Put your name here, your address there, then sign on the dotted line... If you want to be able to watch TV in your new home, make phone calls, turn on the heating or the lights, you have to fill in lots of forms. The trip to the „Einwohnermeldeamt” (Resident Registration Office) should be one of the first things you do. Hamburg law says you must notify the authorities within a week of moving to a new district. If you wait longer, you may have to pay a fine. Anyway you won´t feel like a real Hamburg citizen until it says so in your resident´s permit, will you? For foreigners, there is an additional step to this visit to the authorities after registering: they must apply for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) at their district´s Ausländerdienststelle (bureau for foreigners; www.hamburg.de/zuwanderung).
The "Ausländerabteilung" (Department in Charge of Foreign Nationals) is the central authority for foreigners and a part of the "Einwohner-Zentralamt" (Central Residence Administration). In Hamburg, it is responsible for residence permits for foreign nationals who do not have an assured right of residence in Germany, such as bearers of an exceptional permit to stay. For foreigners with an assured right of residence there are eight bureaus in various districts. These bureaus are also subordinated to the Central Residence Administration.