Berlin parents waiting up to three months for babies’ birth certificates

Due to the capital city's understaffed, bureaucratic offices, parents are having to wait months until their newborns are legally recognized - meaning they also must wait to receive social benefits - according to a media report.

Berlin parents waiting up to three months for babies' birth certificates
File photo: DPA.

Parents of newborns in Berlin are having to wait up to three months to get birth certificates for their new bundles of joy, in part due to understaffed offices, according to a report by Tagesspiegel on Monday.

One young couple welcomed their infant daughter into the world on March 9th, but then had to wait eight weeks to receive her official birth certificate. Without this certificate, parents cannot apply to receive monthly state-sanctioned child and parental allowances.

On top of that, babies are often co-insured with their mothers’ health insurance up to six weeks after birth. After that, parents must register them separately – and this also requires a birth certificate.

“If I was a single parent, I don’t know how I would pay for my rent, my groceries and my doctor’s fees for myself and my baby,” new mother Christin Kidszun told Tagesspiegel.

Getting in touch with the responsible registry office – the Standesamt – was a hassle: her neighbourhood office was still working on birth certificates from February, and Kidszun said she unsuccessfully tried dozens of times to call the office on the phone. She was ultimately told to show up at 5am to stand in line to then get a waiting number at 7am.

“For me as a young mother, that is not an option,” Kidszun said.

A spokesperson for the Berlin interior department declined to comment to The Local on the Tagesspiegel report.

The councilwoman for Kidszun’s neighbourhood of Mitte, Sandra Obermeyer, told Tagesspiegel that she was aware of such delays, which can last as long as three months, and Mitte currently has more than 1,000 certificates still to issue. According to Obermeyer, the problem is due to understaffing.

“Our personnel situation is dramatic, and on the job market there are no trained registrars available,” Obermeyer explained.

In Mitte, the registry office has 15 positions, but five of its employees quit within the past year, leaving the remaining ten to have to regularly work overtime as well as on the weekend, she added.

“Due to the high workload, several employees have become sick for long periods of time. Therefore the bashing of the registry office makes me angry.”

Three workers are currently being trained to work at the registry office, but this training will last until the autumn.

Obermeyer further told The Local in an email that Mitte also has a high birth rate.

“The colleagues in the office try their very best to help parents, but we are reaching the limits,” she explained, adding that they expect to show improvements in the situation in the coming months for next year.

“Only more personnel will help, which cannot be done overnight… Fundamentally, all the registrar offices in Berlin have difficulties and need more staff.”

Kidszun in the end wrote a letter of complaint about her baby’s delayed birth certificate, and soon after she received the document. Now she can apply for children's allowances – though she is still expected to wait weeks for this as well.

SEE ALSO: 6 reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'

For members


Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!