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Registration and residence permit: Obtaining a residence permit

As soon as you have found accommodation, you must register with the local Resident Registration Office. This is where you receive your “confirmation of registration” (Meldebestätigung). With this in hand, you can then apply for your residence permit.

by the Editors

Student at the counter © DAAD
Student at the counter . © DAAD

Everyone who moves to another city in Germany must notify the Resident Registration Office of their change of address within one week. And that goes for everyone – foreigners and Germans alike. At the Resident Registration Office, you have to complete a registration form and receive your confirmation of registration. It’s an important document, so take good care of it.

Take along the following documents when you register at the Resident Registration Office:

  • Passport (with visa, if you have one) or your personal identification card
  • Tenancy agreement (if you have one) or confirmation of residence from your landlord

Residence permit

In addition to the confirmation of registration, you also need to apply for permission to reside in Germany.

Student at registration © Ziegert/DAAD
Student at registration . © Ziegert/DAAD

Citizens from EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland automatically receive a residence permit at the Resident Registration Office. In some cases, they may ask to see proof of financial resources and confirmation of health insurance coverage.

If you are not a citizen of any of the countries mentioned above, you will have to register with the Alien Registration Office in your town. The International Office can give you the address and tell you exactly which documents you should take along.

Fees and documents

You have to apply for a residence permit in person at the Alien Registration Office. They will ask to see the following documents:

The fee for first-time applicants can cost up to 110 euros. The fee for an extension can cost up to 80 euros.

Your residence permit is issued in the form of a chip card which contains your personal data, such as your passport photo and finger prints. Four to six weeks after applying, you will be notified by the Alien Registration Office that your residence permit has arrived. You must pick it up in person. Your residence permit is valid for at least one year and up to two years in some cases, and can be extended if necessary.