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German Law/kindergarten wait list


QUESTION: I'm living here with a SOFA status, my husband is active duty. We have been here nearly 3 years.

We have two children, both fluent in German, attending German kindergarten. We are on a wait-list for the mittagessen/ganztag group at the school, however I am told that because we are not German, we will always have last priority. Any German child will go to the top of the list with priority. We have been waiting over 2 years now, and they have lost their spot several times.

I have a German business, and pay German taxes.

I am wondering if this is legal, fair, and/or a discrimination of human rights.

ANSWER: I'll answer the easiest part of your question first: No, it definitely ain't fair.

Whether it's legal depends a bit on who runs the Kindergarten, who pays for it, what kind of contract you have with them or by which by-laws they are governed. If it's a public kindergarten (run by the municipality), then I don't see how they could justify discriminating based on citizenship of the parents/children. Different treatment is only legal if is based on factors which are legitimate and relevant (like age of the child, time you have been on waiting list, factors like poverty of family).

If I would have to think of a way for them to justify this discrimination, the only argument I could think of is if you have the possibility of daycare on a military base, so they could argue that you don't "need" the German kindergarten? But that's a much more sophisticated reasoning than "non-Germans have last priority".

Could it be that you are not registered with the municipality? (Because you don't need to, according to the SOFA.) That could also be used as a legitimate reason, but of course only if they would treat German children of families who live in another municipality the same.

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Very intriguing... If I understand correctly, would I find more information from this site... ?

Myself and my children have a 'personliche identifikationsnummer' as they required me to do this when I registered my business.

All of this trouble for only 30 minutes a day ( I have to be there to pick them up at 13 and they can go back at 1330...!)  It has been quite a delight.  ;)

Thank you so much for your quick reply, I will be sure to donate a book! This is probably the most straight forward answer/reasoning I've heard in a LONG time.

Thank you for your kind words, and thank you very much in advance for the book!

The registration with the municipality has nothing to do with the "persönliche Idenitifikationsnummer", which is more a tax number or an SSN which you take with you even if you move. What I meant was a registration with the "Einwohnermeldeamt" of the city/municipality where the kindergarten is located. As you fall under the SOFA, you don't have to do this, but in Germany when people move they have to register with the municipality, so that the town/city/county always have a list of who lives where.

It might be - but this is mere speculation - that the kindergarten has a preference for children who are registered as local residents in that town. That would probably not be an illegal discrimination, although it would still be wrong what the kindergarten told you about German children being preferred, because non-German children can of course also be registered.

Are there any other children being excluded?

I feel for you! It's really silly to require you to come by for 30 minutes every day.

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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