It’s a dream for many aspirants to study at Germany university. Getting a visa is a pathway to achieve your dream. After getting the visa, going to a different country and making sure your comfort is a second most important thing to have stress-free study life. So, as a part of our MS in Germany team we would like to share a few important points to pass through the right holes.
1. Finding the right accommodation
The first and foremost important thing is to make sure you have a place to reside when you reach Germany. As soon as your course has been confirmed, start searching for accommodation. You can search for accommodation in Student hall or at private residence. We would say the student hall is the most affordable accommodation for students than private. Because they offer a room at an affordable price and the student hall are run by student service or union or Studentenwerk or the student welfare organization. You need to send an online application to the student hall to book the place.
Click here to find the student hall with respect to city and university.
Advantage of student hall
- Affordable price
- Furnished rooms
- Opportunity to make lots of friends
- Every month you will not be burden up with extra cost like Internet bill, electricity bill because everything might be included in total rent(Warmmiete).
Disadvantage of student hall
- Very high demand
- Little privacy
Many students would have got a confirmation mail from student hall for their application. But, many would not have got a place in the student hall due to very high demand. So, if you did not get an accommodation in student hall the next option is to find private accommodation for a long term. In private accommodation there are two options :
- Finding own flat
Wohngemeinschaft(Flatshare or WG):
In Wohngemeinschaft(Flatshare) option you share your flat with other students or friends i.e. kitchen, restroom and living room will be commonly used, but each flatmate will have their own room.
Advantage of Wohngemeinschaft
- Affordable rent
- Living along with your friends
Disadvantage of Wohngemeinschaft:
- Most of the time the private accommodations are unfurnished.
- You have to follow the rules like no loud music etc.
- Little privacy.
If you prefer to have more privacy then you can find your own flat. But make sure with the following things:
- Most of the time the private flats are unfurnished(unmöbliert). Which mean the flat will be completely empty. There won’t be even fitted kitchen. You have to buy everything by yourself. So better search for the apartment with the term “möbliert” which means furnished.
- Make sure you know what you’re paying for the basic rent(Kaltmiete) which does not include water, electricity, heating or garbage collection, whereas total rent (Warmmiete) is inclusive all. There are often several additional costs(Nebenkosten). Also, you are normally required to pay a deposit(Kaution) to the value of two or three months worth of rent.
Advantage of own flat
- More privacy
Disadvantage of own flat
- Most of the time unfurnished
- Every month you will be burden up with extra cost like Internet bill, electricity bill.
- Sometimes away from the university.
List of few German websites for searching private accommodation :
Usually, you need to be in Germany to sign a contract for a private room or apartment. In other words, you probably won’t be able to rent a private room until you arrive in Germany and meet the landlord. Nevertheless, you can start looking via the Internet and possibly set up appointments to view the flats when you arrive. Once after you arrive you can go and view the flats and sign the contract. Until you sign the contract, for the initial days in Germany you can use one of the following options.
Finding an accommodation in Germany for initial days or short period
Option 1 :
At some universities, the Studentenwerk and religious university organizations offer international students temporary housing for their first nights in Germany. Not all the Studentenwerk provide this service. You have to contact Studentenwerk or visit Studentenwerk website to know whether this service is provided or not.
Option 2 :
Finding accommodation through social media:
Many students sublet their rooms for a limited period when they go abroad for an exchange program or to complete a placement or internship elsewhere. There are many facebook groups where you can find ads. For eg: To find accommodation in Magdeburg there is a facebook group called ” Student accommodation Magdeburg”. Likewise, according to the city or university, there will be a facebook group. You can join in those groups and find your room for short term.
When you are looking for private accommodation be aware of fraudulence. Do not sign the contract without looking the flat or apartment. In Germany, the rental contract will be in the German language which might be difficult to understand for many. But make sure you go through the contract before you sign them.
Few useful hints regarding accommodation in Germany
Hint 1: Check whether the room door locks automatically. Because there are cases like you might forget the key inside the room. After coming out the door might get locked automatically then you might need to spend some Euros to open it again.
Hint 2: Do not lose your room key. Because you need to pay a lot to get it again.
Hint 3: Go through the below article to learn some German words with respect to accommodation. Which might be very very useful once after you reached Germany.
Article Link: studentenwerke.de
2. Residence Registration
The first most important thing to do after arriving in Germany is Registering your place of residence (Anmeldung). By law, everyone needs to register his or her place of residence at the registry office (the “Bürgeramt”, the “Einwohnermeldeamt”, or the “Kreisverwaltungsreferat” if you’re in Munich or KVR or Kundenzentrum depending on the region or city) within two weeks of moving into a room in dormitory or a private WG or own flat.
Some students might have got a place in Student hall. Some might have just got temporary residence before arriving in Germany. Students who got a place in student hall must sign a contract after arriving in Germany and then the Hausmeister(caretakers of dormitory) will give Wohnungsgeberbestätigung(landlord’s confirmation of residence) which is one of the most essential documents for Registering your place of residence(Anmeldung). Students who got temporary residence might have booked an appointment with the landlord to have a look at the house. So, after arriving in Germany you need to go and visit your landlord on appointment date and have a look at the flat or apartment. If you like the house you can accept an offer, after that, you will get your rental contract (Mietvertrag). Before signing, review the contract with German speaker and make sure you understand what you’re paying for the basic rent(Kaltmiete) and total rent (Warmmiete). Then you should get Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (landlord’s confirmation of residence) from the landlord.
Wohnungsgeberbestätigung form template will vary from city to city. The form will be in the German language so you can request your landlord to help you out in filling the form.
Picture 1 : Sample Wohnungsgeberbestätigung form
Once after you got all the documents in your hand the next step is to register your place of residence.
Documents required for Registering the place of residence :
- Registration form(Anmeldung)
- Valid passport
- Rental contract (Mietvertrag)
- Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (landlord’s confirmation of residence)
Find your nearer registry office by inserting your postcode under PLZ here. After finding your nearer registry office you can visit their website to download the registration form, to book an appointment and to check their address.
After Anmeldung, you will get the Meldebestätigung(registration certificate), which is required for opening a bank account or to obtain a tax number.
Few hints for Residence Registration:
Hint 1: Book an appointment for registering your place of residence. If you do not have an appointment then you might need to spend the whole day in the registration office. You need to have lots of patience to wait.
Hint 2: Sometimes if you try to book an appointment online you will not be able to find free slots for a week or more. So, if you did not find the slot, in some cities you can go to the registry office early in the morning (opening time) and get the appointment directly.
Hint 3: In Germany, in most of the Government offices the staff will not speak English. So make sure you know few German sentences or you can take your German friend along with you.
3. Health Insurance
In Germany, the health insurance is obligatory for all the residence. Most of the people in Germany hold public health Insurance or Statutory health insurance or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV) (72.31 million). Only a minimal amount of people hold private health insurance or private krankenversicherung(PHI) (8.9 million). Students who did not reach the age of 30 years or who did not reach the 14th term of their study have should be insured over a public insurance company.
In short, we would like to explain why many people hold public health insurance in Germany than private which might be useful for you in the future:
- The statutory health insurance(SHI) in Germany is based on the solidarity system. Which means, the contributions(Premium you pay every month) are based on income and not based on risk. People whose Gross salary less than 59,400 Euros per year or 4,950 Euros per month in 2018 are obliged to insure themselves via the statutory health insurance(SHI). In SHI on the basis of the total gross income uniform contribution rate of 14.6 percent (as of 2018) is levied. This is divided equally between the insured party and the employer, i.e. 7.3 percent each. For eg. If your salary is 3,500 Euro per month, you contribute 255.5 Euros and your employer contribute 255.5 Euros for your health insurance. The person who earns higher pays higher contribution rate. Also, If the contribution assessment ceiling (2018: € 4,425 per month) is exceeded, income above it plays no role in calculating the contribution.
- Statutory health insurance is suitable for everyone and provides the same service to all its members regardless of contribution (Premium) and also all the basic medical necessities are covered.
- In SHI Family members ( non-working Spouse, Children’s) of the insured person will also be insured for free.
- The SHI providers in Germany are obligated to offer an affordable tariff for students.
- Private health insurance(PHI) is suitable only for high-income people and not accessible to everyone. It means if your Gross salary is more than 59,400 Euros per year or 4,950 Euros per month in 2018 you can switch to PHI for more extensive coverage.
- In PHI the premium amount is not based on your income its based on your age, general health and the requested health care services.
- In PHI Family members(Spouse, Children’s) are not co-insured. Each family member has to be insured separately.
- Once after you switched to private health insurance it can be difficult to switch back to Government health insurance in the future.
These are the main difference between SHI and private health insurance in Germany.
Many students in India would have registered with a public health insurance before arriving in Germany. Because there are companies like Bestcare solutions who are providing an option to register with German best public health insurance TK(Techniker Krankenkasse) from home country. After getting insured with the public insurance company you will get the certificate of insurance (Versicherungsbescheinigung). Versicherungsbescheinigung will be necessary for the process of enrollment(Immatrikulation) at the university.
4. University Enrolment
Before starting your course in German university you must enroll(Immatrikulation). In your notification of admission mail, there will be information concerning the enrolment period. Within that period you need to enroll in person at the Office of Student Affairs (“Studentensekretariat”) at the university. The staff at the International Office and the Office of Student Affairs can tell you exactly what to bring along for enrollment.
Click here to find the contact details of the German higher education institutions international office.
Here are the few documents which are mandatory for enrollment :
- Personal identification card or passport
- Notification of admission
- University entrance qualification: the original or a certified copy with a certified translation in German
- Several passport photos
- Confirmation of health insurance coverage by a public health insurance provider in Germany.
After finishing this procedure, you will immediately receive a letter of confirmation. The letter of confirmation is the temporary student ID. After a few weeks, you will receive the student card(Student ID) and certificate of enrollment (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung) through the post. The certificate of enrollment must be submitted along with other documents when you applying for the residence permit at Alien Registration Office.
Name on postbox
In Germany, all the official communication happens through the letter. You will get all the activation statement, bank card, insurance card, and student ID card through post. So make sure your name appears in the postbox.
5. Blocked Account Activation
For proof of finance many students would have blocked some amount using either one of the following banks or services in India:
- Deutsche Bank
- Kotak Mahindra Bank in India
After arriving in Germany the next important step is blocked account activation.
Deutsche bank activation procedure :
Students who have opened an account with Deutsche bank should visit your nearer Deutsche bank in Germany for blocked account activation. They might ask you to submit a few more additional documents or sometimes you need to send those additional documents through the post to Main Branch. After few weeks you will receive your activation letter and Bank card through post.
For students who have opened an account with Kotak Mahindra Bank in India can open a current account with any of the bank of your choice in Germany. Once after your bank account has got activated you will receive IBAN and SWIFT code through the post. After receiving your IBAN and SWIFT Code you need to send these details through email to Kotak Mahindra Bank. After which they will send the whole blocked amount to your German account.
Students who have blocked an amount in Fintiba or x- patrio the activation procedure is the same. You can also open a current account with any of the German banks of your choice after arriving in Germany. Once after you have opened the account you need to share the account details like IBAN and SWIFT code to Fintiba or X-patrio. After which you will receive 720 euro every month to your German bank account.
6. Semester Ticket
In Germany, there are so many special offers for students. One of which is semester ticket. Using semester ticket you can use all buses and trains with few restrictions. The semester ticket is valid for the whole semester(half a year). For non-students, the monthly transportation pass cost is 70 Euros it may vary from city to city. But for students, the whole semester ticket cost ranges between 25 – 160 euro depending on the city and the range of the ticket. The semester ticket is also based on the solidarity model where every student has to pay a certain amount of money to allow lower prices for everyone.
You need to submit two documents for receiving semester ticket :
- Student ID with valid semester stamp which you will receive through post after enrollment procedure
- Certificate of Semesterticket(Bescheinigung für das Semesterticket) which you will receive after payment of Semester fees (Semesterbeitrag).
Here are the examples of few restrictions in Semesterticket according to the city :
- In some cities, semester ticket will be valid only in certain public transport network.
- Using TUM Basic semester ticket you can use all forms of transportation within the entire MVV network on weekdays between 6 pm and 6 am for free. Using this semester ticket you can’t travel on public transport at daytime.
- But in Otto von guericke university semester ticket there is no time restriction. A student can use all the tram and bus network of the Magdeburger Verkehrsbetriebe(MVB) without any time restrictions.
Like this from city to city the semester ticket fee, range and restrictions vary.
7. Sim Cards
The next thing is to buy a SIM Card for your mobile phone. In Germany there are only three main network provider:
- Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile)
These three network providers have many resellers. You can choose your provider and package based on the service you need and region your living.
You can buy your SIM Card from a big supermarket, drugstore, service station, online or at operator’s store.
The Documents required for getting SIM Card :
- ID proof (Usually passport)
- Address proof (Meldebestätigung)
The process of getting SIM card is really easy if you have all the documents mentioned before. You need to just find the store and choose your package based on your need. Once after you have chosen your package you should make payment. After that, you will get SIM Card in your hand and it will get activated within 20-30 min.
Hint 1: If you insert your new SIM card in your mobile phone it will ask for the PIN which is not usual in India. You can find the SIM lock PIN and PUK behind the card to which SIM was attached. Whenever you switch on your phone you should provide this PIN to unlock. So it’s better to remember this PIN.
Hint 2: Your SIM will be blocked if you fail to enter your PIN correctly after three attempts. You can unblock it again by entering your PUK.
8. Residence Permit
The visa you got from home country German embassy is called student visa or entry visa. You must convert your student visa into study resident permit before your student visa expires. The student visa will be provided for 3 months. You can apply for the resident permit if you have all the following documents in your hand :
- Passport with a valid visa
- A biometric photograph
- Student ID from your German university (certificate of enrolment)
- Health insurance certificate (Versicherungsbescheinigung)
- Proof of adequate finance
- Confirmation of registration(Meldebestätigung) from the Residents Registration Office
- Rental agreement
- Application for (extension of) a residence permit
- Money for the residence permit fee
If you have all the documents in your hand then you can book an appointment at the Alien Registration Office or Ausländerbehörde(Foreigner office) website online. On appointment date, you need to present all the documents to the officer. Officer will check all the documents and if everything goes well your residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) will be sticked in your passport.
Few useful hints regarding resident permit
Hint 1: When you try to book an appointment online sometimes you might not get an appointment for a week or more. In some cities, you can go directly to the Ausländerbehörde(Foreigner office) early morning(opening time) without an appointment for the visa extension. But you need to wait.
Hint 2: In Germany, in most of the Government offices the staff will not speak English. So make sure you know few German sentences or you can take your German friend along with you.
Broadcast fee or GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale)
In Germany tenant of every apartment need to pay the broadcast fee regardless of whether there are any TV or radio devices. Everyone receiving BAföG and not living with their parents is eligible for an exemption from the broadcasting fee. Do not ignore to pay this fee. Otherwise one day you will be billed up with 800 or 900 Euro totally. The cost of the Broadcast fee is 17.50 Euro per month. You can also pay this fee annually (€210 per annum).
Some special rules apply to students sharing a flat or a house. If there are four adult students sharing a flat. All the four flatmates are mutually liable for the contribution fee. One flatmate pays the household contribution fee of € 17.50 per month for the entire flat. He/she can then ask the other three flatmates liable for contribution for their € 4.37 share of the fee (€ 17.50/4).
These are the few important points you need to consider to pass through the right holes after reaching Germany. Hope this article was useful. If you have any questions you can comment below.