Can I move to an apartment?

  • I have been recognized as an individual entitled to asylum, refugee protection or subsidiary protection: You have the right to move in to a private apartment.
  • I am an asylum seeker: Whether you are allowed to move to an apartment as an asylum seeker depends on your country of origin, the period you have already been in Germany and the local regulations in your federal state of residence. In principle, asylum seekers must live in an initial reception centre between (at least) six weeks to a maximum of 24 months, i.e. during this period, you are not permitted to move into an apartment. Please note: Asylum seekers from the so-called "safe countries of origin" must live in the initial reception centres for the entire duration of their asylum procedure or, in case of rejection, until their departure or deportation from Germany.
  • I have a tolerated stay permit ("Duldung"): In principle, an individual with a tolerated stay ("Duldung") is not allowed to move to an apartment and should live in shared accommodations provided by the state. This general rule is also specified on your tolerated stay document ("Duldung") as a requirement. In some districts, however, there are too few accommodation centres. In this case, either the officials will permit you to search for an apartment, or they will allocate you one. If you are obliged to live in a shared accommodation facility, you can try and apply for an exemption from this requirement at the Immigration Office. Furthermore, you must apply to the Social Welfare Office so that they take over your rental costs. The authorities may accept your request, but they may also refuse it. In general, your chances are rather low if you do not have valid reasons for the exemption, e.g. mental or physical illnesses. You can seek advice from a counselling centre or a lawyer in advance. For instance, you can find help at Pro Asyl. Their staff speak German and English and can be reached at +49 (0) 69-242 314 20 and proasyl@proasyl.de.

Please note: If you earn your income through your own work and live in a shared accommodation facility, you may be demanded to pay a high rent for your spot from your wages.

Where can I move to?

  • The asylum seekers, recognised refugees and individuals entitled to subsidiary protection who receive social benefits from the Social Welfare Office or Job Center, usually have to reside in the federal state in which they have gone through their asylum procedure for three years. The federal states can also introduce additional regulations which require you, for instance, to remain in the district in which you were residing during your asylum procedure. These residence regulations, however, are disputed. If you have valid reasons for moving to another district within your federal state, you can submit an "application for cancellation of the residence assignment" („Antrag auf Aufhebung der Wohnsitzzuweisung“) per §12a (5) sentence 2c Residence Act to the Immigration Office currently responsible for you. Ask for advice from a counselling centre nearby in advance. You can, for instance,  seek help from Pro Asyl. Their staff speak German and English and are accessible at +49 (0) 69-242 314 20 and proasyl@proasyl.de.
  • Asylum seekers and those with a tolerated stay permit (i.e. "Duldung") usually have to stay in the district to which they have been distributed when applying for asylum. You can only move when you earn a living through your own work and do not depend on social benefits from the state. Individuals who still rely on social benefits will only be permitted to move to another district or city in exceptional cases. In principle, the Immigration Office will agree with your move out if, for instance, you are very ill and cannot find a specialised doctor in your town, or in case you need to look after a sick family member in another city. You have to justify your reasons by proper attestations. Seek advice from a counselling centre or a lawyer in advance. You can, for instance, reach out to Pro Asyl for support. Their staff speak German and English and can be reached at +49 (0) 69-242 314 20 and proasyl@proasyl.de.