After you find an apartment and leave your old apartment, it's time to move into your new apartment. In this guide, we tell you everything you need to think about when moving into the new flat.

This is only a guide about moving into a new apartment. For advice about moving to Berlin, read this guide.

Sign the lease

The first step is to sign the lease. Do not do anything else until you signed the lease. Do not pay the deposit (Kaution) or the rent until the lease is signed.

A guide to rental contracts in Germany - Red Tape Translation

If you join a tenants' union (Mieterverein), they can check your lease, and help you when you have problems with your landlord. Legal insurance also gives you free access to a lawyer.

Get the keys

After you sign the lease, you will meet with the landlord to do a few things:

  • Fill the Übergabeprotokoll
    You will fill a document called the Übergabeprotokoll. This document describes the condition of the apartment. You must return the apartment in the same condition. Make sure it describes everything: scratches on the floor, holes in the wall, broken faucets etc. Take a lot of pictures of every part of the apartment.
  • Get the apartment keys
    You will receive the keys for your apartment, and for your mailbox. Make sure that you get the same number of keys as described in the Übergabeprotokoll. Many landlords ask you to pay the deposit before they give you the keys, but this is not legal1, even if it's written in your lease.
  • Get the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung
    Before or during the handover, you will get the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. This document allows you to register your address (Anmeldung).

Pay the rent and the deposit

When to pay the rent and deposit

You must pay the deposit (Kaution) and the rent (Miete) for the first month. Do it after you get the keys, and before your lease starts. You don't need to pay immediately after you sign the lease. If your leases starts on January 1, but you only get the keys on January 15, you don't have to pay rent from January 1 to January 151.

You can pay the deposit in 1 payment, or in 3 instalments: 1/3 of the deposit before you move in, 1/3 before the end of the first month, and 1/3 before the end of the second month1.

Don't pay anything before you see the apartment in person. Some thieves ask for a deposit for apartments that don't exist, and they steal your money1. It's a very common scam.

Common apartment scams ➞

How to pay the deposit

You usually pay the rent and deposit by bank transfer, so you need to open a bank account. You can also pay with cash, but always ask for a recipe. No one pays with checks or wire transfers. You can also use Wise to send money from another country, but it's better if you wait until you are in Germany and see the apartment in person.

If you don't have enough money for the deposit, you can get a Mietaval.

How apartment deposits work in Germany ➞

Put your name on the mailbox

When you move in, the landlord or the Hausverwaltung will put your name on the mailbox. If your name is not on the mailbox, you will not get your mail.

Landlords sometimes refuse to put your name on the mailbox if your name is not on the lease1. If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must use "c/o" in your address everywhere. Here is an example:

[your name]
c/o [your roommate's name]
(the roommate who has their name on the mailbox)
Musterstraße 17
12345 Berlin
Deutschland

If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must add "c/o" to your official address when you do your Anmeldung. This is very important. You will not receive mail from the German government without it.

Register your address

Every time you move in Germany, you must go to the Bürgeramt and register your new address. This is called the Anmeldung. You will get a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) for your new address. If this is the first time you register, you will also get a tax ID.

How to register your address in Germany ➞

Book a Bürgeramt appointment as soon as you sign your lease. Appointments are hard to find, so you must be patient. The appointment date must be after you move in.

If you move from another place in Germany, you don't need to deregister your old address. When you register the new address, they will deregister your old address automatically. You only need to deregister when you leave Germany.

When you register your new address at the Bürgeramt, they will tell other people:

  • Your church
    If you pay the church tax, your church will know about your address change.
  • The TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)
    The ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice knows when you change your address. They will collect the TV tax for your new address. You should still update your address manually here, just to be sure.
  • The Ausländerbehörde
    Bring your residence permit, Personalausweis and vehicle papers to your Anmeldung appointment. They will put a sticker with your new address on them. You don't need to go to the Ausländerbehörde to update your residence permit.
  • The Kfz-Zulassungsstelle
    Bring your vehicle registration papers to your Anmeldung appointment. They will put a sticker with your new address on your Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil 1. It costs 10.80€ per vehicle.

Do your address change

You can use umziehen.de to tell over 1000 companies about your address change. This is a free service from Deutsche Post. They only share your new address with businesses that know your old address.

You should also tell...

  • Your bank
    You can change your address on your bank's online portal, or by asking your financial advisor.
  • Your car/home insurance
    If you have vehicle or home insurance, you must tell your insurer about your address change. You can usually do it on their website. You can also contact your insurance broker.
  • Your health insurance
    You can change your address on your health insurer's online portal, or by asking your insurance broker.
  • The Finanzamt
    • If you have a business
      If you use your home address as your business address, you must tell the Finanzamt about your address change1. This page tells you how to do it yourself. Your tax advisor can also do it for you. If your new address is served by a different Finanzamt, you will receive a new Steuernummer1. Don't forget to update your website's Impressum.
    • If you have a dog
      You must tell the Finanzamt about your address change. This is because you must pay a dog tax (Hundesteuer). This guide shows you how to change your address. You must also change your address in the dog registry (Hunderegister). How to register your dog in Berlin.
  • The TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)
    The ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice collects the TV tax. You can update your address here. More information about the TV tax.
  • The Kfz-Zulassungsstelle
    If you have a vehicle, you must update your registration papers. You can do this at the local Kfz-Zulassungsstelle or online. You will receive a new Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil 11. You can also do it during your Anmeldung. If you move to the same city, you can keep the same registration plates1.
  • The Kita-Gutscheinstelle
    If you send your children to a Kita, you must request a Kitagutschein for your new address.
  • The Ordnungsamt
    If you have a dog from a dangerous breed (pit-bull, American Staffordshire terrier, bullterrier), you must register it at the Ordnungsamt every time you move. If you live in Berlin, start here.
  • The Hunderegister
    If you have a dog, you should update their address in the Hunderegister.

Get an electricity contract

Heating and hot water is usually included in your Warmmiete. But you still need electricity for the lights and the appliances. You must sign a contract with an electricity company. There are many electricity companies to choose from. Use Verivox or Check24 to compare electricity companies. If you don't speak German, Ostrom has a website in English, and English-speaking customer support.

How electric bills work in Germany ➞

Be careful! Many electricity companies offer a lower price for a year or two. After a year or two, you will pay a lot more for electricity. You can take advantage of this by switching to a new electricity company every year or two. Many Germans do this.

If you already have an electricity contract, can it transfer to your new address. This service is usually free. You just need to call your electricity provider. If you can cancel your contract, you can get a lower price by switching to another electricity company.

It only takes a few minutes to get a new electricity contract or to transfer your current contract. No one needs to visit your house, and you don't need an appointment. You just give them the electricity meter number (Zählernummer) and reading (Zählerstand), and you are done. You can do this as soon as you have signed the Übergabeprotokoll. The electricity meter is usually in the basement. Your landlord can help you do this.

Get an internet contract

If you need internet at your new apartment, sign a contract as soon as possible. It takes a few weeks to get the internet connected at a new address. Use Verivox or Check24 to compare internet service providers.

If you already have an internet contract, you can usually transfer it to your new address. This is not always free. For example, Vodafone charges 40€ to move your contract to a new address. It's not always possible to cancel your internet contract, so this is often the only option.

Sometimes, your current internet company can't service your new apartment. In this case, you can cancel your contract.

Get liability insurance

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is really important in Germany. 85% of Germans have it1. It's really cheap: less than 5€ per month.

If you cause an accident in Germany, the victim can sue you. If the victim wins, you have to pay reparations1. A lawsuit like that can easily ruin you. Liability insurance protects you from such damage claims. If you cause an accident, your insurance company will pay the legal fees and the reparations. For example, if your washing machine breaks and floods your neighbour's apartment, your insurance will pay for it.

What is liability insurance? ➞

The things you have in your apartment are not covered by liability insurance. If you want to insure your furniture or your electronics, you need a household insurance (Hausratversicherung)1. Household insurance can also cover your bicycle.

Types of insurance in Germany ➞

Use Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. Feather, GetSafe, Luko and Lemonade offer liability insurance for less than 5€ per month. They all speak English. If you don't speak German, they are a good option. Both also offer household insurance (Hausratversicherung).

Join a Mieterverein

A tenants' association (Mieterverein) protects tenants from their landlords. When you are in a Mieterverein, you can get help from their lawyers. They can check your lease, help you with a bad landlord, get your rent reduced, and help you sublet an apartment.

The membership costs around 5€ per month. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the two biggest associations in Berlin. The Berliner Mieterverein offers help in English1.

You can also get free help from the Mieterberatung. This is a free service from the city of Berlin. They might not speak English.

Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions

You can also get legal insurance. Legal insurance lets you talk to a lawyer when you have a problem. It also pays for your legal costs if you sue someone. It covers more things than a Mieterverein, but it's more expensive. If you don't speak German, Feather and GetSafe have legal insurance in English.

What is legal insurance? ➞

Check if your rent is too high

In Berlin, rent prices are limited by the law. Some landlords charge more than they are allowed. If your rent is above the legal limit, you can request to have it reduced. You can use this calculator (English), this calculator (German) or this calculator (German) to see if you pay too much rent.

Conny (also called Wenigermiete) helps people reduce their rent. If they are successful, they keep a part of your refund. If they are not successful, you pay nothing. 70% of their submitted cases are valid, and 90% of submitted claims are successful. You might have to wait a few months1, but you can save thousands of euros. You can do it as soon as you sign your lease, or later1.

If you are a member of a tenants' association (Mieterverein), they can also help you reduce your rent1. For example, Berliner Mieterverein can check your lease, and tell you if you are paying too much rent. Conny is a law firm, not a tenants' association.

You can also contact a lawyer. This is a more expensive option. If you have legal insurance, it might cover this.

Buy furniture and appliances

You can buy used appliances from eBay Kleinanzeigen. Used appliances are much cheaper. Professional sellers offer a 12 month warranty and free delivery. Only buy your appliances from sellers with old accounts. Some scammers create accounts, sell broken appliances for a few days, and disappear. I bought many appliance from Wasch Max.

Where to buy what in Berlin ➞

If you need help to move furniture, you can use a Möbel Taxi, or rent a van with Miles. You can find more moving services on eBay Kleinanzeigen.

Install light fixtures

Most apartments come without light fixtures. You will need to get your own from Ikea or some other furniture store. You can hire a Handwerker to install them for you. You can find a Handwerker on eBay Kleinanzeigen.

First apartment in Berlin?

Hard water

The tap water in Berlin is hard water1. Hard water is safe to drink, but it leaves limescale deposits on your kettle, coffee machine, clothes iron, toilet, faucet and shower head. It also tastes different in tea.

  • Use decalcifier (Entkalker), citric acid or vinegar to clean limescale. You can buy it on Amazon or in any supermarket.
  • Boil the water 2 to 3 times to remove the taste. The minerals will deposit at the bottom of the kettle. You can also use a water filter.

Water hardness in Berlin - Berliner Wasserbetriebe

Need help?

Where to find help ➞ Apartment questions