Moving to a new country is such an exciting experience but it takes some time to settle in and understand the new customs and bureaucracy. Which germans love. We have listed 7 things that we found helpful when moving to Germany first. We did not include how to apply for visas as there are many different options depending on the counry that you are moving from. As we both are EU citizens we did not have to go through the process of applying for a visa. For the time being, we have moved in with family and as such we also did not have to look for our own new apartmet. But this is a project for the future and we will of course keep you also posted about this.
1 Register to live here (and pay your TV license)
When arriving in Germany, planning to stay here for a longer period and having found a place to live, you will need to register with the German authorities within two weeks of moving in to your new home. This is mandatory by law and called “Anmeldung”. You can do this at your local resident’s registration office, “Einwohnermeldeamt”.
You will need:
- A valid ID/ Passport
- Confirmation from your landlord or the person that provides your home. (A rental agreement is not sufficient. You will need a completed and signed confirmation from the person providing your home. This form can be picked up at the offices where you register or you can find examples online. Search for “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”)
- Marriage documents
- Divorce documents
- Death certificates of passed spouses
- For children: Birth certificate and proof of custody.
Once you have registered you will automatically receive your tax file number, which will be sent to you by post. This is necessary when starting employment.
Fun fact: You will also receive a letter from the Germany broadcasting license after registering, looking for your money. However, the broadcasting license is to be paid per household including all devices such as TVs, radios, Internet etc. If you move into a shared accommodation or move in with family it is most likely that there is already a broadcasting license for this household. You can find this out and return the attached form, including the account number for the place that you live in and won’t have to register for a new license.
2 Do a German intensive language course
Although there is English-speaking jobs in Germany it is quite necessary for most that you are able to speak and understand the language to a certain degree. This obviously also depends on the type of work and the field you are looking for.
Speaking the language and learning it will also help you to get socially integrated and will make you feel much more comfortable in every day life. There are plenty of options available online and in classrooms, fulltime or part-time.
Tracie found it very helpful to do a 5 weeks intensive course in a classroom setting. This really boosted her language skills and also helped her to make her first social contacts. After some research Tracie decided to do her course with VHS (Volkshochschule) which cost her around 250 Eur
3 Get your qualifications recognised (if required)
Depending on the country that you have completed your qualification in and the field in which you are looking for work, you may be required to get your qualification officially recognised. You can find all necessary information if you search for “Anerkennung in Deutschland”
4 Get your CV up to date
As in every country there are certain standards on how to apply properly. Here are some points to consider when writing up your application:
- You can attach a photo of yourself to your application.
If you decide to attach a photo you should include this on the first page of your CV. Alternatively you can also add a coverpage to your application, where you include this photo. To get a good quality picture of yourself you should go to a professional photographer to get your picture taken. As this is still quite common in Germany most photographers take applications photos as part of their standard services.
- Your Cv must include work experience, qualifications, personal details, languages, skills and any charitable or volunteering activities, in chronological order, with your work experience being the most relevant. You will also be expected to sign and date each resume that you send out.
- You will be expected to produce a cover letter where you explain in detail what experience you have and why you are a good fit for the position. You should tailor an individual cover letter to each position you are applying for.
There are some good examples online. Another option to help you with your job search and writing a good application is to check out the “Arbeitsamt” or “Job Centre” which do offer help on how to apply in Germany and also have information about new job openings.
When applying you should be prepared to provide copies of your qualifications and written references either with your application or at a later stage in the hiring process. Which information you are going to need to provide will sometimes depend on the field that you are applying in.
5 Sort out your health insurance
Every person with a permanent residence in Germany is required by law to take out health insurance. You can freely choose from a health insurance provider. When you are employed, you will automatically pay a portion towards your health insurance and the other portion will be covered by your employer. This fee will be deducted from your monthly income.
If you are not yet employed but wish to be insured with a public health insurance provider you have the option of taking out a voluntarily public health insurance. Hereby you pay a monthly fee yourself and you will be entitled to the benefits of public health insurance. You will find more information by you are looking for “Freiwillige gesetzliche Versicherung”
Should you be self employed, a student, a state official, freelancer or have an income over a certain threshold you can be privately insured. However, most employees in Germany are covered by compulsory public health insurance.
6 Open a bank account
To open a bank account you will need to be registered in Germany first. After this the process of opening the bank account is straightforward. Choose a bank and set up an appointment with them. You will then need to bring the proof of registration and your ID along with you.
7 Enjoy your new home
There are so many new things to discover. Enjoy your time.