You must go to the Ausländerbehörde to request, renew or change your residence permit. This guide shows you how to do it.

There are two ways to go to the Berlin Ausländerbehörde:

  • With an appointment
    Book an appointment online, then go to your appointment. It’s almost impossible to find an appointment online.
  • Without an appointment
    If you can’t get an appointment, you must apply by email. You can’t go in person without an appointment.21

Is it hard to get an appointment?

It’s almost impossible. It takes weeks just to find an appointment.1 If you apply by email, it can take months to get an answer. Start looking for an appointment as soon as possible.

If this is your first residence permit, you can’t work, freelance or study while you wait for your residence permit. You need enough savings to survive during that time.

If you are moving to Berlin, start looking before you arrive. You can also apply for a visa in your home country, and only move to Germany when you have permission to work.

How to get an appointment


Book an appointment online on the Ausländerbehörde website.

Most of the time, there are no appointments available. This is not a bug. Check again every few minutes. Sometimes, the website crashes. Try again later.

New appointments appear at random times, mostly during working hours. Short-term appointments appear on Wednesdays and Fridays.2

If you find an appointment, it can be months later. After your appointment, you must wait until your residence permit is approved. This can also take a few months.

If your visa expires soon ↓

By email

If you can’t find an appointment online, you can:3

  • Ask for an Ausländerbehörde by email
  • or apply for a residence permit by email

To do this, you must…

  1. Choose the right department to email
  2. Write an email in German. It must include:
    • What you need
    • Your full name
    • Your date and place of birth
    • Your nationality
    • The expiration date of your visa or residence permit
    • If your residence permit expires soon, ask for a Fiktionsbescheinigung20
  3. Attach all required documents for your residence permit application. Complete applications are processed faster.20
  4. Send your email and wait for a response. It can take a few months.

The Ausländerbehörde can take days, weeks or months to answer.4 It depends on how urgent your situation is, and how complete your application is.

If you send all your documents, it counts as a residence permit application.

If your visa expires soon ↓

By registered mail

You can send your residence permit application by registered mail. It’s not better or faster than email.20

During your appointment

Going to your appointment

Bring your appointment confirmation. You must have it to enter the Ausländerbehörde.21

Find the right office, floor and room. This information is in the email you get after you book your appointment.

Sit in the waiting room, and wait until your number is called on the television. When your number is called, go to the office number you see on the television.

Berlin Ausländerbehörde appointment room

The residence permit interview

You will sit in front of an Ausländerbehörde employee, and show your documents. They will ask for specific documents one by one.

This appointment takes around 10 minutes.5 They will tell you to go in the waiting room again. They will call your number again in 5 to 45 minutes.

Some employees speak English, but many only speak German. If you don’t speak German, bring a translator with you. Red Tape Translation and Booka Local can go to the Ausländerbehörde with you. You can also bring an immigration lawyer or a relocation consultant.

If your current residence permit expires soon, ask for a Fiktionsbescheinigung. It lets you stay in Germany for a little longer. Some versions of the Fiktionsbescheinigung let you travel outside of Germany.7

How the Fiktionsbescheinigung works ➞

Some residence permits are approved on the same day, during your interview. You get a paper residence permit, pay the fee, and leave. Around 8 weeks later, you get your plastic residence permit by post.

Most residence permits are approved 1 to 6 months later.6

After your appointment

If your application is approved

1 to 6 months after your application,6 you will get a letter with the PIN and PUK for your plastic residence permit (elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel or eAT). You don’t need to do anything yet. A few weeks later, you will get your residence permit by post.

Your residence permit is valid between 6 months and 4 years. It depends on what residence permit you get, and how good your application is. Freelancers can get a shorter freelance visa if their income is low or if their health insurance is not good enough. When your residence permit is about to expire, you can renew it. The process is very similar.

If you had a German residence permit for over 3 years, you might get an unrestricted residence permit. It lets you do any type of work you want. For example, you could get a full time job, study or even open a restaurant.

Your residence permit is a plastic card, not a sticker in your passport. Your address is written on the card. If you move to another address, they will update your residence permit during the Anmeldung. They just put a sticker with your new address on your residence permit.

If your application is rejected

If some documents are missing, they will give you a new appointment in a few days. This gives you time to get the missing documents and apply again.

If your current visa expires soon, you might get a temporary visa (Fiktionsbescheinigung). It lets you stay in Germany a little longer. It gives you time to apply again.

If you get a rejection letter later, it will ask for more information, or tell you why your application was rejected. You still have a month to respond or appeal. If this happens, you should probably hire an immigration lawyer to help you.

If you don’t get a residence permit, you pay nothing.

If you don’t get an answer

If you apply, and you don’t get an answer after 3 months, you can sue the Ausländerbehörde.8 This is called an Untätigkeitsklage nach § 75 VwGO. Usually, it makes them move faster. In most cases, the state pays for your legal expenses. In other cases, it costs around 400€.22 Immigration lawyers can help you do this.

If the Ausländerbehörde can’t reach you, they will post the information here.

How to pay the residence permit fee

When your residence permit is approved, you must pay a fee. You only pay the fee if you get a residence permit is approved. If your application is rejected, you pay nothing.

They will give you a plastic payment card (Kassenkarte). Bring that card to a payment machine (Kassenautomat). Follow the signs to find the payment machines. These machines accept cash, EC cards, Visa and Mastercard.9 If your card is not accepted, you can also get cash from this nearby ATM, even at night.

Ausländerbehörde Kassenautomat

After you pay, you can go home. Keep your receipt; residence permit fees are tax-deductible.

If your visa expires soon

In some cases, you can stay in Germany after your visa or residence permit expires.

If you have a residence permit

You can stay in Germany until the Ausländerbehörde makes a decision if…

  • You have an Ausländerbehörde appointment and you booked your appointment while your residence permit was valid19
  • or you applied by email while your residence permit was valid11
  • or you have a Fiktionsbescheinigung

In those cases, you can stay in Germany even if your residence permit expires.18 You can continue working, freelancing or studying until your appointment date.10 You must book the appointment while your residence permit is valid.

If your residence permit expires soon, ask for a Fiktionsbescheinigung. It lets you travel outside of Germany after your residence permit expires.

If your residence permit expires, and you travel outside of Germany without a Fiktionsbescheinigung, they might not let you re-enter Germany.12

Information about the Fiktionsbescheinigung ➞

If you don’t have a residence permit

If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom or the United States,13 you can stay in Germany for 90 days without a visa. If you have an Ausländerbehörde appointment or if you applied by email, you can stay in Germany until your appointment.18 You can’t work, study or freelance while you wait for your residence permit.

You can rarely convert a Schengen visa to a residence permit.14 You can’t come to Germany on a tourist visa, then apply for a work visa, Blue Card or freelance visa.15 If you want a German residence permit, you must apply in your own country.

You can rarely extend a Schengen visa.16 An Ausländerbehörde appointment does not extend your Schengen visa.17 You must leave Germany before your Schengen visa expires. You won’t get a Fiktionsbescheinigung if you are on a Schengen visa.

During your Ausländerbehörde appointment, the interviewer can give you a Fiktionsbescheinigung. This temporary residence permit lets you stay in Germany while you wait for your new residence permit. If you forgot some documents, the Fiktionsbescheinigung also gives you time to reapply.

Questions and answers

Do they speak English at the Ausländerbehörde?

Sometimes, but not always. You should bring an interpreter with you. Red Tape Translation and Booka Local can go to the Ausländerbehörde with you. You can also bring an immigration lawyer or a relocation consultant.

How can I contact the Ausländerbehörde?

The Ausländerbehörde is hard to contact. They rarely answer the phone, and they can take months to answer emails. You must contact the department that is responsible for your nationality or residence permit type. Use this list.

You can also get help from other places. This is often much faster.

Which Ausländerbehörde should I go to?

It depends on what you need to do, and on your nationality. There are two Ausländerbehörde locations. There are two Ausländerbehörde locations: Keplerstraße and Friedrich-Krause-Ufer. Each Ausländerbehörde offers different services for different nationalities. You must go to the correct one.

Where to get help

Where to find help ➞ Immigration questions

If you need someone to go with you, I recommend Red Tape Translation. Kathleen often helps me with Ausländerbehörde questions. They also offer help sessions for visa applications. Booka Local can also go to the Ausländerbehörde with you.

This Facebook group answers questions about the Ausländerbehörde.

Sources and footnotes


  3., Red Tape Translation 

  4.,, Red Tape Translation 


  6. Red Tape Translation,,,,, 

  7. fem.os, 









  16. Auswärtiges Amt 

  17. Red Tape Translation 

  18., §81 Abs. 3 AufenthG, Facebook, 

  19., §81 Abs. 4 AufenthG 

  20. Fiona Macdonald, immigration lawyer (February 2023)