Moving to Germany - Complete Guide
You want to move to Germany? Then you need to do all 9 steps on our list "Moving to Germany". We have compiled this list of all the really necessary points that you need to do before and after your arrival in Germany
Table of contents
Introduction: What is important when moving to Germany
Moving to Germany can be an exciting and challenging experience, but with proper planning and organization, it can be a smooth transition. The thing to keep in mind here is that there are steps you need to take before you come to Germany and steps you need to follow in Germany. Therefore, this article will be divided into the two:
- 5 things you need to prepare before you come to Germany.
- 4 things you need to do after arriving in Germany.
To give you the best possible start in Germany you should follow these steps. This guide is only about the essential things and not about trivial things like making friends. So if you are looking for a useful guide, this article about moving to Germany will explain everything you need to know.
Before moving to Germany
Before you come to Germany, it is essential that you consider and take care of the following five things. Everything else like booking flights is self-evident and should not matter here.
1 & 2. Reason for your move & Visa
The first two steps depend on your citizenship. If you are an EU citizen or a citizen of EFTA countries, then you can skip this step. For all other countries, you will need a work permit in Germany and therefore a visa. To apply for this visa, you also need a reason for your stay in Germany. Reasons for residence in Germany include, for example:
- Studying at a German university: If you apply for a university here in Germany you will receive a student visa (You can do the process online). What exactly you need for this you can read here. If you are not sure what you want to study, it is also possible to enroll in a German course first. This must be at least 18 hours per week (evening classes are not possible). With this, you can also apply for a student visa and then have enough time in Germany to think about a course of study.
- Work in Germany: The next reason to come to Germany is to work. The EU Blue Card is a good option for this. With this, you can work in the whole European Union. To get this you need an academic degree (at least a bachelor’s degree) and a job with at least 44.000€ or 56.400€ (depending on the area) gross annual salary. In other words, you need an employer for this, which can also become useful for further steps.
- Self-employment in Germany: You can apply for this visa if you are self-employed. If you want to become self-employed in Germany, or if you do not have an employer yet but still want to work here, you can also get this visa. However, this is very difficult to get. Therefore, you might want to apply for a visa for job seekers first. This you get if you already have an academic degree and gives you six months to find a job. Once everything is up and running afterward, you can still start your own business.
3. Blocked Bank account in Germany
Step 3 before moving to Germany is important for students and job seekers. You will need a blocked account, i.e. an account from which you can only withdraw a certain amount of money, regardless of how much money is in the account. This is required to show that you can support yourself in Germany.
For people with a Blue Card, this is not required as they will receive money from their employer. In 2023, the minimum amount for a blocked account is 934€/ month or 11.208€/year. There are several blocked account providers, but we cannot recommend a specific provider.
4. Temporary Health insurance in Germany
Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. Thus, everyone who comes to Germany needs health insurance, no matter if you are a student or a job seeker. It depends on your current situation if an expat insurance is sufficient or if you need a health insurance that is accepted by the German government.
- Looking for a job or freelancing in Germany: If you are coming to Germany and do not have a job yet, then expat health insurance is sufficient. You can easily apply for this in just two minutes with the following link: Expat Health Insurance. If you use this link, we will get an affiliate commission with no extra costs for you.
- You already have a job in Germany: If you already have a job, then you need proper health insurance in Germany. You can choose between private and public health insurance if you earn more than 66.600€/year. If you earn less than that, you will be forced to take out public health insurance. There are already a lot of health insurance articles on our website that will help you to find the right one, whether you need public or private health insurance.
If you want to apply for health insurance in Germany as fast as possible, then you can do that with the following links. These links will add you to a preferred queue so that you can get health insurance in Germany as quickly as possible: Public Health Insurance or Private Health Insurance. If you use this link, we will get an affiliate commission with no extra costs for you.
5. Get a German Address
The last point to consider before moving to Germany, apart from the obvious things like booking your flight and packing your bags, is to get a German address. Since this probably won’t be too easy, a small serviced apartment or something similar like a boarding house will work for the start. You will need this to be able to register in Germany.
As soon as you have arrived in Germany and have completed the further steps, you can still try to find a permanent place to stay. We recommend doing this, because it can be very difficult to find an apartment, especially in the big cities in Germany. This can take several months. Thus, if you first have a temporary apartment, you can then look for a permanent place to stay.
Do you need help choosing the right private health insurance in Germany? Then let’s take a look at possible plans together.
After moving to Germany
Now that you have completed all the steps that need to be taken before entering Germany, we can turn our attention to the necessary steps in Germany. It is important to note that some steps must be completed within two weeks after arrival.
6. register in your local town hall
The next step to consider when moving to Germany is to register at your local town hall (Rathaus) or citizens’ registration office (Bürgeramt). This must be done within the first two weeks of your arrival. This is a regulation in Germany and must be done every time you get a new address.
It is recommended that you book an appointment online at the local town hall website. This is advantageous as waiting times can be very long, especially in larger cities. Once you have an appointment, you can conveniently walk past everyone waiting and be done with your appointment as quickly as possible.
7. register with Finanzamt
Once you have your registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung), issued by the city hall in the previous step, it is time to register with the tax office (Finanzamt) and social security. Most expats working with a Blue Card tell us that their employer registers them with the tax office and social security (German pension insurance and health insurance).
From the tax office, you will receive your tax ID, which is required for a bank account. Without a tax ID, you cannot open a bank account in Germany. The tax ID is used by the tax office to identify all of us. In Germany, the tax ID and the tax number have to be diverted. You usually get the tax number after you have filed a tax return for the first time. However, you can only submit your tax return if you have a tax ID. So take care of this number.
In addition to the tax ID, you need a social security number. You can get this either from German pension insurance or from public health insurance. In general, your employer will also take care of this for you. However, if you do not yet have a social security number, do not hesitate to inform your employer. This number is your access to the social security system in Germany.
If you are a student or a job seeker, you may not need a social security number immediately. However, it is important that you register with your local tax office and apply for a tax ID.
8. Choose a Real health insurance in Germany
The next step when moving to Germany depends on what kind of visa or permit you came to Germany with. If you came with an expat health insurance and are now studying or starting a job, you will need real German health insurance. As a student, you can register with public health insurance. If you work in Germany and have a gross salary of less than 66.600€/year, you must be a member of public health insurance.
If you work with a gross salary of more than 66.600€/year, you are free to choose between public and private health insurance. In this case, you should arrange a free consultation with us to discuss the pros and cons and find out which option is more suitable for your personal situation, or read our articles on health insurance in Germany.
9. Open a bank account in Germany
And as a last step, now that you have a tax ID and an address, you can open a German bank account. To find the best bank account in Germany, you can use the calculator below. To find out which German bank account suits you best, you need three pieces of information: How much money goes into your account per month, what is your average balance, and do you need a credit card or not?
Once you press “Girokonto vergleichen”, you will be shown the best accounts currently available for you. What is important here is the interest rate you can get. Also, some banks offer a welcome bonus. Feel free to play around with the calculator and see which bank suits you best. Should you decide on an account, then we get an affiliate commission with no extra costs for you.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts
This concludes our list for moving to Germany. If you follow all these steps, then your move to Germany should not cause any difficulties. What you could do now is to take care of some important insurance in Germany. For this, you can use the three calculators below. Other than that, the only thing left to do now is to enjoy life in Germany.