Arriving in Berlin

Registration at the Registration Office (Bürgeramt)

Everybody who lives in Germany must register their German home address at the registration office (Bürgeramt). As soon as you arrive in Germany you must register your current address which may be the address of the guest house in case you have not found a flat yet. You need to take the completed registration form (Anmeldung) and your valid passport to the registration office. Appointments can also be made online (Terminvergabe). When you are registered you will receive the stamped registration confirmation (Anmeldebestätigung). You need this document for opening a bank account and applying for a residence permit. Each time when you move, even within Berlin, you will have to go through the same process again and get registered with your new address.

Community Helpline
Phone: (0049 30) 115

Please don't forget to sign off after your stay in Germany!


Health insurance

When you start working in Germany, you have to have a health insurance covering the whole duration of your stay here (NOT a travel insurance!).
You have three options for health insurance while living in Germany: (1) the government-regulated public health insurance system (GKV), (2) private health insurance from a German or an international insurance company (PKV), or (3) a combination of the two. You must join the public health insurance system if you are an employee and your income is under a certain threshold. However, you can also choose to become a voluntary member of the public health insurance system when you arrive in Germany with a residence permit of at least 12 months. This list contains all public insurance companies in Germany. In case you are a scholarship holder or an employee with an income above a certain threshold you can opt for full private plans. This list might contain interesting options for private health insurance companies for foreign scholarship holders. Please take into consideration that if you take out a private health insurance it might not be possible to become a voluntary member of a public health insurance company later on. With a private health insurance you also have to make all your payments yourself upfront and can apply for reimbursement later, while a public health insurance pays most of the costs directly and you have to make only a co-pay. Conditions of private health insurance companies can differ largely, please investigate their regulations before signing a contract. If you are enrolled as a student at a German university you might ask for special student rates either with a public or private insurance company.
If there is an insurance agreement between your country and Germany or if EU rules apply, you can sometimes also transfer your health insurance. In this case, EU citizens will get an E 101/A1 form from their insurance company which confirms that they have adequate medical coverage in Germany. Additionally, as a European citizen, you will need to apply in your home country for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables you to access healthcare while working in Germany.
As people have different requirements or expectations from health insurance, it is important to understand the system in order to filter out the most suitable plan while living in Germany. Health insurance should not be considered a commodity but rather a financial support partner in difficult times in case illness, disease or accidents should happen.

Accident insurance

Unlike employees, scholarship holders are not automatically insured against accidents related to work. Therefore it is strongly recommended to take out an individual accident insurance with the Berufsgenossenschaft (for more information see right column Scholarship holders_Accident insurance and for application forms see right column - Application form voluntary insurance) - unless you are covered by your private accident insurance. The current annual rate starts at around 40 euros.

Personal liability insurance

Personal liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) covers you in case you cause accidental damage to a third party (apart from car accidents for which you need car insurance). This insurance also covers accidental damage which you caused in other households apart from your own (for this you require home insurance - Hausratversicherung). The personal liability insurance provides cover against financial ruin in case of claims for compensation by third parties and it is recommended to get such insurance in Germany. This insurance is usually relatively inexpensive and valid world-wide.

Bank account

You must open a bank account. There may be differences in the banks' services and fees so have a look arround. When you want to open an account the bank will require at least a confirmation of your employer or group leader that you work here, your passport and a copy of your Anmeldebestätigung (see residence registration).

Residence permit

EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens
Citizens of the EU or EEA (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Iceland, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Romania Sweden, Spain Norway, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lichtenstein, Switzerland) do not require a residence permit or entry visa as they enjoy the right of free movement.

If you are not German or a citizen of the European Union you must apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) at the immigration office in Berlin (Ausländerbehörde). You need to get the residence permit within three months after your arrival in Germany. Once you get your residence permit you have to give a copy to the personnel department. Bear in mind that it can take up to nine weeks to receive the permit so you should apply as soon as possible. Please note that payment of your scholarship/salary is not possible without a valid residence permit!

All guest scientists and scholarship holders can give the required documents to Sarah Kuck and she will take them to the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) and pick up the residence permit for you. The documents have to be submitted to her six weeks before your old visa expires. Please note that during the application procedure you will be without passport. For any urgent applications you will have to go to the immigration office yourself.

The following documents are required to apply for a residence permit and extended visa:

  • Application form (click here to download form)
  • If applicable - 'Immatrikulationsbescheinigung'
  • One biometric passport photo (more information)
  • Your valid passport
  • Copy of contract / scholarship contract
  • Copy of your "Anmeldebestätigung" (see residence registration).
  • Copy of your health insurance certificate (see health insurance).

Please hand in all documents sigle-sided and do not use staples!

Blue Card EU

The EU Blue Card is issued for a period of four years if the employment contract is permanent or, in case of a temporary employment contract. In case of shorter employment contracts, the EU Blue Card is issued for the duration of the employment plus three months.


  • Possession of a qualification from a German Hochschule, an accredited foreign university or university college qualification, or a foreign university or university college qualification comparable to a German Hochschule qualification
  • Qualified employment with a minimum gross salary of EUR 46,400 per annum or, in shortage occupations, a gross salary of EUR 36,192 per annum.
  • Approval of the German Federal Employment Agency if no German Hochschule qualification is available
  • Registered residence in Berlin

Documents required:


  • EUR 100 for the first-time issue, valid for up to one year 
  • EUR 110 for the first-time issue, valid for more than one year
  • EUR 65 for an extension of up to three months
  • EUR 80 for an extension of more than three months

Note: Please apply for the extension 6-8 weeks prior to the expiry of your current residence permit!

If you need help with the residence permit please contact Sarah Kuck (+49 30 28460 -147, e-mail:

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