It’s official: I’m a Hamburger.

Well, I’m not really a Hamburger(in) yet, having only been here for 4 days.  But yesterday we were able to make it official: I registered my residence here.

It’s a long path toward becoming a full resident of Germany, with permission to work and everything.  But I’ve taken the first step, and it feels good to have accomplished something.

My experience

The lady on the phone of the information desk at the Ausländerbehörde (our local Aliens Office) was not very helpful at all.  Even with Tobias explaining everything in perfect German, her answers were extremely confusing.  And she said that I would have to go back to the States to apply for my visa there, which I knew was simply not true. So we made a list of questions we weren’t clear on and walked to our neighborhood town hall (Rathaus) and got a number.  It was quite a long wait, so we went back home and decided we’d come back by 3:30, as the office closed at 4 p.m.

By the time we returned, our number had already been called – oops!  So we had to get another number and wait some more.  When our number was called, we went back to the office and we were extremely blessed to get a really nice man who helped us with all of our questions.  He also had a great sense of humor and was just very friendly.  He even printed out a list of exactly what we need to submit for my residence/work permit.  He also recommended that I go right over to the Einwohnermeldeamt to register my arrival here.  So we got that taken care of there, and they also gave us instructions on how to get my own tax number, since I will work freelance.  They even gave me a city guide for new Hamburgers!

Some tips

For anyone out there with a similar situation to mine, and who may also be looking for answers on what to do when you arrive in Germany, here are a few excerpts and links from sites* I found most useful in my search:

  • #1 most useful site: The United States Diplomatic Mission to Germany website’s section entitled “Working in Germany“.  This is, of course, the most reliable source in English that you could find.  Maybe my German isn’t good enough yet, but I found it was even more helpful in providing information than Hamburg’s Ausländerbehörde website.  The screenshots below are the information I found most helpful:

Residence Permit Application
I was able to get the residence permit form from my local Ausländerbehörde (located in the Altonaer Rathaus in my neighborhood), but it’s also available online.

If you’re not sure what documents you need to submit, it’s okay to ask!  Go to the office, take a number…wait…and wait…and, from my experience, it’s okay if you don’t have the paperwork there.  They’ll let you know what you need to submit, and will answer any questions you may have.  If German is a difficulty, write down a list of questions to refer to (in German!) so you don’t forget. (Heck, Tobias and I were so confused by the whole application process that we also had a list of questions.  I was so glad to have him there to do most of the talking!)

I have a lot more useful links, so I will soon be adding them on another page – similar to the networking page I made for France.

*As time goes by, these links may change, as well as the requirements, etc., and I cannot be held responsible for the continued accuracy of this post.  Hopefully some of the tips will continue to be helpful…but in the end, trust the government sources!


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