Three Berlin Hacks for everyone

Are you a naive tourist or a bitter Altberliner? Don’t be sour, fight the power! Here are hacks for some common nuisances we all struggle with.

1. Get an appointment at the Bürgeramt TODAY!

Need to register your address in Berlin and just can’t make an appointment online, because the Bürgeramt is booked out till next year?

Don’t despair! Just call the central hotline 115 as soon as they open, around 9 AM. They have a special magic calendar that’s closed to the pesky masses.

They will tell you which districts have free slots that day due to no-shows, cancellations or just their own bad planning.

2. Find a great bike in Berlin without breaking the law

If you live inside the Ring, you’ll have noticed that more bikes have been dropped here than allied bombs. So why pay for a Drahtesel, especially when bike theft is a Volkssport?

Bike shops aren’t that cheap – you’ll easily hinblätter EUR 150 for a halfway decent three-speeder. That’s about how much your rent gets hiked each month… So waddaya do, Robin Hood?

Before you end up in a high-speed chase with that beardo who left his Peugeot roadie outside Markthalle IX, just get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and take a walk around popular tourist spots, especially the axis from Görlitzer Park to Warschauer Straße or around any U-Bahn station.

Intoxicated kids lose not just control of their esophagaeal sphincter, they also lose their bikes, or they ditch them like last week’s lover for the slightest dysfunction. The treasures you’ll find might have small bugs like flat tires or a torn cable. Rule of thumb: If you can roll it home, it’s likely still useful.

If you want to tie the legal knot with your newfound treasure, you can go to the Fundbüro and hand in the bike. If they don’t find the owner in 3 months, you’ll get a certificate that the bike is legally yours. Chances are pretty high, because owners tend to report bike thefts only if the bike is valuable and insured.

You can also go to the police and ask them to check if your bike’s serial number is registered at all. Tell them you found it unlocked somewhere and want to see if it’s registered. If so, you might have to hand it in. If not, chances are you can just keep it.

3. Find an official translator or interpreter

Everyone and their granny is learning German now. So there are plenty of expats offering translation services.

But what if you have an official appointment (marriage, court case, etc.) and they demand a certified translation or a sworn interpreter?

There are just two places you can look. They’re both in German and Google ain’t one of them.

The first is the official directory of all court-accredited translators and interpreters in Germany.

The second is the membership directory of the German Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association (BDÜ). Not all members are accredited, but you can filter for offical translators/interpreters.

One final note: These directories will not guarantee that the provider is a great linguist, only that they hold a license. As with any service, identify your needs first and check the provider’s testimonials and other info before assigning a job.

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