A Comprehensive Guide on Moving to Germany

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  • Daiki Saito

    When my company decided to send me to Essen, I took a quick look at the local community and said: Please do!

How hard or easy it will be to move to Germany depends on the work permit you need, your specific healthcare requirements, and how you go about finding your new home. After that, you can start to think about how to move your household goods and get settled in Germany.

There are many potential financial, health, and societal reasons why moving to Germany can be a great option for you. For example, with around 1,000 public hospitals, Germany’s healthcare system is very reliable and efficient. Although contributions to social security are quite high (employees typically contribute 21% of their gross annual income) you will be thankful you paid them if you ever find yourself in need of medical attention. Hospital treatments are excellent and you don’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket.

The benefits of moving to Germany do not stop there. The cost of living in large German cities is relatively low compared to other Western European countries. The first thing you will need to do is organize your visa. The most common type of visa is the working visa, which requires proof of employment, your ID, and a payment of 60 EUR (67 USD). To find out what else you need to do to move to Germany, read our helpful guide.

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All You Need to Know about Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets

Before you get carried away with stuffing boxes and booking flights, you need to bear in mind some important factors about the process of moving to Germany. Shipping your household goods to Germany can be simple if you follow government guidelines and those laid out in the Relocating section of our Moving to Germany guide.

In terms of speed, air freight will almost always be the quickest way to move your belongings from your home country to Germany. Speed comes at a price though—air freight is the most expensive delivery method. Shipping your items by sea is considerably cheaper, but there is the obvious downside that you will be waiting longer for your cargo to arrive. If you already live in the European Union, you have another, cheaper option: Driving your goods to Germany, a process that can be completed in two to three days. At InterNations we arrange reliable moving and shipping services tailored to your needs. Contact us to find out more about our international Moving and Shipping Services.

Moving to Germany with pets is entirely possible, but you will need to have your dog or cat microchipped. If you are importing them from within the EU/EEA, they will also need a European Pet Passport. You should also be aware that so-called dangerous breeds are banned. Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Bull Terriers are not allowed to be imported or transferred into Germany.

Moreover, there are different vaccinations required for relocating pets to Germany. All cats, dogs, and ferrets need to have proof that they had a rabies vaccination after they were microchipped. A tapeworm treatment is not required for your dog to enter Germany.

Read our complete guide on relocating to Germany

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

Knowing how to get a German residence visa and work permit is crucial to successfully settling down in the country. The process is fairly easy if you are an EU national: all you need to do is register with local authorities as soon as you find somewhere to live. If you are moving from outside Europe, you must begin your German visa application process fairly early. It can take a few months to get your documents approved by German authorities.

When you apply for a German visa you will need to meet certain requirements, including proof of income and health insurance. The type of visa you need in Germany will depend on the situation you are in. If you are moving from a non-EU country to Germany for a job, you should prioritize a work permit, but if you are joining a spouse or family member who is already legally settled in the country, you might need a family reunion visa.

Long-stay visas, including Germany’s employment visa or work permit, cost 75 EUR (88 USD). You will need to complete Germany’s work permit visa (or employment permit) application form, called Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung, and a residence permit application (Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels). Short-stay visas, for up to three months, are 60 EUR (70 USD).

Learn more about how to get a German visa and work permit in this section.

Read our complete guide on visas & work permits in Germany

Everything You Need to Know about Finding a New Home

There are many important aspects to consider when looking for accommodation in Germany. This guide covers long-term and short-term housing options in Germany, and our relocation experts offer help with home finding abroad.

Renting is popular among both locals and expats. The average rent and house prices vary from place to place, with higher prices in large cities. For instance, Munich is the most expensive city in Germany in terms of property prices. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city costs around 2,200 EUR (2,600 USD). Although it’s Germany’s capital, Berlin is much cheaper because it is rent controlled. Rent prices have gone up in recent years, but that is due to the city’s popularity among creatives. If you are considering moving to Berlin, read our guide to living and working in Germany’s capital.

In our guide, we cover how to rent a house in Germany, plus how to buy a house in Germany as a foreigner. No matter which option you go for, we recommend searching online first as real-estate agents charge large fees of up to two months’ rent plus VAT.

If buying a house sounds like the right option for you, there are other considerations, such as types of houses in Germany. Among the options you will find apartments, detached houses, bungalows, cottages, and more. Think carefully about mortgages as they can be tricky for expats. To secure one, you need to provide a documented history of regular savings, as well as a down payment of 30% of the purchase price.

Utilities in Germany are not usually included in rental contracts, but there are lots of providers. When you register with a new energy supplier, they will require information such as your meter number, meter reading, and bank details. It is standard for German suppliers to take meter readings once a year.

Read our complete guide on housing in Germany

Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of Germany Explained

The healthcare system and health insurance in Germany are excellent. However, the ins and outs of the system might be a little confusing at first. Everyone residing in Germany must have public health insurance, also known as gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (or GKV). Our Healthcare in Germany section explains everything you need to know about this and more, giving you an overview of Germany’s healthcare system.

Furthermore, this section outlines how to find a doctor and the best hospitals, as well as information regarding maternity, such as pregnancy and giving birth in Germany. Did you know that once you are registered at an address in Germany, you should sign up to a General Practitioner (GP or family doctor) as soon as possible? If you are looking for a trusted doctor, you could ask for help from other expats in the InterNations community. InterNations has a worldwide forum, plus local forums, including Germany.

Read our complete guide on insurance & healthcare in Germany

A Comprehensive Guide about Opening a Bank Account and Managing Your Taxes

Opening a bank account in Germany might pose more challenges than you imagined. For example, some banks in Germany require that you deposit a minimum amount each month—around 1,000 EUR (1,100 USD) is common. Plus, it might not be possible to find an English-speaking member of staff at German banks.

Moreover, as an expat you can open a non-resident bank account in Germany. Despite this, if you are from outside the EEA, you will need to prove that you are registered and living in Germany and show your German work permit. If you want to join a local German bank, there are lots of what are called Sparkassen in towns and cities. You will need proof of your German address to set up an account here.

To find the best bank in Germany for your situation, you should research interest rates, fees, minimum deposits, and special offers. If you need help setting up a bank account when you move to Germany, InterNations offers settling-in services.

This section also looks at how much tax is in Germany. Every person working as an employee or self-employed must pay income tax (or pay as you earn, PAYE tax), which is automatically deducted. The lowest income tax rate is 14%, while the highest is 45%. Single people pay no tax on earnings up to 9,408 EUR (10,465 USD).

Read our complete guide on banking & taxes in Germany

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

See all upcoming events for expats in Germany

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