OK, so we know this isn't exactly light reading here, but it's up to date and as simple as we can make it. Here is the top 10 formalities that many foreigners just moving to Germany will have to consider, and you can get more info at our website myGermanExpert.
Last update: November 2014
Apply for a visa, if applicable, in order to enter Germany
You need to bring the application in person to your embassy or consulate in your country.
If your visa is accepted by the German authorities, you will be allowed to enter temporarily in Germany.
In order to enter and stay in Germany during your studies, you may require to apply for a student visa outside of Germany and/or a residence permit directly in Germany depending on your citizenship. Please do not enter Germany with a tourist visa as it cannot be converted into a residence permit.
Please check out the German Federal Foreign Office web site for further details.
Your options are: Students halls of residence, Shared flats (Wohngemeinschaft – WG) or Private apartments.
a. By law, you must register at the local citizens office (called Einwohnermeldeamt, Einwohnermeldebehörde, Bürgerämter or Bürgeramt) within 7 days of relocating to your new German address (sometimes 14 days). Everyone living in Germany, even if temporarily, has the obligation to register/re-register at one of the many Bürgeramt.
b. You will need to provide the official with a valid ID or passport (with the visa inside if needed one) and the lease or sublet contract. At the end, you will get a proof of registration (called Meldebestätigung or Meldebescheinigung) from the Bürgeramt official. Do not lose this important document!
c. When to de-register? Only when you move abroad or move from a secondary residence back to the main dwelling.
While your overseas travel insurance was sufficient until you reached Germany, a German insurance is mandatory while in the country. You cannot be enrolled at the university or apply for a Residence Permit unless you have a German insurance. You need to apply for it after registering your address in Germany. There are two kinds of health insurances: Public and Private. The Public insurance is likely to be more economical than a private insurance and easier to apply for.
Apply for the new electronic Permit (for study or work purposes), if applicable, at your local Ausländerbehörde
if your application is accepted, you get a provisional certificate stating that you are allowed to study/work while the Permit is being issued (generally 3-4 weeks waiting time).
Please check out the Federal Foreign Office web site for further details.
How many days you are allowed to work?
This depends on your country of origin. Please check the details on the visa in your passport. For most of the non-European countries, student visas have a limit of working 90 full days (8h) in a calendar year (or 180 half days - 4h ). This regulation may be bypassed through an internship agreement.
You are now allowed to work or enroll to the university
Now you need to apply for a German Tax ID Number at your local Finanzamt for the purposes of taxation, government benefits and health care
This step is not anymore necessary, you only need to follow it if you've lost your tax ID! The tax office will send you the tax ID automatically to your registered German address two weeks after you've done your Bürgeramt registration.
As an employee, you will have to provide your employer with your tax id before the start of a new calendar year or at the time you begin a new employment. Employees have their income tax deducted from their salary at source. Seriously consider this as if you don't apply for a tax id you will be taxed at the maximum rate possible and will not be able to claim any tax back in the future. In case of an extra job, you need to apply for an additional tax id number.
You finally get your Residence Title after 3 or 4 weeks waiting time since you applied for the Student or Work Permit
It is an all-in-one card that includes Visa & Permit (= ePermit), it is separated from the passport and contains a chip and 2 finger prints.
Exception: The ePermit could still be a stick inserted in the passport if you are an “Erasmus”.
Open a Bank Account
If you speak German you can just search for a bank near you and enter during opening hours. If you don’t speak German, we recommend Deutsche Bank (but more fees).
You will need to show a valid proof of identity, your Meldebestätigung and, if applicable, a proof of enrollment to the university.
Sign up for a mobile contract if you wish
You need a bank account and the Meldebestätigung to get one.
If you only want to buy a cheap mobile phone, you can buy an unlocked phone at Media Markt and Saturn. If you want a flat rate, we recommend Fonic.