TL;DR - In what order, and how, can an American moving to Germany get the necessary work and residency permits to (a) ship in his belongings via a moving company and (b) legally begin working? I already have the job (signed Arbeitsvertrag).

Full details:

I'm a U.S. citizen & resident, and have worked for 2 1/2 years for a U.S. subsidiary of a German company. I've accepted an offer from that company to move to Germany in January and work there. My wife and two children will be moving with me. I have a rough plan in mind, but am quite confused about how to implement the plan.

Some key points:

  • I already have a signed job offer / work contract (Arbeitsvertrag) starting the first week of January 2019.
  • I already have a signed apartment rental contract (Mietvertrag) starting 1 December 2018 (the landlord knows we won't actually arrive until January).
  • I meet all requirements for the EU Blue Card.

Here are the challenges I face:

  • The moving company has informed us that we need a residency permit (or blue card) or a temporary work permit and a copy of an application for a residency permit/card in order for our belongings to clear customs.
  • I believe I can't actually begin working at the German office until I have at least a temporary work permit.
  • My nearest German Consulate in the U.S. (Chicago) doesn't have any available appointments in their calendar for the next 2 months. Even if they did, I understand it can take 3 months or more to receive the blue card and that you have to surrender your passport, which would mean we can't go to Germany in January.
  • I can't get an address registration (Anmeldebestätigung) until we actually arrive in Germany because the landlord must sign a form (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) stating that we live there.
  • I understand it can take several weeks to get an appointment at an Ausländerbehörde, and we can't even make the appointment until we have the Anmeldebestätigung (we tried, in person during our last trip, and they refused).

So, can anyone recommend the best way to proceed? One solution could be to ship our belongings and immediately travel to Germany, drop off a suitcase in our apartment, get the landlord to sign the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung, run to the Bürgeramt and get the Anmeldebestätigung, and then go to the Ausländerbehörde and beg to get a temporary work permit until we can straighten out the Blue Card. But I've extremely concerned that all these steps will take so long that I'll be (a) stuck with my belongings in customs limbo because I can't provide the appropriate permits and (b) stuck in Germany with no belongings and no legal right to work.

Although my employer is a medium sized and stable international company, they have very little experience bringing foreign employees to Germany and have not been able to help with these questions. That said, they have been extremely helpful and are willing to provide anything I might need to expedite the process.

  • Can I hire a visa services company to do all this for me, for a (probably large) fee?
  • Can I fly to the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. and get this done quicker?
  • Would a letter of urgency from my German employer help speed things along? Who should I show it to?
  • Any other ideas?
  • 2
    This is anecdotal obviously but when I moved to the UK, I had the same issue - the moving company needed documentation that I wouldn't have until after I arrived. I ended up telling the moving company that I would provide the information as soon as it because available to me and placed my belongings on a ship that was due to clear customs a few weeks after we moved and then made sure I had some extra baggage allowance on the plane for my necessary belongings. The moving company had no issue with the paperwork coming through a little later.
    – Mel K.
    Oct 16, 2018 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


Since you work for a German firm in the US that wants to employ you in Germany, they should call the German embassy and ask how this should be delt with properly.

Such firms often have experience in dealing with such problems, the timly resolvement of which is also in their best interest.


I'll tell you how I did this coming into Berlin for a scientist's residence permit. It may be different in other fields or other states.

  1. I travelled with my belongings, but I cam only with a few suitcases and didn't use a removal company, so I can't advise you there.
  2. Well in advance of actually coming to Germany, I logged onto the online appointment system for both the Auslanderbehörde and the Bügeramt at 6 AM (CEST), which is when they free up appointments. The Auslanderbehörde in particular would free up appointments in my category one day at a time 2-3 months in advance, plus any cancellations they had. By doing this multiple days in a row, I was able to arrange an appointment with the Bügeramt 2 days after I planned to arrive, and with the Auslanderbehörde 1-2 days later.
  3. I then arranged an temporary flat with a friendly person who would sign the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung for me. You could also try to rent a place outright, either sight unseen or on a preliminary trip to Germany.
  4. I arrived, then went straight to the Bügeramt with my Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. I was given the Anmeldung certificate with no issues in 10 minutes.
  5. Took the Anmeldung to the Auslanderbehörde, got my residence permit while I waited.

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