomplete, you may have to make a follow-up appointment. Keep in mind that staff at the registration offices don’t always speak English. If possible, take someone with good knowledge of German with you.

Key takeaways

  • Everyone moving to Germany for work or study must register their address within two weeks.
  • Failure to register your address within two weeks after relocation can result in fines of up to 1,000 €.
  • Besides the residency certificate (for a residency permit, to open a bank account, search for a job), you will also get your German tax ID.

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