Anyone who has lived in Berlin must be aware of the amount of bureaucracy that pervades everyday life.
First there is the Anmeldung. You cannot live in Germany unless you are officially registered at your address. You think you can not bother? Think again. This piece of paper (and mind, it has to be the original) will become invaluable. You will require it for almost everything you do, from opening a bank account to renting a DVD.
Yes, to rent a DVD you need your official Anmeldung, you cannot use a bill or anything else with your address on. This is Germany.
You can Anmeldung at your closest Bürgeramt. Don’t expect any help with where to go or what to do when you get there, and certainly don’t expect anyone to speak English or help with the forms.
I went alone. Many people I know took a German with, and I think this is probably the best idea. If you don’t understand German, you will have a really hard time! It seems crazy to me that everything is done only in German. In London, when I registered at one doctor’s practice, they provided all the information in over 25 languages because there are so many foreigners.
Also, unless you have all the correct forms with the correct dates and signatures, don’t expect to get anywhere in Germany. There is a love of paperwork. Everything has to be the original document. Everything takes time.
If you need to go to the job centre, they will just send you home empty-handed unless you have ALL the correct forms and information.
I got married here. You can imagine the amount of paperwork that went alongside that, not to mention the to-and-froing of certificates that had to be applied for and translated and stamped and sent between England and Germany. We even had to write a letter to the court, applying to get married.
My husband is Brazilian, and so after we were married, we also had to apply for a visa for him. So we had to go to the Auslanderbehörde. This meant an early morning and queuing, and then being made to do it all over again because we were in the wrong section.
When I went back to work, my boss asked me how it was to be married. I said there was a lot of bureaucracy! He said he hoped this wasn’t what I would remember. It wasn’t, of course. But, wow, I never want to fill in another form again.