Life in Germany
September 08, 2022

First Steps Living & Working in Germany

You want to emigrate to Germany from a non-EU country and don't know where to start? Here are two important formalities you need to complete when you arrive: the residence permit and the city registration.

Eric Chappell

Operations Manager


Where to begin?

Living and working in Germany is a chance for many to realise their dreams. With a booming economy, a high standard of living and a shortage of skilled workers, non-EU foreigners have seen the opportunity to develop professionally.

In recent times, Germany's slogan has been "we need skilled workers, and our doors are open for nurses, engineers and doctors". This sounds very encouraging, but the formalities are often not that simple, so it is important to inform yourself and gather all the necessary information. Below, we have put together a basic guide to starting to live and work in Germany that will help you with the intense bureaucracy.


Finding accommodation in Germany is often difficult, but not impossible, and requires a lot of patience. In some cities it is more difficult than in others because housing is in high demand or is more expensive and there are often waiting lists. In other cities these problems do not exist. For these reasons, it is important that before you start your search, you find out what the housing market is like in the city where you want to live and work in Germany. Nowadays there are many platforms offering accommodation, be it a house, a flat or a room. The variety is wide, there is something for all tastes and possibilities.


In order to live in Germany, you must register your address with the local council within two weeks of signing the rental contract. This is called "Anmeldung" or registration. To do this you have to apply for an appointment at the town hall (Bürgerbüro / Bürgeramt / Kundenzentrum / Einwohnermeldeamt) in the town where you live. You can apply for this online or directly at your local council office. On the day of your appointment, you have to bring your rental contract, your passport and the landlord's confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung).

On the same day you will receive the certificate of registration (Anmeldebestätigung), which is a very important piece of paper, as you will be asked for it at different offices during your stay. We therefore recommend that you keep all documents in a safe place. When you register for the first time, you will be given a tax identification number (Steuer ID). This number is used to be able to work in Germany. After you have taken this important step in your immigration process, you can open a bank account and take out health insurance with the registration certificate.

Residence and work permit

To be able to work and live in Germany, all foreigners who do not have an EU passport need a residence and work permit, which is processed at the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). For this you must apply for an appointment online at the office in the city where you are registered. Plan this in advance, even before you travel to Germany, as many of these offices are overloaded and take a long time to process applications.

On the day of your appointment at the immigration office, you should be punctual and have all your documents ready. These include: residence application form, employment contract, passport, city registration, rental contract, health insurance, and a biometric photo. If the documents are in another language, they must be translated and certified.

Once you have obtained your residence permit, you can start the procedure to bring your family to live in Germany, which is called "family reunification". We will tell you more about this in the next article.

For more detailed information on Living and Working in Germany we recommend the following website:

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