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.

Immigration Laws

EU citizens, as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, can register with their identification documents directly at the residents’ registration office, same as German citizens.

As a rule, non-EU citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter Germany. Citizens of certain non-EU countries (including Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, San Marino, United States of America) can enter without a visa. A complete list of countries requiring a visa can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days in Germany or work or study in Germany, you will need a residence permit, which can be applied for at the embassy or consulate. Please note that in these cases you may have to wait several months.

Applying for residence permits in Germany

Please note that only citizens of certain countries (Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, United States of America) can apply for a residence permit for employment in Germany. All other non-EU nationals are required to obtain a visa for this purpose.

There are regulations to ease the immigration process for highly qualified and self-employed individuals. These apply to individuals with an academic degree and an annual minimum gross income of EUR 53,600 or individuals who have a degree in a profession in which there is a shortage of skilled workers in Germany (see the “Positive List”for a list of these professions). In addition, there are more far-reaching entry regulations in the scientific field. The German Rectors’ Conference has compiled a good overview of the individual cases.

If you are unsure about the exact regulations, you can contact our staff, who can assist you with the classification of your individual case and the administrative procedure.

If you arrive on a Sunday, please note that most shops and retailers are closed due to Sunday rest in Germany. Please also note the national and regional holidays in Lower Saxony. A list of public holidays can be found here.

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.

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture provides more information.

ABCs of Travel

Germany has a well-developed express and regional train system. The prices for train tickets are relatively high by European standards. If you already know your travel dates, you should consider buying tickets “mit Zugbindung” in advance (tickets for which you cannot flexibly choose the train on the route). If you book early, the prices are considerably lower. For frequent travellers, regional discount cards (“BahnCard”) and regional tickets such as the Niedersachsenticket can be good choices to keep travel cost low. Children and adolescents up to the age of 14 may travel on Deutsche Bahn trains free of charge.

Alternatively, you can travel by long-distance bus, which offers slower but cheaper connections between larger cities. If you are unsure, the Welcome Centre team can help you with any questions you may have.

There are no security or control gates at German railway stations. The checks take place during the journey. For most short local and regional trips, only random checks are conducted. On local means of transport, be aware that tickets may have to be validated before travel.

Links: German Railways, Regional Tickets, FlixBus, Regional Association

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 your stay lasts longer than one year and you have brought your own car with you, you must register it with the vehicle registration office.

Driving license from EU or EEA countries

Holders of a foreign driving licence from an EU member state or EEA state may drive motor vehicles in Germany to the extent of their entitlement. A transfer to a German driving licence is not required. The scope of the driving licence in Germany corresponds to the scope of the foreign driving licence. This means that any conditions or restrictions also apply to the right to drive in Germany.

Persons who have not held their driving licence for more than two years are subject to the German regulation probationary period according to the statement of domicile in Germany.

Driving licence from third countries

Valid driving licences from countries which do not belong to the EU or the EEA must always be converted into a German driving licence for longer stays in Germany.

The foreign driving licenses are valid, after the establishment of normal residence in Germany, six months. The driving licence must therefore be exchanged for a German driving licence if one intends to continue driving a vehicle in Germany even after the expiry of the six months. In most cases, a new theoretical and practical driving test must be taken in Germany. The details depend on the respective agreement between Germany and the exhibiting state.

Language Courses

German language skills are important in order to find work, fill out applications or simply get to know new people. If you or an accompanying accompanying partner have no knowledge of German, you may be eligible to attend a state language and integration course. The general integration course consists of 700 hours and costs 1,365 euros. Depending on the economic situation, you may be exempted from the costs. Individuals who do not have a direct entitlement (e.g. EU citizens) can also apply to participate. Alternatively, our team can help you find a suitable language course.  

Links: Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, Goethe Institut

The Right Home for the Right Money

Housing prices in South Lower Saxony are below the German average, but can vary considerably between urban and rural regions. For example, in Göttingen the price per square metre of basic rent is 11-15 EUR/m², while in Bad Gandersheim it is only 6-8 EUR/m². Please take into account that factors such as the size of the living space, the rental period or the furnishing have an impact on the price and, if possible, take time for the house hunt. Accessible cities in the surrounding area are often a good alternative. Ask our advisors about the possibilities. We will be happy to assist you. Private portals can provide you with additional information on housing prices. Please note that the market price may differ from these estimations.

Links: Immoscout, Immowelt


Welcome Centre
Göttingen Campus and
the Südniedersachsen Region

Front Office
Von-Siebold-Str. 4
37073 Göttingen
Tel.: +49 551 39-21321

Funded by the Südniedersachsenprogramm

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Information for companies

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