Have you come to Germany to claim asylum? Once you have made it clear that you want to submit an asylum application, you will, initially, be accommodated in a nearby initial reception centre. It may happen, however, that you are then assigned to a different federal state where you will be accommodated anew in an initial reception centre. On the one hand, this depends on your country of origin and, on the other, on the number of people that have already been allocated to this initial reception centre.
Most of the time, initial reception centres are former schools, sports halls or other vacant buildings. They have many beds in large rooms, a canteen and a doctor. The premises are often fenced in and are policed by private security firms. You will be provided with clothing, sanitary products and three meals a day. You will be registered at the initial reception centre. This means that your personal data will be captured and you will be issued with a residence entitlement card. However, this is not yet your asylum application.
In the beginning, you will not be able to choose where in Germany you will be staying. During the first three months of your stay in Germany, you are not permitted to leave the area or the federal state you have been assigned to. Only once these three months have passed, will you be allowed to visit other federal states as well.
You will remain in the initial reception centre for up to six months. Within these six months, you will be transferred to a municipality within this federal state. This means that you will relocate to a different accommodation. Sometimes you may be able to move into a flat, but sometimes you may move into a group residence. There, residents must share a room. You will be living in this follow-up accommodation until your asylum application has been decided upon. It is particularly important that you inform the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees of your new address each time you relocate, so that important mail reaches you.
You come from a so-called safe country of origin? In this case you must remain in your initial reception centre until your asylum application has been decided upon. You may not leave the assigned area or the federal state.
When your asylum process has been completed and approved and you are given a residence permit, you are free to decide where in Germany you would like to stay. However, you are only permitted to leave the federal state if you are not receiving any state benefits, also referred to as social security benefits. This may, however, take a year or longer. You may search for a flat yourself and file an application. Or you can ask for help with your search. In this case, the local municipality will find a flat for you. You can get more information from the Office for Migration and from refugee initiatives.
Do you have a certificate of Duldung, a temporary stay of deportation? Then you will, in most cases, not be allowed to relocate within Germany.
I am having problems finding accommodation. Where can I get help?
You can consult Migration Advice Service for Adult Immigrants (MBE) or the Youth Migration Services (JMD). They will provide you with information and help. You can also get an estate agent to help you: Go to the website www.gelbeseiten.de. Type “Immobilienmakler” (estate agents) in the “Was” (What) box. Enter your town in the “Wo” (Where) box. You will then be shown a list of estate agents. If the agent finds accommodation for you, you will have to pay him commission. It is usually equivalent to 2 to 3 months’ rent.
Accommodation in my region is too expensive, I can’t afford it. Where can I get help?
Many places in Germany have social housing. It’s less expensive. If you want to move into social housing, you need a certificate of eligibility for social housing (WBS). You can find out more information from the housing office. Another option is housing benefit. That’s financial assistance from the state. You can find out more about this from the local authority in your community or town/city.
Additional information for asylum seekersThe amount of accommodation costs borne by the Social Welfare Office depends on various factors, e.g. the living conditions, the age and duration of stay of the asylum seeker. For this reason, no general statements can be made on this matter.
Therefore please contact your local authority or city administration. You can find out more information specific to your personal situation there.
You may also contact Migration Advice or support networks. These can be found in the “Help” section under “Addresses for refugees: support networks and initiatives”
I have found accommodation. But I am uncertain as to whether the rental agreement is all right. Where can I get help?
You can find more detailed information on this subject on the BAMF: Broschüre „Willkommen in Deutschland“: Wohnenwebsite. Every town or city also has a residents’ association. If you are a member they will help you with all your rent-related queries. But it costs money. You can also go to the consumer centre for advice. You can find your nearest consumer centre by looking on the Verbraucherzentrale website.
I have moved into my new accommodation. What do I have to think about now?
You have to register yourself. Take your tenancy agreement and go to the residents’ registration office/records office. You have to do that quickly – in some federal states you only have 7 days. Every household has to pay a monthly charge for television, radio and/or computer with internet. You can find information on the www.rundfunkbeitrag.de website. You can also have your post forwarded. Your letters and parcels will then be sent to the new address. You can find information on this at the www.post.de website.
Further questions? Write us via the contact form. We will forward your questions anonymously to the advisors of the youth migration services.Contact form