Archives for July 2008

Das Standesamt

Das Standesamt is an office, usually located in the town hall, where births, marriages and deaths are registered.  The office also issues the relevant certificates for these occasions.

The civil part of the marriage ceremony takes place at the Standesamt itself, often in a room specially decorated and set aside for this purpose.

Some towns have rooms, dedicated as a Standesamt in other buildings, such as the Kaiser-Friedrich-Bad in Bad Homburg or the Brauhaus in Oberursel.

If either the wife or husband is not a German national, or if one of the parents are not German, then the application to marry or to register the name of a child can get very complicated.  The non-German half may be required to sign away their right to use their national laws, eg. in naming their child, in order to simplify the situation.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Buying a flat

Today in the Monday Podcast I talk about our latest adventure: buying a flat.

A few months ago we saw a flat for sale a few streets away, and after going to see it we did not take long to reach a decision – we wanted to buy it.

But buying a flat in Germany is a complex process, which includes not only the seller and the buyer (and the estate agent), but also a lawyer called a Notar as well as various German offices that deal wish issues such as land rights. The Finanzamt also sends you a bill for so-called Grunderwerbsteuer.

Of course, that’s the official side of the business. There is also the financial side so we had to present our case to the bank for a mortgage – not an easy task being self-employed.

The bank and the Notar both presented us with a list of things that we needed to supply, mainly documentation such as proof of building insurance. We spent several weeks getting all of these together, until finally the flat changed hands at the beginning of this month.

Now we are in the process of moving from one flat to another. More about that next month.

To find out more, listen to the podcast:

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British troops in Germany

You don’t encounter that many British troops in Germany these days, at least not in my part of the country.

This week I read an article about troops in northern Germany leaving after 63 years, and it brought back memories of the life in the 1980s, when there were many more of them here.

I remember…

– cars with number plates with red borders, showing that they had been registered overseas

– listening to BFBS during visits to Germany

– encountering members of the British forces on the ferries between Dover and Zeebrugge, returning to their basis after time in the UK

– it being perfectly normal to meet members of the British forces when out and about in German towns

Can you imagine that happening today?  In today’s security climate I can’t image troops travelling in uniform in specially-marked cars and going shopping without putting on civilian clothes first!

Germany was close enough to home to go on holiday to, and thus troops were not so far away from home, a situation that the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq unfortunately can’t enjoy.

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