I’m all tied up

Don’t worry, I’m still not bound and gagged on someone’s basement floor. However, that might be preferable to the German red tape fiasco I’m currently embroiled in. You see, in order to live like a real person in Germany, and do important stuff like get wifi and a smart phone (and trivialities like a bank account and a tax number), you need a certificate of registration. This is called a “Meldebescheinigung” – try saying that drunk. Actually, try saying it sober.

In order to get the Meldeblahblah, you need to have found somewhere to live and have a document stating that you live there. So, in the nicest possible German way (which is how I try to operate these days), I asked for a rental contract. I asked again. Nicely. And again. On Friday morning, realising that the polite German approach was getting me nowhere fast, I threw a good old-fashioned Irish hissy fit. The contract was in my letter box on Friday evening. Step one – check.

On Monday morning, armed with my contract and passport, I went to my local Bürgeramt to fill in the form. Inconveniently (but I suppose not unexpectedly), this was in German. However, this is never really a problem as there’s always a conveniently-placed German man willing to help a girl out. With this one’s help, I completed the form and went back to the counter to get it stamped. Silly me – like it could be that simple.

Scheiße...
Scheiße…

No, it seems that you have to make an appointment to get it stamped. So, I went home, got online and looked for the next available one – which was in NOVEMBER. Now, the tricky thing about this registration number is that you have to get it within two weeks of moving in, otherwise they can fine you – up to €500, the scare-mongerers say. So, in desperation, I called the number to see if there was any way around this.

The helpful man informed me that you didn’t necessarily have to register at your local office; you could do it at any office in the city, and some of them had a walk-in service. He listed a few and recommended that I get there early.

The next morning, I was up at 4am. I’d chosen the most far-flung office – Pankow – as I figured there would be fewer foreigners moving to that area than any of the central ones. At 7am, I walked in.

Me: Hi, I need to get this document stamped. 

Heinz: At 11. 

Me: 11???

Heinz: 11, and you need an appointment. 

Me: Can I make an appointment now?

Heinz: (handing me the same bit of card the woman at my local office had) Online. 

Me: But, but, the guy on the phone said…

Heinz: Don’t speak English. 11.

Me: But, but…

Heinz: NO ENGLISH.

As my arguing techniques in German haven’t yet evolved past Arschloch, Scheiße, and Verpiss dich, I had no option but to leave. After some more online sleuthing, and a little help from the Berlin Expats Facebook page, I found out that a couple of offices do have a walk-in service, a couple of half-days a week. (Pankow did until a few weeks ago, seemingly.)

Seemingly, some people lie down and die at this point. (Taken outside my local Burgeramt.)
Some people lie down and die at this point. (Taken outside my local Burgeramt.)

Unfortunately, this morning, I had a lesson and four other lessons to plan for, so it was almost midday by the time I made it to Kreuzberg. The office closed at 1pm. Nevertheless, I gamely joined the queue and got talking to an Italian girl. She said that she’d originally been there at 7.30am and that the queue had stretched all the way from the office on the 3rd floor to the front door.

Just as we were around six people from the magic door, the security guard came over and announced that it was all over for today. He recommended that we come back at 6am the following week.

I mean, really – if this is the best system that THE GERMANS can come up with, what hope do the rest of us have? Luckily, it turns out that being surrounded by mindless bureaucracy and helpless men brings out a hammer-happy side to me that I never knew existed.

Et voila. Built by rage. And a hammer.
Et voila. Built by rage. And a hammer.

So, German bureau-crazy, you may have won the first few rounds, but I WILL win the war. You can expect me bright and early on Monday morning – but not at 6am. That’s just insanity…

 

 

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135 thoughts on “I’m all tied up”

  1. You can’t register! If you don’t register – you pay! The bureaucrats in Berlin clearly adhere to the Kafkian school of screwing with people’s lives.

    Oh, and BTW, have you got any Kalles kaviar in IKEA? I actually bought some (thank heavens for Prisma), and then a little more – and I’m not stopping. 😉 It’s quite fishy, but it’s far from being the Swedish Marmite. And it’s absolutely gorgeous wrapped into crepes with butter and spring onions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I can’t blame you! If I were hopelessly loss in a huge shop, only to have to drag a piece of furniture across several types of transport later, the only thing I would want to do with a tub of Kalles would be to shove it up the bottoms of the people responsible! 🙂 And not in a sexy way either! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’d say it’s more comforting than worrying – that there is likely to be a group of people who like shoving whatever in the orifice* of your preference. 🙂

        * – even those, for whom ‘whatever’ means ‘Marmite on a toast’ and the ‘orifice’ is their mouths. 😉

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      3. Yeah, I like Bovril more. I’m never eating either of them on a toast, though! 🙂

        But I bet that various kinds of fermented meat and fish (like lutefisk) are far, far nastier. 🙂

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      4. Well, to make it more fun, there are native peoples in Siberia, who kill a deer, bury its meat in a hole, and let it ferment slowly in the ground for at least a year (it doesn’t spoil because of the permafrost). They mark these burials and use them as food stashes when hunting.

        They say if you try to eat this meat without being used to food like this you get the worst diarrhoea of your life. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Er yeah. I forgot to tell you all about that. ooops!
    I’m so busy having fun these days that memories of the newbie experience are long gone! I remember when I first moved here. My boyfriend insisted that we went to the various offices less than 24 hours later. I arrived on 31st July, we were in the standesamt on the 1st of August. He came with me and knocked knuckles on anyone who was trying to be bureaucratic and red-tap-like. He starred them down and loudly asked if the officals had anything against foreigners. He was blonde.
    We got all the stuff within the hour.

    Now that I know what to do, I wear a suit and high heels and act as if I want things yesterday. That works too, as they haven’t a clue who I actually am…..!
    Good luck. Anything I can do to help, just ask. Take someone who’s fluent in German with you. A lot of the officials do actually understand English but just can’t be bothered… Mix it up and don’t be afraid to use the Irish card…!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! I don’t think heels would have helped me much with the matronly type behind the counter! Still, it’s done 🙂 And only 5 hours of my life I’ll never get back 😉

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        1. You really have no choice who you go to – it’s a ticket system. Your number comes up with a room number beside it and then you just have to go and see whoever’s behind the magic door 😉 I think they changed the whole system (for the worse) in August.

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  3. Willkommen, Linda! I hate to break it to you, but it’s just the beginning. After a year in Germany one institution sent me a letter, threatening me with all the possible consequences, because they didn’t had my Aufenthaltsgenehmigung .After countless emails and telephone conversations ( how can you prove that Latvia is in EU), when i was already willing to admit my fault in illegal immigration, leave the university and go to jail, it was solved by my friend, i still don’t know, what exactly he did, but i still think it was more impressive than anything Jesus ever did.

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    1. Ha ha, it sounds it! God, sounds like you had a total nightmare Lana! Glad you got it all worked out. Wonder what German jail is like… hope I don’t find out in person! 🙂 Linda.

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  4. Oh dear, registering in Berlin sounds like a nightmare. I have done this 5 times by now in Bremen and Hamburg and never needed more than an hour or two even without appointment. Good luck and perseverance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dare I say … didn’t you have similar problems in Latvia?? Oh, and I am SO sorry I’ve missed so much of your new blog and the last few posts of your ExPat Eye in Latvia (although in my defense on that one, I was on vacation with little time for online communing). I started following this one but forgot to set for daily email notifications. Oh, hell, I’ll just sign and then I won’t need WP. Did you miss me? I hope things get sorted out for you soon!

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    1. I did! But I knew you were taking a little break from blogging so I just hoped you’d show up again some day when you had a bit more time 🙂 You’ll have some fun catching up – wait until you meet Hermann 😉
      I actually didn’t have any problems in Latvia because the school sorted it out for me. They roared at each other in Latvian for a while and I left with my personal code. 🙂
      Nice to have you back!!

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      1. Oh, dear, this doesn’t bode well for Germany then if things were easier for you in Latvia. I understand that the school helped you out, but still. Germany excels in so many other ways. Why should their bureaucracy be worse than the US 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha, I know, right? It just doesn’t make any sense at all! Seemingly it takes seconds once you actually get to see a person, it’s just GETTING to see a person that’s the hard part! I guess a lot more people move to Germany than Latvia as well. I can see why 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahh Germany bureaucracy. Warms your heart, doesn’t it?◕‿◕ Hope you managed to get your Meldebescheinigung sorted, that shit really is no fun. Ditto Finanzamt. And indeed anything else that ends in “-amt”.

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    1. Ugh, I know this is only the first step as well! It’s still not sorted as yesterday was a holiday – but Monday. Yes, Monday. Positive thinking 😉
      Thanks for commenting and following!
      Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Haa ha ha! Welcome aboard. I needed to get a new driving licence and needed an appountment to hand in the application form. Madness. Walk in service. Pah! Beaurocratic countries are marvellous.

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          1. Oh, I’m actually down to half a bottle of Russian goodness, and I AM DEPRESSED!

            I don’t know what Balzams is, but I have a bottle of Ketel 1, dry vermouth, jalapeno olives, and cocktail olives in my fridge, and I can hear them screaming to be mixed and drank. Shall we race again this weekend? 😛

            Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a remarkably similar story to the one I’m living out in Lisboa, except that every Heinz is a middle aged woman called Maria.
    Much sympathy. I decided tomorrow it’s done by 11 or I’m going to the beach – it’s my day off! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been told by German friends and ex pats living in Germany that every German speaks English – except those Germans who work in anything remotely connected to immigration, internal affairs, etc! I will press my thumbs for you (German for good luck) and hope this gets resolved quickly!

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    1. Daumen drucken? Is that right? Someone wrote that before and it stuck in my mind 🙂
      Yeah, the most inconvenient people don’t speak English at all! I’ve actually got a few total beginners groups which surprises me!

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  10. What a royal pain in the ass. I really am surprised at the Germans. I wonder if Ireland is as complicated for foreigners. At least you got your wardrobe done! Enjoy you beers – you deserve them! 😉

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      1. Hi,Linda..
        Don’t be sorry,because it was so easy for me in Ireland! Honestly,I was gone just 1 time to office to fill form,after couple of day (ok,may be a week) got my PSSN,then to bank…never heard from friends any complaint about this as well..
        Mara

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        1. Wow, that actually sounds relatively pain-free! I’m (pleasantly) surprised! Hope you’re still having fun over there 🙂 You’ll be pleased to hear that I have access to proper bacon here in Germany!

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Seriously, if this is what the Germans do, no wonder everywhere else is terrible. Also, who are the people that are doggedly still forcing everyone to do this stuff online? It’s madness, I tell ya.

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    1. I know, right? You’d expect the Germans to nail it! I can see why they thought the appointment system would be a good idea, but they failed to factor in the fine part – silly Germans 😉

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  12. Ah, the good thing is that you finally have your wardrobe 🙂 I wonder, if you get pissed even worse some time in the future, what you’re gonna to built or destroy to let go of some inner rage? I’m thinking maybe Berlin could do with some BerEifel tower, huh?
    Good luck with the bureaucracy thing. I kind of always believed that it’s a total screw up just in countries like my own, e.g. ones in the post-Soviet region, but seems we’re not alone in this mess. On the positive side of things, you don’t have at least to bring some money or other goods for bureaucrats just so they actually DO their thing

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I warned you!! Can you not do it by post? In Karlsruhe you can – print off the form from the website, fill it in and send it off. Actually, to be honest I’m not sure if that works for the inital registration – when I first moved here there was no post option so I’ve only done it when I moved twice (then they send the stamped form back with a note saying “come and see us to get you address changed in your passport” which I can ignore because we Brits don’t have an address in our passports!). Also, if we do actually go into the Bürgerbüro, there’s a ticket system. You need appointments for some things, but not registering!

    By the way, do NOT put your religion on the form even if you have one. I was conned into putting Catholic and have been paying church tax ever since. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

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                1. I don’t either, but I got a jobsworth who insisted if I had been christened then I MUST have a religion. I was only 20 and totally confused so I stupidly admitted I’d been christened Catholic!

                  Liked by 1 person

        1. We pay a TV licence fee in Ireland – and now a water fee 😉 That’s going down like a lead (water) balloon 😉 In Latvia, I think you had to have a licence to ride a bike – guess there’s madness everywhere 😉

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    1. Omg yes – NO to church tax! Reading all this has made me so happy not to be in Germany any more. I’m sorry 😦 Apparently they can’t English at you because if they make a mistake, it’s because they suck. If they german at you and you do something wrong, it’s your fault for not germining.
      Also I think they should make a dying statue of me outside the Burgeramt in Frankfurt for all the hours I’ve spent out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What?? I find Amt opening times very generous – 6.47am to 9.38am. Getting turned away is always enormous fun. Oh, and don’t forget that monthly “afternoon” slot – 2.19pm to 3.07pm. Start worrying about being deported, Germans have a saying: Unwissenheit schützt vor Strafe nicht… 😉

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  15. Haha, exactly like my memories of the German “efficient bureaucracy”. Not fun when you are in it but nightmares and laughters for manymany years. Lookoing forward to hearing how you go about actually getting your bank account… oh, and lucky fir you there are prepaids nowadays;)

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  16. I am going to engage in some language-appropriate schadenfreude here, but I just love how you are going out of your way to be nice about this entire quagmire, because #Germany. When in fact, both of us know that had this been Latvia, there would be a 100 times much ragier post about this experience, and well-deservedly, too, as it’s something out of an American propaganda film about the perils of Soviet bureaucracy or something. But that’s ok, just keep “thinking positive”! (ugh, who are you???)

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  17. Sounds just like the DMV here (Department of Motor Vehicles, where you get your car registration). What’s worse is that at the end of a seemingly endless line you get a crappy photo of yourself for all the world to see.

    Glad to see that you built your closet. Small victories!

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    1. Exactly 🙂 Focus on the positive! And on Monday, German bureaucracy will kneel before me… probably 😉
      The DMV sounds equally frustrating – at least I don’t think there’s a photo involved in this process!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. That is a lot of work for a stamp – you made me dizzy from the going there and here and applying online and the sad thing about it, you still didn’t get the stamp. But you have conquered and made progress by putting together your Ikea closet!!! 🙂

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  19. Hahah, you poor dear, now I get why you wer up so early! I’d have packed my bags I think. Also, please explain to your non-Irish readers what an Irish hissy fit is?

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  20. Hi! I found your blog a couple days ago, which is so nice as my husband and I have also just moved to Berlin so your tales so far are very familiar:-) I really recommend the Bürgeramt in Steglitz. We registered there last week…about a 3 hour wait, but we got there at 11 or so. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you’re having a nice time here! Glad you got your Meldeblahblah sorted out relatively easily! I’m prepared for a long wait, but at most of them, you can’t even wait! Linda.

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  21. If it makes you feel any better, the system for registering in Belgium is almost the same, except you have only 8 days before you are “fined”, luckily nobody follows the rules there anyway. I went to the commune 3x before I was able to complete step one… no information whatsoever posted online to make it easier for anyone…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sebastian! I read somewhere that it was 8 days here as well – but everyone keeps telling me different things! I haven’t heard of anyone who actually got fined… knowing my luck, I’ll be the first 😉
      But if you can’t get an appointment and you can’t wait in line for days on end, I’m not sure what else you can do! Surely, they have to take that into account? Thanks for commenting!
      Linda.

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    1. I know. Luckily I have some free time at the moment – if I was working full-time, I don’t know how I’d do it! I guess I’m getting into ‘German’ habits though – bed at 10, up at 4 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  22. Haha! Oh my gosh I’m so sorry. But this reminds me so much of moving to Kunming, China. Every single process was insanely complicated and basically never worked out and involved lots of waiting for people to say “Mayo” which is this catch all for “don’t have, don’t want to help you, go away.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but did you build an IKEA wardrobe!? 😉 At least something good came out of it, I suppose. I was so mad when I came in and then got even madder looking at that f****** thing still on the floor… 😉
      I wonder if there’s a word for ‘Mayo’ in German… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. well mayo means mayonese in german. btw when you buy burgers at the local McD`s they ask if you want your fries with ketchup or mayo. can you imagine eating fries with mayonese? bleehhh.

        as for the german equivalent of this chinese word “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “das müssen Sie in einer anderen Behörde nachfragen”.

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    1. I wouldn’t call me ‘cool and patient’ right now, but there’s nothing I can do until Monday so… 😉
      And it IS Oktoberfest – I think I’ve earned a beer 😉

      Like

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