Buying an Apartment in Berlin


Red Tape Translation just finished an interesting project, interpreting for a meeting with a foreign investor and a real estate developer in Berlin.  

The potential for growth within the real estate market in Berlin is major, and investors are flocking to the city to make the most of wonderful acquisition opportunities in popular metro areas of Berlin. Not only in the thriving centre but also beyond the city ring in leafy residential quarters, there are some very special investment opportunities: apartments in wonderful old buildings that are being refurbished, as well as brand new modern style housing complexes.

If you’re buying a new or refurbished property in Berlin, you may be included in the design process, working in collaboration with the construction developer. While some apartment features might be standard, there are also plenty of decisions to be made about the details within your Berlin apartment, such as:

  • Room division measurements and properties
  • Light fixtures
  • Door and window fittings
  • Flooring materials: wood planks, parquet flooring, tiles, or carpet
  • Bathroom tiles, fittings, and accessories
  • Kitchen setup
  • Electricity solutions


The developer might set up appointments for you with specialized service providers and vendors to help you customize your Berlin apartment, and there will be plenty to talk about with the development team regarding the floor plans. If you need a friendly face to help you communicate in German while you’re in Berlin, talk to Red Tape Translation.

Based in Berlin, Germany, Kathleen Parker is an interpreter and translator who founded Red Tape Translation to work with English speakers living in Berlin. Kathleen’s clients are predominantly British, Australian, Canadian, and American: Berlin residents who need help with German while getting settled in at the beginning of their Berlin adventures.


I Lost My Passport in Berlin: Now What?


Red Tape Translation just helped British and Australian tourists in Berlin at the police station in Prenzlauerberg, after they lost track of a very important carry-on suitcase containing passports, a laptop, and internet banking passwords. This discovery was accompanied by several heart palpitations, as the tourists had flights booked to London the following evening, and weren’t having any luck communicating with anyone, let alone solving their suitcase mystery. They had less than 24 hours to recover the missing suitcase, or there would be emergency trips to more than one embassy very early the next morning. Here’s what happened.


Red Tape Translation used Telephone Time to make a whole lot of calls on the tourists’ behalf. While they didn’t have a receipt for a taxi trip from Tegel into Berlin, they did suspect the suitcase was in the boot of the taxi. I called up the two main cab companies in Berlin to ask if any drivers had radioed in a found suitcase. No luck. I then contacted a cafe they had visited along the way, and the lost and found department at Tegel. Still no luck. I called the police department and was advised to come in person, as the clients would need a police report in order to visit the embassy and get a replacement passport.


The police required the following information:

  • Contact details of all involved (including mine – they wanted someone who speaks German)
  • A description of what happened, when, where, and to whom.
  • A description of the contents in the suitcase and approximate monetary values 

With this information, the police generated a police report with a case number that the tourists would have been able to use at the embassy the next morning to get a replacement passport in time for their flights. The values quoted on this report would have also been used for any insurance claim investigations. 

However, one of the taxi companies I had called contacted us shortly after 7pm and agreed to bring the suitcase to the hotel the next morning, with everything intact. Hurrah!

Tips for reporting something lost or stolen in Berlin: 

  • If there is no rush, you can do it online. Visit Polizei Berlin Internetwache and file a report in your own time. The confirmation and case number will arrive by post, and you can print out your report before you submit it.
  • If you do need to go in person, carry ID on you, and if you do not have a “Personalausweis” but do live in Berlin, bring your registration of address (Anmeldungsbestaetigung). This includes the interpreter!
  • Write a list of everything contained in the suitcase, bag, or wallet.
  • Hold onto any documents you receive and don’t throw them away. You will need the case number for insurance matters, to communicate with embassies, or to communicate with the police at any given time after you’ve made your report.
  • Should you take a trip in a taxi, get a receipt at the end of the journey. The receipt will immediately identify the date, time, location, driver, and taxi company. Very useful in these sorts of situations!
  • Talk to Red Tape Translation if you would like a German speaker to go with you. 

Kathleen Parker founded Red Tape Translation in summer 2012 to help Americans in Berlin, as well as Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and many other international residents with German bureaucracy and paperwork. Kathleen Parker began by concentrating on interpreting at the Ausländerbehörde (foreigner’s office), but interpreting in Berlin has since led her to the Bürgeramt, IHK, real estate agencies, apartment and property viewings, banks, police stations, job centers, hospitals, and much more.

Acknowledgement of Paternity in Berlin, Germany


Recognizing Paternity in Berlin

How to get the father of your baby on the German birth certificate if you’re not married

What is a Vaterschaftsanerkennung?

If you are not married to your partner and you are expecting a baby in Germany, you will have to acknowledge paternity for Germany to legally recognize the father of your baby. This is done through a legally binding document known as a Vaterschaftsanerkennung. The name of the father will then be printed on your child’s birth certificate.

How to Get a Vaterschaftsanerkennung in Berlin

In Berlin, these are done in person at the Jugendamt (youth agency). The address of the Jugendamt is Karl-Marx-Allee 31, 10178 Berlin-Mitte.

You can make an appointment, and both the mother and father of the baby should be present. You can do it before the child is born. If you don’t have a good understanding of the German language, you can bring a sworn interpreter or a person that you trust along with you to interpret for you.

The case worker at the Jugendamt will fully explain the obligations associated with recognizing paternity, according to German law. You will be given an opportunity to ask questions, and at the end of the appointment, you will both sign the agreement.

What about custody?

A joint custody agreement is a separate matter from acknowledgement of paternity. It can be handled at the same appointment, through a different agreement.

What else do I need to know?

In Berlin, a Vaterschaftsanerkennung is done by appointment only.

It doesn’t cost anything.

It is a legally binding document, and it’s complex.

The mother of the child must consent to the paternity agreement.

The father must be present to voluntarily acknowledge the obligations of legal paternity.

Parents, don’t forget to bring your birth certificates.

Everyone shows ID and signs the forms – including the translator.

The whole appointment can take around an hour, and involves lots of reading statements based on the Deutsches Bürgerlisches Gesetzbuch.

Want to take a translator with you? It’s a good idea if you are in Berlin and you don’t understand German. Contact Red Tape Translation to book a language expert for your appointment.