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. Do not hesitate to contact the HEPP office, if you have any questions.


1. Preparations at home
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 multiple entry visa for the Federal Republic of Germany. This detail is important, because with a simple tourist visa you are not allowed to work. Exceptions are citizens from EU countries and the EWR countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, who do not need a visa to enter Germany, but have to apply for a "Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung" (it means that you are allowed to work in Germany).

Citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Israel and South Corea do not require a visa to enter Germany as a tourist either, but they must apply for a residence permit within the first three months after their arrival in Germany in the appropriate Foreigner´s Registration Office. This takes time and you have to count with at least 2-4 weeks until you are allowed to work. So, better to apply for visa with a work permit in a German Embassy before starting your travel to Germany.

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 office and has to be signed before you commence working. If you come from abroad with a visa the contract will last as long as the Visa is valid. After your arrival in Germany you should get a Residence Permit in the Foreigner´s Registration Office.


3. Official Registration in Germany
Within one week after of your arrival in Germany you have to contact the so-called "Einwohnermeldeamt" for registration. Also it is important to ask for the "Lohnsteuerkarte" (tax card). The Human Resources Department will ask for it later on. On the tax card is written to which class of taxes you belong. The tax class system in Germany is quite complicated. In the end of the year you have to do a Lohnsteuererklärung (tax declaration) and it is worthy to inform about.


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 Gernan Embassy or Consulate if that insurance is accepted. For the authorities in Germany it is always inportant to have all documents in German language. You should have available a translated proof of health insurance. If you stay longer than one year, it will be more appropriate to get a German health insurance after your arrival. 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 need not apply for a residence permit in Germany. All guests staying for over 3 months need to obtain a residence permit.


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 need some help finding accommodation, appropriate school or kindergarten, please contact the HEPP office.

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