Bank account and insurances

Bank account

You will need to open a German bank account to receive your salary. Bank services and fees may vary, so shop around. In order to open an account, the bank will need at least a confirmation from your employer or group leader that you are working here, your passport, and a copy of your "Anmeldebestätigung" (see Registration at the Bürgeramt above). You'll find in Berlin that many outlets prefer you to pay with cash, and will not have the facilities to accept card payment (with the exception of chain supermarkets/clothes stores, and the occasional restaurant). We therefore recommend you to always carry some cash.

Health insurance

When you start working in Germany, you must have health insurance for the entire duration of your stay (not travel insurance!).

You have two options for health insurance while living in Germany: (1) the government-run statutory health insurance (GKV), (2) private health insurance from a German or international insurance company (PKV). You must join the public health insurance system if you are an employee and your income is below a certain threshold. You can also choose to join the public health insurance scheme on a voluntary basis. If you are a scholarship holder or an employee with an income above a certain threshold, you can opt for fully private plans. Please note that if you choose a private health insurance, you may not be able to join a statutory health insurance scheme at a later date. In addition, with private health insurance you have to pay all the costs up front and can apply for reimbursement later, whereas with public health insurance most of the costs are paid directly and you only have to pay a co-payment. The terms and conditions of private health insurance companies can vary widely, so be sure to check their policies before signing up. If you are enrolled as a student at a German university, you may be able to obtain special student rates from a public or private health insurance company.

Fellows of the Max Planck Society can apply for a 50% subsidy (up to a maximum of 100€) of their health insurance premiums. The requirements are as follows:

  • Statutory health insurance: Proof of membership of a statutory health insurance scheme.
  • Private health insurance: Explicit proof of private health insurance, including benefits equivalent to those provided by the statutory system.

As people have different requirements or expectations of health insurance, it is important to understand the system in order to find the most suitable plan while living in Germany. Health insurance should not be seen as a commodity, but rather as a

Personal liability insurance

Personal liability insurance (“Haftpflichtversicherung”) covers you if you cause accidental damage to a third party (apart from car accidents, for which you need car insurance). This insurance also covers accidental damage you cause in households other than your own (for your own belongings in your apartment, you need a household insurance [“Hausratsversicherung”]). Personal liability insurance provides protection against financial ruin in the event of claims by third parties and is highly recommended in Germany. This insurance is usually relatively inexpensive and valid worldwide (compare personal liability insurances).

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