Moving is a lot of stress – but going to the residents’ registration office should not be postponed too long. More and more fines are being imposed for late re-registration.

Moving to a new property costs enough, you should at least avoid a fine from the registration office.

Whe just moved into a new apartment and would like to put his feet up after the stress of moving. But before you can make yourself comfortable at home, you have to go to the residents’ registration office.

In Germany, every resident is obliged to register or re-register their place of residence – regardless of whether the new place of residence is a primary or a secondary residence. For this you have to adhere to a given deadline, which, depending on the federal state, is between one week and fourteen days after the move. This regulation is based on the Federal Registration Act. We speak of registration when the new place of residence is in a different registration district, for example in Frankfurt instead of Berlin, and of re-registration when one only changes the apartment within a city.

All you need is a valid identity card or passport and a registration certificate, which can often be downloaded from the municipalities’ website. In most cases, you do not need to present the rental agreement. From November 1, 2015, the owner must also give his new tenant a confirmation of move-in with all relevant data such as move-in date, address, name and address of the landlord and the names of the persons required to register, which the resident must also present to the residents’ registration office.

The background: In the past it happened more often that criminals, but also parents who wanted to go to school in the other part of the city, gave the address of a house in which they did not live. Another advantage of the home owner confirmation is that clerks can more easily understand whether residents have exceeded the reporting deadline. If all the necessary documents are available, the new address will be noted on the identity card.

Apply for an extension of the deadline

If you do not live in Bavaria, you have to go to the residents’ registration office in person; this can only be arranged by post in the Free State. If the new tenant is ill or unable to take care of the re-registration for other reasons, he or she can give a friend or relative a power of attorney.

Re-registering your place of residence is usually free of charge. However, if you do not meet the deadline or do not re-register at all, you are committing an administrative offense according to Section 54 of the Registration Act and may have to pay a penalty fee, which at least on paper, depending on the discretion of the clerk and the municipality, can be up to 1000 euros can. This also applies to owners or administrators who do not issue the confirmation or do not issue it on time. In practice, the fines are often lower and are rarely well over 100 euros. Often the officials turn a blind eye to neglect of a few days or weeks because the citizens’ offices in many large cities are overloaded and sometimes you cannot get an appointment quickly enough.

Overall, however, the fines are being imposed much more frequently and stricter than a few years ago. Therefore, you should be able to explain and substantiate as comprehensibly as possible why you have missed the re-registration so far. If you know in advance that you will not be able to meet the deadline due to a longer stay abroad or illness, it is also possible to apply for an extension of the deadline, often even by phone.

If you only move into an apartment for up to six months for an internship in another city, you are exempt from the obligation to register. This also applies to federal volunteers. You do not have to de-register your old place of residence within Germany; the registration office at your current place of residence informs the municipality responsible beforehand about the change of location. This is different if you move abroad: If you no longer have a place of residence in this country, you have up to two weeks to de-register at the registration office. You should have an official de-registration form handed over as evidence.