Working without a registration address

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Working without a registration address

Example case

Ivan from Bulgaria is new in Berlin and is looking for a job. He is staying temporarily with a friend. The friend helps Ivan until he can find hi sown apartment. The search for an apartment is not going well because Ivan has no job yet and therefore cannot provide any proof of income. He cannot register at his friend’s place because the landlord has not allowed subletting. Ivan tried to register with the Federal Employment Agency as a jobseeker. But he was sent away because he cannot provide any registration document. Ivan also wanted to open a bank account. He asked several banks, but was always turned down because he was not registered. He was offered a job in a takeaway shop by some acquaintances. However, the takeaway owner told Ivan that he was not allowed to employ him without registering with the police. He also asks for the tax identification number and social security number, which Ivan does not have. Ivan is desperate. He found a Bulgarian consulting office on the Internet where you can buy a registration address for € 100 per month and is considering taking advantage of the offer.

1. Employer

A purchased registration address is not a solution, because this is a not a real registration and it is illegal. On the one hand, Ivan will violate the law if he presents this address to the authorities. On the other hand, he has no control over the receipt of important official letters, as he would never receive the mail in person.

A registration address is not a prerequisite for starting work. The employer is therefore not allowed to ask Ivan to provide a registration certificate. It is enough for Ivan to give the employer an up-to-date address at which he can be reached, for example at his friend’s place.

If Ivan has difficulties convincing the takeaway owner, he can show him the information that the Berlin Advisory Centre for Migration and Decent Work has published together with the Berlin Senate Department for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs. The information sheet can be found here: arbeiten_ohne_anmeldung_einer_wohnadresse_ stand_28_2_2019_senias.pdf

2. Health insurance

The employer is allowed to ask Ivan to provide a certificate of registration with the health insurance company and a social security number.

Since Ivan has never been insured in Germany, he first has to choose a health insurance company. The employer must then register him with this health insurance company. A registration address is not necessary, Ivan only has to provide a contact address, e.g. that of his friend (Ivan Surname, staying with “Mr/Ms”).

As soon as the employer reports Ivan to the health insurance company, he is covered by social insurance through the employer (this includes pension, accident, long-term care and unemployment insurance). Ivan is then automatically assigned a social security number that will be sent to him.

3. Bank

Like everyone who is legally resident in Germany, Ivan has the right to open a basic account. He may not encounter any disadvantages on the basis of his nationality or his place of residence. A registration address is not required to open an account.

The basic account (Basiskonto) can be used to make cash deposits, withdrawals, direct debits and transfers.

Ivan only has to present his identity card or passport to the bank and give a postal address. It is sufficient if he can be reached at his friend’s place.  Ivan can use the application he receives from the bank or the following application form: 

Ivan can find the form for applying for a basic account in the Annex I. PDF, 592 KB, not barrier-free

He must fill out the form himself or with the help of an Advice centre and submit it to the bank. Now things move quickly: The bank has a maximum of ten business days to open the account.

If the bank rejects his application, it must also notify him within ten business days. In that case, Ivan can contact the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority himself or with the help of an Advice centre. He can apply for the decision of the bank to be reviewed there.

Ivan can find the form for the request for review in the Annex PDF, 512 KB, not barrier-free

If the request was rejected for no reason, opening the account will be ordered by law, i.e. the bank must open the account. Ivan will receive a written confirmation of the latter.

Alternatively, Ivan can contact any Anti-discrimination office:

The Anti-discrimination office can contact the bank and clarify the case for Ivan.

4. Tax Office (Finanzamt)

he employer needs a tax identification number (Bescheinigung für Lohnsteuerabzug) from Ivan in order to have access to the ELStAM data (wage tax deduction features) to make a payslip.

Since Ivan is not registered, the Tax Office does not automatically give him a tax identification number.

As a person who needs to pay taxes who is not registered in Germany, but who will earn money here, Ivan has to act himself and ask the responsible Tax Office for a tax identification number. The Tax Office requests this from the Federal Central Tax Office, which can take a while.

In the meantime, Ivan can apply for a Certificate of income tax deduction from the Tax Office where he lives. This option is allowed in § 39e para. 8 S.1. of the Income Tax Act (EStG). The certificate is issued for one calendar year and initially replaces the tax identification number required by the employer.

Ivan can find the application for a certificate in the Annex PDF, 2 MB, not barrier-free

Ivan can fill out the application for this certificate himself or with the help of an Advice centre. Ivan’s employer can also apply for the certificate for him if Ivan authorizes him to do so.

As soon as Ivan registers with his own residence, the tax identification number will be sent to him by post. He must notify the employer of this. Then Ivan will no longer need the temporary certificate.

If Ivan does not provide the employer with a certificate, the takeaway owner, as Ivan’s employer, still has to deduct tax from his wage. In this case, Ivan's income is accounted for with Filing status VI (§ 39 c para. 1 of the Income Tax Act (EStG)). If too much wage tax is deducted, Ivan can get it back by filing a tax return next year. 

5. Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) 

Ivan can also register with the Employment agency as a jobseeker without a registration address. Ivan has this right because he has his habitual residence in Berlin. Ivan does not yet know how long he will stay in Berlin, but he plans to work and live there.

Ivan should contact the Employment agency where he is staying, i.e. in the district where his friend’s apartment is located.

Ivan can easily find the address of the agency here:

It is important that Ivan can be reached by post, e.g. by means of additions to his address (e.g. “c/o”, “at the house of Mr/Ms”, etc.).

As an EU citizen, Ivan can use the services of the Employment agency even without any knowledge of the German language. If Ivan declares that he cannot bring anyone with him to translate for him, then the Federal agency has to take care of the translation, e.g. by their own employees or an interpreter hotline. Ivan does not have to pay anything for this.

Ivan can also register as a jobseeker online:

The Employment agency can help Ivan find a job It can advise him on how to find his way around the job market and help him create an applicant profile At the Job information centre (BiZ) of the Federal Agency, Ivan can, for example use computer workstations to print out or scan his application documents.

6. Residents registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt)

As soon as Ivan rents his own apartment, he must register it. According to § 27 para. 2 sentence 3 of the Federal Registration Act (BMG), there is also an obligation to register for persons who otherwise have a registration address abroad. After three months in Germany, Ivan has to register his apartment with the Citizens registration office / Residents registration office within 14 days. An apartment is “any enclosed space that is used for living or sleeping” (§ 20 Federal Registration Act (BMG)).

Many of the claims that Ivan has in Germany as an EU citizen with the right to free movement can only be obtained if he proves his place of residence and habitual place of staying in Germany by submitting a registration certificate.