Getting Started

There are some bureaucratic steps to be taken upon your arrival. Our team will guide you safely through this process. Here you can find more information about the process.

The Registration Office & Registration with the City of Göttingen

As soon as you arrive in Göttingen or move within the city limits, you are obliged within two weeks to report to the Registration Office. To do so you need to make an appointment, which you can arrange via the online appointment calendar.

You will need the following documents for the initial registration or for your change of address:

  • Identity card/passport (mandatory for third-country nationals)
  • Confirmation of housing from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)

The confirmation of housing is a confirmation of your move-in, filled out and signed by the person renting the apartment to you. The rental contract is not sufficient as a confirmation, as you need to show the exact day of move-in, which is only indicated on the confirmation of housing. If you are the owner of the accommodation, you can issue the certificate yourself.

If you are moving from abroad, your whole family, including children, must appear in person. Additional documents may be necessary and must be presented at the appointment:

  • Passport (mandatory for third country nationals)
  • Marriage certificate for the registration of married couples
  • Birth certificate when registering children. If the children are under 16 years old, all persons with custody must be present and agree to the registration. If only one person with custody is present, the written consent of the other person with custody is required.

Please note: All documents and certificates from abroad must be submitted in a certified German translation prepared by a translator accredited in Germany.

In addition, some of your documents must already have an Apostille or legalization by the German Embassy in your home country, otherwise your documents cannot be accepted. This can delay the registration and possibly cause tax disadvantages for you. Which documents have to be legalized in which form depends on your home country. Therefore, we recommend that you discuss this with the German Embassy when you apply for your visa and also have the legalization carried out there.

If your personal situation does not match the examples explained here, it is possible that further documents may be required for the application. In this case, please contact the Registration Office by e-mail before your appointment:

As soon as you have registered at the Registration Office in Germany for the first time, the Federal Central Tax Office will send you your tax identification number (Steuer-ID) by postal mail to your home address. You can expect to receive it after 5-10 working days. Your employer requires your tax ID in order to pay your salary. Talk to our team if you need the tax ID faster.

Foreigners Authority & Application for Residence Permits

If you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you will need a residence permit to stay in Germany for a longer period of time. You must apply for a residence permit in person at the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde ) responsible for the area in which you live while your visa is still valid, or alternatively, within 90 days of entry. The immigration offices in southern Lower Saxony are the  City of Göttingen- Immigration Office, the Immigration Authority of the District of Göttingen and the Immigration Authority of the District of Northeim.

You can only apply for or extend your residence permit in person at the Immigration Office. Make an appointment with the person in charge of your case (assigned according to the first letter of your surname). The Welcome Centre can also assist you with finding the contact details of the person you need to see. Please bear in mind that it may take several weeks to issue or extend your residence permit. Please plan ahead by making sure you extend your residence permit in plenty of time.

Necessary documents

  • Registration certificate from the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt)
  • Completed application form for the residence permit (also available from the Welcome Centre)
  • Passport with visa, where applicable, or entry stamp, if you were able to enter without a visa
  • Biometric passport photo (available from a vending machine at the City Hall bldg, at the train station and on central campus)
  • Proof of financial means: Copy of employment contract, hosting agreement or scholarship certificate, which includes details such as monthly salary, scholarship amount or personal bank statements
  • Copy of the tenancy agreement / lease agreement
  • Proof of adequate health insurance
  • If you are here with accompanying family members: certified marriage certificate and/or birth certificates, and if applicable, proof that any children that are of compulsory school age in Germany have been registered at a school in Göttingen

Foreign documents that were not issued in either German or English must typically be accompanied by a certified translation.

Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the procedure and will accompany you through the administrative procedures.

ABC of Rental

Our small rental guide provides you with basic information about living in Germany.

  1. Basic Rent and Basic Rent with Additional Charges
    In Germany, both the base rent (or “cold” rent) and total rent or “warm” rent, which is the base rent plus ancillary charges, are posted for most real estate listings. The cold rent is the rent that you pay to the landlord for the use of the rental property. The warm rent includes other ancillary costs, for example, waste disposal, heating and water, as well as other service fees.
  2. Furnished – Unfurnished
    In Germany, flats are usually rented unfurnished. A furnished apartment is one that is fully furnished and equipped. If you are looking for an apartment with a fitted kitchen, but which is otherwise unfurnished, you should make sure when looking for an apartment that has “fitted kitchen” (EB-Küche or EBK) in the description of the apartment.
  3. Security Deposit
    As a rule, the landlord requires the tenant to provide a security deposit for the rented property. This can take the form of a deposit or in some cases a guarantee. The deposit may not be more than three times the amount of the rent per month and may be paid in three equal monthly payments.
  4. Statement of ancillary charges
    The statement is an annual bill of the operating costs agreed in the rental agreement. Operating costs include heating and hot water costs, property tax, water and sewage costs, street cleaning and refuse collection, house cleaning, garden maintenance, building insurance and much more.
  5. Electricity Contract
    When moving into a new apartment, you must sign up for electricity services. Compare local electricity providers before selecting a suitable provider. The electricity contract can be signed online by providing the electricity meter data.
  6. Subletting
    If you want to rent out a part of the rented living space to another party, the landlord’ s permission is required. Please note that the unauthorized transfer of use to other persons is sometimes an important reason for immediate termination without notice.
  7. Minor Repairs
    In principle, it is the responsibility of the landlord to carry out cosmetic repairs (wallpapering, painting or liming the walls and ceilings, painting the floors, radiators and heating pipes, interior doors and windows and exterior doors from the inside). However, it is customary to agree in the lease that minor repairs are partially carried out by the tenant.
  8. Damage
    If the tenant has caused damage to the property, he or she must pay for the damage. It is therefore strongly recommended to draw up a handover report together with the landlord when the apartment is handed over and when the tenant moves out, in which the condition of the apartment is documented.
  9. Pets
    Whether you are allowed to keep a pet in your rented property depends on the type of pet and the permission of the person renting it out. In general, all small pets may be kept without the permission of the landlord. Small animals are considered animals which, due to their nature and behavior, do not disturb other tenants and do not cause any damage. These includes guinea pigs, hamsters, fish and ornamental birds. Dogs and cats may only be kept with the landlord’s permission, as they pose an increased risk for nuisance and damage.
  10. List of Abbreviations
    Housing offers in Germany often have abbreviations. To make it easier, have a look at the following overview:
1-ZKB 1 room, kitchen, bathroom
2-Zi-Whg 2-Room-Apartment, Kitchen, Bathroom
3 ZKBB 3 rooms, kitchen, bathroom, balcony
WG Shared flat
EFH single-family house
EG Ground floor
OG Upper floor
DG Attic
m2 Square metersr
Wfl Living space
KM Cold rent
WM Warm rent
NK Utility costs
HK Heating costs
ZH Central heating
DU Shower
EBK Fitted kitchen
NR Non-smokers
Stellpl. Parking space
TG Underground car park

Child Benefit

What is child benefit?

The child benefit is monetary support from the state of families with children. Parents receive child benefit from the birth of their child until the child turns 18. If children remain in school or vocational training or study beyond their 18th birthday, it can be paid until the child’s 25th birthday. The amount of child benefit is €219 for the first and second child, €225 for the third child and €250 for each additional child (as of 2021).

Who receives child benefit?

Child benefit is paid to parents

  • who have their place of residence or habitual abode in Germany, ,
  • who regularly provide care for the child and/or the child lives with them.

Requirements according to nationality
Child benefit is paid to

  • nationals of EU, EEA countries and Switzerland
  • nationals of Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Morocco, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey, if they are employed in Germany as employees subject to social insurance contributions, or if they receive unemployment benefit or a disability benefit.
  • nationals of other countries with a valid settlement permit or residence permit that entitles them to be gainfully employed.
  • recognized refugees and people entitled to asylum

There is no entitlement to child benefit
for people who have a residence permit for the sole purpose of education (eg students in accordance with §16b AufenthG) or tied to their work contract or people who have been sent to Germany by their foreign-based employer to provide temporary services. This is also true if the settlement permit or residence permit is for the purposes of gainful employment.

How do I apply for child benefit?

The application must be submitted in writing by a parent or legal guardian to the Family Benefits Office of the Federal Employment Agency. Only one person with parental authority receives child benefit for each child. When applying, you must state your tax identification number and the tax identification number of the child. Be sure to submit your application as soon as possible, as the child benefit is only paid retroactively for six months.

Familienkasse der Bundesagentur für Arbeit
Bahnhofsallee 5
37081 Göttingen
Phone: 0511 / 919-9090
Phone: 0800 / 4 5555 30
Opening hours: For current hours, please call the telephone numbers listed.

Parental Allowance

What is parental allowance?

Parental allowance is provided as compensation for the loss of income after the birth of a child. Parents receive 65 to 67% of the average monthly net income before the birth, at a minimum of €300 and maximum of €1,800.

Parental allowance is paid for a maximum of 14 months. The father and mother are free to divide the 14 months between them, although one parent may claim a maximum of 12 months. In this way, the German state encourages both parents to participate in raising their children. Single parents are entitled to the full 14 months of parental allowance.

Parental Allowance Plus (ElterngeldPlus) and possibly a Partnership Bonus provide further flexibility. For more information, please contact theFederal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth or the Göttingen Parental Allowance .

EURAXESS Germany: Parental Allowance

General requirements:

The parental allowance entitlement is intended for mothers and fathers who

  • are caring for and raising their child themselves,
  • are not working more than 30 hours a week,
  • live in the same household as their child, and
  • live in Germany.

In some special circumstances, parental allowance may be paid to parents working abroad.

Requirements according to nationality

Parental allowance is paid to

  • nationals of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, if they are employed in Germany or reside in Germany,
  • nationals of other countries, depending on the type of residence permit, and who are likely to have stable access to the labour market:
    • people with a settlement permit (permanent residency)
    • people with a residence permit entitling them to work in Germany or who have already been permitted to work here.

There is no entitlement to parental allowance

for people who have a residence permit for the sole purpose of education (eg students in accordance with §16b AufenthG).

How do I apply for parental allowance?

Parental allowance must be applied for in writing at the applicable parental allowance office. Each parent can only submit one application for parental allowance. The application does not have to be submitted immediately after the birth of the child. However, parental allowance is only paid retroactively to the last three months before the beginning of the month in which the application is submitted.

Social Insurance

In Germany, some insurances are mandatory, others are optional.

There is a highly developed social security system that provides people with financial security, for instance, in case of illness or unemployment. All employed individuals are required to participate in the social insurance system (health, pension, unemployment, accident and long-term care insurance). There are exceptions for freelancers, the self-employed, civil servants and people who are employed only part-time.

Employers and those who are employed finance the social insurance system jointly with equal contributions. Only the accident insurance contributions are paid in full by the employers.

Health insurance

All people living in Germany are required to have health insurance. This also applies, of course, to international researchers and their accompanying family members. When applying for your visa, you must provide proof of health insurance that covers at least your travel to Germany, as well as the first few weeks. To apply for your residence permit after your arrival, you must then provide proof of health insurance that is valid for the entire period of your stay. Depending on the type of stay, you have various options for insuring yourself.

The Welcome Centre can provide assistance in choosing a public or private health insurance company and can also recommend multilingual doctors in the area.

Pension fund

The pension system provides financial security in old age. It is there to provide you or your survivors a pension as soon as you are no longer able to work (e.g. due to old age, accident or death). It not only pays a pension in retirement but also provides measures to maintain your working capacity (e.g. treatment).

Participation in the German pension system is compulsory for all employed people and some freelancers and self-employed people. Other freelancers and self-employed people can participate in an optional pension plan. It is also possible to participate in a private pension plan.

A fixed percentage of your salary is automatically deducted from your gross salary for your pension. You are automatically enrolled in the statutory pension system when you become employed.

More information on pensions:

Unemployment insurance

Statutory unemployment insurance offers financial support in the event of unemployment. The prerequisite is that you have been employed in Germany for at least 12 months within the last 48 months and are available to the labour market. Previous periods of employment from EU/EEA states and Switzerland can be taken into account. In addition, you will receive compensation in the event of a forced reduction of hours, work stoppages due to weather conditions or the insolvency of your employer.

Enrolment in statutory unemployment insurance is compulsory for employed people. You pay a fixed percentage of your salary for employment insurance, which is deducted from your gross salary each month.

Self-employed people cannot take out statutory unemployment insurance. There is no comparable private unemployment insurance.

If you receive unemployment benefits, the employment agency pays health insurance, long-term care insurance and compulsory contributions to the pension insurance institution on your behalf.

Accident insurance

Accident insurance protects you against the costs and financial consequences of accidents at work and job-related health problems. However, it does not provide comprehensive protection. You are only insured on the way to and from work and during work hours. Statutory accident insurance only applies within Germany.

Statutory accident insurance is compulsory for all employed people in Germany. In addition to the statutory accident insurance, you can take out private supplementary insurance. In contrast to statutory accident insurance, private accident insurance also protects you in the event of accidents worldwide, and outside working hours. Freelancers and the self-employed can take out statutory or private accident insurance as they wish.

Contributions to the statutory accident insurance are paid in full by your employer. You do not have to pay any contributions.

Long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance provides basic cover if you are no longer able to care for yourself due to illness or old age and need help. You are automatically enrolled with the health insurance.

Statutory long-term care insurance is compulsory for all employed people. Freelancers and the self-employed have long-term care insurance according to their health insurance.

You pay a fixed percentage of your salary for long-term care insurance, which is automatically deducted from your gross salary. Childless employees pay a surcharge of 0.25% of their gross salary.

Health Insurance

There are two types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance and private health insurance. Statutory health insurance companies operate on the principle of shared risk on a non-profit basis. They offer a core set of benefits that are defined by law, as well as different supplementary benefits. Private health insurance companies, on the other hand, are in the private sector and operate for profit. The scope of the benefits is based on the selected rate package.

Both offer insurance coverage in the event of illness and accident. They both, to a limited extent, also cover the costs of pre- and post-treatment examinations, rehabilitation measures and medication. However, the terms and conditions of the insurance policy, the scope of the insurance coverage and the cost of premiums vary. It is not easy to switch between statutory and private health insurance plans. Further information can be found in the “Gesundheit für alle (Health for All)” guide, which is available to download in several languages.

Statutory health insurance (GKV)

If your gross annual salary is below a certain limit (as of 2021: €58,050), you must have statutory health insurance. Freelancers and the self-employed may also have statutory health insurance under certain conditions. There are different insurance providers from which to choose. The providers all offer the core benefits that are defined by law, with different additional benefits, which result in different rates. The amount you are charged depends on your income and are financed equally by you and your employer. Family members without their own income can be insured free of charge. The costs of treatment are paid directly by the health insurance company. Therefore, you will always be required to present your insurance card when receiving medical care so that the doctor’s office can settle your bill directly with the health insurance company.

Features of GKV:

  • Statutory scope of benefits that guarantees basic medical treatment at a high standard.
  • Covers the costs of doctor visits, prescription medication, outpatient therapy and outpatient, as well as inpatient medical treatment.
  • Covers all treatment costs, except for dental protheses and glasses.
  • Caps the hospitalisation costs at €10 per day for the first 28 days.
  • Prescriptions for medication can be filled at a pharmacy for a small co-payment.

Private health insurance (PKV)

If your gross annual salary is above the limit (as of 2021: €58,050) or if you are self-employed, you can decide whether or not you want statutory or private health insurance. The amount you pay is determined by the scope of benefits. Your age, gender and individual health risks, including any pre-existing conditions, are also taken into account. The cost of private health insurance can rise sharply with age.

Private health insurance often offers more in the way of benefits. For instance, treatment by a chief physician or coverage of extensive dental treatments. You will pay for all services and treatments initially. You will then submit the receipts in order to receive reimbursement from your private health insurance in the amount and to the extent of which is covered in your insurance plan. If you are unsure about whether a service will be paid for by your private health insurance, ask your provider before starting treatment.

When purchasing private insurance plans for the family, each member will receive a separate plan, which will be paid separately.

As a rule, private health insurance does not cover costs that are due to pre-existing conditions that were known at the time the policy was taken out. For some situations, there is also a waiting period involved. For instance, costs of any medical treatment related to pregnancy are usually covered only after 12 months after the policy began.

The scope of benefits and price of private health insurance policies vary considerably. If you want to take out private health insurance, you should research the information carefully and compare providers and rates. You would be well advised to reach out for independent advice.

Broadcasting Fee (Rundfunkbeitrag)

Germany has a public broadcasting service (television, radio and online services) which is intended to ensure independent reporting and information for the public. It is financed through the broadcasting fees. By law, everyone who lives in Germany must pay a monthly license fee (2021: €18.36). Only one person per flat or shared flat has to pay this, however. After you register at the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldamt), you will receive a letter from the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Contribution Service with further information.