Holiday and Shopping Info
Public Holidays 2014
Berlin Guidefor vistors and residents
berlin.barwick.de & blog
If you intend to live in Germany for any significant length of time (i.e. longer than permitted by a tourist visa etc.), you'll need a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis / Aufenthaltsbewilligung). This is also required if you wish to take up employment.
EU citizens (with the exception of those from some of the more recent member nations) as well as citizens of EFTA nations basically have the legal right to come to Germany to live and work. As of 2005 the requirement to obtain an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) has been dropped. Initially you should be able to register as a resident and make all your arrangements without any further documentation.
However, it is advisable that you obtain a "Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung" (a document which officially confirms your status as an EU citizen) - the more pieces of paper you have, the better. This can be obtained from your local Bürgeramt. The following page contains further information, including a link to an application form (PDF):
Note that close relatives (e.g. spouse, children) of EU citizens who are not EU nationals still require a formal Aufenthaltserlaubnis (to which they are usually legally entitled); this also allows them live and work in Germany with the same rights as EU citizens.
For general information in English from the German government, see the page Enlargement of the European Union from the Federal Interior Ministry.
Where to go
All residency issues are dealt with by the Foreigner Authority (Ausländerbehörde) of the snappily named Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten (formerly Landeseinwohneramt Berlin, Abteilung Ausländerangelegenheiten) located in Wedding:
Until recently they operated on a queue system, which meant you had to turn up very early (well before the usual opening time of 7am), queue for a ticket, then wait half the morning until your number was called up. This has now been transformed into an appointment system; you will need to make an appointment by telephone, by email or in person. The following page contains more information:
As of the time of writing the above page says "Please you have understanding for the fact that in the next 6 - 8 weeks all dates are already assigned" (sic).
If it's your first time dealing with the Ausländerbehörde, it might be an idea to turn up in person (bringing with you as much documentation as possible). It's unlikely that you'll get an appointment on the same day, but the receptionist will be better able to advise you on who to see and what to bring (and if any documents require translation).
What to take with you
At the very least you'll need your passport and Anmeldebestätigung (resident registration). You will probably need several passport-sized photos, your rental contract and proof of health insurance (Krankenversicherung) too; and most likely proof of income, e.g. job contract, tax return etc. Generally it's advisable to take every single bit of documentation you possess, and make copies of as much as possible beforehand. Coin-operated photocopies and photo booths are available, but are expensive and in high demand.
As an EU citizen I've found the Ausländerbehörde to be reasonably
user-friendly, especially in recent years (at the start of the 1990's
it was very chaotic and overcrowded - I remember turning up once at 6am
and not getting in). It's best to be prepared as possible - bring
everything you have (many is the time I've spoiled an official's day by
triumphantly extracting some obscure piece of documentation from my
case). From my own experience and that of others, it seems
individual officers have a fair degree of discretion when it comes to
interpreting the laws and regulations; and they have been known to be
wrong about certain matters. Remember you're dealing with "civil
servants" (Beamte), and German ones with a job for life at that - a respectful but assertive attitude works best.
The Federal Interior Ministry has general information on immigration issues at http://www.zuwanderung.de/english/ .