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Registration law in Germany
Anyone living in Germany needs to register there (general obligation to register):
Every person living in Germany is obliged to register with the registration office competent for his or her place of residence within two weeks of moving into the residence. - § 17 (1) BMG (Federal Citizens’ Registration Act).
A violation of this is an administrative offense and can lead to a fine. - § 54 par. 2 no. 1 BMG.
De-registration when moving abroad:
If you move out of your place of residence and do not move into a new place of residence within Germany, you must de-register with the competent registration office within two weeks of moving out. - § 17 (2) sentence 1 BMG.
How do I get a de-registration certificate?
Many cities, municipalities and district administrations nowadays only issue de-registration certificates upon special request. You can request these certificates online via the website of the respective municipality or by fax. Occasionally this is even possible via phone. You can find the addresses, telephone and fax numbers on the internet. If you do not have access to the internet, please use the international directory assistance.
Why do I need a de-registration certificate?
If you move abroad from Germany, you will, among other things, need to present the de-registration certificate at the German diplomatic missions abroad so that they can assist you in passport matters and e. g. change the place of residence in your passport. If you are still registered in Germany, you must first contact your domestic passport authority for a new passport.
In case a German diplomatic mission abroad acts for you as the non-competent authority in a passport matter, the fees will be considerably higher and a time delay is inevitable, as the responsible German authorities must first authorize the diplomatic mission to take action.
Registration and de-registration certificates are also often required in visa matters.
What should I consider regarding my legal status in Germany (some examples below)?
If I am no longer registered in Germany,
- I can have my foreign place of residence registered in my passport;
- The German diplomatic mission in whose district I live will be responsible for my passport matters and I will receive a new passport or identity card from them;
- I cannot drive a vehicle with a German registration number. An official license is tied to a German place of residence;
- I am also no longer registered in the electoral roll for local elections, state elections, federal elections and European Parliament elections. At the municipal level, I lose the right to vote. For all other elections, I have to apply for resumption into the electoral roll in due time before the election date.
If I am still registered in Germany,
- I can still apply for a new passport or identity card at the German diplomatic mission in whose administrative district I live, but have to pay an increased fee;
- I can receive judicial letters or official documents at my German address. The delivery is considered effected when the documents arrive at this address. It is my responsibility that I actually receive them;
- The authorities of my place of residence will be responsible for me in all areas of the communal level. If I come back from abroad and am not registered, I first have to register before I can claim services at the municipal level.