How To Find Accommodation In Germany
Students in Germany either live in a student hall of residence or a private accommodation. We recommend finding an accommodation before you arrive in Germany. You’ll most likely have to find a place to live on your own, because in contrast to other countries, German universities do not automatically assign rooms to students when they enrol.
Depending on where you study and what your financial situation is like, it may not be easy to find accommodation. Therefore, start looking as early as possible – ideally before you arrive in Germany.
The International Office at the university can provide advice and useful information for finding a place to live.
Student Residence Halls
There are several student halls of residence in every university town. A room in a residence hall is frequently the most affordable accommodation you will find. However, at some universities, rooms in student residence halls are in high demand. But if you apply early enough, you have good chances of getting a room. You should apply as soon as you receive your notification of admission from your German university. The applications are processed by the Studentenwerk (Student Services Organisation), which is responsible for operating the residence halls and allocating rooms.
The Accommodation Finder is a very helpful tool for finding information about various student residences in your university town. With just a few clicks, you can even submit an application to the Studentenwerk for a room in a residence hall.
At some universities, the International Office is responsible for allocating rooms in student halls of residence. If this is true in your case, inquire at the International Office about how best to obtain a room in a residence hall.
In Germany you will find everything from empty rooms to fully furnished flats on the market. You can rent a room or an entire flat. There are also rooms available in flat shares.
In a flat share , several people live together in one flat. Each person has his or her own bedroom, but shares the kitchen, bathroom, possibly a living room and sometimes the cost of telephone and Internet. Flat shares are very popular among students.
Usually you can only sign a rental contract for a room or apartment in person. 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 Internet and possibly set up appointments to view the flats when you arrive.
The Starting Days
You don’t have a place to stay when you arrive in Germany? Then you should clarify where you’re going to stay in the first few starting days in Germany. There are several options which the International Office can tell you more about.
At some universities, the Studentenwerk and religious university organisations offer international students temporary housing for their starting days in Germany. Of course, you can always stay at a hotel, guest house or a youth hostel. If you want to take a room at a youth hostel, you have to be a member in a national association of the International Youth Hostel Federation. If you’re not already, you can become a member (for a small fee) at any youth hostel in Germany.
Obtaining A Residence Permit
As soon as you have found accommodation, you must register with the local Resident Registration Office. This is where you receive your “confirmation of registration” (Meldebestätigung). With this in hand, you can then apply for your residence permit.
Everyone who moves to another city in Germany must notify the Resident Registration Office of their change of address within one week. And that goes for everyone – foreigners and Germans alike. At the Resident Registration Office, you have to complete a registration form and receive your confirmation of registration. It’s an important document, so take good care of it.
Take along the following documents when you register at the Resident Registration Office:
- Passport (with visa) or your personal identification card
- Tenancy agreement or confirmation of residence from your landlord
In addition to the confirmation of registration, you also need to apply for permission to reside in Germany.
Citizens from EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland automatically receive a residence permit at the Resident Registration Office. In some cases, they may ask to see proof of financial resources and confirmation of health insurance coverage.
If you are not a citizen of any of the countries mentioned above, you will have to register with the Alien Registration Office in your town. The International Office can give you the address and tell you exactly which documents you should take along.
Fees And Documents
You have to apply for a residence permit in person at the Alien Registration Office. They will ask to see the following documents:
- Confirmation of registration from the Resident Registration Office
- Confirmation of health insurance coverage
- Certificate of enrolment from your German university
- Proof of financial resources(if applicable)
- Passport (and visa, if you have one)
- Health certificate (if necessary)
- Money for the fee
- Tenancy agreement (if applicable)
- Biometric passport photos
The fee for first-time applicants can cost up to 110 euros. The fee for an extension can cost up to 80 euros.
Your residence permit is issued in the form of a chip card which contains your personal data, such as your passport photo and finger prints. Four to six weeks after applying, you will be notified by the Alien Registration Office that your residence permit has arrived. You must pick it up in person. Your residence permit is valid for at least one year and up to two years in some cases, and can be extended if necessary.