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Applying for a Residence Permit

If you intend to reside in Germany you have to apply for a residence permit at the Landeseinwohneramt. This authority has to deal with some of the most complex clauses in German law. It is therefore not possible in this section to give a full account of the different cases. The following details apply to EU and non-EU citizens coming to Germany as visitors, students, on business or to take up employment.
Where to go:

Landeseinwohneramt Berlin (LEA)
Abteilung Ausländerangelegenheiten
Friedrich-Krause-Ufer 24,
13353 BERLIN
Wedding U9 Amrumer Str.
Tel: 90158-0

Opening Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 07:30 - 13:00, Wednesday: closed, Friday: 07:30 - 12:00 (A queuing system is in operation. Doors open at 7:00 - take a ticket & wait for your number to appear on the LED)

Useful German Words when applying for a Residence Permit:

Aufenthaltserlaubnis - residence permit
Reisepaß - passport
Zulassungsbescheid - enrolment certificate for university
Arbeitsvertrag - Employment contract
Unterhaltsnachweis - Proof of financial support
Stipendienbescheid - grant confirmation letter
Kontoauszug - bank statement
Unbefristet - permanent
Befristet - temporary

What paperwork do you need?
  • Passport
  • Documentation of purpose of stay. Examples: employment contract, university enrolment certificate
  • Evidence of Support. Examples: Enrollment record (university), contract of employment, evidence of earnings, bank statement
  • Two passport photos
  • Evidence of health insurance (if this is not provided by your employer)

How long is this permit valid?

3 years for EU citizens (varies for other nationals). A provisional permit, valid for up to three months can be granted while you get your paperwork (health insurance, certification of employment etc) organised. So long as you come from a "nice" country (like the EU, Australia or North America) then this should be granted without much hassle.

How much does it cost?
(see below for an explanation of terms )
  • No charge for EU members
  • Befristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis - 100
  • Unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis - 120
  • Aufenthaltsberechtigung - 140
  • Aufenthaltsbewilligung (more than 3 months) - 80
  • Aufenthaltsbefugnis - 80

How long does it take?

Always moving with the times, the LEA has offered a service guarantee for EU citizens - "be there by 7:30 get served the same day." As for non EU nationals; there are rumours of children born at the LEA who reached schooling age before being served.

Is there a way to get it done fast?

Unless you have an employer who is willing to submit your application through the express "Firmenpaßstelle" the only way to get out of the LEA quickly is to get there early (like before 7:00).

Background information:

Immigration law was updated in 1990 to cope with the new influx of people into the country. Four categories of residence permits were created (before 1990 there was only one type of residence permit!). These categories, under the generic title Aufenthaltsgenehmigung, are defined as follows:

  1. Aufenthaltsbewilligung - relevant for non EU-members. The purpose of visit must be stated. This residence permit is for individuals who are in Germany for a limited period. For example students or manual workers who have been brought in to work on specific projects. It is a RESTRICTED PERMIT and has a special stamp which states the institution/company which the individual is attached to and the permit´s permanent expiry date. Members of countries, which are on the favoured countries list, can stay in Germany for 3 months and do not need a residence permit. To find out if you are on the list or not, look in the "Ausländerrecht" book (see below under reference material) .

  2. Aufenthaltserlaubnis - general term for residence permits. Relevant for EU and non-EU citizens. The permit is valid two years. After five years, unlimited residency is granted.

  3. Aufenthaltsbefugnis - granted to refugees and the like.

  4. Aufenthaltsberechtigung - for non-EU citizens. This permit is for permanent residency. It can be issued to those who have held an residence permit for 8 years or individuals who have held a residence permit without time limitation.

Where can I find more information?

Ombudsman for foreigners in Germany:

    Ausländerbeauftragte des Senats von Berlin
    Potsdamer Str. 65
    10785 BERLIN
    Tel: 90 71 +23 72, 23 67, 23 68 or 23 79 | Fax: 262 5407.

    Opening hours: Mon, Tues, Fri: 9:00 - 13:00, Wednesday: closed, Thursday: 9:00 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 18:00


    Ausländerrecht, Nr 5537, Beck-Texte im dtv,- book outlining German/EU immigration law (language: German)

    Das Aufenthaltsrecht - ein Leitfaden zum Auländergesetz - Available from the Ausländerbeauftragte des Senats (language: German)

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