Expat life comes with its fair share of challenges. Documentation and bureaucracy have been two of my biggest headaches, which have been multiplied manifolds since I moved to Germany because I don’t speak the language. I have been trying to be a big girl about it and not crib as much as I used to – can you tell?

This year, I decided to update my name in my CNIC. When I got married, I took my husband’s name, without realising that I only took his name and not his surname. So much was happening at that time that I didn’t pay attention to “minute” details like that. I decided to fix that and take my family’s surname again.

Then, my passport is expiring in next couple of months, and I had to renew that as well.

The challenge was two-fold; first, I had to get both of these documentation updated from Germany. Second, my anmeldung is in Cologne, whereas I work (and live) in Berlin.

In case you have one or both of these herculean tasks ahead, read on to know the process, requirements, time frame, costs and potential obstacles.


Bless NADRA for taking the NIC administration online. You can now get a new CNIC, update your current CNIC or register for the first time via their online system. To begin with, create an account on https://id.nadra.gov.pk/e-id/, and choose your required service.

It is a long process, and requires a number of documents. Besides your information, it requires attestation and fingerprints. As I wasn’t aware back then that the Embassy of Pakistan in Berlin offers attestation services as well, I sent the form back to my parents in Karachi via email for attestation.

They got it attested, I borrowed an ink-pad from my finance department for fingerprints and then scanned it again for submission. My German colleagues were indefinitely amused at the archaic practice, and were partially convinced that I am an undercover criminal. Sigh.

Other required documents include school leaving certificate, service letters (job experience letters), and educational documents (degree). I struggled with uploading scanned documents as the required quality would exceed the maximum size. N came to my rescue and figured a way to keep the quality intact while decreasing the size of the document. Bless husbands!

The fee for updating my name in the CNIC was Rs.1700. You can pay via Pakistani bank account or select credit cards. As I didn’t have either, I asked my sister to pay from her local account in Pakistan. Another important detail to keep in mind is that you can only get your CNIC delivered within Pakistan.

Once I completed the application and paid the fee on 22nd Jan 2018, I got a call from Islamabad to verify my application three days later, and an email on 30th Jan 2018 that my updated CNIC has been dispatched to my provided delivery address!! Exactly, all in less than 10 days. I am so impressed!

My parents sent it to Berlin via postal mail and I had my updated CNIC with me on 8th Feb 2018.


This one is rather straightforward, besides one small problem – you are supposed to get your passport renewed from the embassy or consulate of your region. Region is defined by where you are registered in Germany.

I am registered in Cologne but am in Berlin for work. So, when I went to the Embassy to request for renewal, this was the first objection. However, I had my work documents with me (appointment letter and contract), and they agreed to make an exception.

Now, let’s take it from the top. You can either get your passport renewed urgently (10 to 14 days) or allow for normal processing time (25 to 30 days). This determines the fee that you will pay. Another factor that will determine the cost is the number of pages (36/72/100 pages).

Fee 5 Years ValidityEuroFee 10 Years ValidityEuro1st time Loss*Euro2nd time Loss*Euro3rd time Loss*Euro
Normal (36-Pages)3670Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee
Urgent (36-Pages)70140Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee
Normal (72-Pages)70140Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee
Urgent (72-Pages)140280Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee
Normal (100-Pages)90180Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee
Urgent (100-Pages)180330Double FeeFour times feeEight times fee

If you have a German bank account, you can use your bank card to pay the fee on the spot.

There isn’t an appointment system, so you need to appear in person and take a token number. On good days, it shouldn’t take more than 45 mins of waiting until you are summoned. Documents that I had to take along included:

  • Original valid Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC)/NICOP/Smart-Card issued by NADRA with its 2-photocopies.
  • OLD Passport with its photocopy (pages 1 to 7) or (Pages 1 to 2) in case of Computerized Passport.
  • Residence permit along with a photocopy

I was required to submit all my documents, then asked to appear for a photograph (please put on makeup and brush your hair. I did neither and will pay for it for the next five years). Then the gentleman behind the counter asked me to sign an affidavit confirming that all my documents and information were original and true. Then I paid 36 euros via EC Card, waited for confirmation and then was handed a receipt with a tracking number. I was informed that once my passport is ready, Embassy website will be updated and then I can come collect it between 2:30PM – 4:30PM from Monday to Thursday.

Once 30 days were over and the website hadn’t been updated in two weeks, I called the Embassy and was told that my passport was ready. I went over, collected it and that’s about it.

This process is also explained on Embassy’s website: http://www.pakemb.de/page/passport

Both processes went rather smooth – definitely smoother than I had presumed.

I hope my account is informative and helpful for you. In case you have any questions, please drop them in comment section below and I will be happy to answer them for you.