Prior to Arrival

The Welcome Centre supports you in getting you started in your new everyday life in South Lower Saxony. Our pre-arrival tips will help you prepare for your very first steps in the region.

Visa and Entry

A visa allows you to enter Germany and stay for the first few weeks. Whether or not you need a visa to enter Germany depends on your country of citizenship. Information on this can be found in the visa requirements overview compiled by the Federal Foreign Office.

You apply for a visa at the appropriate German foreign representative (Embassy or Consulate) for the area where you currently reside (before moving to Germany). Family members travelling with you or joining you will also require a visa (relocating with a family).

Nationals of member states of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland

Nationals of EU member states, the EEA and Switzerland are not required to obtain a visa to enter Germany. A valid identity card or passport is sufficient for entry. However, they must register at the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks of arrival in Göttingen.

Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the USA

Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the USA do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, if you want to stay or work in Germany for longer than 90 days, you will need a residence permit. You can apply for a residence permit after arriving in Germany at the Immigration Office in Göttingen. This can be time-consuming and delay your start of work. If you want to start working immediately upon your arrival, we recommend that you apply for a visa (National Visa / D-Visa) before entering Germany, which will allow you to work. This also applies if you intend to stay in the country for less than 90 days but want to be gainfully employed during this time (for instance, receive fees for lecturing or teaching).

Nationals of other countries

Nationals of countries other than those stated above generally require a visa to enter Germany. For short stays of up to 90 days without gainful employment, there are exceptions for some countries. The Federal Foreign Office provides information on these exceptions.

A visa is typically issued only for a specific purpose of stay. A change of purpose can be very difficult and only possible in some specific instances.

Imports of Domestic Animals

There are different regulations pertaining to the import of pets from abroad with respect to EU and non-EU countries.

Dogs and cats transported across borders within the European Union are required to have a standard format Pet passport, in which the animals may be clearly identified. Since 3 July 2011, microchips are mandatory for newly registered animals.  In addition to information on the animal and its owner, the pet passport must include veterinary proof that the animal is vaccinated against rabies. Especially with young animals, you should check whether the vaccination protection is effective. In total, no more than five animals may be transported.

For the import of dogs and cats from a non-EU country you need an official veterinary certificate in which the microchip number or the tattoo is entered. In addition, you must carry vaccination papers and, if applicable, the results of the blood test (rabies antibody test). In non-EU countries where rabies is present or where the disease status is unknown (e.g. holiday countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Thailand and India), the blood test must be carried out in an EU-approved laboratory before departure. On import, the animals must be declared so that an identity check can be carried out. Please also note that entry with pets may only take place via approved entry points (this regulation does not apply to entries from Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City).

For dogs, the municipalities levy an annual dog tax, which you can set up with your registration in the citizen’s office. The tax varies from municipality to municipality.

For pet birds within the EU, a maximum of three birds may be transported. A special official veterinary health certificate is required for parrots or parakeets.

The import of pet birds from non-EU countries is subject to a number of conditions to prevent the introduction and spread of ‘avian influenza’.

When entering Germany with rabbits, three animals can be taken along without further ado. For hamsters and guinea pigs there are no further conditions to consider.

Please contact the responsible veterinary authorities in good time to find out about specific regulations (e.g. import of so-called dangerous dogs) and the animal health regulations to be observed.

Further information of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture:

Travelling with dogs, cats and ferrets within the EU

Entering the EU with dogs, cats and ferrets

Travelling with pet birds (in German)

Arrival to Göttingen

By air

The nearest airport to Göttingen is the Hannover Airport. There are regular trains from Hannover airport to Göttingen (with a change at the Hannover main train station). However, there are often cheaper tickets for flights to Frankfurt Airport. Frankfurt Airport has its own long-distance train station with direct connections to Göttingen (only rarely with a change at Frankfurt main station). The airports of Hamburg, Berlin, Paderborn-Lippstadt, Kassel-Calden and Leipzig-Halle are also easy to reach from Göttingen. For travel within Germany, it is rather impractical to fly, as it usually takes longer than taking a train.

Travelling costs energy. Make a difference to the environment – by consciously choosing a means of transport or by voluntarily offsetting the CO2 emissions generated by air travel, eg with Atmosfair.

By train

Most IC- (Intercity) and ICE- (Intercity Express) trains on the north/south and east/west routes pass through Göttingen. There are direct connections from Frankfurt Airport. From the Göttingen train station, you can take a taxi or a bus to your destination in Göttingen. The bus leaves from the central bus platform in front of the train station.

By car

Göttingen is located directly off the A7, the main north/south motorway, between Hannover and Kassel. There are two exits to Göttingen. Use a route planner to find the best exit.

Anything to Declare?

There is free movement of goods within the EU. In the event of a move from a non-EU or non-EEA country, European customs law provides for the exemption of import duties for goods generally referred to as “household effects” under certain conditions. One of the prerequisites for this is the relocation of the place of residence to Germany. Inform yourself in advance about the exact regulations.

Driving Licence and Vehicles Registration

If you have a valid foreign driving licence, you may drive vehicles in Germany for the categories for which your licence is issued. Restrictions and conditions of your foreign driving licence also apply in Germany. If you have held a driving licence for less than two years, the probationary period regulations apply to you in Germany.

You must always carry your driving licence with you when driving. Depending on the country of issue and residence, different rules apply regarding recognition of your driving licence in Germany:

Driving licences from EU/EEA countries

  • Valid without restriction

Driving licences from other countries

If you have one of the following driving licences and are resident in Germany, it is valid for six months after entry:

  • International driving licence (no translation required)
  • Driving licence from Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Switzerland, Senegal (no translation needed)
  • German translation of driving licence. The translation can be done by a sworn translator, a German mission (embassy or consulate) abroad, or an internationally recognised automobile club.

After six months, your foreign driving licence must be converted into a German driving licence at the Göttingen driving licence office (Führerscheinstelle Göttingen). This may mean that you have to take the oral and written test again. Prerequisites for this are an eye test and a valid first aid course. Your foreign driving licence cannot be changed after six months. Make sure that you make your appointment in a timely fashion.

German Courses


We are here to support you in your search for suitable accommodation. Please let us know as early as possible – if possible, three months before you are planning to arrive. Furnished accommodation is particularly difficult to find in Göttingen. As we receive many enquiries and the housing market is very limited, we can typically only send you one offer for a flat or room. Also, you may have to move house at some point during your stay.

General information

There are a variety of living spaces on the German housing market: from studio apartments (Einzelappartements, which are self-contained living units consisting of a room with a kitchenette, toilet and bathroom) to flats with a kitchen, bathroom and separate living room and bedroom(s) of various sizes, to single-family houses.

Most flats in Germany are rented unfurnished, which means you have to furnish the flat completely with your own furniture. This may mean that you need to provide window coverings and light fixtures as well as the kitchen furnishings (yes, even the sink, as well as the counters, and appliances), although sometimes you can purchase these from the previous tenant and sell it to the next one. Sometimes flats are also offered partially furnished, eg a flat with only a kitchen (EBK).

Wohngemeinschaft (WG)- shared flats

A popular option – especially for young people – is to live in a shared flat (WG), where you share the flat and rental costs with other people. And you can quickly meet new people in a WG. In WGs, each person has their own bedroom. The bathroom, kitchen and living/dining room are shared. WGs usually involve “casting calls” when there are spots available, to ensure that new members are a good fit for the existing tenants.

Additional costs

In Germany, rentals are typically listed with a “cold” and “warm” rent. The “cold rent” (Kaltmiete) refers to the base rental costs without additional service costs (such as heating, water, waste collection, etc). The “warm rent” (Warmmiete) is the cost inclusive of the essential services and is paid directly to the landlord. As these service costs increase, the landlord may need to increase these costs (Nebenkosten) or present an itemized invoice at the end of each year. Electricity, internet and broadcasting (Rundfunk) costs are paid directly to the providers. The broadcasting fee is mandatory by flat.

Security deposit (Kaution)

When you rent a flat, you almost always have to pay a deposit. The deposit is an amount of money that you pay to the landlord before you occupy the flat. The deposit can also be in the form of a guarantee (usually by a third party who would be responsible for paying any outstanding debts). The deposit may not be more than three times the monthly cold rent and must be deposited in an interest-bearing bank account. After moving out, you as the tenant will receive the deposit back, including the interest. The repayment can take several months.

Rental agreement

The rental agreement is an important document that regulates all the details of your tenancy. Make sure that all the terms of the tenancy are in writing. Additional verbal agreements can be challenged later. For the rental agreement, you must provide your landlord with certain documents, such as proof of income or employment contract. A handover protocol document records the condition of the flat when you move in. Read the handover report carefully. You can be held liable for damages not recorded in the handover report when you move out. Be sure to read the rental agreement. It is most likely in German, but you will be held liable for all details in the document.

Electricity (Strom)

When you move into a new flat, you must register for electricity services. We recommend that you first compare local electricity providers before choosing a suitable one. With many providers, you can register using an online form and obtain an electricity services contract. You will pay a monthly flat rate and receive a detailed bill of your electricity consumption every year.


If you wish to sublet all or part of the space you rent to a third party, you need permission from the landlord to do so.

Note: subletting without permission can be cause for extraordinary termination of the lease without notice.

Registration at the Local Residents’ Registration Office

All people moving into a residence in Germany must register at the Local Residents’ Registration Office within two weeks.

Housing offers

Following are a selection of websites where you can find available housing. Please note that in some cases, you may have to pay a commission.

Flats, studio apartments, houses

Shared flats (Wohnengemeinschaft WG)

Looking for a place in a shared flat can sometimes be a long process, as many flats go through a “casting” process before deciding on a new flatmate. Don’t get discouraged!

Flats offered on Facebook

Short-term housing

If you are only staying in Göttingen for a short time or have not yet found a flat, you can spend the first few days in a guest house, a hotel or a holiday rental. However, these are considerably more expensive than a flat that you rent for a longer period of time.

Further information