Careers at ATBPhoto: Manuel Gutjahr
Upon arrival in Germany, you will need to follow some common steps, such as
Once you have found a permanent residence, you must register your arrival in Germany at the registration office (Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt) in your city or district.
After registering, you will obtain your Anmeldebestätigung or Meldebescheinigung.
This registration document is needed for many official processes in Germany (e.g. opening a bank account and extending a visa).
That is why it is important that you register as soon as possible, usually within 14 days of your arrival. Please note that there might be fees to pay if you wait too long.
In most cities, you can make an online appointment on the city’s website. Appointments can also be made in person, butregistration officesare usually busy places, so you may have to wait a very long time to see someone. Keep in mind that if you move to another flat, you need to update your registration at the registration office.
Check with your local registration officewhat documents they require. The exact list may vary, but you will generally need:
- your passport
- your rental agreement
- a signed confirmation from your landlord that you are renting your flat
While you are at the Bürgeramt/Einwohnermeldeamt, make sure to ask what discounts or advantages your city offers to new residents. Some offer free museum tickets, coupons for restaurants, and even welcome payments. Also, do not forget to mention that you are a student, because that may entitle you to additional benefits!
General support for foreigners
Some cities offer a program called 'Migrationsberatung für erwachsene Zuwanderer' (MBE). This advisory service for adult foreigners might be able to help with getting a long-term visa or finding a place to live. Searching the web for ‘MBE + your city’ should give you the link to your specific MBE and how to get in touch with them.
Open a bank account
There are several banks you can register with; all of them will ask you for your residence registration document (Meldebescheinigung), which you obtain from the registration office.
Don’t forget to ask your bank about charges for withdrawing cash abroad (for credit cards as well). They are often costly.
You can compare what different banks offer here (in German).
Getting a SIM card
You can buy a SIM card directly from phone companies (e.g. O2 or Vodafone) or in supermarkets (e.g. REWE or Aldi). If you are planning a short-term stay, you can buy a prepaid card in the shops or online. Don’t forget to take your passport along when you go to buy your SIM card. You might also be asked to show a residence registration document (e.g. Anmeldebestätigung/Meldebescheinigung).
You can compare different options for phone contracts/SIM cards here (in German).
In Germany, health insurance companies usually do not offer student discounts for doctoral researchers. You can choose between statutory insurance (Kassenversicherung, e.g. TK or AOK) and private insurance (Privatversicherung, e.g. MAWISTA Science or Continentale). Private insurance may be cheaper in the short term but be aware that fees increase as you age. Statutory insurance is the most common choice among German citizens and people who plan to stay for a long time.
Keep in mind that if you are hired directly by ATB as a Leibniz institute you will be asked which health insurance company you are registered with. The institute will cover half of the fees. The rest will be deducted automatically from your gross salary.
If you are a scholarship holder and you need to cover health insurance payments on your own, you should know that some organizations will provide extra health insurance money upon request.
You can compare health insurance providers here (in German).
Note: To prepare your employment contract, your institute will ask you to provide a social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). If this is your first job in Germany and you chose a statutory insurance company, they will provide you with this number. If you chose a private insurance company, you will have to apply to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to get this number.
Extend your visa by applying for a residence permit
Usually, within 90 days of arriving in Germany, you are required to obtain permission from the German Federal Government to remain and work in Germany for a longer period of time. This permit is known as Aufenthaltstitel. To get one, you need to make an appointment with the Ausländerbehörde in your city. Since there can be long waiting lists for appointments, contact the Ausländerbehörde as soon as possible.
The documents needed depend on the specific visa you are applying for, but generally include:
- Employment contract
- Rental agreement
- A biometric photograph of the correct size
- A proof of health insurance, or Mitgliedsbescheinigung. The Mitgliedsbescheinigung is not simply the health insurance card but a formal letter from the insurance company stating that you are a member. You can ask your health insurance provider to send you this document.
- Payment of a fee (credit cards are usually not accepted).
Your driving license might not be valid in Germany. For more information on this topic, see: https://handbookgermany.de/en/live/driving-licence.html
See also: Welcome at ATB