Who must register and when?

Anyone who moves to or within Germany should register their name and residential address at the Residents’ Registration Office ("Einwohnermeldeamt", "Bürgeramt" or "Bürgerbüro") within two weeks at the latest. If you don't register or do it too late, you might have to pay a fine. When you register you will receive an Official Registration Confirmation ("Amtliche Meldebestätigung"). Keep this paper in a safe place. This enables you to prove - even without your ID - that you are registered in a municipality or city in Germany, i.e. you reside there.

What documents do I have to submit to register?

Registration takes place in person at the Residents' Registration Office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”) or Citizens' Office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”)- you can find the address of the offices in your area at melderegister-auskunft.de.

To register, you must present your ID (identity card, residence permit, other residence documents, etc.) and - if available - your passport or your passport replacement documents. You will also need to fill out a registration form. You can get the form directly from the Residents' Registration Office.

In some cities/municipalities, you also need a so-called move-in confirmation from the landlord ("Einzugsbestätigung vom Vermieter") for registration. This is a piece of paper in which your landlord confirms that you are a tenant in their apartment. Sometimes your birth certificate or your marriage certificate may also be required for registration. If you have these documents, bring them with you to the registration as a precaution.

What data is filed by the Registration Office?

The officials at your local Resident's Registration Office store your "individually specific data" ("Personenbezogen Daten"). Data collected include your full name, your current address, your date of birth and family situation. 

What should I do when I'm moving out?

If you move within Germany, you must register your new place of residence at the Residents' Registration Office of the city or district to which you moved within 2 weeks. Then you will be issued a new registration certifiate (“Meldebestätigung”). Your new address will also be entered in your documents (e.g. residence permit, identity card, ...).. The new registration office (“Meldeamt” or ”Bürgeramt”) informs the previous one about your new address, so you do not need to notify the old registration office about the move.

You may live in more than one place of residence. If so you must tell the local registration office which place is your main home  ("Hauptwohnsitz") and which your secondary residence ("Nebenwohnsitz"). If you are leaving Germany, you must "check out" ("Abmelden") from your last German address at your residents' registration office.

What other tasks does the registration office have?

There are more than 5,000 residents' registration offices (“Meldeamt” or ”Bürgeramt”) in Germany, and they are tasked with numerous services. They take care of the registrations, move-outs and address changes, as well as issuing personal and children ID cards, etc. Besides, the residents' registration offices should also provide information from their database if a person makes an inquiry for a registry entry or "Resident's Registration Entry   Request" ("EMA-Anfrage"). Such a request may be useful if you are searching for friends or family members, or in case you want to find a customer who has moved or your debtors.

Private providers also offer this service, but often demand money in return. On melderegister-auskunft.de you can find a list of the reliable private providers. The resident's registration offices also charge a fee, which varies from one municipality to another. Even if the person you are looking for is not found as a result of their service, you still have to pay the fee. The processing time also varies from one office to another. Sometimes it takes only a few days, but it also may take several weeks at times.

Can I demand that my place of residence remains hidden?

According to §51 of the Federal Registration Law you can apply for a blockage of your personal information at your residents' registration office. To do so, you should prove that registration database can be a source of danger for you. That could be the case if you, for example, work in an area where many people are threatened (like a profession in fighting racism) or when someone is stalking you. The information blockage is valid for two years and can be extended upon request. Your resident registration office usually informs you before the blockage is automatically lifted.

What other registration obligations exist?

In addition to the private registration services for individuals, there is also a commercial registry in every District Court ("Handelsregister"). You will find information on local companies if they are subject to mandatory registration. If you own a business or work as self-employed , you can register in the commercial registry.