Residence

Mädchen mit Stadtplan vor dem Reichstagsgebäude
Image: Jan Kranendonk - Fotolia.com

Do you want to apply for asylum or be given refugee status?

According to § 5 (1) of the German law on the asylum procedure (Asylverfahrensgesetz), the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees – BAMF) is responsible for decisions on asylum requests and granting refugee status under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

If you want to be recognized as an asylum seeker or a refugee, you must apply for asylum.

You can apply for asylum only if you are already in Germany or have at least registered with the German border authorities. It is not possible to request asylum from abroad or at a German embassy. You must apply in person.

The BAMF website can give you detailed answers to questions like:

  • Who has a right to asylum?
  • Who has a right to refugee status?
  • What is “subsidiary protection”?
  • Where do I apply?
  • How does the asylum procedure work?

There you will also find all the other information relevant to people seeking protection.

What do you do if you have no valid papers? What is a “Reiseausweis”?

As a rule, a foreign national may enter Germany only if he or she is in possession of a recognized, valid passport or passport substitute. If this expires, a new passport must be applied for from the relevant authorities. According to § 48 (3) of the German law on residence (Aufenthaltsgesetz), foreign nationals are required to cooperate in obtaining a valid identity document.

The “Reiseausweis” (travel document) is a German passport substitute given to foreign nationals who cannot reasonably be expected to get a passport or passport substitute from the authorities of their home countries. In Berlin the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners’ Registration Office) is responsible for this travel document, which can be issued to foreign nationals from non-EU countries, refugees, and stateless persons.

Please check the Ausländerbehörde’s website to find out what you need to apply for a “Reiseausweis” (a biometric photo, a fee, the documents you need to submit, etc.). You must appear in person to apply. Make an appointment as early as possible, since this document is printed by the Bundesdruckerei (Federal Printing Office) and it can take 4 to 6 weeks to receive it.