Administrative district

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Triangle with the federal government at the top, including in layers the federal states, optional administrative districts, (rural) districts, optional municipal associations and municipalities.  The strict stratification is broken up by city-states and district-free cities, which perform tasks of several strata.Bund Bundesländer/Flächenländer Bundesländer/Stadtstaaten (Regierungsbezirke) (Land-)Kreise Gemeindeverbände (Gemeindeverbandsangehörige/Kreisangehörige Gemeinden) (Gemeindeverbandsfreie) Kreisangehörige Gemeinden Kreisfreie Städte
Vertical state structure of Germany
Government districts: As of August 1, 2008 (including the former government districts in Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt)

In Germany , an administrative district ( Reg.-Bez. For short ) is the district of a general state funding authority in which various departmental tasks are bundled. This authority is headed by a district president and was / is called the royal government , later the district president (in Prussia), regional council (in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse), government (in Bavaria) or district government (in North Rhine-Westphalia).

The state resources authority stands as a middle instance between the upper and highest state authorities ( ministry ) and the district administrator as the lower state authority for the district of a district.

Opposing developments

This administrative level exists today mainly in the larger German territorial states. There have been efforts in some countries to abolish them and to bundle tasks nationwide (through ministries or regional higher authorities) or to shift them to the municipal level. So has z. B. Rhineland-Palatinate dissolved its administrative districts, while in Baden-Württemberg , for example, this administrative level was strengthened by the administrative reform of 2005 by transferring new tasks to them.

A similar development can be seen in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the beginning of 2007, various special authorities (e.g. state environmental offices , offices for agricultural regulations , offices for occupational health and safety ) were incorporated into the district governments. Some of their activities have also been transferred to the municipalities. The industry representatives originally advocated this step as a reduction in bureaucracy. However, there are increasing fears ( BDI , VCI ) that the municipal dependencies can no longer guarantee the previous independent legal standard.

If the tasks of the intermediate authorities are shifted to lower instances, the principle of granting administration must be observed, according to which the local area of ​​responsibility of the general authorities and the special authorities as well as the various special authorities should be territorially congruent with each other and these different authorities should be responsible for one and the same geographical area (" administrative geographic congruence ”).


After Bavaria (1806), Prussia divided its national territory into provinces and administrative districts between 1808 and 1816 . The latter published an official gazette for public communications since 1811 .

During the time of the German Empire , the larger non-Prussian federal states also had administrative districts as a central instance of state administration, but under different names: districts in Bavaria and Württemberg , provinces in Hesse , state commissioner districts in Baden , district chiefs in Saxony . During the Nazi era, the designations were adjusted to the Prussian designation administrative district .

After 1945, the administrative districts in most of the territorial states were re-established as central state bodies. The administrative authority for the administrative districts, the boundaries of which have changed several times in the course of their history, was called either "District Presidium", "Government", "The District President" or "District Government". The head of this authority is the district president.

In the course of the abolition of the federal states in the administrative reform of 1952, so-called districts were set up in the German Democratic Republic , the areas of which only partially coincided with former government districts. When the federal states were re-established in 1990, when the GDR was in the process of dissolution, administrative districts were only created again in Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, but these no longer exist today (see the following section).

Administrative districts

There are administrative districts in the following countries:

In the following countries there is no longer a division into administrative districts:

Brandenburg , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia did not set up any administrative districts when they joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, while Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland never had any administrative districts.

Former administrative districts

Historical development of the administrative districts in the Federal Republic of Germany

date Country (state) change number
May 23, 1949 Federal Republic of Germany 31
April 25, 1952 Baden-Württemberg +2 33
May 6, 1968 Hesse −1 ( Wiesbaden ) 32
July 9, 1968 Rhineland-Palatinate −2 30th
August 1, 1972 North Rhine-Westphalia −1 ( Aachen ) 29
February 1, 1978 Lower Saxony −4 25th
January 1, 1981 Hesse +1 ( casting ) 26th
3rd October 1990 Saxony-Anhalt +3 29
January 1, 1991 Saxony +3 32
January 1, 2000 Rhineland-Palatinate −3 29
January 1, 2004 Saxony-Anhalt −3 26th
January 1, 2005 Lower Saxony −4 22nd
March 1, 2012 Saxony −3 19th

Number of countries with administrative districts

date measure change number
May 23, 1949 Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany 6th
3rd October 1990 Integration of the new states into the Federal Republic of Germany (Saxony-Anhalt) +1 7th
January 1, 1991 Formation of the administrative districts in Saxony +1 8th
January 1, 2000 Dissolution of the administrative districts in Rhineland-Palatinate −1 7th
January 1, 2004 Dissolution of the administrative districts in Saxony-Anhalt −1 6th
January 1, 2005 Dissolution of the administrative districts in Lower Saxony −1 5
March 1, 2012 Abolition of the state directorates (formerly government districts) in Saxony −1 4th

See also


  • Jörg Bogumil, Steffen Kottmann: Administrative structural reform - the abolition of the district governments in Lower Saxony (=  series of publications of the Westphalia Initiative Foundation . Volume 11 ). Ibbenbürener Vereindruckerei, Ibbenbüren 2006, ISBN 3-932959-48-5 ( PDF ).
  • Geometro: Germany map (administration, political): federal states, administrative districts, districts . Map, June 17, 2016. ISBN 978-3-9817675-4-4

Web links

Wiktionary: administrative district  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations