As a German university providing degrees through English, we admit international students from all over the world into our study programs and Berlin-based campus.
We want to help make your transition to Berlin as smooth as possible and – based on our team’s personal experiences, our university’s comprehensive expertise in the field of international education and, of course, insights gleaned from our alignment with exclusive relocation providers – have constructed a helpful checklist of necessary steps to take upon moving here to work, live and study.
Arrange visa (if applicable)
It is very important to check Germany’s visa requirements before making your move. If you are an EU/EFTA resident, you do not need to apply for a German visa or a residence permit to enter and remain in Germany, but – generally – citizens from outside of Europe do need to apply for a German visa before coming to the country. For more information on visas and permits, take a look at the Federal Foreign Office website.
Find accommodation (and free furniture!)
Around 85% of people living in Berlin rent their homes, and many students and young professionals opt to flatshare or lease a studio apartment. There are many online property portals – like WG-Gesucht, Immowelt, and Immobilien Scout 24 – which provide options for shared or solo, short- or long-term, and furnished or unfurnished apartments.
Landlords always appreciate a well-prepared prospective tenant. We recommend you get as many of these documents in order and have them ready for inspection at any flat viewing you may attend.
• An application form
• Copies of your ID and residence permit (if you require one)
• Three months’ worth of wage slips
• A letter of recommendation from a previous landlord
• Your credit report (you can order this online through Schufa)
Top tip: In Berlin, it is common to see furniture in the foyer of a building – or even on the streets – accompanied by a sign reading “Zu verschenken”. This means that the previous owner is giving it away – for free! Another excellent way to pick up free or cheap furniture is through Ebay Kleinanzeigen, a platform that allows locals to organize the sale of wares to those interested, at a (usually low) price stipulated by them.
Once you have found your dream flat, next on the list of priorities is to register your address. Everyone living in Germany must, by law, apply for their Anmeldung (registration) through their local Bürgeramt (citizen’s office) within 2 weeks of arriving in Germany. Remember to bring the following documents (and a willing German-speaking friend if possible) to make this process as quick and painless as possible:
• ID or a valid passport
• Residence permit or Visa
• Signed registration form
• A confirmation from your landlord
• Notarized rent contract
• Marriage certificate (if applicable)
If you have opted for a flatshare, your heating, electricity, water, internet, etc will probably be included in your monthly rent. If you have decided to take over the lease of an apartment, however, you will probably have to organize utilities yourself. We suggest you take a look at Check24 for the best electricity and gas rates in your area and speak to your neighbors for an insight into which internet provider works best in your building.
Open a bank account
Setting up your utilities, registering for a Schufa, and oftentimes receiving your first paycheck is only possible if you have a German bank account. Occasionally, you will find that some shops cannot accept a foreign credit or debit card – even if it is a Visa – so to make matters easier for yourself we suggest sorting out a German bank account and card ASAP.
Get a German sim card
The cheapest way to keep in contact with your family and friends back home is to get a German sim card. As well as avoiding roaming costs, having a German phone number will benefit you when applying to jobs because no potential employer wants to rack up a massive bill by calling an international number.
Organize health insurance
Like registration, health insurance is mandatory for anyone choosing to reside in Germany. Germany has one of the best-funded public healthcare systems in Europe, so many students opt for public insurance. Of course, private is also an option if you’d like to be covered for any additional medical needs. Depending on your nationality, your prior health insurance from your home country may be sufficient. Many ex-pats choose Techniker Krankenkasse as their insurance provider, due to their high standard of English customer service.
Once you have ticked off everything on this compulsory checklist, you’re free to go forth and live your best life in Berlin. Enjoy your studies, pick up a part-time job, enroll in German classes and – most importantly of all – take the time to explore this fantastic city.