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Living in Berlin

Berlin fascinates numerous people — not only history buffs interested in its eventful past. Expats living in Berlin come from all over the globe and all walks of life. Our InterNations guide prepares you for Berlin with info on permits and transportation.
The Reichstag has witnessed the turbulent political history of the 20th century.
  • In Berlin, there are only two education routes after primary school: the Gymnasium or the Integrierte Sekundarschule.
  • If you would rather your children learn a different curriculum, many international schools are also at your disposal.
  • Cycling is an increasingly popular form of transport in Berlin, as it is cheap and safe with many bike lanes.
  • There are 12 boroughs in Berlin to choose between when you look for a home. They offer a variety in pricing and local environment.


Berlin is one of the most exciting, interesting, and multifaceted metropolitan cities in the world. There are about 3.5 million people currently living in Berlin, making it the largest city in Germany.

You aren’t likely to get bored if you move to Berlin. About one third of its surface area consists of parks, forest and gardens, and for the less than outdoorsy types, there are about 170 museums to visit. Due to the city’s international flair, the cuisine varies immensely. If you consider relocating to Berlin, you’ll be able to find anything from burritos to kebab to sushi to traditional Currywurst.

Once you arrive in Berlin, it will quickly become clear that it is a very international city as well as a cultural, political, and scientific center. Its quirky festivals, vibrant nightlife, countless art galleries, and impressive architecture also significantly contribute to the quality of life.

Due to its eventful past, Berlin offers quite the historical experience as well. You will find reminders of contemporary German history on practically every corner, from Checkpoint Charlie to remnants of the old Berlin Wall. Living in Berlin does not have to be expensive either, as it offers a host of cultural free activities.

An Essential for Non-EEA Citizens: The Residence Permit

If you do not come from an EEA country, you will not only have to go to the Einwohnermeldeamt and register your new address. In addition, you are required to apply for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (a residence permit) once arrived. Please note that this is in addition to any visa you might have already needed to enter the country. To get the permit, you need at least a valid passport, proof of enough financial means in order to support yourself (i.e. a bank statement or an employment contract), proof of health insurance, and proof of your new residence.

If you are a highly-skilled worker with an annual income above a certain threshold (as of 2016, 49,600 EUR or 38,688 EUR in case you are working in a field with a shortage of applicants), you may be eligible for the so-called EU Blue Card.

In general, residency permits are split into two different types: limited or unlimited permits. As the name implies, the latter is valid for an infinite period of time and you don’t have it renewed. The other, though, is to be renewed on a specific date (e.g. after one year). Since you may, as mentioned above, have needed to apply for a visa for Germany before beginning your life in Berlin, it is very rare to be then denied the residence permit later on.

Also read up on how to get a German residence permit in our exhaustive guide to expat living in Germany. 

Registration for New Residents in Berlin

The only thing EEA members planning on living in Berlin must take care of is a registration of their residence in Germany, called a Meldeschein. This requirement is mandatory for every resident, whether you are living in Berlin and want to move two houses down the block or from Athens to Berlin.

To complete the registration process, simply take your passport and your rental contract or sales agreement (with the address on it!) to the local Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).

There are registry offices throughout the city, one per borough. In Berlin, they are also called Bürgeramt and belong to the local borough’s municipal office (Bezirksamt). The registry office will become crucial concerning a variety of legal issues such as driving licenses, income tax cards, German IDs, etc.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Sean Henderson

"The good thing about InterNations is that I got to know the expat community in Berlin as well as internationally minded locals."

Anna Maria Osario

"Through InterNations I met so many other Argentinean expats in Berlin, which made the transition period really easy for me."

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