This page provides eight important things to do after arriving in Germany as a student. Topics include finding accommodation, registering your residence, obtaining health insurance, and activating a blocked account.
Studying at a university in Germany is a dream for many aspirants. Obtaining a visa is a crucial step in making that dream a reality. Once you have your visa, ensuring your comfort while studying in a foreign country is the second most important thing to have a stress-free experience. As a part of our MS in Germany team, we would like to share a few important points to help you navigate this process successfully.
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.
Advantage of student hall
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
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 :
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
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.
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
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 :
Renting a room in an independent hostel or at a youth hostel until you find a permanent accommodation.
Click here to find the accommodation at the youth hostel.
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.
Here's a table comparing the different types of accommodation options available in Germany:
Affordable price, Furnished rooms, Opportunity to make lots of friends, All-inclusive rent
Very high demand, Little privacy
Wohngemeinschaft (Flatshare or WG)
Affordable rent, Living with friends
Most private accommodations are unfurnished, Have to follow flatmates' rules, Little privacy
Expensive, Most private accommodations are unfurnished, Extra costs, Far away from the university
2. Residence Registration
After arriving in Germany, you must register your residence (Anmeldung) within two weeks. To do this, visit the registry office, called the "Bürgeramt," "Einwohnermeldeamt," or "Kreisverwaltungsreferat" in Munich, or "KVR" or "Kundenzentrum" in other regions. As a student in a student hall, you need to sign a contract with the caretaker (Hausmeister) to get a landlord's confirmation of residence (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung).
For temporary residence, attend your landlord's appointment to view the apartment. If you like it, get the rental contract (Mietvertrag) and review it with a German speaker. Then, get the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung form from your landlord and fill it out with their help.
Once you have all the necessary documents, register your residence.
Documents required for Registering the place of residence
Registration form (Anmeldung)
A form to register your place of residence
Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay
Rental contract (Mietvertrag)
A contract between you and your landlord stating the terms of your tenancy
Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (landlord’s confirmation of residence)
A confirmation of your residence from your landlord
To find your nearest registry office, insert your postcode under PLZ here. Once you have found the office, visit their website to download the registration form, book an appointment, or check their address.
After registering, you will receive a Meldebestätigung (registration certificate), which is required to open a bank account or obtain a tax number.
Tips for Residence Registration
Tip 1: Book an appointment for registering your place of residence to avoid waiting the whole day in the registration office. Be prepared to wait and have patience.
Tip 2: Sometimes, it might be difficult to find a free appointment slot online for a week or more. In some cities, you can go to the registry office early in the morning (at opening time) to get an appointment directly.
Tip 3: In most government offices in Germany, the staff may not speak English. So, make sure you know a few German sentences or bring a German-speaking friend with you.
3. Health Insurance
In Germany, everyone is required to have health insurance. Most people have public health insurance (Statutory Health Insurance or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV). A small number of people have private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PHI). Students under 30 or who have not completed 14 terms of study must have public insurance. Here are some reasons why many people in Germany choose public health insurance:
Contributions are based on income, not on risk, and are divided equally between the insured person and their employer.
Public insurance covers all basic medical necessities and provides the same services to every member.
Family members of the insured person are also insured for free.
Public insurance companies offer an affordable tariff for students.
Private insurance is only suitable for high-income individuals.
In private insurance, the premium is based on age, general health, and requested health care services.
Family members must be insured separately in private insurance.
Once someone switches to private insurance, it may be difficult to switch back to public insurance.
Here is a table comparing SHI and PHI:
Statutory Health Insurance (SHI)
Private Health Insurance (PHI)
Basis for calculation of premium
Income-based contribution rate
Age, general health, and requested health care services
Coverage for basic medical necessities
Coverage for extended medical care
Yes, with affordable tariffs for students
Yes, for high-income people only
Family members' insurance
Free for spouse and children
Each family member must be insured separately
Suitable for everyone
Suitable for high-income people
Switching back to SHI
Many students in India may have registered for public health insurance before arriving in Germany, but companies like Bestcare Solutions provide an option to register with the best German public health insurance, TK (Techniker Krankenkasse), from their home country. After getting insured with the public insurance company, students receive a certificate of insurance, known as Versicherungsbescheinigung. This certificate is necessary for the enrollment process (Immatrikulation) at the university.
4. University Enrolment
Before starting your course at a German university, you must enroll (Immatrikulation). The notification of admission mail will contain information regarding the enrollment 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 for enrollment.
Click here to find the contact details of the international offices in German higher education institutions.
Here are the mandatory documents for enrollment:
A 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 completing 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) by post. The certificate of enrollment must be submitted, along with other documents, when applying for a residence permit at the Alien Registration Office.
Name on Postbox
In Germany, all official communication is via letter. You will receive all activation statements, bank cards, insurance cards, and student ID cards by post. Therefore, make sure your name appears on the postbox.
5. Blocked Account Activation
To provide proof of finance, many students in India may have blocked some amount using one of the following banks or services:
Kotak Mahindra Bank
Once you arrive in Germany, the next important step is to activate your blocked account.
Deutsche Bank activation procedure:
If you opened an account with Deutsche Bank, you can activate your blocked account by visiting the nearest Deutsche Bank branch in Germany. You may need to provide additional documents, which you can take there or send by mail to the main branch. A few weeks later, you will receive an activation letter and bank card in the mail.
Students who have a Kotak Mahindra Bank account in India can open a regular account with any bank in Germany. Once their account is active, they will receive their IBAN and SWIFT code by mail. They need to email these details to Kotak Mahindra Bank, and then the blocked amount will be transferred to their German account.
If you have blocked an amount with Fintiba or X-patrio, the activation process is the same. When you arrive in Germany, open a regular account with any German bank of your choice. Then, provide Fintiba or X-patrio with your account details, such as the IBAN and SWIFT code. You will receive €720 every month, which will be sent to your German account.
In Germany, students have access to a wide range of special offers, including the semester ticket. This ticket allows students to use all buses and trains with minimal restrictions for the entire semester, which is half a year. Non-students can expect to pay around 70 euros per month for a transportation pass, although prices may vary depending on the city. For students, the cost of a semester ticket can range from 25 to 160 euros, depending on the city and the level of coverage.
The semester ticket operates on a solidarity model, which means that every student contributes a certain amount of money to ensure lower prices for everyone.
Applying for a semester ticket requires two documents:
A valid student ID with a semester stamp, which is mailed to you after you enroll.
A Semesterticket certificate (Bescheinigung für das Semesterticket), which you receive after paying your semester fees (Semesterbeitrag).
Different cities may impose varying restrictions for the Semesterticket, such as:
In some cities, the ticket is limited to certain public transport networks.
The TUM Basic semester ticket allows free transportation on all forms of public transportation within the MVV network between 6 pm and 6 am on weekdays, but not during the day.
On the other hand, the Otto von Guericke University semester ticket has no time restrictions, allowing you to use all tram and bus networks of the Magdeburger Verkehrsbetriebe (MVB) anytime.
Be aware that the cost, coverage, and restrictions of the semester ticket vary depending on the city you are in.
7. Sim Cards
To use your phone in Germany, buy a SIM card from one of the three main providers - Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile), Vodafone, or O2. You can purchase a SIM card from a big supermarket, drugstore, service station, online, or at the operator's store. You need to provide two documents: an ID proof (usually a passport) and an address proof (Meldebestätigung). Once you have selected a package, make the payment, and receive your SIM card - activated within 20-30 minutes.
Hint 1: When you insert your new SIM card into your mobile phone, it will prompt you for a PIN. This is not usual in India. You can find the SIM lock PIN and PUK behind the card to which the SIM was attached. You should remember this PIN and provide it to unlock your phone whenever you switch it on.
Hint 2: Your SIM will be blocked if you fail to enter your PIN correctly after three attempts. You can unblock it by entering your PUK.
8. Residence Permit
The visa issued by the German embassy in your home country is called a student visa or entry visa. You must convert this visa into a study residence permit before it expires. The student visa will be valid for three months. To apply for the residence permit, you will need to have the following documents:
A passport with a valid visa
A biometric photograph
A student ID from your German university (certificate of enrollment)
A health insurance certificate (Versicherungsbescheinigung)
Proof of adequate financial resources
A confirmation of registration (Meldebestätigung) from the Residents Registration Office
A rental agreement
An application for (extension of) a residence permit
Money to pay the residence permit fee
Once you have all the necessary documents, you can book an appointment online at the Alien Registration Office or Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner Office) website. On the appointment date, you will need to present all your documents to the officer. The officer will verify that you have all the necessary documents, and if everything is in order, your residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) will be affixed to your passport.
Resident Permit Tips
Tip 1: Online appointment bookings can take up to a week or more. In some cities, you can visit the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner Office) in person early in the morning without an appointment for visa extensions, but expect to wait.
Tip 2: Most government offices in Germany do not have English-speaking staff. Learn a few German phrases or bring a German-speaking friend with you.
In Germany, every apartment tenant is required to pay the broadcast fee, regardless of whether they own a TV or radio. Those receiving BAföG and not living with their parents can apply for an exemption. Avoid ignoring this fee as it can accumulate and result in a bill of up to 800 or 900 euros. The monthly cost of the broadcast fee is 17.50 euros, or it can be paid annually at a rate of 210 euros.
Special rules apply to students sharing a flat or house. If four adult students share a flat, all four are mutually liable for the contribution fee. One flatmate can pay the household contribution fee of 17.50 euros per month for the entire flat and then request the other three flatmates to contribute their 4.37 euros share of the fee (17.50/4).
In summary, this article provides essential tips for international students arriving in Germany. It covers eight important things to do after arriving in Germany, including finding accommodation, registering your residence, obtaining health insurance, and activating a blocked account. It also provides useful information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of accommodation, the documents required for registering your place of residence, the differences between public and private health insurance, and the enrollment process at German universities. As a part of MS in Germany team, we hope this article was helpful in navigating the process of studying in Germany. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us to learn more about studying in Germany.
What are the advantages of living in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG)?
Living in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG) can be beneficial because it is often more affordable than renting your own flat, and you get to live with your friends.
What are the disadvantages of living in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG)?
The private accommodations in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG) are often unfurnished, and you have to follow the rules set by your flatmates. Additionally, you have less privacy than if you were living in your own flat.
What should I consider when looking for my own flat?
When looking for your own flat, you should consider whether it is furnished or unfurnished, the basic rent (Kaltmiete) versus the total rent (Warmmiete), and any additional costs (Nebenkosten) you will be responsible for. You should also be prepared to pay a deposit (Kaution) of two or three months' rent.
What documents do I need to register my residence in Germany?
To register your residence in Germany, you will need a registration form (Anmeldung), a valid passport, a rental contract (Mietvertrag), and a landlord's confirmation of residence (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung).
What is the deadline for registering my residence in Germany?
You must register your residence in Germany within two weeks of arriving in the country.
What documents do I need to apply for a study residence permit in Germany?
To apply for a study residence permit in Germany, you will need a passport with a valid visa, a biometric photograph, a student ID from your German university, a health insurance certificate, proof of adequate financial resources, a confirmation of registration from the Residents Registration Office, a rental agreement, an application for (extension of) a residence permit, and money to pay the residence permit fee.
What is the semester ticket in Germany?
The semester ticket in Germany allows students to use all buses and trains with minimal restrictions for the entire semester, which is half a year.
What documents do I need to activate my blocked account in Germany?
To activate your blocked account in Germany, you will need the necessary documents from your bank or service provider, as well as a valid student ID with a semester stamp and a Semesterticket certificate.
What is the broadcast fee in Germany?
In Germany, every apartment tenant is required to pay the broadcast fee, regardless of whether they own a TV or radio. The monthly cost of the broadcast fee is 17.50 euros, or it can be paid annually at a rate of 210 euros.