Germany Guide for Refugees

Finding accommodation in Germany

You've arrived in Germany - now where can you live? At first you don't have much choice, since you are placed in a state home for refugees. Later, you can look for a place yourself. Here are the details.

A refugee shelter in Germany

Find more information in DW's #link:http://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/germany-guide-for-refugees/s-32486:Germany Guide for Refugees.#

Will I have a roof over my head when I arrive?

Yes. In the beginning you are likely to be put up in a former school, a gym or former army barracks. That's what most emergency shelters look like.

Where you get to live after that varies from state to state and city to city.

Refugees may have to share accommodation.

If you have come to Germany through a "safe state", you will have to stay in the initial aid facility for the duration of your asylum application process and may not travel.

Do I have any influence on where in Germany I live?

No. When you arrive in Germany and register as wishing to apply for asylum, you will be taken to the closest facility, where you will be registered. From there you may be moved to a different facility, since all of them are specialized on certain countries of origin.

Refugees are distributed across the 16 federal states according to a quota system: The more inhabitants the state has, the more refugees it has to take in. Once you have arrived at the "right" initial aid facility, you can file your asylum application.

For the first six months after you have arrived in Germany, you may not leave your assigned area of residence. Sometimes you may travel outside the city you're in, but usuallly you will not be allowed to leave the federal state.

You are only free to choose your place of residence once your asylum application has been approved. This can often take over a year to happen.

And once you have a residency permit (Aufenthalts-Erlaubnis) there will still be restrictions to your movement if you receive welfare payments.

Who helps me look for an apartment?

Initially the local authorities decide where you are allowed to live. In cities where refugees can live in apartments, city officials can usually help you finding one.

For refugees, it may be difficult to find an apartment the conventional way, since it's often unclear for how long they are allowed to stay. Not being able to speak German can also be an obstacle. That's why in many cities private initiatives are helping refugees. It's a good idea to get in touch with them once you're in the city you want to live in.

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