How to move into an apartment in Germany

How to move into an apartment in Germany

All the little things you should do when moving to a new address in Germany: address changes, mail forwarding and more.

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.

Sign the lease

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

Pay the rent and the deposit

Once you have signed the lease, you must pay the Kaution and the rent for the first month. You can pay the Kaution in 3 instalments, or all at once. The rent is usually paid by bank transfer, so you will need a German bank account.

Don't send any money until you have visited the apartment. There are many apartment scams on the internet.

Related guide: How does the apartment deposit (Kaution) work in Germany?

Get the keys

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wohnungsgeberbestätigung
    Before or during the handover, you will receive the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. This document allows you to do your Anmeldung. You can find a template here.

You only need to pay rent after you received the keys. If your leases starts on January 1, but you get the keys on January 15, you don't have to pay rent from January 1 to January 151.

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 receive 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:

[name of person on the mailbox]
c/o [your name]

Musterstraße 123
10115 Berlin

If you can't put your name on the mailbox, you must add "c/o" to your official address when you do your Anmeldung1. This is very important. You will not receive mail from the German government without it.

Related guide: How to address a letter in Germany

Register your address

Every time you move in Germany, you 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. Book a Bürgeramt appointment as soon as you sign your lease. Appointments can be hard to get, so this will save some time.

You don't need to deregister your old address. It will be done automatically when you register the new address. You only need to deregister your address if you are leaving Germany.

When you register your address at the Bürgeramt, some services will be informed automatically:

  • Your church
    If you pay the church tax, your church will know about your address change.
  • The GEZ
    The GEZ is responsible for collecting the TV tax. You should still update your address manually here, just to be sure.
  • The Kfz-Zulassungsstelle
    During your Anmeldung appointment, you can update your vehicle registration papers. It costs 10.80€ per vehicle. You will get a sticker with your correct address on your Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil 1.

Related guides: How to register an address in Berlin, how to deregister and address in Berlin

Do your address change

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

You should also remember to inform...

  • 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 need to tell your insurer about your address change. You can usually do this on their website, or by emailing 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 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). If you live in Berlin, you can find more information here.
  • The GEZ
    The GEZ is responsible for collecting the TV tax. You can update your address here.
  • 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.

Get an electricity contract

Heating and hot water is usually included in your Warmmiete. However, 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 Check24 or Verivox to compare them.

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.

Related guide: How do electric bills work in Germany?

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 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.

Get liability insurance

Liability insurance is really important to have in Germany. Most Germans have it. 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 (Haftpflichtversicherung) 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.

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

Use Check24 or Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. Popsure and Coya offer liability insurance for 4€ per month. They are both based in Berlin, and they speak English.

Related guides: What is Haftpflichtversicherung, and what does it cover?, Types of insurance in Germany

Join a Mieterverein

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

Being a member is cheap: the Berliner Mieterverein charges 9€ per month1. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the two biggest associations in Berlin. The Berliner Mieterverein offers assistance in English1.

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 had an excellent experience with Wasch Max.

For everything else, see out other guide: Where to buy what in Berlin.

Related guide: Where to buy what in Berlin

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.


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