First Days at the Institute

Meeting with our Welcome Officer

Once you arrive, our Welcome Officer will approach you to set up a meeting. This is an opportunity for you to find out more about life at the institute and determine which bureaucratic steps need to be taken in the next few days. Our goal is to get these steps taken care of as soon as possible so that you can concentrate on your research.


The first step to life in Germany is registering with the local authorities.  You must tell the citizen’s office (Bürgerbüro) what your current address is.  Every time you change your address or leave the country for good, you must also tell the Bürgerbüro. You must do this within 14 days.

You will need two things in order to do this: your passport and a landlord’s certificate (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung), which is a document from your landlord confirming that you live at this address. If you are married and your spouse lives with you or you live with your children, you will need to take all passports, your marriage license and the child(ren)’s birth certificate(s).  One surprising question that the authorities ask is, “Which religion do you belong to?”  By mentioning your religion, you agree to pay a tax to the catholic or protestant churches. You do not have to answer this question.

You will receive a certificate with your new address on it, please keep this document. With this certificate, you can now open a bank account. The citizen’s office also tells the immigration office that you here.

When you register for the first time, you will automatically get the following things in the mail within a few days:

  • Tax-ID:  This is an eleven-digit number, which your employer needs, and which you need for your income tax returns. This is your German tax number for life, so please hold on to it.
  • Municipal waste service: Garbage fees differ depending on where you live and how many people live in your home.  Please contact your property owner to see if these costs are already included in your “warm” rent.
  • Public television and radio licence fee: Every household must pay a monthly mandatory fee for public news. This fee must only be paid once per household.


Whenever you move to a new address, you are obliged to re-register and when you leave Germany completely, it is also important to de-register.  By doing so, you inform the local immigration office and you receive a certificate that can help you end some contracts (telecommunication, electricity, etc).

Immigration office

If you entered the country with a visa and you are planning on staying in Germany beyond its validity, you must apply for a residence permit with the local immigration office. In general, you must prove that you have sufficient income, housing and health insurance to be granted a residence permit. In some cases, you must also show that you speak German. Our Welcome Office will help you with the application, please set up an appointment.

Social Security

Social security covers in Germany health insurance, pension schemes, unemployment benefit, accident and long-term care insurance. Social insurance is usually mandatory for all employees in Germany. Therefore, researchers who are employed in Germany via an employment contract take part in the full German social security system. A certain percentage of your monthly salary are automatically allocated to the social security system.

Researchers on a fellowship are generally exempt from the obligation to pay contributions to the German social security system. However, they need to be insured in a health insurance scheme. We recommend that this group of people purchase a substitutive private health insurance.

Health Insurance

Once you are employed in Germany, you must take out statutory health insurance. The choice of health insurance company is up to you, there are dozens of insurances to choose from. The EURAXESS website for researchers in Europe describes the social security system in Germany and offers links to both statutory and private health insurances.



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