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Moving to Berlin

What do new Berliners have to consider when moving to Berlin? Where do I have to register, how can I apply for a residence permit, where do I find appropriate child care services? An overview.

Registering with the registration office

Service description
The resident registration in Berlin is carried out at the registration offices of the boroughs. The registration period after moving in is usually 14 days. Requirements include proof of identity, application form, possibly civil status certificates (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate), and a landlord's confirmation that you have moved into your home. Appointments with the appropriate authority can be made by phone or online. The application form is available for download.

Service provider
Registration offices of Berlin’s boroughs (in German only)

Useful links
Registering an apartment (in German only)
(Information appointments, application form)

Electronic tax card

Service description
In 2013, the tax card has been replaced by the electronic income tax deduction system (ELStAM). The tax authorities of the boroughs are responsible for ELStAM. This electronic tax card stores data for tax deduction of the employee such as tax class, number of child tax credits, tax exemption or church tax deduction feature. When commencing an employment, the employer requires from the employee merely his date of birth, the tax ID number as well as the information whether this is the main job or a side job.

Every employee can retrieve his personal ELStAM information on the ElsterOnline portal. For the free registration, you need the tax ID number.

If a tax ID number is not available anymore, it can be requested at the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt). A separate contact form is available for this purpose.

Furthermore, your tax authority is the point of contact for your personal information stored in ELStAM.

Service provider
Tax authorities in the boroughs (in German only)
Federal Central Tax Office

Useful links
Electronic income tax deduction system (Information, application forms, in German only)
FAQ on the elektronic tax card (in German only)
Electronic income tax deduction system - Request for change (in German only)
Electronic income tax deduction system - Access to data (in German only)
BZSt - overview of the tax ID number

Registering with gas and electricity suppliers

Citizens who move to Berlin and have not yet explicitly booked an electricity or gas tariff with another provider automatically become customers of the basic supplier. The basic supplier is the provider with the most household customers.

Electricity suppliers in Berlin
The basic supplier for electricity in Berlin is the Swedish company Vattenfall or Vattenfall Europe Sales GmbH with rates designed for private household usage. 
www.strom-magazin.de/stromanbieter/stadt-berlin
price check for electricity suppliers in Berlin (in German only)
www.vattenfall.de/de/stromtarife.htm
rates by the electricity supplier Vattenfall 

Gas suppliers in Berlin
With the GASAG | ERDGAS Komfort rate, gas provider GASAG AG supplies Berlin customers who have not yet chosen any other provider.
www.strom-magazin.de/gasanbieter/stadt-berlin
price check for gas suppliers in Berlin (in German only)
www.gasag.de/Privatkunden
informs on the gas supply in Berlin (in German only)

Public and transport services - sustainability for Berlin

Service description
The Berliner Wasserbetriebe ensures the potable water supply for more than 3.7 million Berliners and treat sewage using state-of-the-art and innovative technologies.
www.bwb.de

The Berliner Stadtreinigung (BSR) is a municipal company in Berlin. Its task is to dispose of waste safely, efficiently and sustainably and to maintain a clean streetscape. Thus, BSR is responsible for a piece of life quality in Berlin. The high efficiency of the more than 5,800 employees is acknowledged nationwide. Among all comparable major cities, Berlin charges the lowest fees. 
www.bsr.de

The density and quality of Berlin’s public transportation network are on an internationally high level and even rank among the best due to the all-night subway service.
www.bvg.de

Service providers:
Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB), Berliner Stadtreinigung (BSR), Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG)

Application for child benefit

Service description
Child benefit is paid to the person caring for the child once born, regardless of income. Parents can decide which of them should receive the child benefit. Child benefit for all children

  • until their 18th birthday
  • or until their 25th birthday if in school/training birthday
  • for unemployed children until their 21st birthday if they are registered as jobseekers with the Agentur für Arbeit or the Jobcenter.

German citizens and EU citizens who are resident in Germany are entitled to child benefit. In special cases, non-EU citizens may also receive child benefit if they are living and working in Germany on a permanent basis.
The monthly child benefit is currently (as of: 01/2021):

  • for the first and second child €219
  • for the third child €225
  • for the fourth and each subsequent child: €250

Applications for child benefit must be printed out as a hard copy, signed, and mailed to the responsible family benefits office of the Agentur für Arbeit. Usually, it is the Familienkasse of the borough you live in. In case your place of residence is abroad and you are employed in Germany, it is the Familienkasse of the borough where the accounting department of your employer is located. Public-sector employees apply for child benefit through their employer.

Service provider
Familienkasse Berlin-Brandenburg


Contact
Service center for all questions related to child benefits:
0800 / 4 5555 30 (toll-free number throughout Germany)

Familienkasse Berlin-Brandenburg has several locations where you may seek advice on matters relating to its functions:

Familienkasse Berlin Mitte
For the residential districts: Mitte, Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain, Lichtenberg-Hohenschönhausen, Tiergarten, Wedding, Marzahn - Hellersdorf
Charlottenstr. 87 - 90
10969 Berlin

Familienkasse Berlin Nord
For the residential districts: Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Spandau, Reinickendorf, Pankow (Prenzlauer Berg, Weißensee)
Storkower Straße 120
10407 Berlin

Familienkasse Berlin Süd
For the residential districts: Neukölln, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Treptow-Köpenick
Sonnenallee 282
12057 Berlin

Useful links
Information of the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family on child benefit 
Family portal of Berlin - child benefit (in German only)
Information of the Family Benefits Office - child benefit forms online  (in German only)
Information sheets, forms and applications from the Family Benefits Office in different languages
Who is entitled to child benefit? - Employment Agency (leaflets and forms)
Understanding child benefit - application forms and leaflets offered by the Employment Agency (in German only)
Child benefit for people from abroad or abroad (in German only)
Family portal of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Registering for kindergarten and child care opportunities

Service description: registration for a daycare center
The first step to daycare is applying for a daycare voucher at the Jugendamt (youth office) in your borough. The voucher includes information on the type and extent of the entitlement and can be redeemed in various types of daycare centers. The voucher can be applied for earliest nine months and latest two months before the start of care.

Service description: child care opportunities
Children with a legal entitlement or a recognized need for care are guaranteed a space in a daycare facility. In Berlin, children under the age of three also have access to daycare outside the home if their parents can demonstrate a need for it. Over 90 percent of all daycare offerings include the lunch hour. Parents who work outside the opening hours of daycare and after-school facilities can apply for supplemental child care.

Daycare centers imply nurseries (for children between eight weeks and three years of age) and kindergartens (for children over the age of three until they enter school). Supplemental child care is performed by male or female daycare providers. This type of care is mainly intended for children under three years of age.

Service provider
Jugendamt in the borough of residence

Contact
infopunkt - information provided by the Senate for Education, Youth and Family
Marion Meemken
+49 30 90227-5000

infopunkt - personal consulting via phone or e-mail (in German only)

Useful links
Applying for a daycare voucher - Service portal Berlin (in German only)
Apply for a daycare voucher online (in German only)
Child daycare - Service portal Berlin (in German only)
Childcare - information of the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family
BerlinFinder – childcare (in German only)
Daycare
Multilingual daycare centers

Map
Our outline maps will help you find the right daycare center near you:
Outline map kindergartens

School enrollment

Service description
Children are generally obliged to attend school when they turn six and have to be enrolled in the nearest public elementary school. The enrollments take place from late October till early November. The exact time frame is announced in the media. At this time, parents have to enroll their children in the elementary school in the catchment area. This requires the ID cards or passports of the parents as well as the birth certificate of the child.

In case parents wish to enroll their child in a different school or a private school, they still have to file the application with the school in the catchment area first. Additionally, they have to file a motivated application for a school change in writing which illustrates why the child is supposed to attend a different school.

In case parents require a different form of schooling than the one offered in the catchment area school such as a day or half-day school, the child will be admitted in a school within the borough which offers the desired form of schooling. In a half-day school, the children can go to an after school center after class. Bound day schools offer additional care after 4 p.m. The after school center and the additional care are fee-based. Parents who need extra care can apply for it together with the enrollment in the elementary school.  

After enrolling, the children are examined by the school doctor on behalf of the Child and Youth Health Services. The parents usually get the appointment right when enrolling the child in the school.

The school places are assigned by the school board of the borough. In case an application for supplementary promotion and care has been filed, the youth office of the borough decides whether the care need is substantiated.

Contact
infopunkt - information provided by the Senate for Education, Youth and Family
Marion Meemken
 +49 30 90227-5000

infopunkt - personal consulting via phone or e-mail (in German only)

Useful links
Enrollment of first graders - information provided by the Senate Department (in German only)
School enrollment forms, support application (in German only)
Information on Berlin's primary schools
Directory of schools in Berlin (in German only)

Map
Our outline maps will help you find the right school or daycare center near you:
Outline map kindergartens
Outline map schools

Assistance for finding a new house or apartment

Service description
You are new in Berlin and ask yourself: How can I find an apartment? Who are the large portfolio holders? Where are the new apartments being built? Here you will get information on Berlin’s real estate market, e.g. the annual Housing Market Report by the Investitionsbank Berlin, the Housing Cost Atlas, tips on possible search options, contact details of providers and portfolio holders as well as the Berlin rent index.

Contact and useful links

Real estate search portals (in German only)
immobilienscout24.de 
immonet.de 
immowelt.de 
wohnungsboerse.net 

Portfolio holders housing (in German only)
Municipal housing authority 
Housing associations 
Deutsche Wohnen AG 

Temporary furnished accommodation
Berlinovo
Wunderflats
HomeCompany
HOME TO HOME

Overview of newly built objects and development projects
neubau kompass Berlin (in German only)

Additional information
Housing Market Report of the Investitionsbank Berlin
Housing Market report CBRE
Berlin rent index (in German only)

Support in looking for a job for life partners moving with you

Dual Career Service: Description of Services 
Partnership, family, and career in Berlin? If you are a specialist or manager working in research or business, the Dual Career Network is here to provide with advice and coaching during your new start in Berlin.

We provide individual advice for your current life issues, including professional reorientation, professional and social integration, cultural challenges, and the compatibility of partnership, family, and careers as well as advice on living in Berlin and finding housing here.

We offer advice in either German or English.

Service provider
Dual Career Service Berlin, Berlin Partner for Business and Technology

Contact
Dr. Diana Woelki and Rouven Sperling
Dual Career Network Berlin
Berlin Partner for Business and Technology
Fasanenstraße 85 | 10623 Berlin
+49 30 46302-127

Useful links
dualcareer-berlin.de

First information package for new Berliners - Starter Kit

Service description
The Starter Kit is the haptic version of this online offer. The information from the website is summarized in postcards or handouts either packed in a letter or a branded felt bag. A welcome greeting by Berlin’s Mayor is also included.

Additionally, there is information related to life in Berlin. This includes tourist information (street maps etc.), sector brochures or a current issue of the magazine New in Berlin and Potsdam.

Service provider
The Starter Kits can be ordered from human resources divisions at the economic development agency for the State of Berlin, Berlin Partner for Business and Technology:

Contact
Tania Vogel
Berlin Partner for Business and Technology
Fasanenstr. 85 | 10623 Berlin
+49 30 46302-107

Useful links
www.visitberlin.de

Relocation coordination

Service description
It is difficult to find the right provider for the relocation to Berlin. Therefore, professional help sure is advantageous. On the website berlin.de, you will find a relocation guide with valuable information and tips:
Relocation guide (in German only)

Brochure
New in the city Berlin

Care of relatives

Service description
Whether it is care by family members or professional nursing services, the organization of care takes a lot of time. The people concerned and their relatives have many questions, information has to be gathered, applications have to be filed and nursing services or homes have to be visited. According to the Home Care Leave Act, employees with an acute care situation in the family have the opportunity to take a ten day unpaid leave to arrange the care of close relatives.

Assistance through information and consulting is just as important as a range of appropriate nursing services. There are numerous consulting and supporting services for nursing personnel and care recipients in Berlin. More than 30 nursing stations spread out over Berlin’s boroughs give advice on all issues related to care and aging. Furthermore, every borough has a contact point PflegeEngagement which provides support by self-help programs and voluntary work. In addition, the Care Portal of the state of Berlin gives a good overview of Berlin’s infrastructure. The consulting organization KOBRA informs about legal conditions and opportunities of parental leave and care period and provides free consulting for employees of small companies on reconciliation of work and care of relatives.

On the basis of the principles “outpatient before inpatient” and “rehabilitation before nursing”, the state of Berlin supports initiatives for people who are in particular need for care due to their age, a physical, mental or emotional illness or disability. A wide range of services by care and welfare organizations and providers guarantees a well-developed care infrastructure.

Contact
Nursing stations Berlin
funded by the state of Berlin and the nursing care and health insurances in Berlin
0800-59 500 59 (toll-free service number)
Nursing stations Berlin
Current locations 
Consulting on services of the nursing care insurance and social law issues

Useful links
Information related to care and services in Berlin
Care Portal of the state of Berlin (in German only)

Support and care programs related to domestic care
Care support in Berlin (in German only)
Care at home (brochure in different languages for download)

Consulting for care workers who have reached the limits of their capacity
Care for people in need (in German only)

Search for healthcare and social services in Berlin
Portal Hilfelotse Berlin (in German only, but you can look for care facilities that speak English)

Employment and social insurance during care
KOBRA (in German only)
Berlin consumer center (in German only)

Additional information for EU citizens, citizens from EEA countries and non-EU citizens (third-country nationals)

Assistance in applying for a residence permit

Specifications
In case the recruitment process requires applications for a residence or a work permit, these applications can be supported with a special service. The Business Immigration Service has been available for this purpose for several years.

This service is comprised of the following:

  • first information on the application procedure
  • assistance in filling out the documents
  • communication and appointment arrangement with the appropriate authorities
  • quick processing by all involved service partners

This service provides support for:

  • Investors supported by Berlin's business development agency Berlin Partner for Business and Technology
  • Companies particularly contributing to the business location Berlin by their commitment
  • Highly qualified personnel
  • Other particularly qualified employees of globally active companies
  • University graduates

Generally, all new coming professionals who are not citizens of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Israel or South Korea require a work and residence permit.
The IHK Berlin, the Federal Employment Agency and Berlin Partner work closely together with the Berlin Immigration Office within the scope of the Business Immigration Service.

Contact details
Burkhard Volbracht
Head of Unit Talent Services
Berlin Partner for Business and Technology
Fasanenstraße 85 | 10623 Berlin
+49 30 46302-315

www.berlin-partner.de

Useful links
Business Immigration Service - Information by the Business Location Center
Business Welcome Service - Information by the IHK

Additional information
The registration of a residence, just as the transferring of a foreign driving license, can currently be handled in Berlin’s borough offices without a waiting time. Appointments can be made via the Service-Portal (in German only).

Opening a German current account

Specifications
Foreigners who have their primary or secondary residence in Germany can open a German current account. This, however, requires some evidence. Often, the banks offer a foreigner a prepaid current account. In this case, it is not possible to get an overdraft line of credit. Foreigners have to show some documents for the bank to process the request. Certain documents are required:

  • a valid passport,
  • confirmation of residence registration,
  • the reason for your stay in Germany, 
  • usually, a work permit.

This often results in expenses since the issue of certificates is not free of charge. Moreover, most current accounts require a management fee or a monthly minimum deposit. Those who additionally need a credit card, also have to pay a fee. In this case it is always recommended to compare the different offers. The amount of the minimum deposit, the processing and management fees may significantly vary depending on the financial institution.

Foreigners who wish to open a German current account from abroad can do so with an international bank. This bank will then verify the identity of the person by filing a request with the competent authority. Another possibility is to have one’s identity verified by a notary or the embassy and then bring these documents to a financial institution. Usually, opening a German current account is not a problem then, provided the selected financial institution actually offers this option. However, there are sometimes restrictions in the respective countries. Not all of them make it legally possible for their citizens to maintain a German current account.

An online account is another opportunity. Some direct banks offer accounts that can be opened and used entirely via the internet. These accounts have the same benefits as a regular German current account: money transfer, electronic cash and credit cards as well as a possibility of an overdraft. The account holder receives a German account number and bank code. International bank transfers are also possible.

(Source: Wallstreet-online.de)

Contact details
Berliner Volksbank eG
Commerzbank AG
Sparda-Bank Berlin eG
Santander Bank branch
HypoVereinsbank UniCredit Bank AG
Deutsche Bank branch
Berliner Sparkasse
Targo Bank Berlin
Postbank

Direct banks
N26
Comdirect Bank 
DKB - Deutsche Kreditbank Aktiengesellschaft
Postbank Giro Direkt Konto (chargeable)

Additional information for non-EU citizens (third-country nationals)

Support in transferring the driving license

Specifications
The documents or examinations that are required depends on the country that issued the licence. Germany has agreed a simplified acceptance process with a number of non-EU countries. Holders of driving licenses from non-EU countries must to take both theory and practical tests at a technical testing centre for motor vehicle traffic. A driving school can be consulted for that purpose.

The foreign driving license has to be valid and presented in the original when applying for a German driving license. In order to obtain the German driving license, it is necessary to submit the foreign one. In some cases, a translation of the foreign driving license is required. International driving licenses are technically not transferred; a valid national driving license is always required.

The borough offices are responsible for the transferring process. The driving license can also be transferred by the driving licensing authority. In order to get informed about the required documents, fees and competent authorities or to arrange appointments within Berlin, please refer to this link: Transferring a foreign driving license (in German only).

Service providers
Borough offices and driving licensing authority

Contact
Berlin’s borough offices
Contact and arrangement of appointments on the Service-Portal Berlin (in German only)
State Office for Residents' and Regulatory Affairs in Berlin (LABO) - driving licensing authority (in German only)

Your contact

Burkhard Volbracht

Burkhard Volbracht

Head of Unit
Talent Services |
International Services


burkhard.volbracht@berlin-partner.de
Broschüre New in the city Berlin

Find your job in Berlin