Bürgerbüro in the US? What's it called?

35 posts in this topic

Hello!

I have to translate the word  Bürgerbüro and we need the American term for this.

 

My colleague has suggested "Customer Service Center" - because this is what they call it in the UK. Cologne has changed the name of the Bürgerbüro to Kundenzentrum.

 

What would an American know it as?

 

Thanks.

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Bürgerbüro  to me sounds like something dealing with city hall, something governmental. I definitely know the term Customer Service Center, but I have always used it or seen it with businesses that sell something, so I don't know if it would be a Bürgerbüro. I also don't know in what context this word is found, but these are my thoughts as an American, currently living again in the U.S., so maybe this helps a bit.

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Yes, the  Bürgerbüro is found in the city hall and is the place to go when you need an I.D. card, you need to register yourself in the town (not necessary in the UK or US, I know), get a passport and other stuff. 

 

As one website puts it:  The citizens' office (Bürgeramt) handles many aspects of German bureaucracy. This is where you register your address, exchange a foreign driving licence, apply for an International Driving Permit and more.

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There is no one name. For example, ID cards and DLs are given at the State Patrol office in Georgia and the DMV only gives license plates and registrations for cars and voter registration is at the Board of Elections. I would go with municipal services because it is the most generic and every place in the US will do it differently. 

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In Lawrence, KS where I last lived it’s the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that issues generic id cards for the rare soul who wants one. The office is in a strip mall. Voter registration is done at the County Clerk‘s Office in City Hall. The passport office is in the main post office downtown. This configuration can be different from place to place within the state.  I think of my Bürgerbüro as a one stop shopping „city office“ that handles a variety of functions, including those mentioned above. A 1:1 name correspondence is not the point for me, but rather understanding the functions.  

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We are going for Community Office. 

 

Thanks for your contributions. I love places like this forum - you can get answers from all over the world. A wonderful resource.

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1 minute ago, nina_glyndwr said:

We are going for Community Office. 

 

Community office sounds like some kind of community centre. 

 

I personally found Alex's suggestion much better.

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No American with adult life experience in the US will have any idea what a community office is. 

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17 minutes ago, nina_glyndwr said:

Municipal Services Office

 

Go with this one. It is more accurate and more in use.

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7 minutes ago, nina_glyndwr said:

What would you all say to Citizens' Services Office?

 

Could you provide a little more context? It sounds like an advocacy office. 

 

The concept of anmelden is beyond the comprehension of North Americans who've never lived outside of North America until it is properly explained. Conversely many Germans cannot grasp how it is possible that we don't have a Bürgeramt (I've actually had lots of fun explaining how the Bürgerämter are a superfluous level of bureaucracy in Germany).  

 

Whatever you choose you also need to also explain it well.

 

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Don't worry, Engelchen. It's not just a word out of context. The text that follows will reveal all.

 

It's interesting, though, that when I first searched the forum for the text, all I saw was the German word, not even an attempt to coin a name for it in English. 

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Fascinating subject @nina_glyndwr.  When I hear municipal services I think water/sewage/trash.  :lol:  That‘s why the description is so important.  I last lived in a state with a significant rural population that is on the decline and where many bureaucratic functions are carried out at the county rather than the city level.  I find the whole Bürgeramt thing here to be very convenient.  :)

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2 hours ago, nina_glyndwr said:

not even an attempt to coin a name for it in English. 

 

Necessity is the mother of invention, isn't it?

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It would help to know what the people are registering for, or why they are going there, as we go to several different places for different things. 

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Given that the concept of registering your place of residence at a central government office is largely unknown in the UK and U.S., why not just call it the "Bürgerbüro"? You could mention that it literally translates to "citizens' office".

 

In the U.S. (at least in California), you get your driver's license at the DMV, your passport at the post office (for now), and a marriage license at city hall. "City hall" is the generic phrase for any citizen-government interaction AFAIK.

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