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Living in Berlin?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Living in Berlin with relevant information for expats.

Sean Henderson

Living in Germany, from Canada

"The good thing about InterNations is that I got to know the expat community in Berlin as well as internationally minded locals."

Anna Maria Osario

Living in Germany, from Argentina

"Through InterNations I met so many other Argentinean expats in Berlin, which made the transition period really easy for me."

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Berlin at a Glance

Living in Berlin

Berlin fascinates numerous people – not only history buffs interested in its eventful past. Expats living in Berlin come from all over the globe and all walks of life. Joining the local expat community? Our InterNations Expat Guide prepares you for Berlin, e.g. with info on permits and transportation.

Berlin will not disappoint you - it is one of the most exciting, interesting and multifaceted metropolitan cities in the world. There are about 3.4 million people currently living in Berlin, making it the largest city in Germany.

One advantage of living in Berlin is the enormous range of leisure activities. One third of its surface area 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 living 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 its 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.

Residence Permit

It is necessary for you to ensure that you are living in Berlin legally. You must follow these steps in order to begin your life abroad without difficulties.

If you want to take on a  life 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 are required 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), proof of health insurance, 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 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 beginning your life in Berlin, 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. 

Registration for New Residents in Berlin

The only thing EU members planning on going to Berlin must take care of is a registration of their residence in Germany, called a Meldeschein. This requirement 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, simply 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. For expats living in Berlin, 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 registry offices are also called Bürgeramt and belong to the local borough’s municipal office (Bezirksamt).


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine