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Moving to Germany

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Germany

Germans are known for their punctuality and efficiency. This is great for expats who meet the strict requirements to move to Germany, including having health insurance. Your visa will be processed quickly. If you come from a country where the visa requirements are more demanding, however, the process to obtain an EU Blue Card becomes more difficult. Read on to find out how to obtain one.

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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.

relocating

Relocating

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

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 GO! 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.

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Visas & Work Permits

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.

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housing

Housing

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.

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healthcare

Healthcare

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.

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Banks & 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 GO! 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).

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education

Education

The education system and international schools in Germany are of a high standard and provide students with many subject options to study and extracurricular activities, whatever their ambitions. International schools might be a better choice if your children do not speak German. Most of them offer additional German language lessons to help students integrate better into society.

If you are thinking of taking your children to Germany and registering them with an international school, you should start your search as early as possible. The best schools may have long waiting lists. International schools may offer diplomas, such as the International Baccalaureate and the German Abitur—which is necessary for students who want to move on to university in the country.

In the Education section of our guide, we also explain what the school system, such as grading and year groups, is like in Germany.

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working

Working

Working in Germany is a great way to advance your career. The salaries here can be high and IT and financial sectors need fresh talent, as Germany aims to keep up with advancements in countries like the United States. This provides opportunities for expats with the right skills to work with the latest technologies.

Our Working section gives you an idea about how to get a job in Germany. We also list the most in-demand jobs, including software developers, nurses, and electricians. Plus, we give you advice about German business culture, and how to write a German-style CV and cover letter, so you can get the job of your dreams.

Once you start working in Germany, you must contribute 21% of your salary to Germany’s social security system, which provides healthcare and pension insurance. Bear in mind that the average annual salary in Germany is around 30,000 EUR (33,570 USD).

If you take up self-employment in Germany, you will have to pay for private health insurance. You will also need a residence and work permit. If your business is already established, getting your permits might be easier. If you can invest 250,000 EUR (280,000 USD) in your company immediately, creating five jobs, you can speed up the process.

To qualify as a freelancer (Freiberufler) or business owner in Germany, you may need good German language skills and an official certificate to prove your ability. You do not need a certain level of funds to work as self-employed in Germany; you will only need to prove that you can support yourself.

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living

Living

How expensive your life will be depends on where you decide to live. For example, Munich is a relatively pricey city in which to be based, so aim for a higher than average salary if it’s your city of choice. Examples of more affordable destinations in Germany are Leipzig and Jena.

There is more to Germany than money, though. There are many pros and cons to living there. Although the endless amount of forms and bureaucracy are the downside, the benefits include excellent healthcare, maternity and paternity benefits, and free education.

This section gives a comprehensive overview of what it is like to live in Germany overall, including aspects of life, like public transportation, driving, and grocery prices. We also offer practical information on main airports and embassies, and discuss German culture and social etiquette.

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Updated on: August 20, 2020
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