Everything You Need To Know About Visiting the Foreign Office in Berlin Made Easy!

Planning to move to Berlin in the next few months? 

Besides all of the logistics, shopping, learning German, and mentally preparing yourself for the move, there is one more thing you need to keep in mind. There is an official government office or a foreign office in Berlin that you need to keep in touch with frequently. 

They are essentially involved with most of the governmental and administrative processes for a smooth move abroad. We have collated everything you need to know before you visit the foreign office in Berlin. 

Don’t worry, the first time is the hardest, but as an expat, you will become acquainted with these visits soon enough!

Understanding the Importance of the Foreign Office in Berlin

The foreign office or Ausländerbehörde literally means “foreigners’ authority.” It is the government office in Berlin responsible for immigration matters.  If you’re moving to Berlin from abroad, this is the agency you’ll interact with most frequently.

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foreign office in Berlin

Roles and Responsibilities of the Foreign Office in Berlin and Other Cities

The foreign office oversees all aspects of foreign immigration in Berlin. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Processing visa applications for various purposes (work, study, family reunification, etc.)
  • Issuing and renewing residence permits for foreigners living in Berlin
  • Handling registrations for new arrivals
  • Overseeing deportation and repatriation procedures

How to Prepare to Visit the Foreign Office in Berlin? 

There are two important steps you need to keep in mind when you are paying a visit to the foreign office in Berlin: preparation of documents and booking your spot in advance. 

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foreign office in Berlin

Preparation of Documents for Your Visit to the Foreign Office in Berlin

Visiting the foreign office in Berlin is often document-heavy. To ensure a smooth visit, come prepared with everything they need. 

Unfortunately, there’s no single checklist that applies to everyone. The specific documents required depend on your situation (e.g., visa type, residence permit category). Start by researching the specific procedure you need on the official Berlin Senate website. 

Make sure to gather all the requested documents well in advance. This might involve obtaining official transcripts, birth certificates, or police clearances from your home country. You also need to remember, that if you are an expat and your official documents are in a different language, you will need to get them translated. 

Depending on why you need to visit the foreign office in Berlin, find all the necessary application forms on the official website and fill them out. Carefully fill out any application forms you find on the Berlin Senate website. If possible, do all paperwork, including filling out forms electronically, as handwritten forms may require re-doing. 

It is absolutely important to organise your documents in clear, separate folders labelled according to their purpose to make everyone’s life easier. In case of any issues, keep copies of everything around, including your passport and ID. A little backup can never really hurt!

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foreign office in Berlin

Pre-booking Your Appointments at the Foreign Office in Berlin

Scheduling an appointment with the foreign office in Berlin can be tricky due to high demand. There are two ways to go about it:

  • Online Booking: The preferred method is to book appointments online through the Berlin Service Portal. You’ll need to create an account and navigate to the specific service you require.
  • Booking in Advance: Book your appointment as early as possible, ideally several weeks or even months in advance, especially for procedures with high demand (e.g., residence permit extension).

Thursdays are notoriously busy due to extended opening hours, so it’s best to opt for weekdays earlier in the week (Monday or Tuesday) if possible. Also, Wednesdays are appointment-only, and Fridays are closed.

We know how frustrating it is to finally get your appointment booked with the foreign office in Berlin, but persistence and patience can get you a long way ahead. 

Appointment Day at the Foreign Office in Berlin 

Like any important and official meeting, there are a few rules that cannot be messed with. Arrive early for your appointment and make sure to be dressed for the part. We know life happens, but what’s important is that you are there at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment. 

If you get lost, remember, that the office is large and sprawling, but there are ways to find your around it. Look for signage or ask security personnel for directions to the waiting area for your specific department. Additionally, your appointment confirmation might also indicate the floor and room number, so just locate them and ask for help (don’t just wander around or look suspicious).

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Common Challenges that May Occur on Your Visit to the Foreign Office in Berlin

  • Missing Documents: If you realize you’re missing a crucial document, stay calm. Explain the situation politely to the staff. They might be able to reschedule your appointment or suggest alternative solutions (e.g., submitting the missing document electronically).
  • Copies and Digital Backups: Having copies of all documents is a lifesaver. If a document is missing, a copy might suffice until you can provide the original. Digital backups stored on a cloud service or USB drive offer an extra layer of security.
  • Remain Professional: Unexpected situations can be stressful. However, avoid getting flustered or arguing with the staff. A calm and professional demeanor will help find a solution.

The foreign office in Berlin is notorious for long wait times. The next time you need to visit them in person, pack for a long wait, whether that is a snack, water, or some form of entertainment like a book or a podcast. Some departments may also have a ticketing system that tells you exactly how long it will take to get to your turn. 

foreign office in Berlin

What to Do After Your Appointment at the Foreign Office in Berlin

You need to keep track of your application progress post your visit to the foreign office in Berlin. 

  • Understanding Processing Times: Each procedure at the foreign office in Berlin has a designated processing timeframe. This information should be available on the confirmation documents you received after your appointment or on the website.
  • Waiting vs. Following Up: Factor in the processing time before initiating follow-up inquiries. For instance, residence permit extensions typically take 4-8 weeks. Contacting them before this period might be seen as unnecessary.

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Following Up After Visiting the Foreign Office in Berlin 

If the processing time has exceeded expectations, there are a few ways to follow up such as:

  • Online Portal: The Berlin Service Portal allows you to check the application status for certain procedures (if applicable).
  • Email: Some departments might accept email inquiries. Check the confirmation documents or website for contact information.
  • Phone: Calling the Ausländerbehörde can be challenging due to high call volume. However, it may be an option if online methods are unavailable. Be prepared for long wait times.
foreign office in Berlin

So there you have it, a quick and simple guide to everything you need to know about your first visit to the foreign office in Berlin. It might seem intimidating and scary, but as soon as you step into the office, you will be welcomed with warm German hospitality and a helping mentality. 

You really got this! 

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