Moving to Berlin With a Family: A Relocation Agency’s Checklist

Moving to Berlin with a Family

If you’re moving to Berlin with a family you’re in for a treat. Berlin offers an excellent quality of life for families with children of all ages.

Moving with kids is always an adventure, and it can be a daunting one at that. But it doesn’t have to be! As relocation specialists, we’ve helped hundreds of families move to Berlin and are happy to share our expertise with you. 

If you’re moving to Berlin with your family, you should know that there’s a long list of tasks, which needs to be done in a very specific order. When relocating our clients, we always follow a checklist. And while different families have different needs and requirements, it makes the most sense to follow a certain order. To help make the process of moving to Berlin as seamless as possible for you, we’re sharing our checklist below!


What to do when, when relocating to Berlin with a family


Step 1: Scope out the schools

School is at the top of most people’s minds when thinking about moving abroad with children. Conveniently, Berlin is home to a variety of international and bilingual schools. 

In Germany, kids start school at age 6, and it’s a big deal! See our article on the Einschulung for more about this. Before age 6, children have the right to free childcare. There are KITAS or Kindergartens (daycare or preschool) throughout the city, but they are full! And actually, so are the schools, which is why this is the number one thing families should start doing before moving to Berlin.

Research schools early so you don’t miss application deadlines (which are often a year in advance), and get on waiting lists. If you decide to go the public school route, you’ll simply register before the school year begins, usually in August. But if your heart is set on an international school, you should start looking at least a year in advance. Read our articles: International and Bilingual Schools in Berlin and How to Choose and Enroll in a School in Berlin to learn more about the different types of schools in Berlin and how to enroll.


Step 2: Get all your paperwork in order

Germany has a reputation for efficiency. But it also has a reputation for paperwork and bureaucracy. Before you even book your flights, get your paperwork in order. Here’s a list of documents you should have ready before your move to Berlin. You will be required to present them when applying for visas, residence permits, registering, and various other purposes. And bring copies!

— official birth certificates for every member of your family

— marriage certificate

— credit report or Schufa

— certificate of non-arrears

— recent pay slips

— passports (with at least 3 months validity)


Step 3: Apply for health insurance

All German residents must have health insurance, and you will need to show proof of a health insurance plan when applying for your German residence permit. There are multiple public and private providers that offer health insurance. If you’re moving to Germany for a job, your employer may be able to help you apply for health insurance, we can help you too. Learn more in our article on Health Insurance in Germany.


Step 4: Decide which neighborhood you’d like to live in

Berlin is a big city with a diverse array of districts. If you like a bustling urban environment or a quieter, greener way of life you’ll find both here. There are amazing playgrounds, public swimming pools, and libraries throughout the city, as well as myriad shops and restaurants. Berlin is incredibly international and super kid-friendly. So if you’re hoping to find a community of people with families just like yours, chances are good you’ll find it.

Some of the more popular Berlin districts for families include: Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Weißensee, and Pankow (former East Berlin), as well as Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, Wilmersdorf, Wedding, Charlottenburg, Friedenau, Dahlem, and Zehlendorf (former West Berlin).

If you’d like advice on which Berlin district would be a good fit for you, our relocation specialists can help. Book a consultation here.


Step 5: Book temporary accommodation

It’s common practice for families moving to Berlin to book a temporary, furnished apartment to start out with. Services like Crocodilian, Wunderflats, and Coming Home are good options.

We recommend booking a flat for at least three to six months, if not a whole year. By starting your new life in Berlin in a temporary flat, you’ll have the chance to start building your Schufa (German credit report), which you’ll need to get a permanent apartment. It will also give you the chance to explore the city yourself before deciding where you want to settle. And if you need to store your stuff while you’re in your temporary accommodation, we can help you find storage space.


Step 6: Register with the local authorities (Anmeldung)

All new residents in Berlin are required to register at the local Bürgeramt. Each district has its own, but you can register at any Bürgeramt in the city.

— book an appointment for your registration

— go to the Bürgeramt to register

— bring your passports, marriage certificate, birth certificate of the children, landlord confirmation and filled out registration form


book one of our relocation packages and we can take care of this for you


Step 7: Open a bank account

Once you’ve registered and have your registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung), you can open a bank account. Germany is home to myriad banks. As well as brick-and-mortar options, there are several online only banks. Banking is a personal decision based on your own financial circumstances. Check out our guide to opening a German bank account


Step 8: Get a German SIM card or German cell phone plan

There’s nothing like a local phone number to really make you feel like you’ve arrived. Telekom, Vodafone, and O2 are the main mobile phone providers in Germany. If you’re staying long term it makes sense to enter into a contract, but if you’re only in town for a year or two, a prepaid SIM may be best.

To get a German SIM card just walk into any mobile phone service provider and bring along your Anmeldebestätigung (registration certificate), passport, and bank account number. 


Step 9: Get your visa / residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel)

This is probably the most critical step in your path to getting settled in Germany. If you’re a national of an EU country, including Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein, you’re good to go. No special trip to the foreigners’ office required. Lucky you! But if you’re a citizen of a country outside the EU, a residence permit application is in your future. 

Helping our clients with the visa process is one of our specialties. We’ve worked with families from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States to name just a few.

We’re experts at navigating the German visa and residence permit system and would be happy to accompany you through every step of the process. From booking an appointment at the Landesamt für Einwanderung (LEA) to joining you at your actual appointment, we can be there for you, translating, communicating in German, and explaining your situation. 

Get all your documents in order for your visit to LEA

Depending on your individual situation, the documents you’ll need to bring along vary. But in general you should have the following documents ready: 

— filled out application

— passports

— employment contract or proof of work (for freelancers)

— proof of health insurance

— bank statements

— Anmeldebestätigung

— apartment lease

— birth certificates

— marriage certificate

— university diplomas and recognition in Germany 

— German language course certificates are necessary in some cases 

These should be neatly organised in a binder. And you should be able to quickly retrieve any documents you’re asked to present.


Step 10: Apply for a KITA voucher (Kitagutschein) or hort voucher (Hortgutschein)

German daycare and after school care (hort) is subsidized by the government. To get free childcare in Germany, or subsidized after school care, you must present a voucher to the KITA or school. You can apply for the voucher online, or in person at the Jugendamt in your neighborhood. You’ll need to submit: 

— a copy of your passport and child’s passport

— a copy of your child’s birth certificate

— Anmeldebestätigung (registration certificate)

— Employer certificate or Declaration for Self-Employed


Step 11: Enroll your children in school or KITA

Families with young children might want to consider the local state school (public school). Local Grundschule is free, and will give your kids the chance to learn German in an immersive environment. 

This is the process for enrolling in German state school:

  1. Register with the Schulamt as soon as possible.
  2. Receive a letter with your assigned school.
  3. Depending on age and level of German, your child will most likely begin in a “Welcome Class (Willkommen Klasse)”
  4. After approximately one year learning German in the Welcome Class, your child will move into the regular class.
  5. Your child may stay at the same school where he/she was enrolled in the Welcome Class, or move to a different school.

Public school is of course available for older children as well, but they may have a tougher time if they don’t speak German. Non-German-speaking families might want to consider a bilingual or international school for their older children in Berlin. 

Each private international, private bilingual and public bilingual school in Berlin has its own application process. These are the steps to follow:

  1. Check the school website to download applications and get application dates.
  2. Schedule a visit with the school.
  3. Gather all the required documents and submit your applications.
  4. Apply to as many schools as possible and get on waiting lists if you’re not given a spot.
  5. Book an interview, if required by the school.

Berlin is home to many international schools including the Berlin Brandenburg International School, the John F. Kennedy School, the Nelson Mandela School, Berlin Cosmopolitan School, Berlin Metropolitan School, Platanus, Phorms, and several others. Read our articles: International and Bilingual Schools in Berlin and How to Choose and Enroll in a School in Berlin to learn more about the different types of schools in Berlin and how to enroll.

Children younger than 6 can be enrolled in a KITA or Kindergarten, which is day care or preschool in Germany. KITAs are located throughout the city, but they don’t always have space. If you can’t get a spot at your KITA of choice, be sure to get on a waiting list. 


Step 12: Apply for Kindergeld

About two weeks after registering in Berlin, you should receive a Tax ID number in the mail. The identifikationsnummer, or Tax ID, is an 11-digit number assigned to each individual person as soon as they register as a resident in Germany. Every member of your family will get one, even the little ones. It’s yours for life. Keep it in a safe place. Now that you have it, you can apply for Kindergeld (child benefit payment) through the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. Your employer may be able to help you with the process. We help with this too. 

The current Kindergeld amount is as follows:

1st child: 219 Euro

2nd child: 219 Euro

3rd child: 225 Euro

Each additional child: 250 Euro

Payments are transferred to your bank account each month.


Step 13: Find an apartment

We’re not gonna lie. It’s quite the challenge finding an apartment in Berlin. It’s a lot of work. You have to be fast, and you have to have all your paperwork in order. There is a housing shortage in Berlin, and a ton of competition for every single flat. However, if we may toot our own horn, we’re good at it! Consider booking one of our relocation packages that includes an apartment search and let us do the work. Or, if you’re keen to give it a shot on your own, we recommend signing up for email alerts on

If you’re invited to a viewing, Berlin landlords will want to see:

— Schufa (German credit report) or if you’re new to Germany a credit report from your last country of residence

— work contract

— recent pay slips

— ID

— certificate of non-arrears


Step 14: Settle in

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is! But it’s worth it. And it’s what every family moving to Berlin has to do in order to set up residence in this dynamic city. And with good organisation, precision, and patience, you’ll get there. And hopefully make time for some fun in the process.

If you’re moving to Berlin with your family and would like the assistance of a professional relocation agency, Archer Relocation offers a variety of relocation packages, which can be customised to meet your exact needs. Book a consultation with us to learn more. 




Archer Relocation has been providing relocation services to families, individuals and companies in Berlin since early 2015.  Managing Director, Emily Archer, founded the company desiring to use her first-hand experience as an expat to make the relocation process as smooth as possible for others moving to Berlin.  Read other useful information about moving to and living in Berlin, such as ‘How to Find a Berlin Apartment’, on our Berlin Blog.  

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