Start in Germany

Start in Germany

How to get started in Germany? The most important things to do

The following steps are the most important things to do to help you start in Germany. These steps are mainly written for foreigners and should be a little help in the labyrinth of German administration.


1. Preparations at home
Citizens of European Union (EU) member states, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein do not require a visa.

Australian, Canadian, Israeli, Japanese, New Zealand, South Korean, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the US American nationals also do not need a visa to enter the country, but are not allowed to work here without a visa or residence permit. Therefore, you should apply for a visa that includes a work permit before entering the country.

Contact a German Embassy or a German Consulate in your home country or country of residence. Please apply in time, because it takes several weeks for a visa to be issued. Foreign scientists require a national visa. This detail is important, because with a simple tourist visa you are not allowed to work and it will not be possible to apply for a residence permit!

If you come to Germany as a postdoc or doctoral candidate, you can apply for a national visa for the purpose of gainful employment, more specifically for research purposes. You will find a list of the requisite documentation on the Embassy‘s website.

Please check in time with the staff of the Human Resources Department of IPP or your scientific host to find out whether you need to bring any specific documents with you. This could include, for example, your university diploma or birth and marriage certificates. It is best to bring certified translated copies of these documents with you rather than have translations done on the spot.

2. Registration at IPP
Someone from your working group will be ready to guide you around IPP and to show you the important things you have to deal with (e.g. access to computer, an E-mail-account, access cards, etc.). Your contract is available from the Human Resources Department and has to be signed before you commence working.

3. Official Registration in Germany
You must register with the Residents‘ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks of your arrival in Germany, so that your new place of residence can be registered there. 

4. Bank Account
To open a bank account you need the proof of residence (from Step 3 above) and a valid passport. Have a look for webpages of the different banks or ask your colleagues for recommendations.

5. Health Insurance
During your stay in Germany you must have health insurance. There are many insurance companies in Germany, either public or private ones. If you can get some private health insurance in your home country for your stay in Germany, it is best to check with the German Embassy or Consulate if that insurance is accepted. For the authorities in Germany it is always important to have all documents in German or English language. You should have available a translated proof of health insurance. If you have a contract of employment you will be covered by statutory health insurance from the commencement of employment. There are various statutory health insurance schemes that you can choose between. Most of the companies are available on the Internet and some of them have an English speaking service.

6. Residence Permit
All guests staying for less than 3 months with a valid visa for that period don’t need to apply for a residence permit in Germany. If you stay longer than 3 months you must apply for a residence permit at the local Foreign Office within the period for which your national visa is valid if it does not cover the entire duration of your stay. 

7. Further information
There is an excellent information brochure available, edited by the Max-Planck-Society ('Living and working in Germany'). The brochure answers all specific questions about visa applications, tax reimbursement, health insurances and the social security system in Germany. You can download the brochure here.


If you have further questions or need some help please contact:

In Garching:  Human Resources Department

In Greifswald: International Office

Go to Editor View