In Germany, you need to report any change of address. The authorities need to know where you reside and only give you two weeks to do so. So, upon arriving in Hamburg, make sure that registering to your local state agency (Einwohnermeldeamt) is high on your to-do list!
There are many agencies in each area of Hamburg for you to register. However, you may opt for the Welcome Centre located in the Rathaus (U-Bahn Rathaus). They have a dedicated service for new non-German residents in Hamburg. In theory: great idea. In practice, they do not have a very consistent quality of service. You can walk in and register in the blink of an eye or you can run into a less service-oriented civil servant who will tell you off (in German) for not making an appointment before hand. Another feat of the Welcome Centre: not everyone speaks English. It is a very unfortunate situation that they ended up in this particular office… Anyway, although it has improved over the years, you might want to bring a friend who speaks German, just to be on the safe side.
What do I need to bring?
If you lived in Germany before or anywhere in the EU, the registration process is very simple and it is more of a formality. Make sure you bring the following items:
- Form of identification (ID card or passport) for yourself and each of your family members living with you
- The form for registration, filled out and signed (available online)
- Proof from your landlord that you reside in the address you mention
- €11,00 (payable via EC-card only. More about this card here.)
Not from the EU?
If you are not from the EU, you will have to go through the application of a residence permit. Since you should already have a visa, it is nothing all that complicated, but it still needs to be done. You will need your passport (an ID card won’t do), a biometric picture, a certificate of insurance and another form again, filled out and signed. Unfortunately, the fees are a lot higher for a residence permit. Because the procedure is different depending of your nationality, I cannot go into too much details here. Do not hesitate to contact your embassy or consulate for more information! They speak your language and can give a head start on the whole process.
If for some obscure reason you decided to leave Hamburg, remember to de-register. It is especially important if you plan on moving back to Germany at some point. Of course, if you leave Hamburg but stay in Germany, you only need to register in your new hometown without de-registering.