Who really loves to deal with bureaucracy? A lot of complicated rules and undefinite waiting time, with many surprises, and not a guaranteed happy ending...As in the last six months I had to deal a whole lot with such things, I decided that maybe it is a good idea to share some of my tips with fellow expat readers in Berlin and Germany.
1. Always check the schedule of the institution you have to deal with and be sure that you make an appointment before. The good news is that all the important institutions do have websites and you can schedule meetings online. In some cases, you even get SMS notificatons 24-hour in advance!
2. For the meeting, bring with you all the documents you are requested and a bit more. Bring copies and the original, proofs and exchange of letters with various institutions...everything you think it can be relevant for your situation. It is better to have the ridiculous bundle in your bag, than coming back again in one week time or more.
3. Keep calm! Some things can be delayed, or you may need to bring some new proofs, or you have to wait in line more than expected! Take a book with you or use the time to catch up with friends on WhatsApp- no free wifi in public institutions though. Or just use the opportunity to get to know other fellow expats.
4. Ask as many questions as possible! Don't be shy and be sure that you are doing the right thing. Once I was delayed for 2 months only because I was so uninspired to do not ask the right question if I was addressing the right office.
5. Bring a translator with you or ask help from a native speaker. German language is not easy, and the legal and bureaucractic language is very complicated even for native speakers. Some public offices may have English speakers, but it is not enough and not the solution anyway. If you feel unsecure about your language skills, find a friend or just hire a translator for being sure that you are on the right path.
That's all for now!
My experience so far is that even things are taking some time to settle, at the end of the process, everything goes on and you do not need to deal with bureaucracy ever again. And on way to see the light, you can even learn some new funny long German words.