Get registered in Cologne: Step-by-step guide

The registration office in Cologne should be at the top of your to-do list upon arrival. This is how you register in Cologne.


3 minute read
Updated on 14 Jul 2023

Upon your arrival in Cologne, there're some organisational tasks that should be at the top of your to-do list. Among your first steps here is the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Cologne, where you register your address.

We know, when you first arrive in Cologne you'd probably rather check out the Cologne Cathedral or spot the hipster cafés in Ehrenfeld, you'd rather think about your next carnival outfit than gather the paperwork for registering at the Cologne Residents' Registration Office.

We promise, the registration process takes no time at all and is super straightforward! Let’s get you started.

Why do I have to register as an international student in Cologne?

Whoo, your first semester in Cologne is coming up! In other words, you'll be staying in Germany for longer than 3 months and therefore have to register your place of residence at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Cologne.

No sweat, you won't have to hop off the plane and directly onto the next train to the Residents' Registration Office: After your arrival, you have 14 days to register your residence. Enough time for you to settle first.

What if I don't have a place to live yet or change it?

Sometimes the first accommodation is more of a temporary solution than a permanent home. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean you won't have to register your residence anyway.

You do have to register within 14 days of your arrival and, if you have found a new home, you then have to inform the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Cologne of your change of address.

No luck so far in securing a room in a shared flat or a flat? You can also register without a permanent address in Cologne and state an address to which your mail can be sent. Can you register with your friend? Then you need an informal letter from him or her confirming that he or she will accept the mail for you.

If you spend your first days, or even weeks, in hotels and hostels, you can sometimes register with them, though you'll need a certificate of accommodation (Meldebescheinigung) from them.

3 steps to register in Cologne

You can register in Cologne at any district town hall or customer centre near you. Do you live in Ehrenfeld? Then the customer centre might even be just around the corner!

Step 1. Book an appointment

This is a step you can take even before you arrive in Cologne: Book an appointment. Feel free to show up without an appointment in case you got enough patience, though if you don't want to waste your time, it's a good idea to make an appointment.

  1. Choose one of the 9 customer centres where you want to make your appointment:
  1. Select "Make an appointment online" (Terminvereinbarung Online)
  2. Pick the third item "Register your residence" (Anmeldung Ihres Wohnsitzes) from the list by marking a '1' in the drop-down menu on the left (the number of people you need to register) and then click on "Weiter".
  3. Choose the customer centre you want to visit.
  4. Select a date in the calendar for your appointment. Nothing there? Try another customer centre.
  5. Choose the time slot that suits you best
  6. Enter your details
  • Title (Mr/ Mrs/ Family/ Company)
  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Click on the mandatory field "I accept the privacy policy" (Ich akzeptiere die Datenschutzbestimmungen)
  • Click on "Complete reservation” (Vormerkung abschließen)
  1. Tada! Done.

Step 2. Gather your documents

Time to compile your documents! These are the documents you'll need to get registered at the registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Cologne:

  1. Identity card
  2. Passport (if available/ and or you do not have an identity card)
  3. National passport with a residence permit or visa (for EU citizens the national passport proving your citizenship will do)
  4. For families: identity documents of all persons moving in Registration form with the signature of the person obliged to register 5.Certificate from the landlord or landlady confirming that you have moved in (the housing certificate (Meldebescheinigung) confirms that you have moved in and must be issued by the landlord or landlady within 2 weeks. The tenancy agreement does not count here!)
  5. For married internationals: marriage certificate (extract from the marriage register or civil partnership certificate) and birth certificates of the children (certificates must be translated under oath and presented in the original).

3. Be on time!

Didn't take long, did it? Now you just have to make sure you get there on time! It's best to come 10 minutes early. If you are called and you don't show up, you'll have to make another appointment.

How much does it cost to register at the Einwohnermeldeamt in Cologne?

Registration at the registration office in Cologne is free!

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