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This step-by-step guide tackles the most common hurdles one faces while moving to Germany. Find sources and links which help you to sucessfully prepare and inform yourself!
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01 Learn German

Learning German is one of the most important steps with which you can prepare for life in Germany. In most german companies German is the common language. Having completed a language course is not always mandatory but will be beneficial for job applications and on your CV. You are not only showing language skills but your commitment to your future plans.

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Language courses

A language course is an effective way to learn German. In Germany, language courses are offered at all levels, for beginners as well as for very advanced learners. Before entering the language course, you can determine your current level of German with tests by the provider of the language course.

Providers in Germany are guided by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF). It defines the following levels of language competence:

Levels A1 and A2: Learn the basic knowledge of the German language. If you have no previous knowledge, you should definitely attend an A1 course.

Levels B1 and B2: Learn German at an advanced level. You will expand your language skills and after completing level B2 you will be able to communicate independently in everyday life and profession.

Levels C1 and C2: Learn German at the highest level. At the end of these courses you will be able to speak German almost as good as people who have grown up with the language.

Duration & cost

German courses vary in length. Intensive courses may last one or more weeks, other courses may last a half a year. Depending on the type of course, you spend several hours a week or even a day in class and with homework. If you have a job, you can attend an evening course. Or you can take a language trip to Germany on holiday.

You can also choose whether you prefer to study in a group or alone. Group courses usually cost less and you can exchange ideas with fellow students. Individual lessons are often more expensive, but will be tailored to your needs and usually you are free to choose the time of the lessons.Prices for a German course vary depending on the type of course and the country where you want to learn the language.

Prices should be checked directly with the providers. If you are moving to Germany to work kindly ask your employer if they will cover the costs.

Most language courses end with an exam which you have to pass in order to be able to attend a course of a higher level. Find out in advance if there are any fees for the exams.

German courses worldwide

More information about German courses in 92 countries, online courses and free exercises are being provided on goethe.de

02 Find a Job

Did you make up your mind about relocation to Germany? Are you looking for a job offer tailored to your qualifications and wishes? An easy way to research job listings is online whether you are still in your current country or already in Germany.

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Job Portal by the Federal Employment Agency

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) is responsible for assigning people to training and employment positions and functions as a point of contact for companies and citizens.

The official job portal of the BA is the biggest German job market. Post your profile, so that employers can find you and search fo offers suitable to your qualifications and interests.

Application

After finding the right job opportunity it is time to apply. Detailed Information will be provided by the companies: You may be required to send a printed application as a PDF file by e-mail, in a folder by mail or to upload your CV at the company's career platform.  Necessary documents usually include at least a cover letter and your resume.

Write your CV

Personal data
Name, address, contact details

Work experience
Which companies have you worked for? What were your tasks there? This information should be listed chronologically. It starts with your most recent work experience.

Education
As an applicant, you must provide all the information on your education. This embraces schools attended, gained university degree/s and grades, professional training and all other educational activities being involved. All this information must also have proof documents in order to be considered as frank. Likewise, make sure placing this information in a chronological order, detaching formal, non-formal and professional education.

Language skills
You must provide the information on the language competencies, listing all the languages you are able to understand, speak and write. In Germany the following standard terms are often used: "mother tongue", "business fluent" (excellent knowledge), "fluent" (very good knowledge) and "basic knowledge" (beginner). However, it is more advisable to refer to the standards of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Computer skills
You must state which are the computer competences and especially if any of them pertains to the job you are about to do.

Other skills and talents
Your application will be supplemented if you state your interpersonal skills which can be: verbal and non-verbal communication, listening, negotiation, decision making, problem-solving and further. Also, if having any special talent, even if it does not directly relate to the job, presenting it can make your application more interesting and unique from other applications.

Certificates
An important part of the application is proving your education, including formal, non-formal and professional. For the application to be properly considered and candidly, certificates you present must be in accordance with the information provided in other parts of the application. Do not send originals, only copies. Often the documents will not be returned to you. Usually a normal copy will be sufficient. You only need to send officially certified copies if the company specifically askes for it. Important: It is best to have your certificates translated into German or English so that the company can understand your services.

Tip: On the Europass website  you will find helpful information on the formal design of your CV and covering letter.

Work contract

In practice, employment contracts are usually concluded in writing and have a similar structure. In principle, employers and employees are free to decide on content and form (freedom of contract). The Nachweisgesetz (NachwG) obliges the parties provide essential information in the contract. Employers usually use form or model contracts that have not been individually negotiated beforehand. These often contain standard formulations.

Work contracts typically have the following sections:

Work contract Parties
Names and addresses of employee and employer.

Work contract term
The period of time that the contract is valid.

Employee’s probation time
The time that you will spend on a company in a probationary period.

Employee’s place of the work
The contract needs to state if you are going to work in the same place or you have to move in different working places during the contract term.

Employee’s job description
The contract should state the scope of work and all detailed description of the job you are awarded. Also, the job description might contain the time frame required to be respected for delivering job tasks within the requisite tone.

Employee’s Salary
The contract shall state the wage level, the time of salary receipt, overtime payment, weekend payment and holiday payments. The salary amount is stated in gross numbers, meaning that taxes, health insurance, social contribution, long-term care insurance, pension and joblessness insurance will be deducted.

Employee’s occupied hours
The contract shall state also occupied hours expected to be covered by the employee.

Holidays
The contract shall state the recognised holidays which permit the employee to go on a work leave.

Notification term
The contract must also state the given interval to inform the employer for leaving the job, also the employer must warn the employee during the given interval for an earlier contract termination.

Joint and work agreements
Coupled with work agreements often are joint agreements or so-called collective agreements. This applies to special industries which have employer association or trade unions, which can regulate salary, holidays, pluses. Some cases companies might have an Employee’s Union, which can represent employees interests in the company. Typically about these agreements, the information can be taken directly by the employer.

03 Move to Germany

Do I need a visa to work in Germany? Whether and which visa you need to apply for depends on which country you come from and which professional qualifications you have.

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For Nationals of EU/EFTA countries

If you are an EU citizen you have unrestricted access to the German labour market. You do not need a visa or residence permit to enter or work in Germany. The same applies if you come from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland (EFTA states).

Nationals from third countries (non-EU/non-EFTA states)

Nationals of the following list may also enter Germany without a visa and apply for a residence permit for employment in Germany before taking up employment:

  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Republic of Korea
  • New Zeal
  • USA

Only if you are a citizen or national of these states can you apply directly to the Aliens Department in your city - even if you are already in Germany. If you would like to take up employment shortly after entering Germany, however, it is recommended that you apply for a corresponding visa before entering the country. All other third-country nationals must apply for a visa at the relevant German embassy or consulate before entering Germany.

Work visa requirements

Your qualification must be recognised in Germany or comparable with a German educational qualification. If you wish to work in a regulated profession, for example in a health profession, a professional licence is mandatory. Check if your qualifications are proficient on Recognition in Germany the information portal of the German government for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications.

If you have a concrete job offer from an employer in Germany your recognised qualifications need to be suitable for performing the offered job.

If you are travelling to Germany for the first time for the purpose of employment and are over 45 years of age you must achieve a gross annual salary of at least 45,540 euros (in 2020) with a intended employment in Germany or prove that you have an adequate pension.

EU Blue Card

An EU Blue Card is a residence permit for qualified non-EU foreign nationals to work in an EU country. It permits its holder to enter and remain in a particular EU country for employment.

The card facilitates the admission of non-EU highly skilled professionals into the EU. It intends to simplify the procedures and improve the legal status of those already in the EU.

The permit authorizes its holder to enter, re-enter and stay in the country that has issued it. Their family members can accompany them. The EU Blue Card holder and their family members are entitled to freedom of movement within the EU.

The EU Blue card holder enjoys equal treatment with the nationals of the Member State where they have settled. Yet, they can only work in the sector concerned.

Requirements to be eligable for the Blue Card EU
You have a German university degree, a recognised foreign university degree or a foreign university degree that is comparable to a German university degree. Check if your qualifications are proficient on Recognition in Germany the information portal of the German government for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications.

You already have a concrete job offer in a company in Germany.

The job must be appropriate to your qualification (university degree).

You must achieve a gross annual salary of at least 55,200 Euro (in 2020). A reduced gross annual salary of at least 43,056 euros (in 2020) applies to jobs in the professional fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine. In this case the Federal Employment Agency (BA) must approve your employment.

https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/tools/berater/en/

Applying for a visa

Follow these  steps after checking the necessity and requirements of visa.

Apply for an appointment at the German embassy or consulate
If you meet the requirements for a visa, you must compile all the necessary documents for your visa application. The list of required documents can usually be found on the website of the German Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. At the same time, you should also make an appointment at this time to submit your visa application.

Apply for the visa in your country of residence
Submit your visa application to the German embassy in your home country. Please make sure that you apply for a visa that corresponds to the purpose of your stay in Germany. If you are staying in Germany for work purposes, for example, you are obliged to apply for a work visa. Only then can you obtain a residence permit in connection with your visa in Germany.An entry visa fee of EUR 75.00 is charged for all types of visas issued for a long-term stay in Germany. Usually you can pay the fee in your local currency at the German Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.  Please note that this fee is non-refundable if your visa application is unsuccessful.

Travel to Germany
After your visa has been successfully issued you can start to plan your longer-term stay in Germany, it is advisable to bring all your personal documents with you, e.g. your birth certificate, documents about your university or professional degree, your driving licence or marriage certificate.Please note: You will need health insurance that is valid from the first day of your stay in Germany. Proof of insurance will be requested at the latest when you pick up your visa at the German embassy.

Apply for your residence permit
Welcome to Germany! Your visa usually is valid for up to 6 months. During this time you have to apply for a residence permit in order to stay longer in Germany.Contact your local Foreigners’ Authority and find out about the documents required for applying for a residence permit. You will then have to make an appointment to have a residence permit issued that corresponds to your visa.

Step 2:  Requesting an appointment at the German Embassy or Consulate
If you fulfil the requirements for a visa, you must gather all the necessary documents for your visa application. The list of necessary documents can generally be found on the website of the German Embassy or the German Consulate in your country of residence. Simultaneously, you should also book an appointment at this time to hand in your visa application.

Step 3: Apply for a visa in your country of residence
Submit your visa application to your local German Embassy in your country of residence. Please ensure that you are applying for a visa that corresponds to the purpose of your stay in Germany. For example, if your stay in Germany is for work purposes, you are required to obtain a work visa. This is the only way you can obtain a residence permit in connection with your visa in Germany. For your visa application, you will need to select the visa application form that corresponds to the purpose of your stay.For all types of visas issued for long-term stays in Germany, an entry visa fee of EUR 75,00 will be charged. Generally, you can pay the fee in your local currency at the German Embassy or German Consulate in your country of residence.  Please note that this fee cannot be reimbursed if your visa application is unsuccessful.

Step 4: Coming to GermanyHas your visa been issued?
Now you can start planning your trip to Germany. Since you are planning a long-term stay in Germany, you are advised to bring all your personal documents with you, for example, your birth certificate, documents regarding your post-secondary school or vocational qualifications, your driver’s license or your marriage certificate.Please note: You will need to have a health insurance policy that is valid as of your first day in Germany. Proof of insurance will be requested, at latest, when you pick up your visa from the German Embassy.

Step 5: Apply for your residence permit
Were you able to enter Germany with your visa? Welcome! Your visa generally remains valid for up to 6 months. During this time, you will need to apply for a residence permit to be able to stay in Germany for a longer period of time.Contact your local Foreigners’ Authority and inform yourself about the documents needed to apply for a residence permit. Then you will need to make an appointment to have a residence permit issued that corresponds to your visa.

Housing

Germany offers a large selection of high-quality rental apartments. Many Germans prefer to rent a house instead of buying it. In this section we will explain how to find an apartment and what you need to consider before and after moving in.

Your first accommodation
For the first few weeks in Germany before you have found a permanent home, there are a number of possibilities: A hotel room costs on average about 90 euros per night. For a temporary, furnished two- or three-room apartment, you can expect to pay between 500 and 1,200 euros per month, depending on location. Youth hostels usually charge between 20 and 30 euros per night. It is also possible to rent a room with a German family through online portals, which has the added advantage of putting you in contact with locals.

The next step: buy or rent?
In contrast to many other countries, most Germans rent their apartment - for good reason: there are plenty of high-quality rental apartments in every location and price range, from small apartments to villas with gardens. These rental apartments are often in excellent condition and of the same quality as  individually owned apartments. In addition, tenants are protected by law from excessive rent increases and landlords are not allowed to terminate a rental agreement without reason.

House and flat-sharing communities
House and flat-sharing communities, called "Wohngemeinschaften" or "WG" in German, are good alternatives for people who want to make friends quickly and save on rent. In this type of flat-sharing community, each person usually has their own private room. In most "WGs" the kitchen and bathroom are shared, as well as the rent and the costs for electricity, internet and telephone. The kitchen or shared living room is usually the heart of a "WG". There you can cook together or sit and chat. In Germany, shared houses and flats are not only for students. Apprentices and working people also live in shared flats, especially if they move to a new or large city or appreciate living together in sociability. Students often find a house or shared flat on the notice boards of their university or on websites.
Further tips: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

https://www.daad.de/en/study-and-research-in-germany/plan-your-studies/renting-a-room/


House hunting
Whether you want to rent or buy: Information about available apartments can be found in the advertising section of newspapers and on real estate websites, where most apartments and houses are listed today. The supply and demand for housing is highly dependent on the region. In rural areas, tenants or buyers tend to have a free choice of what's on offer, while in larger cities owners can usually choose from several offers. In urban areas it may be advisable to consult an estate agent. Real estate agents may not charge more than three months' rent as commission for their services. In addition, you only have to pay a commission if you are the one who commissioned the estate agent to search. If you contact an estate agent only because of a property ad, you do not have to pay a commission under German law, as the cost of a rental unit varies greatly from region to region, as in other countries. Rent and additional costs such as heating, water and gas cost you around 14 euros per square metre in large cities. In small towns and rural areas the average cost is about 8 euros per square metre.

04 Live in Germany

Germany has a good network of hospitals, medical practices and pharmacies. Should you or your family ever need a doctor, you will find that you will get help quickly and at a reasonable price.

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Health insurance

As an employee you are covered by health insurance - either as a member of the statutory health insurance or a private health insurance. If you fall ill, the health insurance company will cover the costs of medical treatment. The basic insurance protection of the statutory health insurance companies covers the following services:

  • outpatient medical treatment, for example in doctor's surgeries
  • dental care
  • medicines and remedies
  • inpatient stays and treatment, for example in hospitals
  • medically necessary rehabilitation measures
  • benefits for pregnant women and during childbirth

If your spouse does not work, you can include him or her in the statutory health insurance scheme. You will not incur any additional costs. The same applies to your children.

Health insurance, also provides long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance covers you if, for example, you are no longer able to look after yourself due to a serious illness - in other words, if you need help from a nurse.

Health card
As soon as you are a member of a statutory health insurance scheme, you will receive your electronic health card containing your information, a kind of membership card of the health insurance company. You present the card every time you visit the doctor, so that the doctor can later settle the treatment with the health insurance company. The health card is valid in all 28 EU countries as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This means that if you fall ill in these countries during a holiday or business trip, the health card gives you access to local medical care. It is advisable to contact your health insurance company in good time before travelling abroad to find out about the procedure to follow in an emergency.

Private liability insurance

Misfortunes in everyday life happen quickly - the child smashes the neighbour's window while playing football or you break the TV at a friends' house. In such cases you are liable for the damage in Germany. This means: you have to pay for the damage. If you want to prevent this, a private liability insurance can help. Many Germans consider liability insurance to be the most useful and important among the voluntary insurances. In case of damage, private liability insurance covers the costs up to a previously agreed insured sum. By the way, your spouse and children are also insured. Such insurances can already be taken out for less than 100 Euro per year.

Bank account opening

Anyone who wants to live in Germany for a longer period of time needs a bank account - for example, to rent an apartment or have their salary transferred. To open an account at a bank in Germany, you need:

  • your passport
  • the registration certificate of your residence
  • depending on the type of account, a wage statement from your employer

With these documents you apply for a current account and an EC card at the bank of your choice. Some banks offer current accounts as credit accounts. This means that you may not overdraw the account, which means you may not take out loans through the account. Some institutions also require that at least a certain amount is deposited each month (minimum deposit).

It's worth comparing
Many banks charge very different fees, for example for keeping accounts or for each transfer. Some banks also waive fees on condition that you deposit a certain amount each month, such as your salary. Therefore: Always compare before choosing a bank.

Online banks
An alternative to a current account is an online account. You can open these accounts on the Internet or by post and then use them online. These are offered by some direct banks, which do not have their own branches. An online account has the same functions as a German current account and is also equipped with a German account number and bank code. Transfers to or from abroad are also possible.To open an online account with a direct bank, you must prove your identity. You will receive the necessary documents from the bank.

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