Whether you’re coming for the economic climate, love of your life or to simply escape Trump, Brexit and other political debacles, Germany is a popular choice for freelancers looking to relocate their laptops and coffee mugs.
At first, it seems simple: just pack your bags and hop on a flight. But, let’s face it, upping sticks and moving to a new country (where you don’t speak the language) is not going to be all Bier and Bratwurst . In fact, romantic notions will quickly fade once faced with the deluge of paperwork that lies ahead. Germany might be advanced when it comes to its automobile industry, but its bureaucracy is still very last century.
To help keep your sanity whilst following your dreams, we’ve compiled the ultimate to-do list for your arrival on these foreign shores.
1: Find Yourself a Place to Stay
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll want to work out your accommodation arrangements in advance, if possible. It might make sense to start out in a serviced apartment, living with a friend, or using Airbnb while you hunt for a long-term stay. You could also use a relocation agency or take a look at furnished housing websites that allow you to complete the whole rental process online.
If you’re ready to commit a bit more long-term and you want to meet new people, living in a WG (flat share) might be a good idea. Try out WG-Gesucht – here you can find a myriad of offers and you can upload your own request. In general, you will be faced with less paperwork as you’ll be subletting (zur Untermiete) .
If you want your own place, try websites like immobilienscout24 . A word of warning: the market in cities like Berlin and Munich can be incredibly competitive and you may find yourself viewing apartments of interest with a dauntingly large bunch of strangers. This is where it comes in really handy to befriend someone who speaks the language. If you’re ready for the apartment hunt, make sure you have your paperwork prepped: you’ll probably need proof of the last three months’ earnings, a scan of your passport and a letter from your previous landlord confirming that you don’t owe any money (so called Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung ). You may also need a SCHUFA credit check. The earlier you can submit these, the better your chances of getting that dream pad.
2: Register with the Local Authorities
For EU citizens: Almost as soon as your feet hit the ground, get yourself to your local Bürgeramt (registration office) to register. You can google for Bürgeramt in your area to figure out where your relevant office is located and can normally make an appointment online. Prior to your visit you will have to fill in a registration form online which you will need to take with you to the appointment alongside your passport, a rental contract and a written confirmation from your landlord that you are actually residing at the address you’re stating.
The catch: the registration form is in German. If you do not speak the language, ask someone who does to help you out or use a service like mygermanexpert.com who have an English version of the form and walk you through the process step-by-step.
At the Bürgeramt you will get a letter confirming your registration ( Meldebescheinigung ). This document is very important so keep it in a safe place! You will need it for any contract that you sign in Germany.
Note: You have 14 days to register and if you are late, you’ll be charged a fine. Not the end of the world but hey, freelancer friend, those are hard-earned cents that you could be spending on coffee!