Berlin at a Glance
Living in Berlin
Berlin will not disappoint you - the city is one of the most exciting, interesting and multifaceted metropolitan cities in the world. There are currently 3.52 million people living in Berlin, making it the largest city in Germany.
One advantage of living in Berlin is the enormous range of leisure activities the city offers. One third of the city consists of parks, forest and gardens, and for the less than outdoorsy types, there are about 170 museums to visit. Due to the city’s international flair, the cuisine varies immensely. If you consider relocating to Berlin, you’ll be able to find anything from burritos to kebab to sushi to traditional Currywurst.
For expats in Berlin, it quickly becomes clear that they have moved to a world city, a cultural, political and scientific center. Its quirky festivals, vibrant nightlife, countless art galleries, and impressive architecture also significantly contribute to the quality of life.
Due to the city’s eventful past, Berlin offers quite the historical experience as well. Expatriates will find reminders of contemporary German history on practically every corner, from Checkpoint Charlie to remnants of the old Berlin Wall. Living in Berlin does not have to be expensive either, as it offers a host of cultural free activities.
It is necessary for you to ensure that you are staying in Berlin legally. You need to follow these steps in order to start your life abroad without difficulties.
If you want to start your time as an expat in Berlin but do not come from an EU country, you will not only have to go to the Einwohnermeldeamt and register your new address. In addition, you need to apply for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (a residence permit). For this purpose, you need a valid passport, proof of enough financial means in order to support yourself (i.e. a bank statement or an employment contract), and proof of your new residence.
You may receive one of two types of residency permits: limited or unlimited permits. As the name implies, the latter is valid for an infinite period of time and you don’t need to have it renewed. The other, though, is to be renewed on a specific date (e.g. after one year). Since you may need to apply for a visa for Germany before even moving to the city, it is very rare to be then denied the residence permit for Berlin.
Also read up on how to get a German residence permit in our exhaustive guide to expat living in Germany.
Local Registration for New Residents in Berlin
The only thing EU members planning on going to Berlin need to take care of is a registration of their residence in Germany, called a Meldeschein. This requirement is not only limited to non-Germans, but is mandatory for every resident, whether you are living in Berlin and want to move two houses down the block or from Athens to Berlin.
To complete the registration process, you simply need to take your passport and your rental contract or sales agreement (with the address on it!) to the local Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
There are registry offices throughout the city, one per borough. The registry office will become crucial concerning a variety of legal issues such as driving licenses, income tax cards, German IDs, etc. In Berlin, the local registry offices are also called Bürgeramt and belong to the local borough’s municipal office (Bezirksamt).