New to Germany?

 

Are you going to move to Germany? – Here you can find some practical tips and insights that will help you settle in easier. Aside from general information I add some advice for students who want to study in Germany.

Health Care

You will need to have a family doctor / Hausarzt, preferably close to where you live. This family doctor will tell you if you need a general practitioner / Allgemeinmediziner or a specialist / Facharzt. – Opening hours vary, but they are usually closed on weekends and on Wednesday afternoons. For emergencies it is better to go to the emergency at a hospital. Emergency number: 112.

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Health Insurance / Krankenversicherung

If you live in Germany, you need to have a health insurance. There are statutory health insurances and private ones. International students can get the statutory health insurance with special student rates. The treatments and some medications are then for free or much more convenient.

On the Road in Germany

In Germany they drive on the right. You’re only allowed to overtake on the left. On German highways there is no speed limit but the benchmark is 130 km/h (preferably 120 km/h). When travelling to Germany, make sure you are informed about the tolls to pay.

In case of an accident it’s advisable to call the police. If you buy a car, you need to register it at the vehicle administration office / Zulassungsstelle of the Department of Transportation / Straßenverkehrsamt: address and information can be found at the municipality. If you are living in Germany, foreign driving licences are valid for 6 months. After that, driving licences must be re-registered unless you already possess a EU-driving licence.

In many cities you will need a emission sticker / Umweltplakette for your car, depending on the emissions level of CO2 of your car. More information can be found here.

If you don’t own a car, you can sign up at one of the car sharing agencies / Mitfahrerzentralen, Mitfahrgelegenheit or blablacar. They usually look for fellow passengers for longer distances between cities. Within cities you can use the public transport / öffentlichen Nahverkehr.

You can also take the train (Deutsche Bahn) or bus (Fernbusnetz Deutschland) for longer distances.

– Important sites:

ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club)

Traffic Signs/Road Signs from the ADAC

Verkehrszeichen (Traffic Signs)

Verkehrszeichen online

Road Signs in Germany

German road described in German & English

Deutsch: Gelbes ADAC-Fahrzeug mit schwarzem Sc...

Deutsch: Gelbes ADAC-Fahrzeug mit schwarzem Schriftzug in Franklin Gothic Condensed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit to the Authorities / Behördengang

Everyone who wants to stay longer than 3 months in Germany, needs to report his or her domicile within a week by the registration office / Einwohnermeldeamt: documents needed are the hiring contract / Mietvertrag or a written confirmation from the landlord / Bescheinigung des Vermieters.A residence permit / Aufenthaltsgenehmigung is issued by the alience department / Ausländeramt. If you are in Germany for study, you need to provide a proof that your study stay is ascertained financially – either by a scholarship, a grant or privately. Students need to dispose at least of 500 € per month (it is advisable to dispose of 700 € per month as the living costs are quite high). The residence permit is approved if a student visa is submitted, a passport, a health insurance certificate, an attestation by the landlord, and three passport photos. – If you encounter any kind of problem you can contact the Akademisches Auslandsamt at your University .

Shopping / Einkaufen

Most of the shops are open from 10 until 18 (some later). Supermarkets, bakeries, butchers and farmacies open earlier. On Saturday, many shops close at noon – only in the city center they are open in the afternoon. Small shops close from 13 to 15 and on Sundays most shops are closed. At kiosks and petrol stations you can go for small groceries.

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Etiquette / Etikette

  • Germans are very punctual. If a meeting is scheduled for 9am, that’s the time you need to be there and ready to start. – If you’re invited by friends or collegues  you can come a bit later (but not more than 10-15 minutes !).
  • Germans use the formal “Sie” / You when doing business or when introducing someone new. The “Du” / you is only offered when you know eachother better and usually it is offered by the superior or the older person. – In some companies they may use the formal Sie while addressing the person with his or her forename : “Anna, haben Sie die letzte Mail schon gelesen?” / “Anna, have You read the latest mail?”
  • Young people usually greet their peers informally with “Du” (= duzen).
  • Greeting with a kiss (or two, or three) is only common among friends – some prefer a  hug. – If in doubt: shake hands.
  • If invited to a friend’s home, be prepared to be asked to take off your shoes. It is a sign of respect for the host not to wear shoes in the house. You may be offered slippers / Hausschuhe (Pantoffeln) .

  • If you are invited to a dinner or lunch, you can bring some flowers (always uneven number!) to the host and/or a bottle of wine, or chocolate.

Waste separation / Mülltrennung

It is very common to separate waste in Germany. Paper, uncleaned packaging, glas, residual waste / Restmüll: they all have different containers. Organic waste / organische Abfälle are goes into the brown container / braune Tonne, the uncleaned packaging / Verpackungsmaterial in the yellow one and paper in the blue one. Batteries, chemicals and hazardous waste must be brought to special collecting points / Sammelstellen.

For cans and glas you usually pay a pawn / Pfand which is refunded when you bring back the containers to the supermarket or shop where you bought them.

Important telephone numbers:
Fire Brigade & Police / Feuerwehr & Polizei 110
Emergency Doctor / Notarzt 112

More practical tips about moving to Germany can be found on the following sites:

 

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