Relocating to Munich

First steps

There are various requirements to be fulfilled, which depend upon your country of origin, before you can travel to Germany and work here. Please be advised, a visa is absolutely necessary under German Immigration Law (apart from exemptions).

Do I need to apply for a visa?

EU citizens and citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein do not need a visa to enter Germany and do not need to apply for a residence permit. However all Munich residents have to register. You can work in Germany at any time.

For citizens of all other countries: You will require an application for a residence permit that expressly allows you to work in Germany before you enter Germany.

Exceptions: Citizens of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland may apply for their residence permits after entering Germany without a D- visa (see question 2 below).

What kind of visa do I require?

Please take note that all visas are not the same!

A "Tourist visa or Schengen visa" cannot be converted into a “residence permit”. Please do not enter Germany with a tourist visa. It is very difficult to change the state of your visa afterwards; therefore, you may be required to leave Germany again in order to do so. If you are planning to work during your stay, you are obliged to apply for a Type D visa prior to your entry into the Federal Republic of Germany.

Where do I apply for a visa?

Your visa must be issued before entering the country; therefore, you should apply in good time. The responsible body is the German Embassy or Consulate General in your country or the country of your residence, which can also provide you with further information on the application process.

You will find detailed information regarding countries whose citizens require/do not require visas to enter Germany on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

Which documents are required for a visa application?

If you are required a visa, you must apply for a visa for residence or research purposes at the German agency (embassy/consulate general) in your home country/country of residence.

The following documents are usually required:

  • Antrag auf Erteilung eines Visums für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Application for a visa for the Federal Republic of Germany, available at your German agency abroad or at www.auswaertiges-amt.de)
  • Confirmation from LMU of intended employment, including the commensurate salary
  • CV and copies of your university degree(s)
  • The address where you will be staying upon arrival
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Valid passport and biometric picture

If your partner or other family member is accompanying you or joining you at a later date, you will additionally require:

  • Proof of adequately-sized living quarters in Germany (12m² per person) in the form of a rental agreement including the size in square meters of the living quarters or an equivalent confirmation from the landlord
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Marriage certificate: A certified copy in German is required if you do not have an apostil (internationally legally recognized copy of your marriage certificate).
  • Children's birth certificates: A certified copy in German is required if you do not have an apostil (internationally legally recognized copy of one’s birth certificate).

It is highly recommended to properly complete all documents necessary for the application process and to provide translations of all documents in a language other than German for the convenience of the administrators involved.

Once you retrieve your passport with the newly added visa, please make sure that you have been given the correct visa.

Once you have arrived in Munich, you are required to register with the local authorities.

In Munich, the Registration Office (registration of your new residence) and the Foreigners Office (residence permit) are located in the same building at the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR); therefore, it is possible to process both the registration and immigration steps within one day. Please note that there are different opening hours for both authorities.

Where do I register?

The Residence Registration Office (Bürgerbüro) is in charge of your registration and also provides registration certificates, police clearances (DE), household certificates (DE), and notarizations for authorities.

Why is it necessary to register at the Residence Registration Office?

In Germany, any person residing in a city, town or village for more than three months must register themselves within two weeks of moving into a new home.

It is then of absolute importance that you place your name on your letter box at your new residence, as your life-long tax-identification number will be sent to you by mail.

When you register, you will be asked about your church affiliation. If you are a member of the Catholic or Protestant church, you will automatically be submitted to pay German church tax.

If you happen to hold principle residency in a different city within Germany, please note that Munich claims a percentage of the annual basic rent for second home taxation.

According to Bavarian Registration Law, confirmation of your registration must be presented to your landlord.

Where do I apply for my residence permit in Munich?

Third country nationals and their families, must apply for their work and residence permits at the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Amt für Ausländerangelegenheiten (Foreigners Office). The Service-Center for International Professionals or the Foreigners Office is in charge of issuing residence and work permits.

Please note that if you move to a Munich suburb, the local city hall (Rathaus) will be in charge of registration and the local district office (Landratsamt) will be in charge of issuing the relevant residence permit instead of the above mentioned authorities.

What types of residence permits are available?

Non-German and non-EU citizens may work in Germany only if the residence permit expressly allows this.

  • Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit with time restriction)
  • EU Blue Card (settlement permit for highly qualified professionals with time restriction)
  • Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit that gives you the right to work without time restriction)
  • Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EG (permanent residence permit that gives you the right to work within the EU without time restriction; you may request this permit after legally living in Germany and contributing to the federal pension fund for a minimum of five years)

As a highly-qualified professional (Hochqualifizierter), you have the option to apply for a Niederlassungserlaubnis, an Aufenthaltserlaubnis or EU-Blue Card; depending on the length of your stay.

The following documents are normally required to apply for a residence permit:

  • Completed form Antrag auf Erteilung/Verlängerung eines Aufenthaltstitels (Application for Issuance/Extension of a Residence Permit, available on the website of the Munich Foreigners Office
  • Proof of residency registration
  • Valid passport
  • Confirmation of employment, salary and civil servant status where applicable
  • Statement from LMU concerning your unique qualification and/or special professional knowledge under the terms of article 19 of German Residency Law regarding highly qualified professionals.
  • Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications
  • Proof of health insurance (letter from health insurance company or presentation of your health insurance card)
  • A current biometric photo (passport size)

If your family is accompanying you, the following additional information is required:

  • Marriage certificate (certified or with apostil)
  • Birth certificates of children
  • Rental contract showing the size of the residence in square meters (12 m²/person minimum)
  • Statutory declaration of marriage

Your fingerprints and signature will be necessary upon application of a residence permit. If you were not required to have a visa upon entry to Germany, you will be given a Fiktion (temporary residence permit sheet mainly for your employer), as well as an Abholschein (claim ticket) with your reference number, which authorizes you to pick up your eAT-card in 4-6 weeks.

What is the purpose of the eAT-card?

The eAufenthaltstitel was introduced in order to implement uniform EU regulations by all member states of the European Union for residence permits for third-country nationals. According to these regulations, a separate document must be issued for each foreign resident, including infants and children.

May I interrupt my Residence Permit?

If you plan to interrupt your stay for more than 6 months, you do not necessarily need to deregister (deregistration cancels your residence permit). You may apply for a Wiedereinreisefrist (reentry time limit) for the duration of your stay outside Germany at the local foreigners office.

Do I need to deregister?

Once you plan to leave Germany indefinitely, please remember to deregister at your local registration office. It is especially important for third-country-nationals if planning to apply for another visa at a later date.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, health insurance (Krankenversicherung) is mandatory and proof of adequate coverage must be presented when applying for a visa. Visa requirements differ from nation to nation; therefore, we ask you to please refer to section on "Visas" to find out more on this topic, so that you can make the necessary preparations for you and your family prior to your arrival in Munich.

If you are coming here based on an employment contract, you are required to have a policy with an insurance provider licensed in Germany. Please be aware that most insurance policies do not cover preexisting conditions or their related medication; therefore, you should seek consultation before closing a new contract for medical coverage.

Health insurance must cover the following:

  • doctor and dentist treatment
  • supply of medication, dressing and aid
  • hospital treatment
  • medical services for rehabilitation
  • assistance through pregnancy and labor

The websites below offer additional information on the various types of insurance in Germany and/or a selection of providers and consultancies:

  • Make-it-in-Germany - description of different types of insurance in Germany
  • City of Munich (DE) - list of insurance companies and types of services offered
  • Euraxess - general information for mobile scientists coming to and leaving Germany, including information on health and other types of insurance

Accommodation

The experience of moving to a new location - especially to a new country - is very exciting, though finding accommodation is always a main concern. Searching for a new home is often challenging, even overwhelming at times. Therefore, it is important to approach your search with an open mind, realizing that your new environment is somewhat different. Patience and the willingness to make compromises, as well as a sense of humor, are all important tools in making this experience an enjoyable adventure.

We recommend having a look at the following links, where you can find an interactive city map and webcam images of our beautiful City of Munich!

Online property portals are very useful when searching for an apartment, especially if you are not yet in Munich. Please find below a list of websites that can aid you in your search. Since the majority of these sites are in German, we have prepared a list of useful abbreviations and vocabulary, as well as a short description of Munich's city districts.

Newspaper advertisements are a great source when looking for property in Munich. Here is a list of newspapers and times of when they publish classified sections. These advertisements can be found online, as well. Placing an advertisement has also proven to be successful.

  • LMU Munich Apartments - LMU Munich has a small number of apartments available for rent. Please contact us if you have any questions about the application process.

  • Civil Servants' Apartments (Staatsbedienstetenwohnungen) - All employees of the Free State of Bavaria have the opportunity to apply for a civil servant's apartment from the Wohnungsfürsorgestelle (DE) des Landesamtes für Finanzen. For more information or questions on this option, refer to their website or contact us.

Accommodation agencies, such as the ones listed below, can be used to find short term housing and are usually furnished. If they succeed in finding suitable accommodation, they charge a non-recurring fee determined by the service provider, which is usually based on the length of your stay.

Liability Insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung), which covers damage or personal injury due to your own negligence, is highly advisable. Household Insurance (Hausratversicherung) covers the contents of your home against cases of fire, water damage, vandalism, theft, hail etc. and is also recommended.

Banking

In Munich there is an extensive network of banks with varying fees, therefore you should be sure to gather information on which bank is able to offer you the best conditions to suit your needs.

It is advisable to register at the Bürgerbüro before trying to open a bank account as you will usually need to show proof of a German address in addition to your national identification documents and, sometimes, your residence permit.

The most common form of account in Germany is a Girokonto (checking or current account). Most financial transactions, such as receiving wages or paying rent, are completed using this type of account. In general, a current account allows you to:

  • withdraw money from your bank using an EC-card. In fact, the EC-Karte is more widely accepted in Germany than credit cards. It is normally free of charge when withdrawing funds from cash points (ATMs) belonging to your bank, but a fee may be charged for withdrawing cash from other banks' ATMs.
  • transfer one time payments from one account to another
  • set up regular fixed payments, e.g. your rent, to be made by standing order (Dauerauftrag)
  • allow regular payments of variable amounts to be withdrawn directly from your account through direct debit authorization, e.g. telephone bills and health insurance contributions (Einzugsermächtigung)

At many banks you can choose between several current accounts with various features at different rates, e.g. online banking, credit card at no charge, etc.

  • Once I have opened the account, can I immediately withdraw money from the ATM?
  • Where can I withdraw money free of charge?
  • Can I set up standing orders and authorize direct debits?
  • Will I receive an EC card immediately?
  • What is the limit for cash withdrawals per day/week?
  • Am I able to get a credit card?
  • When can I apply for the card and how long will it take to process?
  • What are the fees associated with my bank account?
  • Do I get an overdraft facility, and what are the fees for this service?

If you would like to put money aside, you can set up a savings account to get a higher interest rate. If you plan to travel, verify whether you are allowed to withdraw funds throughout Europe and/or beyond Europe.

A savings account may also be used as a blocked account needed if you are required to prove that you have sufficient funds during your stay in Germany.

You generally receive an EC Card (Electronic Cash) for your account, as well as an associated four-digit PIN code. Both will be sent to you separately by mail. You can use an EC Card to withdraw money from cash machines around the clock. Please note that withdrawing money from third-party financial institutions may be subject to fees.

When selecting your bank, please be sure to review the costs for national and international transfers. Online transfers are usually free of charge.

For more information, please refer to the section Money and Banking on the website, Make-it-in-Germany (Account Opening).

You generally receive an EC Card (Electronic Cash) for your account, as well as an associated four-digit PIN code. Both will be sent to you separately by mail. You can use an EC Card to withdraw money from cash machines around the clock. Please note that withdrawing money from third-party financial institutions may be subject to fees.

General information

Childcare in Germany is provided in either a Krippe or a Kindergarten, depending on the age of the child. A Krippe is a nursery or daycare facility for small children from 0-3 years of age. Whereas a Kindergarten is meant for children from 3-6 and is largely seen as a fundamental step in preparing a child to start school. Though it is not a formal part of the compulsory school system, over 80% of all children in Germany attend Kindergarten.

There are three major possibilities to consider when deciding on how to begin your search: LMU childcare facilities, state childcare facilities and private childcare facilities. LMU Gateway is prepared to assist you in evaluating the facilities under the authority of the university, though be aware that space is very limited. Pertaining to the public and state facilities, you may seek council from Family Services at the LMU. Please take note: places in childcare facilities, especially in nurseries, are very limited with waiting lists of up to one year. It would be in your best interest to start searching as soon as possible.

What should I consider when selecting a Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is not part of the compulsory school system and is completely voluntary; however, most children in Germany do attend between the ages of three and six. Kindergartens and nurseries are usually run by a local administrative body: the city, town or village council; private initiatives; non-profit organizations and religious groups.

There are even Elterninitiativen – kindergartens (and nurseries) which are privately run and are founded upon the principle that parents of the children should be involved and take on certain duties such as washing linens or substituting for an ill caregiver. No matter the administrative body, all kindergartens must meet government standards to remain operative.

Privately run bilingual kindergartens are also available in the Munich area. Your respective consulate or embassy will often be able to provide you with lists of facilities offering services in your language if available or in English.

What should I consider when selecting a Krippe?

Nurseries are run by the same administrative bodies as kindergartens and are designed for children under the age of three years old. Age regulations differ from nursery to nursery, so it is important to verify at what age children are allowed to begin attending. Places in a nursery are even more limited than in kindergartens; therefore, it is necessary to begin your search as soon as possible, even during pregnancy.

What alternatives do I have if I do not find a place for my child?

If you cannot find a suitable place for your child at a Kindergarten or Krippe, parents often resort to one of the following alternatives:

  • Tagesmutter
  • LeihOma
  • Au pair (live-in nanny usually between the ages of 17-27)
  • Babysitter

A Tagesmutter is a person (usually a woman) who looks after children in his/her own home during normal working hours. Any nanny offering services for more than 15 hours a week for three or more months in a row must be licensed by the youth welfare office (Jugendamt).

A LeihOma is a woman usually over the age of fifty who comes to your home during the day to support the parents in taking care of the children and with other household duties.

Where can I seek further information?

  • LMU Dual Career Service - advice on LMU childcare facilities and alternatives, as well as support in registering with LMU Family Service
  • LMU Family Service - advice on state and private childcare facilities and their alternatives
  • Jugendamt (DE) - advice for families living in Munich
  • City of Munich - general information on the childcare system and alternatives, as well as links to search for nurseries and kindergartens in your area
  • Bildungsberatung International (DE) - links to documents listing bilingual and international childcare facilities. You may also make an appointment to meet with advisors with competencies in various languages. Refer to their downloadable flyer for contact details and times
  • Make-it-in-Germany - general information and advice on immigrating to Germany, including childcare

Is financial support available for families with children?

In Germany, there are two forms of financial aid available to all tax-paying residents with children: Kindergeld and Elterngeld. An additional benefit for families is the opportunity to take parental leave. More detailed information of the application process is available from LMU Dual Career Service upon request.

The German public school system is known for producing high-performing pupils; however, the structure is quite different to that in many other countries. Though private schools exist, the vast majority of children attend public schools. The school system is maintained and funded by the federal government, though organized at a state level. This leads to deviations in curriculum and quality across the country, with Bavarian schools ranking amongst the best.

School is compulsory in Germany as of the age of 6 or 7, depending on the child’s birthday. This regulation applies to all residents of Germany no matter the nationality. Kindergarten is attended by most children from ages 3 to 6; however, it is not a part of the 9 to 10 year compulsory education system (Schulpflicht). While public school districts exist for elementary education, parents can choose where and what type of secondary school their children attend.

If you have questions regarding which public school would best suit your child, you can contact the Bavarian Kultusministerium (Ministry of Education) for information on public schools in this state. If your question refers directly to your child’s language level or attending an international school, the Bildungsberatung International (DE) is prepared to address such concerns. Once on the site of Bildungsberatung Int., go to "Beratungszeiten" (consutling hours) for PDF documents with office hours and contact persons listed according to the advisors’ language competencies. Refer to the section Publikationen und Downloads for the Bildungsbaratung International’s flyer and list of international schools.

What is important to know about elementary schools in Germany?

Elementary schools in Germany (Grundschulen) include grades 1-4 or 1-6 depending on where you live and what type of secondary school your child attends. During these early years of school, all pupils are generally taught the same subjects. Then after the 4th grade, pupils are separated into Mittelschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium. This division is determined by the parents and teachers of the pupil based on the child’s academic achievement, self-confidence and the ability to work independently. Please note: public school districts exist for elementary school children, though not for secondary schools.

What do I need to know about secondary education?

In most federal states of Germany, pupils are placed in one of three types of secondary schools, each with different academic standards.

Gymnasium

A Gymnasium offers the most academic course of study, acting to prepare pupils for entry into a German university. After successfully completing grade 13, pupils receive their Abitur and are not restricted as to what subject they study at university, though some subjects require a high grade point average due to limited places. The most common tracks of education at Gymnasien are classical language, modern language, mathematics and natural sciences.

Realschule

Realschule usually includes grades 5-10 and is a less academic option, where pupils are awarded the Mittlere Reife certificate, equivalent to the British GCSE and the American high school diploma. After obtaining this certificate, one can go in several directions, e.g. do an apprenticeship, attend vocational school or get additional qualifications (Fachabitur) and go on to a school of applied sciences.

Mittelschule

Mittelschule, formerly known as Hauptschule, is generally designed to prepare pupils to do an apprenticeship. This type of secondary school lasts until the 9th or 10th grade and awards their pupils with the Mittelschulabschluss certificate.

What options do I have if my child does not understand German very well or at all?

When children are younger, it is much easier to integrate them into the German public school system. Entry into secondary school with limited knowledge of the language can be more challenging. Two important factors to consider when choosing a school are the length of your family’s stay here and your child’s German language level. Homeschooling is not permitted in Germany.

If your child does not have a proficient level of German upon arrival, an international school might be the most suitable option until his/her language level is sufficient, though tuition fees can be very high depending on the institution.

Where can I find additional information and advice on finding schools in Munich?

  • City of Munich – find information on the school system in Munich
  • Bildungsberatung International (DE) – links to documents listing bilingual and international schools. You may also make an appointment to meet with advisors with competencies in various languages. Refer to their downloadable flyer for contact details and times
  • Make-it-in-Germany - general information and advice on immigrating to Germany, including the German school system

Numerous institutions in Munich offer German language courses. The university‘s Beirat Qualitätssicherung für studienvorbereitende und studienbegleitende Deutschausbildung an der LMU, responsible for quality control, recommends the following options:


Please refer to the official site of the City of Munich for a list of further options.

The office responsible for the issuance of driver‘s licenses is called the Führerscheinstelle (DE), which is classified as a public service department.

Do I need a German driver's license?

License holders from an EU or EEA country can use their home license in Germany permanently. Only drivers with less than two years’ experience or licenses for trucks and buses must register with the driver’s license office (Führerscheinstelle). Refer to the following website for a detailed list of countries: Staatenliste (DE) under "Formulare und Downloads" at the bottom of the linked page.

What if I am only staying in Germany for a maximum of 12 months?

For the first six months, you are allowed to drive in Germany using your foreign license. A person may prolong this period up to a year at the Führerscheinstelle; however, this must be done prior to expiration of the first six months. You must be able to prove that you will leave the country permanently to qualify for this extension (e.g. confirmation from employer or return flight ticket).

The Führerscheinstelle will ask for a notarized translation of your foreign license.

Who is responsible for transferring my foreign driver’s license into a German one?

Long term expatriates are legally allowed to drive with their license from their home country for up to six months after registering with local authorities. Once this time has been exceeded, a German license is required. The process should be started early, since the paperwork itself can take up to two months. If a German license has not been acquired within three years after establishing residency in Germany, the foreign license holder must go through the entire procedure of lessons and testing as a first-time applicant.

For license holders from countries or certain US states with full reciprocity (see Staatenliste above), the process of exchange is rather straightforward. The applicant will generally need the following documentation:

  • a signed application form (available at the Führerscheinstelle or the registry office, you must appear in person)
  • official identification (passport)
  • one biometric photo
  • confirmation of first registration (Anmeldebestätigung)
  • original driver’s license and notarized German translation

The foreign license must be verified by the state police for authenticity. This review will take two to three weeks. During this time you have to turn in your foreign driver’s license.

If you have held your driver’s license from home for less than 2 years prior to living in Germany, you will be considered a probationary driver. Therefore, you need to be sure to have sufficient documentation to prove how long you have been in possession of a driver’s license.