What do I have to do after arriving with a visa in Germany?
Which health insurance should I choose?
How to change my drivers licence?
How to file a tax declaration in Germany?
How to get a declaration of committment for a visitor visa?
Which immigration office is responsible for me?
How to schedule an appointment if no one is picking up the phone?
Germany is an attractive country for immigrants, expats, and international students and ranks among the leading countries in the world in terms of job opportunities, education, economic stability, social security, and work-life balance.
However, internationals also face several challenges after relocating to Germany. They mostly struggle with language barriers, bureaucracy, and the lack of digitalization. These hurdles often intertwine when it comes to bureaucracy since official paperwork is usually conducted in German and administrative work often has to be done in person or by post.
I help internationals living in Germany deal with German bureaucracy and other administrative challenges.
Explanation of official letters
Every household in Germany receives dozens of letters from institutions and service providers every month. Many of them are written in bureaucratic language and are difficult to understand – and some require a response or other forms of action.
I can review any official letter you don’t entirely understand, explain what it is about and recommend what action to take.
The price for the explanation of a standard official letter is 20 euros.
Other newcomer services
Prices for other newcomer services start at 20 euros. Please fill out the form below, briefly explain what kind of support you need, and I’ll send you a quote.
If you need special services or advice, I can also recommend:
〉Sworn translators & interpreters
〉Language teachers & schools
〉Real estate & relocation agents
〉Financial & tax advisors
How can I help you?
Just fill out the form, upload documents you want me to review, tell me what kind of support you need, and I’ll get back to you shortly.
First steps in Germany
After arriving in Germany, there will be a few bureaucratic things you will need to take care of for a smooth start in your new life.
Let me know if you need assistance with any of them.
All residents in Germany, including international newcomers, are required to register their address with the responsible authorities within two weeks of moving in or out. Depending on the federal state and the city, the resident registration office is called Einwohnermeldeamt, Bürgeramt, or Bürgerbüro.
This is the most important step you need to take after arriving in Germany. Without the registration confirmation (Meldebescheinigung), you won’t be able to apply for a residence permit and get many German services.
Check with the registration office whether you have to make an appointment and which documents you must provide. A signed confirmation from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) is always required (download here).
Remember to put your name on the post box as soon as possible. Most public offices communicate via letters and send important documents by post.
If you come to Germany on an entry visa, you can start to work immediately and have a couple of months to change your temporary visa to a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel or Aufenthaltserlaubnis). If you come from one of the “best friend” countries* and don’t need an entry visa, you must get a residence permit before you can start to work.
You need to make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde or Ausländeramt, the office for foreigners. You can usually find a list of required documents on their website, and you will have to book an appointment online or by calling/emailing them.
Be prepared that you may not be able to get an appointment right away. You have to wait weeks or even months for appointments in larger cities. It usually takes several weeks to process the applications and receive the physical residence card (elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel), depending on how many authorities have to be involved.
* Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America
Health insurance (Krankenversicherung or KV) is compulsory in Germany. Choosing an insurance provider and informing your employer about it is one of the first things you must do after arriving in Germany. Germany has two health insurance systems: public and private. The majority of people in Germany have public health insurance.
Contributions to public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) are calculated as a percentage of your income. There are many public health insurers. Their price and coverage are almost the same. Contributions to private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung or PKV) depend on your age and health condition when you sign up. You can choose how much coverage you want. The cost and coverage vary a lot.
Besides health insurance, there are a lot of insurances you can get voluntarily for different aspects of your life. Liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung) is the most common one. It covers damages caused by you to others or their belongings.
Although you could also receive your salary into a bank account in another EU country, some employers will insist on paying the salary into a German account. In addition, rents and utility bills are usually paid via direct debit (Einzugsermächtigung) from a German account.
Newcomers usually opt for one of the online banks where you can open an account online, and the service is offered in several languages.
Whether or not you have to organize your utilities depends on the type of housing you choose.
If you rent a room or share a flat (Wohngemeinschaft or WG), you will usually pay an all-inclusive rate. In this case, utilities are handled by the landlord or lead tenant.
If you rent a single-occupancy apartment, you will need to pay rent, additional costs (Nebenkosten), and some utilities. Typically, one energy company provides for the whole building and is chosen by your landlord. You will only have to take care of your own internet and phone connections.
In some cases, you need to arrange for any of the utilities that you want to make use of yourself. This means you must look for an electricity, water, gas, and internet provider.
You should figure out what doctor to go to before you actually need to see a doctor. Generally, German residents can choose their primary care doctors regardless of location. However, some practices will only register patients from their local area.
It is best to ask colleagues or other internationals to recommend you a general practitioner (Hausarzt or Allgemeinarzt) or a pediatrician (Kinderarzt). These doctors will be your first point of contact for most medical issues and will refer you if you need to consult a specialist.
When you move your residence to Germany, your non-EU driver’s license is only valid for up to six months. You should therefore apply for a German driver’s license before this period expires if you wish to continue driving a car in Germany.
Citizens of some countries enjoy a special reciprocal arrangement where they can exchange their foreign driver’s license relatively simply for a German one. If your country is not listed, you must take either a theoretical or practical exam (or both) to get a German license. You can check this list of requirements by country to see how you can exchange your license.
If you have a question that is not listed, please contact me.
I provide services in German, English, and Serbian.
If you book a consultation it can take place online on Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Microsoft Teams, or by phone.
You can pay via Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, or bank transfer (IBAN, within the EU).
The payment is due before the delivery of services or the first consultation.
No, I am not a lawyer, and my services don’t constitute legal advice. Should I notice during our cooperation that you need legal advice, I will tell you so and recommend a lawyer to you.