Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

back to overview

May 2001

Munich Rules

You can't stay if you don't play

Next month, we will introduce the new author of Munich Found’s Red Tape column. Many topics covered in the future will be, for the benefit of Munich’s “newbie” expats, updates of those Ian McMaster wrote about during his 10-year stint at this magazine. What better way is there to begin our tour through the city’s bureaucracy than by starting with the essentials—residence and work permits?

Though the information presented here relates to non-European Union members, many EU members will be required to go through similar formalities, albeit without the need to renew permits. Those married to German nationals must follow the same procedures, yet will, in the end, receive permits that are valid indefinitely (unbefristet).

Depending on your country of origin, your status as a tourist in Munich will last several weeks or months. Shortly before this period ends, you must report to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR) on the Poccistrasse. First, you must register your address with the police. Head for the Einwohnermelde area. Follow signs to rooms that deal with applicants whose names begin with the first letter of your surname. Once in the proper location, you must take a number, fill out a form and wait, most often, one to two hours for your number to be called. Upon completion of this transaction, you will receive a copy of your registration (Anmeldung), which you will later show to the officials responsible for issuing residence permits. Once you have done this, you may still have time—KVR hours are short and waiting times are long—to apply for a residence permit. Follow signs to the Ausländerbehörde (foreigner authority), then to Aufenthaltsgenehmigungen (residence permits). Applications are available either at centrally located information booths or in waiting areas. Pull a ticket. Wall monitors indicate which room to enter when your number is called.

The intimidating aspect of taking up residence in Germany is the fact that you must have a residence permit to remain here, but to get one you must have a work permit (Arbeitsgenehmigung). To get a work permit, you must have a residence permit. Do not let this discourage you. During your initial consultation at the KVR, you will receive a three-month permit and a list of items you will need to bring to your next visit. The charge for this is DM 25, with an additional DM 25 to be paid when the year permit is issued. Officials simply seek proof that you are gainfully employed—and, therefore, a tax-payer—and that you have medical insurance.

As soon as you have found a prospective employer, it is time to visit the Employment Office for foreigners, on Geyerstrasse—do not confuse this with the larger Arbeitsamt on Kapuzinerstrasse. Here, you will simply pick up a form, which both you and your future boss must fill out. German law states that an employer must wait four weeks before hiring you—i.e., before a work permit is issued—during which time the Employment Office will post the opening on its job bank for Germans and EU members. Again, do not let this scare you away: employers are not required to hire anyone else.

Upon receiving your work permit, which must be renewed each year, you will need to take it to the KVR with the following items: address registration, proof of health insurance (Krankenversicherung)—either through your employer, or a private policy—a valid passport, a passport-quality photograph (there are booths available at the KVR) and any rental/homeowner contracts you may have. Barring any complications, you will receive a residence permit valid for one year, to be renewed annually. After five years, you will be eligible for open-ended permits. For more information, visit the KVR Web site at which is, sadly, in German only.

tell a friend