Becoming A Permanent Resident of Germany: 6 Tips for American Citizens with German Spouses

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“Those colors. So strong, yet so intimidating…” — Photo by Trine Juel (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjuel/)

Are you an American citizen married to — or about to marry — a German citizen? Do you wish to move to Germany and live there as a permanent resident? Then congratulations! You have no sense of fear whatsoever! Man, woman or transgender — you have great big balls. Seriously, like 25% of your body weight is pure testicle. (And for that, I salute you.)

Because I have already made the leap myself, people email me all the time and ask for advice on moving to Germany. In response, I have sent fragmented tips, pointers and oblong nuggets of information on the subject all across the internet. My advice has been scatterbrained at best, so with this blog post, I am hoping to mash all my thoughts together like a fat kid sitting on a ham sandwich.

Before I begin, however, I want you to bear in mind the following 3 facts:

  1. My wife is German. If you haven’t figured this out by now, you probably wore a helmet to grade school.
  2. My wife and I got married in the United States and then moved to Germany. My only experience with German weddings has been as an inebriated guest.
  3. We moved from the United States to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). Immigration protocols in Germany may vary from state to state.

That said, here we go! I hope you enjoy our tips for Americans on gaining permanent residency in Germany!

1.) Bring your American marriage certificate

Before you depart the United States on your way to Germany, make sure you bring a notarized copy — ideally 2 or 3 — of your official American marriage certificate. (Not the pretty one for framing on your wall. The real one.) It has to be notarized, meaning you take it to your state’s notary public office, where they stamp it with an apostille. I know that sounds like one of the 12 dudes who used to follow Jesus around and tell everyone how awesome he was, but it’s not; it’s an internationally recognized seal of certification, and Germans love it. They love it so much, they won’t accept your American marriage certificate without it.

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“That’s right. You sign that filthy little contract…” — Photo by Mike Goren (http://www.flickr.com/photos/celebdu/)

2.) Get your American marriage certificate translated

Once you get to Germany, you have to have your American marriage certificate translated by a certified German translator. (And no, your spouse can’t translate it for you. That wouldn’t be painful enough.) After you have an officially translated certificate, you’ll need to take it to your local marriage department or courthouse. Once there, you’ll sign some paperwork and receive your German marriage certificate. This document is the key to attaining your initial, 3-year residency permit from the immigration office and getting signed up for everything else you’ll need, like health insurance and German language classes. (The next section is all about this infuriating process.)

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“Fatty pork products can help ease the suffering as you begin your descent into paperwork hell.” — Photo by Stacey Cavanagh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceycav/)

SPECIAL NOTE: Figure out your legal name before you go to the marriage department, because the German government hates middle names. For example, my middle name became my “second first name,” and now appears on every legal document I receive. (Not a problem, really, but my middle name makes me sound like a dandy Englishman.) The marriage department is cool with hyphenated last names, but if you ever remove the hyphen, you can’t go back; it’s a one-way street. Also, they’re supposed to give you the option to keep your name exactly the way it appears in your home country, but they will make sure you understand doing so would really break their balls.

3.) Get your sweet ass to the immigration office

Do not wait to go to the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde); go there as soon as you have your German marriage certificate in hand. I say this because the people who work at the immigration office are all functionally retarded. I had to make 3 different appointments and wait in unbelievably long lines because they lost my paperwork after my first appointment. If you know someone who works there, I want you to email me their home address so I can show up at their door and open-hand slap them as hard as humanly possible. I want the neighbors next door to hear it. I want their kids to start crying and their dog to start barking. God damn I hate the immigration department.

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“This place is exactly like ‘The Walking Dead,’ minus the sex scenes.” — Photo by Mark Hillary (http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/)

Anyway, bring every piece of identification you have, along with your marriage certificate, passport photos and about €150 euros in cash. The cash is to pay for your 3-year residence permit, which is actually just an ID card, like your driver’s license. And remember to bring your German spouse with you, because the immigration office employees probably can’t speak English. (They can barely manage to dress themselves each morning.)

SPECIAL NOTE: Before they will give you the residency card, you will have to pass a little test. It’s a quick verbal exam to determine your ability to speak the German language at approximately A1 level. (A1 is for extreme beginners, but they want you to have some knowledge of the language so you can begin your German integration class. More on this later.) My test was exactly 5 questions long:

  1. What is your name? (Nailed this one.)
  2. Can you spell your name? (Blew this one.)
  3. Where do you come from? (Scraped by this one.)
  4. How old are you? (Nailed this one.)
  5. How did you get here this morning, e.g. subway, on foot, etc.? (Stumbled through this one like a drunken toddler.)

In short, I barely passed. I honestly don’t know what happens if you fail, but don’t stress about it; you’re married to a German. They can’t kick you out of the country unless you break some laws and do something super bad. Like, James Bond movie villain bad. And although it’s unfair, you will receive preferential treatment because you come from America. That’s just the way it is. Be glad you don’t come from some evil country where warmongering, corruption and greed run rampant (oh wait…).

4.) Sign up for German health insurance as soon as possible.

When I came to Germany, I was so concerned with playing by the rules I accidentally broke them. I stayed on American travel insurance for almost a year after my arrival, and that pissed the German insurance people right the hell off. They wanted me on the books, in the system, and paying my dividends from the word go.

I was penalized a little for this mistake, but in the end, it wasn’t a huge deal. The real hassle was trying to get my basic healthcare needs met. If your spouse is German and has a decent job, chances are you’re entitled to coverage already — you just have to sign up. You may qualify for the public health option, or you might need a private one, but either way, don’t wait; have your spouse inquire at work and figure out your benefits.

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“Here comes your communist root canal!” — Photo by Conor Lawless (http://www.flickr.com/photos/conchur/)

On a side note, Germany is not exactly the utopia of free health insurance and abundant healthcare we’ve been led to believe; there is a public option for people with lower incomes, but they wait longer for appointments and their prescription medications are limited to the basics. Yes, everyone is ‘theoretically’ covered, but you’ll find a world of difference between public and private insurance no matter the country in which you reside. If you have money, you’ll get doctor appointments sooner, enjoy preferential treatment overall, and have enough pharmaceutical options to kill a rock star. I’m sorry, but when it comes to healthcare, having money is the tits.

5.) Enroll in an integration course as soon as possible

Germany is a popular country for immigrants, and most of them are coming from countries closer than America, so language classes required by the German government fill up quickly. It was the beginning of September when I first arrived, and I was told the next integration class would begin after the first of the year. I returned in the second week of January only to find the class completely full. I had to wait until spring for the next one to begin, so please, do yourself a favor and sign up for your class immediately.

Now, assuming you’ve already attained that 3-year residency permit I mentioned, but you still suck at German, you’ll need to take exactly 3 integration classes: A1, A2 and B1. After you’re done, you’ll then take the B1 exam. It has several portions, including reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. It can seem really hard at first, but don’t worry; you’ll be prepared for it after all those hellish hours spent in the classroom. Also, you can find all sorts of sample B1 tests on the Goethe-Institut website (www.goethe.de) — so you know exactly what sorts of things you need to practice.

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“There are 16 articles in the German language. Who’s up for some ritual suicide?” — Photo by Shane global (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneglobal/)

After you pass your B1 exam, you’ll probably have to take a month-long ‘orientation’ class afterward. This is where they teach you all about German politics, geography and history… as if you miraculously overlooked every single World War II movie and History Channel documentary ever made. Anyway, you’ll need to take another little test for this orientation course, but then you’re done! You’ll bring your test certificates to the immigration office, along with some cash and a heroic amount of patience, and they’ll give you your 10-year residence permit. They might actually give you your permanent residence permit right there, but it depends how long you’ve been married to your German. (I think you need to have survived at least 5 years without killing each other. Then you’re golden.)

You can take all of these classes at your local VHS (Volkshochschule), or anywhere else recognized by the immigration department. I believe your local VHS will be the cheapest option, but remember: Even in Germany, you get what you pay for. (This is a polite way of saying the VHS can be a hit-or-miss experience. Half of my teachers were awesome. The other half can lick my unholy scrotum. Consider looking for a ‘Bildungsverein’ — or virtually any other language school — if you value your sanity.)

6.) Don’t Panic.

I really hope this article helps you feel more prepared for your life in Germany. It can be a scary prospect for an American — I know — but one which will very likely turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Life in Germany rules; it is a beautiful country, safe, stable and full of wonderful people. However, if you still feel stressed about the big move, remember the following:

  1. You are married to a German citizen and you come from a so-called ‘respectable’ country. You’ll be allowed to stay no matter what anyone tells you.
  2. Most Germans speak some English. In a pinch, you can usually default to your native language. This is a huge advantage, and it’s totally unfair (but totally awesome).
  3. You are going to die someday. I know this is depressing, but it’s also liberating, because none of these little details really matter. Picture yourself on your deathbed, sucking in your last feeble breath before greeting the great void beyond; did it really matter if you filled out that one little immigration form in exactly the right way? Did the Germans throw you on a plane and deport your ass because you turned in that one document a day or two after the deadline? Were you separated from your beloved spouse for the rest of your life because you didn’t ace that stupid language test the first time? No. Lots of idiots have done this before you. You will be fine. Everything is going to work out beautifully.
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“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Photo by Johan Larsson (http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanl/)

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99 responses to “Becoming A Permanent Resident of Germany: 6 Tips for American Citizens with German Spouses

  1. Well done. You did cover all the bases beautifully, and with humor, which everyone will need because NO ONE will get your jokes but you! I never did have a problem though…I plied our Frau Caseworker with a gift of MERCI chocolates.

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  2. How did you not know how to SPELL your name?

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  3. That is frickin awesome. Too bad it was too late for me. Oh, and I have some advice for those of us a bit older, with previous marriages under their belt. AND getting married here in Germany… Actually could be a book in and of itself.

    How goes your Deutsch course or are you done now?

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  4. I learn so much about my country from your blog – it’s wonderful. I kid you not!

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  5. This is very informative. I married my German husband here in Germany and it was too stressful to tell. However, I’d like to just add that for the intergration courses if you pass with a decent grade, you are eligible to get a 50% refund (at least I was able to do that). It made the courses very affordable.

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  6. My head is spinning. Thank God I am too old to consider such an adventure. I am however, kummerspeck (but become that way over almost everything). Perhaps I should go make avocado dip with my new tool and eat chips and dip…

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  7. Dude. That was seriously an awesome post

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  8. Question I have, any information on moving your stuff from America to Germany that you can share?

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  9. Question I have, any information on moving your stuff from America to Germany that you can share?

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    • Honestly, not really. I donated almost everything I owned and then sold the rest on Craigslist.

      It’s so much easier. :)

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      • We are thinking the same; for what it cost it isn’t worth moving. Just my laptop and clothing will go and some personal artifacts I’ll drag along.

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      • Totally. It also feels really good to get ride of so much old junk. I slimmed my personal belongings down to 2 suitcases!

        Good luck, SonWon!

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      • Just finished selling nearly everything so I could make the leap from Arkansas to Bavaria. The first week of selling I cried about 5 times a day. Hey, giving up your things is hard! Now I’m practically begging people to take the few odds and ends that are left, and yes, it’s extremely freeing to not be loaded down by “stuff.” The German has enough stuff for the both of us though.

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    • One thing you might consider for items that you aren’t sure of yet and if you have family still in the US, is to put things in storage. Ideally, your family would be willing to put stuff in an attic or shed or whatever so it would be free. Sometimes cheap storage could be worth it if you are planning on visiting the US within the first year or so of moving. I left some stuff in the US. When I realized I missed the stuff enough, I had someone send it to me (as I didn’t make it back to visit. I you travel, you can save lots of shipping costs by making room in your suitcase on the return trip). As time went on, I had either had everything important enough to ship sent to me and my theory was if I didn’t remember what else was in storage, I didn’t need it anymore and I could let it go without the normal emotional tug some items give you. I then told family it was safe to get rid of the rest. Most of the items I had sent were books I couldn’t bear to part with but were not so vital I needed in Germany right away. Also left behind but later sent were framed pictures (I had a painting a friend did that was professionally framed). I had moved (I thought permanently) from and then returned to the states before. That time I had gotten rid of almost everything. When I returned, I realized I regretted ditching some things. This storage option prevented rash, enthusiastic tossing things out, but didn’t obligate me to pay for getting them to Germany if I later decided I really could do without them. That painting is now on my wall and looks lovely in my living room. It’s a great touch from home and I am so glad I put it in storage. Best of luck to you!

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  10. I feel exactly the same way as you about the immigration department, but in Mexico! Perhaps it’s a secret, international requisite of all immigration employees to make the process so excrutiating as to put anyone off having the will to get through it! Loved this post, very amusing!

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  11. Huh, now I am kind of bummed that I am the German in our marriage and will never have to go through this beautifully outlined process. We don´t have the intention of living in Germany anytime soon but if the need arises we will make sure to come back to this post and prepare hubby for the necessary. Thanks a million!

    PS: I think it takes big balls to rant about the Ausländerbehörde in a public forum in light of the fact that you still want your permanent residency from them. But then, their English is probably not good enough to understand any of this here ;)

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  12. I lived in Germany for five years. I didn’t have to go through any integration procedures, get an ID card, forced to learn the language, take numerous tests to see if I was sane and show birth certificates etc.

    You guessed it, I was in the British Army of occupation after we won the war (with a little bit of help from our friends in the American Colonies!). Nevertheless I loved the Germans and the way of life there. I learned my German by going out and mixing with people in shops, bars, parks,bars, places of ill-repute and bars. I know all the swear words and a few I made up myself.

    As Brit soldiers we were forbidden to marry a German girl (Oh, woe!), because at that time there were hordes of young pretty girls wanting to marry us, just to get out of Germany.

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    • And the award for Most Interesting Comment of the Day goes to, Keith!

      Thank you for the great comment! I loved it, and found it highly informative. I’m also impressed you fell in love with the country in which you were fighting.

      By the way, I heard the Germans called us, “Amis.” Is this true? Because I’m pretty sure they still do it to this very day. (I’ve been told it isn’t insulting.) :)

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    • Wow. Very interesting. I know bilingual Germans who are children of British soldiers who married German women. Did they have to leave the Army first or do you think they were kicked out for it? I live down the street from where many British soldiers used to be housed.

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  13. I’ve followed a similar path to you the last quarter of last year. Thank you for the salute with your 30% of testicle mass (more for you since you have proceeded me!). Likewise, my wife is German (Oh God! or Thank God!?), we got married in the States (two ceremonies, 3 years apart…I’ll leave it at that), and now living in Berlin.

    As for marriage certificate…here’s my story and sticking with it:
    Had my first appointment with Ausländerbehörde at the end of September, three days after departing New York and landing in Berlin. All was fine and dandy except needing an APOSTILLE. My wife and I were like, what’s that? So, after doing some research, we mailed our (short-form we discovered later) marriage certificate to my parents in New York to go get it taken care of before my next appointment at the end of November. This certificate was last traced to somewhere between Frankfurt (Main) and New York and never seen again. So after deciding that this will never arrive, we filled out a form to get a new marriage certificate (long-form), got this as well as a power of attorney notarized and sent it by Deutsche Post’s “Eil International” (aka “faster and tracked” *lol*). Waiting and waiting, wondering if this package will ever show up at my parents. Finally, 4 days before my follow up appointment at Ausländerbehörde, they get it. The next day, my dad goes and gets the marriage certificate at the New York City City Clerks office, with a detour to get the notarization letter translated (*rolling eyes*), then after the City Clerk, to the Manhattan County (aka New York County) Clerk to approve the signature of the City Clerk, then to the New York State Department of State to get the apostille. Then, he mailed it via UPS 2nd day to arrive at our apartment by 10:30 am the day of my appointment which was at 11 am. You think you can breathe now? Wrong!

    So, the day of my Ausländerbehörde appointment came with my appointment. We’re waiting for UPS to arrive with the envelope. At 9:30 I depart with my 2 year-old son in tow to get to my appointment and at least to be there, even if the documents are not. We get there, wait for my wife to tell me the good news that UPS came by 10:30. 10:30 comes and goes, so my wife who was waiting behind calls UPS to see what’s up. They say that the delivery person came and couldn’t find my name. Given that both of our last names are on the buzzer it can be a bit difficult to find one of the two names, but isn’t what that your job is? So, my wife got them to route the envelope back to our apartment and then hoofed her way by Straßenbahn and U-Bahn to Ausländerbehörde, arriving there around noon.

    Meanwhile, my son and I had been waiting for our number to be called and 11 am had come and gone. I did ask once at the info room/window about it and they told me to ask at my appointment room, but when I inquired at that room, they didn’t want to hear about my question (of where the heck my appointment went), perhaps I didn’t phrase it correctly. So my wife comes and all three of us wait…and wait…and wait. Around 1 pm, my wife decided to try the info room and gets to inquire about why my number hasn’t shown up yet. We found out the reason why. Since we weren’t sure if our documents were going to show up in time for my current appointment, we scheduled another appointment in December and left the November appointment open. It turns out their computer system cancelled the November appointment without informing Ausländerbehörde nor us, so that’s why my number never showed up. Thank goodness that somehow they had the heart to take us right then and there and go through the paperwork and I walked out with my temporary Aufenthaltstitel. Ok, you may breathe now.

    About a month later, I picked up my permanent Aufenthaltstitel. It’s a bit creepy to have your headshot as a hologram in the middle of the card, don’t you think?

    Now, shall I tell the story about my Integration Course that begins (finally!) on Thursday? Ok, attempt at a short version: JobCenter (aka Department of Labor) told me I needed to take it (sounds good to me), told me to contact BAMF – Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge. So, I submitted an application to BAMF, which needed 4 weeks to process. A few weeks in, my wife called them to see what the progress was; they said it would be another two weeks. Two or three weeks later, I got a letter in the mail saying that BAMF is only responsible for EU residents and I should have received some paperwork from Ausländerbehörde when I received my Aufenthaltstitel. Of course, it all makes sense, doesn’t it especially when Ausländerbehörde never gave me such paperwork. So, the day before my next JobCenter appointment, I went to Ausländerbehörde at the crack of dawn to get this approval. Glad that it went quicker than expected (although I did have to wait 45 minutes), I was expecting to make use of the small list of lunch places to check out.

    So, I’ve signed up for my Intergration Course, took the placement test and Thursday I see which class I’m in. I was a bit scared that I was the first one to finish the test. It wasn’t too hard considering I took three years of German, albeit ending three years ago. So, wish me luck, “press your thumbs” and I wish the same for you too!

    P.S. Breathe deeply now!

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  14. ahhh, the good old apostille … the U.S consulate in Frankfurt is very fond of them too.
    When living in Germany and applying for a green card for my german wife, the consulate wanted me to provide a birth certificate no older than 6 months (because the data on a birth certificate obviously changes all the time) with an apostille.
    I cannot express how much fun it was organizing that (which involved two different state departments) from across the atlantic ocean.

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  15. Excellent post! Love your sense of humor!

    Too bad that you didn’t have to get married here like we did. That was a load of fun. You think that paying the translator for the marriage certificate was bad… imagine what I had to pay the OTHER lady that stood by me as we got married (her whispering in my ear the whole time was slightly distracting, and in the end I was almost unsure who it was I had married).

    I must admit that I got to Germany right before the integration language requirement. Unfortunately that made me lazy and late to begin working on the language.

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  16. And here I was thinking I was the only one being bullied into that stupid 600 hours integration course! Another great post! You rock!

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    • Thank you Piya! I think our integration courses will be really good for us, painful though they may be. Stick with it! You are not alone!!

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    • I loved it and want to go back for more. In the meantime, I am using Duolingo, since it’s free. I was glad that the time I spent before attending the course helped and I was able to test in halfway through the course and only needed 300 hours. So, if you are in the US and can start learning German, you may be able to bypass a lot of the course even if your German isn’t great when you get here.

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      • Dear Ramona,

        Thank you for introducing me to this great tool. I have already done my A1 and am aiming to do B1 in couple of months and this site is great for practicing. Thanks once again.

        Regards,
        PS

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      • No problem. I am using it daily to reinforce what I have learned to use and to save money as I can’t afford the course right now. It’s making a huge difference for me. I really need to be able to write in German much better if I ever hope to get a job again.

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  17. Excellent post! Your sense of humor is so wonderful!
    Too bad that you didn’t have to get married here like we did. That was a load of fun. You think that paying the translator for the marriage certificate was bad… imagine what I had to pay the OTHER lady that stood by me as we got married (her whispering in my ear the whole time was slightly distracting, and in the end I was almost unsure who it was I had married).
    I must say that I got to Germany right before the integration language requirement. Unfortunately that made me lazy and late to begin working on the language.

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  18. Man, that immigration office looks worse than in Korea. Are the officers there polite? Here they mostly are, but I’ve known some bad ones. Rude immigration officers make everything a million times worse.

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    • I think that picture I used in the post is actually an airport. I just wanted to convey the sense of lost, crowded helplessness I felt. *Shudder*

      I think every immigration office blows, man. All around the world.

      Perhaps we should start our own? We’ll call it, The Totally Awesome Office of Overly Friendly Citizenship Givers. :)

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  19. Wow, sounds like hell. I am happy I never have to go through this and I feel for everyone who does!

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  20. Do you have private insurance? I make enough to get it, but to be honest, I have been very happy with my “public” option.

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  21. This was so much fun to read. I lived in Duesseldorf from 2000-05 and both of my kids were born there. It’s amazing how much the Germans love bureaucracy and making you jump through hoops. I didn’t have to deal with as much BS as you, since we were temporary residents and lived on an Aufenthaltstitel. I’m sure after losing your paperwork, the friendly folks at the Ausländerbehörde were completely self-righteous about it and somehow shamed you into believing it was your fault… :D You’re right, though. Once you get used to the Germans’ humorless inflexibility and their peculiar affinity for rules, it’s a wonderful place to live. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Gwen! Are you back in the States now?

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      • We’re back in Sweet Home Chicago since 2005. To my surprise, we did go through some reverse culture shock, which was something I’d only read about before moving back. I’d gotten used to the more formal German way of life, so the laid-back American nature and the overt friendliness of strangers was overwhelming. Not to mention grocery shopping – I couldn’t believe I’d ever been faced with so many cereal choices. I also realized my kids were much more German than American. My oldest in particular, who was almost 5 when we moved back. She’d attended 2 years of German Kindergarten in Duesseldorf. For the first month or so, she’d run up to kids at the playground and ask “Möchtest du gerne spielen?” Although we tried to keep up speaking at German at home with her, it eventually fizzled until she was speaking English all the time. Culture and surroundings really have a powerful influence. I enjoy reading your blog, because it often takes me right back to our days in D’dorf.

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      • That’s awesome, Gwen! Thank you for commenting.

        Do you worry your kids might lose their German as they grow up?

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      • Unfortunately they lost the language years ago, but that’s what happens I suppose. It goes to show how much one’s culture has on a person. German just isn’t a practical language in our area.

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      • Yeah, sad. If we ever have kids, I hope we can keep them properly bilingual. Seems hard though.

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  22. And I thought I had it fun just working here, trying to learn German and having 3 appointments with the Auslander just to extend my visa. It’s also so very true about the VHS instructors, my luck has been piss poor on getting a good one….my next attempt, bribing my company to pay for a Goethe Institute private tutor.

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  23. While I managed to improve my German substantially in my integration course (because of some luck of the draw with good teachers) the company that ran it, BFZ, was horrible and scammy, at least in Munich.

    The orientation part was a two week circus of boredom and madness. Since the test is just multiple choice, and they tell you all the possible questions, I made it into a game for myself and memorized all the questions using an app I made for myself. Day of the test, I finished it in less than a minute without a single mistake. The teacher was a little stunned, so for that small victory, it was worth it.

    And for the last laugh, I polished up the app, and made it available for all us suffering ex-pats to benefit from. We need to stick together, right?

    (If you’re interested, it’s called “Leben in DE” and sadly, only for iOS: http://www.cleverkraft.com/lebeninde/ )

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  24. Funny as hell like always, thank you!
    Don’t know if it was mentioned somewhere else (here it wasn’t, did read all comments):
    Please don’t forget to change your driver’s license into a national german license within 6 months.
    For 6 months you can use your american driver’s license without any problems, after this time you can get serious trouble!

    And yes, we still call an US-American “Ami” and british people “Tommy”.
    That’s not as bad anymore like it had been in former times, more funny meant nowadays.
    And german women who took care of their dignity wouldn’t have mingled with Amis or Tommies till round about the 80ies, leastwise not in the very north of germany.
    Hey, you were our enemies!
    Girls and women who did we called chewing-gum-bitches (Kaugummi-Schlampen).
    Yep…Times change, people change…luckily they do! ☺

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    • Sorry, have to offer a bit of tip to swearing here. Bitch is not the same as Schlampe. Bitch is not about being sexual, it is about having an aggressive attitude. I’ve seen so many Germans misuse or misunderstand Bitch because they think it means Schlampe. So, when I say my MIL can be a bitch, I don’t mean she is sexual. I mean she is outright rude and mean.

      Schlampe is more slut or tramp. Sorry to go off topic…

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      • Hi Ramona!
        Thank you for your hints about the meaning!
        Hmmmm….they should correct it here also:

        http://www.dict.cc/?s=schlampe

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      • No problem :) Yep, I think it should be changed, based on my experience. Then again, if any native speaker has a different experience, I have no problem being proven wrong, but until then I feel pretty sure. Sometimes dictionaries still include definitions that have fallen out of use. Maybe that is what is going on here?

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  25. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m currently in Germany with my finace but go back to the States next Friday. Our wedding is May 24th in the States and we come back here June 3rd. I’ve been panicking. In fact, I’ve avoided looking into it because I was afraid it would overwhelm me and make me panic even more. This makes it seem much easier. I mean, it sounds like a pain in the ass, but not nearly as hard as I thought. I really appreciate the time you put into this!

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    • Right on, Sheri! That’s so cool! Thank you for letting us know.

      Your wedding will be wonderful and we wish you all the very best. Don’t sweat the process here in Germany. It’s just like having one long, minor headache. :)

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  26. Pingback: The Week in Germany: Berlin, Berlin, Dogs, Visas, Etc | Young Germany

  27. this is a really knowlodge

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  28. This was quite interesting, humorous – and still very informative. I’m impressed, what you’re going through to make your wife happy. ;-)
    Good Luck for your further German life experience. *chuckle*

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  29. SO glad I found this blog. I am moving to Bavaria in December and getting married there to my German bride-to-be. I have a very important question though: I am under the understanding that I have to take and pass an A1 exam, and present the certificate to the Standesamt in order to be allowed to stay after the marriage. Are you saying that you didn’t have to do that, and that you just had to answer 5 questions at the immigration office? Please email me back or comment back :)

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    • My wife and I were married in the States, then we moved to Germany. We had to get an official German wedding certificate, and that’s what we took to the registry office. The 5 questions at the registry office simply gave me a 3-year residence permit. I don’t know how they do things in Bavaria, because that particular state has very different rules for everything. Just give the registry office a call. It’s worth it to get the straight answer for your specific situation.

      Like

    • I’m an American married to a German woman, and my German skills were pitiful when I moved here 3 years ago. At that time, I was told I had to the integration course, and I did. My German speaking is improved to just embarrassing, but that was a huge step.

      At the time, it was clear to us that legally, as a spouse of an EU national, Germany had to let me live here. They couldn’t do anything other than nag me by post and make me renew my residency yearly. People who move here outside of the EU without ties to someone from the EU are required, in order to maintain residency.

      Just the other day I was informed that someone in my circumstances challenged the “requirement” that people like us (folks married to Germans) take the Intergration course, and won. This is anecdotal, but I suspect it is true. There’s a good chance you won’t have to take it. I would love to have that time back… However, it did help a lot with the language…

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