Aufenhaltserlaubnis: What is it and who needs one?

Your Aufenhaltserlaubnis is your residence permit for Germany. It's a small folded piece of paper with your photo and some anti-forgery stuff like printing and a hologram.

Any non-German EEA national or any non-German dependant of an EEA national living in Germany needs, and is entitled to, one of these documents.

When do you get one?

You should apply for one of these soon after you register.

Where do go to get it?

This varies from place to place. In some cities, the office that issues these is also the office that processes registration for foreigners. Sometimes, it is another office in the same building. It may even be in a different city! The people who handle your registration will be able to tell you where to get an Aufenhaltserlaubnis.

What documents do you need?

You will certainly need your passport, a set of passport photos, details of your apartment rental agreement and documentation establishing your reason for having this document.

The latter will be, for example, your contract of employment or, in the case of the dependants of a person working in Germany, the documents proving the relationship. Such as a marriage certificate or a birth certificate.

Apart from the passport, all of these documents should either be in German or accompanied by certified translations into German. Or course, if the person dealing with your case speaks good English, you may not need the translation.

You may be asked for some other documentation. There are no hard and fast rules but, some folks that I know have been asked to show evidence that they have medical insurance, a pension or life insurance! The last two were only in the case of people applying for an indefinite Aufenhaltserlaubnis. One chap was told that he could have one without any problems but his Romanian wife could not unless he took out life cover that provide for her should he die before their pension kicked in!

How do you get one?

You must take all of the documents that I have listed, plus any others that your local aliens office decides to ask for to that office, they will then give you a multipage form to fill out. If you are lucky, they will have a version of the form in English. If you are unlucky, you might be offered, as I was once, forms in German, Turkish or Serbo-Croat.

Once you have filled out the forms and had your documents inspected, you will be issued with the magic bit of green paper. This will be stamped with an expiry day. If you are working on a contract, it will be stamped up until the end of the contract.

Local practice varies but you might find that the issuing officer insists on stapling the form into your passport. This has never been done for my forms but friends have had this done.

What next? Until the form expires, that's it. Getting extensions is normally painless. Just take the same bits of paper off to the office and they will do the business.

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