Moving to Berlin Guide – Finding an Apartment – the Paperwork

Moving to Berlin

You’re moving to Berlin?  Where to start…?

This is the first chapter from the Landing Pad’s “Moving to Berlin Guide” about what to do when moving to the German capital, and in which order.

Now, let’s start from the beginning:

Finding somewhere to live – getting a long term lease.


The Paperwork


First things first, get your paperwork in order.  Make sure it is complete by following the checklist below and compiling your documents into one PDF file.  Having a complete application is absolutely essential if you want to have a chance of getting an apartment in Berlin.  Competition is stiff – you might be one out of 100 people applying – so you need to prove you are a good and reliable tenant that will pay the rent on time.


1. Tenant Information – Mieterselbstauskunft

If you are employed:

You will be asked to provide your last three month’s income statements.  Seeing as you are moving to Berlin and haven’t started your new job yet (if you have one), this doesn’t say much about how you are going to finance your rent living in Berlin.  If you can show you had a steady and good income in the last three months, do provide those statements and additionally a copy of your contract of employment in Berlin.  There is no need to provide the whole document, just the pages that provide the names of the contractual partners, the numeration you will receive and the signatures of both parties.


If you are self employed:

Last financial year’s tax return (preferably in German or at least in English)

If you are not working:
Proof of how you are going to finance the apartment: for example proof of rental income from your property or a bank account statement with sufficient savings.

Be aware that your income needs to be three times the amount of your total rent or you will not be considered.  I recommend that if your income is made up of a combination of your salary, rent income and/or other forms of income, provide proof of these and explain how your total income comes together in a short letter/email.


2. Certificate from current landlord concerning non-arrears –Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung

An absolute must in Germany, your new landlord wants to be as reassured as possible you are going to pay the rent!  Ask us the form (FREE), including an english translation, and have it filled out by your current landlord.  Alternatively you can provide proof you have paid your rent on time for the last 12 months.  If you live at your own residence, provide proof of property ownership.


3. Credit Check – Schufa Bonitätsauskunft

Schufa is something that ALL landlords want to see, to check you are not in any serious debt.  But, you can only get your “Schufa record” once you are a resident in Germany, so you will need to find another way of proving your credit is A-OK. Ask your local bank for a letter or certificate, provide proof of your credit rating or your savings account.

If you are already a registered resident in Germany you can apply for this document on the Schufa website or at the post office.


4. Passport and possibly Residence Permit

You will need to provide a copy or scan of your passports/s. You may also be asked for a copy of your residence permit.  If you don’t have a residence permit yet, explain when and how you will be getting one. 

Put all the above documents into one PDF file and add a personal touch by including a professional-looking photo of yourself (or yourselves) on the first page.


5. Disclosure of information (form will be provided from real estate agent) – Selbstauskunft

This form asks for your personal contact details, your income, who will be living in the apartment, if you have pets, and if you have any remaining debt.  Filled out and signed this completes your application for the apartment.  It does not oblige you to take the contract.  The information given is officially “voluntary”, but the truth is, if you don’t fill it out you will not be considered.



Good luck with your home search. Please leave any comments or questions you may have below.



Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Landing Pad’s “Moving to Berlin Guide” – Searching for an Apartment


Contribution by Emily Archer, founder of Landing Pad Berlin, an organisation on a mission to help internationals feel settled and at home, and get the most out of their experience living and working in the German capital.  Emily is Managing Director at Archer Relocation.

Emily Archer is a Relocation Consultant and your first new friend in Berlin. Originally from Australia, Emily lived in Melbourne, Sydney and Barcelona before moving to Munich in 1999.  Resident to Berlin since 2003, Emily has now been in Germany for more than 18 years. Emily founded Archer Relocation early 2015 desiring to use her first hand experience and professional skills to assist fellow expats moving to Berlin.  Archer Relocation offers the services you need to make your arrival in Berlin a smooth one, including home search, bureaucracy, immigration, and family assistance.

Meet Emily at the next Landing Pad Event and get all your relocation questions answered.