Phase 2: First steps after arrival

Herzlich willkommen in München! We hope you have had a safe arrival. In this section, we would like to give you some guidance on what needs to be done during your first few days in Munich. Now that you've arrived, why not visit us at our Infopoint or contact us.

Residence permit

  • Before applying for a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) you need to obtain proof of your residence registration (Meldebescheinigung).
  • Non-German and non-EU citizens may work in Germany only if their residence permit expressly allows this.
  • As an EU citizen you do not require a residence or work permit. The same applies for citizens of Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
  • Please carefully read our section Visa & Entry Requirements explaining which visa you need and if it can be converted into a residence permit.

Non-EU Citizens, also called third country nationals, must apply for their work and residence permit at the local Munich Foreigners Office within the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR) in Munich. The Service-Center für internationale Fachkräfte is in charge of issuing your residence and work permit. Please click the previous link for the address and opening hours.

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

Main types of residence permits

  • Residence permit with time restriction (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)
  • EU Blue Card (residence permit for highly qualified professionals with time restriction)
  • Settlement permit that gives you the right to work without time restriction (Niederlassungserlaubnis)
  • Permanent residence permit that gives you the right to work within the EU without time restriction (Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EG). You may request this permit after legally living in Germany for a minimum of five years.

NOTE: As a researcher and a highly-qualified professional (Hochqualifizierte/r), you have the option to apply for a Niederlassungserlaubnis, an Aufenthaltserlaubnis or EU-Blue Card depending on the length of your stay.

  • Completed application form for the issuance/extension of a residence permit (Antrag auf Erteilung/ Verlängerung eines Aufenthaltstitels)
  • Proof of residence registration
  • Valid passport
  • Confirmation from LMU Munich of your intended employment as well as the commensurate salary and civil servant status where applicable
  • Statement from LMU Munich concerning your unique qualification and/or special professional knowledge under the terms of article 19 of German Residency Law
  • Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications
  • Proof of health insurance (letter from your health insurance company or presentation of your health insurance card)
  • A current biometric photo (passport size)

If your partner or other family members are accompanying you or joining you at a later date, you will additionally require the following documents:

  • Proof of adequately-sized (minimum of 12m² per person) living space in Munich (rental agreement including the size in square meters of the living quarters or an equivalent confirmation from the landlord) when applying for the residence permit for your spouse and other family members
  • Proof of travel or health insurance
  • Marriage certificate (with apostil)
  • Children’s birth certificates (with apostil)
  • Proof of adequate income which proves you are able to provide for your family

LMU Gateway is here to support you with any questions you may have related to your application for a residence permit. Please contact us as early as possible to make sure there is enough time for the application procedure.

We can help you with queries such as:

  • Do I even need a residence permit?
  • Which residence permit is the right one for me?
  • What requirements are there if I bring along my partner/family?
  • I am having trouble with my current application for a residence permit and I don't speak German.

For more detailed information about Germany's residence and work permit regulations, we have compiled some useful links below:

Insurances

  • Health insurance for you (and your family) is mandatory in Germany at all times during your stay here.
  • Your employer will register you for social insurance once your working contract starts.
  • Social security contributions will be deducted from your gross salary by your employer.
  • Find out from your HR responsible whether you can choose between private and public (statutory) health insurance.
  • Within the public (statutory) health insurance system, the employee is free to choose his/her provider.

The German system of social insurance is based on the principle of solidarity. This means that every insured person makes a contribution towards financing social insurance depending on his/her (financial) ability. Please note, however, exceptions apply for civil servants (see section below).

Social security comprises the following elements:

  • Health insurance
  • Pension scheme
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Long-term nursing care insurance
  • Accident insurance (for your work place)

Social security for researchers from abroad:

  • If your research stay in Germany is based on an employment contract, you will have to pay fixed statutory social security contributions.
  • Your employer is responsible for paying the contributions directly and will deduct your employee contributions from your gross salary each month. You can view the total amount of contributions on your pay slip.

Necessary steps for registration:

As soon as your working contract starts, your HR department will take the necessary steps to register you for social security.

  • By your employer, you will be registered with the Health Insurance Company (Krankenkasse) of your choice which will then inform the other social security providers. Please note that it is your duty to proactively inform your HR department about which health insurance provider you have chosen, otherwise you will automatically be insured with a specific insurance provider.
  • You will receive your Social Insurance Number (Sozialversicherungsnummer) from the provider handling the pension scheme and a small booklet proving that you are insured (Versicherungsnachweisheft).
  • Hand in the booklet to your HR department.

NOTE: If you have worked in different countries and paid into the social security systems there, it is advisable to check with the respective insurance providers in those countries which entitlements you may have. This only applies to countries which Germany has signed a Social Security Agreement with. Please check the Agreements on Social Security by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to find out more.

NOTE: If you plan on returning to a country which does not have a Social Security Agreement with Germany, you can also ask for a refund of your pension contributions by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

Information for civil servants

As a civil servant, you do not have to pay any social security contributions, but automatically take part in the pension scheme and you are covered for unemployment, (work place) accident and nursing care insurance. However, as stated in the section Health insurance below, you will still need to take out private health insurance with a provider of your choice to be fully insured for medical care.

In Germany, health insurance is mandatory which means that regardless of your citizenship or residence permit, with or without an employment contract, you are obliged to have valid health insurance at all times during your stay in Germany.

Proof of adequate health insurance coverage must be presented during the application process for your visa, if you require one for entering the country.
In case you require a residence permit for Germany, you will also have to show proof of health insurance to the Munich Foreigners Office when applying for your permit.

NOTE: If you are coming to Germany based on an employment contract, you must have a policy with an insurance provider licensed in Germany. It is advisable to contact German health insurance providers prior to your arrival in order to discuss all of your questions.
It can also be beneficial to first check whether your health insurance provider in your home country will cover your medical and hospital costs in Germany. If this is the case, you will need a written confirmation of this for the duration of your stay.

What must health insurance cover?

  • Doctor and dentist treatment
  • The supply of medication, dressing and aid
  • Hospital treatment
  • Medical services for rehabilitation
  • Assistance through pregnancy and labor

The German health insurance system is characterized by the dual system of public (statutory) health insurance and private health insurance.

Public (statutory) health insurance

  • Employees with a working contract usually fall into this category (except for civil servants and other groups).
  • Employees can choose their own insurance provider. For more details on different health insurance companies, please contact us.
  • Monthly contributions are to be paid in part by the employee and in part by the employer.
  • The employee's contributions are taken out of the salary automatically at the end of each month.

Private health insurance

  • Civil servants and other groups (e.g. self-employed, high-income-earners) can choose to be privately insured.
  • There is a wide range of providers. Therefore, it is advisable to compare rates for your individual situation online as rates differ depending on your age, gender, health status and required coverage.

Information for civil servants

As a civil servant in Germany, you do not pay any social security contributions (for pension, health and nursing care, accident or unemployment). Instead, you are part of a governmental benefit scheme called Beihilfe which covers a certain percentage of the costs for private health insurance. In Bavaria, the Landesamt für Finanzen is the responsible authority for this.

NOTE: The remaining percentage must be covered by your own private insurance policy to reach a total of 100% insurance coverage. Most insurance companies have special offers for civil servants.

If your research stay in Germany is not based on an employment contract, you will not be subject to social security contributions. However, you are still required to have adequate health insurance regardless of the duration of your stay.

Without an employment contract, normally you are not eligible for public health insurance and have to obtain private health insurance. However, in general, the minimum contract term with private health insurer is 18 or 24 months. There are though a number of suppliers who offer health insurance packages for shorter periods especially for visiting fellows. Please check directly with the insurance companies and authorities whether coverage is sufficient for your visa and residence permit.

Public (statutory) health insurance

If you are automatically assigned to or choose to be in the public health insurance system, you have the possibility to put your children and your spouse on your insurance policy for free, if the following conditions apply:

  • Your spouse is a low-income-earner (contact us for details)
  • Your spouse is not a civil servant, not self-employed and does not already have a private insurance policy
  • Children can be added to your insurance for free until the age of 23 as long as they don't have an income of their own
  • Children cannot be added if one parent is privately insured and is a high-income-earner (contact us for details)
  • Your family members live in Germany or in a country, with which a health insurance treaty exists

Please be sure to also check details or further conditions with your chosen insurance provider.

Private health insurance

If you choose to be privately insured, please contact your insurance provider or check your policy regarding the coverage for family members.

LMU Gateway is here to support you with questions you may have related to your individual insurance situation. We can help you with queries such as:

  • Public or private health insurance - in my situation, can I choose?
  • Where can I find a list of health insurance providers in the Munich area?
  • Where can I register my family members for health insurance? What options do I have?
  • I am a civil servant - what financial benefit can I expect in regards to health insurance?
  • I have been registered for something called VBL/Pflichtversicherung - what is this and can I opt out?
  • What other insurances than the ones described are recommended in Germany?

Residence registration & moving in

  • You are required to register with the local authorities within two weeks after your arrival to Munich.
  • For registration, you will require your landlord's written confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) that you are the tenant.
  • After registration, place your name on your letter box as your life-long Tax ID number will be sent to you by mail.
  • Make sure you understand your rental contract before signing and that you receive a handover protocol from your landlord when moving in.
  • Your landlord will ask you to pay a deposit for your rental property. Make sure you understand the conditions of this.

Within two weeks of your arrival to Munich, you are required to register with the local authorities. Depending on where you live, this will be either at the town hall (Rathaus) or, in bigger cities like Munich, at the Residence Registration Office (Bürgerbüro) within the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR). Any change of address must be reported there as well. You will receive a written confirmation of registration.

The Bürgerbüro also provides registration certificates, police clearances, household certificates, notarizations for authorities, and most other official documentation one may need to access or submit when relocating or starting a new job in Germany.

Please note that as of January 2019 you have to make an appointment with the Bürgerbüro prior to using their services. The easiest way to do so is online (DE). As slots tend to fill up quickly it is advisable to arrange an appointment as soon as possible. You can find more information on the website of the Residence Registration Office. A limited number of free appointments is also made available on a daily basis. The same applies for cancelled appointments. Therefore it is advisable to check for a sooner appointment from time to time.

You can check on the City of Munich's website to see if there is a registry office closer to your new address by entering your postal code.

NOTE: If you are a dog owner, please note that your dog will also need to be registered. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Required documents for registration

  • Valid passport or identification card
  • Filled in registration form with your signature
  • Written confirmation by your landlord or property owner (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)

These documents are available for download on the City of Munich's website.

NOTE: Remember to place your name on your letter box at your new residence, as your life-long tax-identification number will be sent to you via the Residence Registration Office by mail after registration.

When leaving Munich, it is important to de-register with the authorities. You will find more information on this topic in the section Leaving Munich.

Below, we would like to point out the most important facts around moving into your new home:

  • Ask your landlord or the owner of the property to fill out the written confirmation for your tenancy (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung).
  • It is advisable to take out liability insurance as well as household insurance. In many cases, the landlord expects the tenant to have these.
  • Before signing a rental contract, please make sure you understand all terms and conditions.
  • During the handover process, you and your landlord will fill in or go through a handover protocol, which documents the state of the property at the time of the handover, any meter readings and how many keys were handed out for the property, for example. It is important that this document is filled in correctly as this will determine the amount of the deposit which will be paid back to you at the end of your contract. It can even be advisable to take photos of any damages in the apartment.
  • Make sure you receive a copy of the handover protocol as this is generally part of your rental contract.
  • You will be obliged to pay a deposit (usually amounting to 2-3 months' rent) to the landlord, which will be paid back at the end of your rental contract, according to the conditions stated in the contract.
  • Waste management in Germany has a very high standard with the objective to recycle where possible. The cost for waste collection is normally included in your utility costs (Nebenkosten) when renting a property. Every city district and municipality also has recycling stations (Wertstoffinseln) where residents can bring their plastic waste, cans and bottles, for example.

Registering with utility companies

  • Ask your landlord who will contact the utility companies to notify them of the change in tenant.
  • The utility companies must be informed and take the meter readings for electricity, gas and in some cases water.
  • There is a municipal provider in Munich (see on the City's website under section Energy supply) as well as a wide variety of other providers which you can compare using online portals and searching for the terms Stromtarif Preisvergleich.

Registering for telephone, internet services and TV

  • After you have registered your new address with the authorities, you will need to register for the Broadcasting License Fee (Rundfunkbeitrag, formerly GEZ). Every household in Germany must pay a fixed rate averaging to roughly 18 € a month for public television and radio broadcasting. Please visit the official website for more information on broadcasting fees and how to register your home.
  • There is a large number of different telecommunication providers, therefore it is important to first evaluate your needs (high speed internet, mobile phones included, TV included in the deal, services available near your home, etc.) and to compare the different offers before making a decision.
  • The City of Munich has provided information on municipal providers for your convenience.

NOTE: Please pay attention to the minimum contract terms and cancellation policies!

Anyone intending on staying in Germany for more than 3 months, needs to register with local authorities within two weeks after having arrived.

Please remember that every single family member must be registered with the local authorities.

Pregnant women and families with children with them can normally go to a separate helpdesk at the Residence Registration Office (KVR) and will also be given a number for waiting, but will be given priority treatment.

LMU Gateway is here to support you with any questions you may have related to your registration or moving in general. We can help you with queries such as:

  • Where can I register in Munich? Where do I register if I live outside of the Munich city limits?
  • Do I need to make an appointment for registration?
  • What must I consider when moving into my new residence?
  • Where can I register with a utility provider? What options do I have?
  • How do I choose the right telecommunications provider for myself?

Banking & taxes

  • Wages and salaries are generally transferred directly to a current account. You should therefore open a current account at a bank before you start working.
  • Forward your banking details to your employer so that your wages can be transferred to your bank account.
  • Most shops accept EC cards, make sure however always to carry some cash with you in case cards are not accepted. The use of credit cards is not as widely accepted here as in other countries.
  • Compare the conditions and costs involved before chosing to open an account with a bank.
  • You must file a German income tax return with the local tax authorities after the end of the tax year (= end of calendar year).
  • Germany does not have a special tax regime for incoming expats. You may also be liable for taxes in your home country.
  • Church tax is automatically deducted from your gross salary unless you declare that you are not affiliated with one of Germany´s established churches, Catholic and Protestant.
  • The value-added tax in Germany is 19 %, there is a reduced rate of 7 % for food, agricultural products, transport and printed material.

In Munich, there is an extensive network of banks, about 160 banks offer their financial services including numerous foreign banks. Many financial transactions in Germany take place without using any cash.

Types of bank accounts

  • Current account (Girokonto)
  • Instant access savings account (Tagesgeldkonto)
  • Limited access savings account (Sparkonto)
  • Securities account (Depot)

NOTE: Remember to read the terms and conditions to find out about all hidden costs of the account.

Questions you should ask yourself before opening a bank account

  • 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/month?
  • Will I get a credit card and what are the costs? 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?
  • Will my partner/spouse also have access to the account?

Opening a bank account in person

To open a bank account in Germany, you will need the following:

  • your passport
  • your proof of residence registration (Meldebescheinigung)
  • a salary statement from your employer (depending on the account type)
  • some banks also ask for your work permit

NOTE: If you prefer in-person service or require some advice before opening an account you have a local branch to speak to. It is advisable to make an appointment for the opening of your bank account at the bank of your choice.

Opening a bank account online

The process of opening a bank account online is roughly the same for all banks:

  • Step 1: Go to the website of your chosen bank and find the appropriate form for "Privatkunden Girokonto-Eröffnung".
  • Step 2: Fill out the form. You will be able to select a few options (such as option for overdraft, option for credit card).
  • Step 3: Check the completed form and print it for your records.
  • Step 4: Take the application form, the Postident form, your passport or identity card and your residence registration (Meldebescheinigung) to any post office (Deutsche Post). There, your identity will need to get confirmed. After this, please send the confirmation along with your account application to the chosen bank. You will then be informed by the bank whether your application has been successful.

Withdrawing cash and cashless payment

You can withdraw cash with your EC card by using your associated four-digit PIN code which will be sent to you by mail. You can also use your EC card for cashless payments.

NOTE: EC cards are generally more widely accepted in Germany than credit cards.

National and international transfers

For national and international money transfers you need the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Code) of the account you are sending the money to.

Your employer will automatically transfer the net amount of your income to your bank account.
This means that your employer has already deducted contributions to cover pension insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance and long-term care insurance from your salary and paid these directly on your behalf.

In addition, income tax, the solidarity levy and church tax, if applicable, will already have been paid to the tax office.

Tax Identification Number

Every resident in Germany receives a Tax Identification Number. The tax office will send you this number automatically to your registered German address within about three weeks after you have done your residence registration.

Taxation classes

The taxation on employment income is carried out based on your taxation class which is based on your personal status.

NOTE: Check the taxation class on your first paycheck. Married couples automatically fall into class IV if not stated otherwise. Please communicate a change of taxation class as early as possible to your employer.

  • class I = single
  • class II = single parent (living alone with a child/children)
  • class III = married and spouse has no income or lower income
  • class IV = married and similar income to spouse
  • class V = opposite of class III, i.e. this is the class your spouse has, if you have III
  • class VI = for a second job or for deduction without proper employment information

Types of taxes

  • wage/salary tax
  • income tax
  • value-added tax
  • church tax
  • property tax
  • motor vehicle tax

NOTE: It is important to check the tax assessment note you receive from your local tax office after having filed your tax return within a one month time frame. If you have a German tax advisor you should forward this note to your advisor so that he/she can check it for you.

If your research stay in Germany is based on a scholarship and not an employment contract, you might be tax-exempt under certain conditions under German income tax law. We recommend that you consult your scholarship provider. In addition, you should inquire whether your scholarship paid in Germany must be taxed in your home country. Please have a look at the information provided by Euraxess about this topic.

Tax allowance for children

Expenditure on child support and on childrens' vocational training is taken into account with a special tax allowance, with allowances for costs on child supervision, education and training and with child benefit payments.

Married couples

Married couples can apply for joint assessment to be taxed at a more favorable rate.

LMU Gateway is here to support you with questions you may have related to banking and taxes. We can help you with queries such as:

  • How do I open a bank account in Germany?
  • What types of bank accounts are available?
  • Can I withdraw money from all ATMs with my EC card?
  • How do I transfer money in Germany or abroad?
  • How do I find a tax advisor in Munich?
  • Do I automatically have to pay church tax in Germany?
  • Do I also need to pay taxes for my pets in Germany?

Please contact us at LMU Gateway for more information. In addition, feel free to ask for a list of specific vocabulary (German and English) containing the most important terms in this field.

Please find below a checklist with the first steps after your arrival in Munich. In addition, feel free to ask for a list of specific vocabulary (German and English) containing the most important terms in the different fields.
Checklist - First steps after arrival (PDF, 148 KB)

LMU Gateway intercultural trainings

Are you interested in intercultural communication but somehow get into situations where you do not comprehend the behavior and communication style of the Germans?

Join our intercultural training for international researchers and their spouses. Increasing your awareness of German culture and gaining a deeper insight into cultural behavior patterns might be the key to a successful stay in Germany.

For more information please feel free to contact the LMU Gateway team at trainings.gateway@lmu.de