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Studying in Germany

First steps to studying in Germany 

(for non-EU nationals)


Are you a student ready to enroll in a German higher education institution? Or a Ph.D. candidate. Here are the first steps you need to take when moving to Germany.

1. Apply for admission to a German university (from abroad)

Requirements and application deadlines can vary from one university to another and from one programme to another.

If you get admitted to a German university, you can then apply for an entry visa, which could either be a student or an applicant visa. 

Check out the video below, that explains how the German higher education system works


2. Apply for a visa at a German mission abroad

First case scenario
You can be granted a student visa if you received a written approval for the purpose of study preparation or were granted a place at a German higher education institution. 

Second case scenario
If you are still waiting on the notice of admission (notification or application delays) or need to pass an entrance examination, you will have to apply for a student applicant visa. Upon your arrival in Germany, you will then need to visit your local foreigners' authority to get a residence permit for study purposes.

Check out this table of countries whose citizens require a visa to enter Germany.

3. Look for a 'permanent' place to live

German universities do not provide accommodation to students on enrolment, so it is important that you look for a place to live yourself. 

As a student in Germany, you have three options: Students halls of residence, shared flats and private apartments. 

Here is some help to find an accommodation in Germany. 


4. Register in Germany (Anmeldung)

If you plan on enrolling at a university in Germany, you are required by law to register your residence. This is achieved by submitting in person a registration form to your local citizens office, often called ‘Bürgeramt’, ‘Bürgerbüro’ or even ‘Kreisverwaltungsreferat’. This is required for any change of address and needs to be done within 14 days of relocating to your new German address. 

If you do not do the so-called Anmeldung, your residence permit or university enrollment will be denied.

Important: 2-3 weeks after you have registered, a tax ID will automatically be sent by post to your registered address. The tax ID will give you the opportunity to work in Germany, if you are allowed to.


5. Obtain health insurance

Regardless of the length of your stay or your residency status, health insurance is mandatory for the whole population in Germany; without it, you will not be able to enrol at a German university. 

After joining the public or private health scheme, the insurer will provide you with a certificate, that you need to submit to your university for enrollment.

Read our complete Health Insurance Guide here



6. Apply for a residence permit for study purposes

You have to register with your local 'Ausländerbehörde' within three months of your arrival in Germany as your visa was only allowing you to enter Germany and sort out your paperwork.

If your permit is accepted, you will receive a provisional certificate allowing you to enroll at a university. It will take some weeks to finally get your 'Residence Title'.


7. Enroll at a German university

You were admitted to a German higher education institution, so now you need to get your courses registered by submitting some documents to your university (university admission letter, university entrance qualification, proof of health insurance, proof of residence permit, etc.). 

After all documentation has been reviewed by your university, you will receive a certificate of enrollment in form of a temporary student ID (in German: Immatrikulationsbescheinigung). Your real student ID will be provided to you at a later stage once you've paid the semester fees.

Important: You need to re-register each semester.


8. Open a German bank account

This is mandatory if you intend to work in Germany, even part-time, or if you want to sign up for an internet provider or a mobile plan.

You will often need a proof of German residence and/or a tax ID to open a bank account.

If you already have some basics in German or feel confident enough with Google translator, we recommend DKB (Deutsche Kreditbank Berlin). DKB Cash is one of the few German bank accounts that are totally free of charge (there are no set up fees and no monthly fees). Furthermore, you will get a DKB Visa Card that is also completely free of charge. The biggest advantage of the DKB Visa Card is that you can withdraw money free of charge from any ATM worldwide (€50 min. withdrawal).

How to open an account with DKB? You will need a webcam, a valid proof of identity, your Steuer-ID (tax ID) and, if applicable, a proof of enrollment to the university. If you're not employed, you'll also have to show some proof of income.

Enjoy your stay in Germany!

From your residence registration to your tax ID, from your health insurance to your bank account – myGermanExpert is the easiest way to get settled in Germany.