Basically, any international visitor who intends to stay in Germany for more than 3 months has to register at two offices upon arrival: first, the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) and then the foreigners' registration office (Ausländeramt). The only non-Germans exempt from this rule are citizens of the member states of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. They only have to register at their local Einwohnermeldeamt. There, they will be given certification of their right of residence, the so-called Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung (freedom of movement certificate).
In Bielefeld, you will find both departments in the building of the New Townhall.
Friday 7:30 - 16:00
Wednesday 7:30 - 13:00
Thursday 7:30 - 18:00
Telephone: 0521- 51-0
Monday to Friday 8:00 - 12:00
Thursday 8:00 - 12:00 and 14:30 - 18:00
Telephone: 0521 - 51
Fax: 0521 - 51 6195
If you stay longer than three months in Germany, the Residents' Registration Office in the New Town Hall should be your first destination. It is important to register within a statutory time period. The law allows you only 7 days to do this.
In Germany everybody (including all Germans) is obliged to register. This means that everybody living in the country has to register at the Einwohnermeldeamt and report where she or he is living. Failure to do this may result in a fine.
In order to register, you need a place of residence or an address where you can be contacted and registered. All you have ot do is to bring your valid passport or identity card. The same applies to family members travelling with you (spouses, children).
If you move home within Bielefeld, you have to report this to the Einwohnermeldeamt. The form can be obtained from the Einwohnermeldeamt or downloaded here from the Internet. If you move within Germany, you have to go to the Einwohnermeldeamt of your new place of residence and register your new address.
If you are leaving Germany, you must give notice of your departure. You can get the necessary form from the Einwohnermeldeamt or download it here from the Internet.
At the present time (2012), all of these procedures are free of charge.
If you will be employed at Bielefeld University, the Registration Office is also the place to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct. The Certificate of Good Conduct costs 13 Euro and will be sent directly to the human resources office of Bielefeld University within 3-4 weeks after the request.
From September 1st, 2011 the electronic residence permit (eAT) is being issued as a separate document in credit-card format incorporating a number of electronic functions. All non-EU nationals will obtain their own card.
This means an extension of the period of time between the application and the receipt of the residence permit - it might take up to seven weeks. There is also an increase of costs: the fee for the residence permit is now 110.00€, for a prolongation 55.00€. Everybody who has to travel to another country in the meantime and/or will be employed can ask for a so-called "Fiktionsbescheinigung" at the foreigners-office to bridge the waiting period. The fee is 20.00€ and a copy must be given to the employer.
For more information about the electronic residence permit in short as well as in the brochure of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees "All you need to know about the electronic residence permit (eAT)" which will also be handed to you at the foreigners' office. Here you can download the brochure in many other languages in PDF-format.
For foreigners, who have to enter on a visa, any stay exceeding the period
validated by the visa must be authorised. In order to do this you need to
obtain a residence permit. This also applies to foreigners who are eligible
to enter the country without a visa for stays of one to three months. If
you want to stay for more than three months, you must register at the
Residents Registration Office within the first week after your arrival.
Subsequently your visa, which is only valid for entering the country, will
be replaced by a residence permit. Foreigners who wish to pursue employment
in Germany usually require a residence permit authorising employment.
Citizens of the European Union, members of the EEA and citizens of Switzerland are covered by the terms of the free movement of workers. They do not require permission to pursue employment. Citizens of the New EU Member States (apart from Cyprus and Malta) are not fully covered by the terms of the free movement of workers for up to seven years after joining the European Union. They require an EU work permit allowing them to pursue their intended occupation in Germany. The seven-year rule applying to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia came to an end on 30.04.2011. Nationals of these countries therefore enjoy complete freedom of movement for workers in Germany since 01.05.2011. Nationals of Bulgaria and Romania will still require an EU work permit until 31.12.2013. Special regulations for academics from the new member states have been in force since 01.01.2009 (see below for further details).
Foreigners may be granted a residence permit for the purpose of research if they have concluded an effective hosting agreement with a recognised research institution in order to pursue a research project. At Bielefeld University, the Welcome Centre is in charge of the signing of hosting agreements. For more information, please click here.
Foreign doctoral students are usually not issued with residence permits for the purpose of research. They have to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying. Exception: doctoral students may be issued a residence permit for research purposes if their dissertation is produced within the context of a research activity that is subject to a hosting agreement with a research institution.
Foreigners who are sent from a research institution in another EU Member State in order to work at a German research institution are not issued with residence permits for the purpose of research. On principle, they have to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of pursuing gainful employment.
The highly-qualified persons are allowed to immigrate providing they have a job. They are immediately eligible for (indefinite) leave to remain. This automatically authorises you to pursue gainful employment. You merely have to submit an application to the Immigration Office. "The highly-qualified" are defined as academics with particular specialised knowledge, academic teaching personnel and research staff in leading positions.
Marital partners usually obtain the same type of residence permit.
In the case of graduates from abroad, the residence permit may be extended for up to a year after the successful completion of studies in order to search for employment.
As of 1 January 2009, the German labour market has been opened to academics (holders of university degrees) from the new EU Member States by waiving the so-called "Vorrangprüfung" (labour market test), which assesses whether a German national or another entitled foreign worker can be given priority in filling the position. The labour market will also be opened to academics from non-EU countries at this point. The labour market test will, however, remain active in respect of this group.
If you want to spend time in Germany researching on the basis of a fellowship, provided that the fellowship secures your livelihood, and depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for a residence permit for the purpose of either research or studying.
- the filled application form obtained from the foreigners-office or the Welcome Centre
- a valid passport
- a recent, biometric passport photograph
- a proof of financial means (scholarship, work contract, or alike)
- the proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung) from the registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt)
- a proof of health insurance (Krankenversicherungsnachweis)
- if applicable, a so-called Hosting Agreement, which you will get at the Welcome Centre
To apply for a residence permit for marriage partners and unmarried minors who are accompanying you or joining you, you will additionally need:
- for the marriage partner: the original or a legally endorsed copy of the marriage certificate with the authorized German translation if it is not an international certificate
- for the children: the original or a legally endorsed copy of the birth certificate with the authorized German translation if it is not an international certificate.
If applications are not made jointly, you will also need to provide your family members with a copy of your valid passport, a copy of your valid residence permit, and a proof of health insurance.
The registration office and the foreigners-office are located in the Bürgeramt:
Bürgeramt im Neuen Rathaus
Friday 7.30 - 16h
Wednesday 7.30 - 13h
Thursday 7.30 - 18h
Fax: 0521 - 51 6195
Monday - Friday 8 - 12h
Thursday also 14.30 - 18h
For more information, please see the Euraxess portal.