During Your Stay in Greifswald
Due to its university and the close proximity to the Baltic Sea, Greifswald is very attractive town to live in. The housing situation in Greifswald is therefore quite strained, meaning that you should try to find suitable accommodation as soon as possible. It makes sense to start your search several months prior to arrival in Greifswald. In Germany, it is typical for accommodation costs to amount to up to 40 % of the monthly income.
Important note for doctoral candidates: Receiving admission as a doctoral candidate does not automatically mean that you will be provided with a flat by the University.
EURAXESS provides a general overview on searching for accommodation in Germany; it also explains common abbreviations in the ads: euraxess.de
The Welcome Centre Greifswald is not able to attend accommodation viewings for you, sign contracts on your behalf or provide financial support.
Ask your contacts and colleagues at your institute/department; several apartments are passed on directly to colleagues.
Greifswald has two large housing associations which manage a large number of flats. The flats on offer are spread out throughout the town. The following links will take you to the webpages of the Wohnungs- und Verwaltungsbaugesellschaft Greifswald (WVG) and the Wohnungsbau-Genossenschaft Greifswald (WGG).
The International Guest House ‘Felix Hausdorff’ (IBZ) is available for employees of the University of Greifswald and the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics. Reservations for the IBZ are made by the host institution; if there is already contact, they may also be made by the International Office.
In Germany, it is not uncommon for students, doctoral candidates and, in some cases, postdocs to live together in shared flats. All of the flatmates have their own rooms. Kitchens and bathrooms are shared communally.
The safest, but at the same time most expensive way is to use an estate agent. Additional costs are to be expected.
Operating and additional costs (Betriebs- und Nebenkosten) cover expenses that are calculated either according to use (water, waste water, heating, electricity) or not according to use (rubbish collections, lifts, keeping the hallways, staircases and outside areas clean and tidy) and spread across all of the object’s tenants. Further costs include, e.g. telephone and internet connection, television and radio licence (GEZ) and car-parking space, if applicable.
When searching for accommodation, you should take note of which operating and additional costs are already included in the advertised rental price. There is a huge difference between ‘Warmmiete’ (including some/all costs) and ‘Kaltmiete’ (including no costs), it is best for you to ask directly which costs are included in the ‘Warmmiete’.
The landlord will charge tenants for some of the costs. If this is the case, you will transfer a certain amount (stipulated in your rental agreement) together with your monthly rent. At the end of the billing period (once a year), the payments you have already made will be compared with your actual consumption. You will then either receive a refund or have to pay the remaining costs.
When you receive the key to your flat you will receive a completion certificate (Übergabeprotokoll) which contains details about the flat’s general condition. It usually also contains the meter readings for water, electricity and gas.
Costs for water and waste water are calculated according to consumption.
You usually pay a monthly fixed rate and additionally the actual amount of consumed water. Waste water is calculated according to your amount of water consumption.
German drinking water is subject to very strict controls, meaning that it is absolutely safe to drink water from the tap!
Your flat will be heated with gas, oil or district heating. All energy providers will make you pay a monthly basic rate and charge you for the actual amounts of consumption.
It is not absolutely necessary to be able to speak German to be able to work in Greifswald, as in most cases it is usual practice to also communicate in English.
For day-to-day life, it makes sense to know at least a few simple terms. Basic knowledge of German will make communication much easier, especially in everyday situations such as shopping, buying train tickets or going to the authorities.
Department of Teaching German as a Foreign Language
At the University of Greifswald, the Department of Teaching German as a Foreign Language offers German language courses at various levels and on different topics. Details can be found on their website. If you have any questions about the requirements, please contact the Department directly:
Department of Teaching German as a Foreign Language
Frau Mirjam Herklotz
Ernst-Lohmeyer-Platz 3, Raum 1.01
Tel.: +49 3834 420 3407
Information on the German Courses for Staff Members and External Participants
The Volkshochschule Greifswald (adult education centre) provides German courses at various levels. The courses start in either March or September every year, registration for the courses can be made in advance.
Information about the necessary requirements and further details should be obtained directly from the Volkshochschule Greifswald.
Volkshochschule Greifswald (VHS)
Tel.: +49 3834 7736 16
Volkshochschule Greifswald [de]
A patient’s first step is to go to a doctor’s practice, which the patient can choose freely. This will usually be a general practitioner, if you have specific symptoms he will refer you to a specialist.
Your health insurance card must be shown at every doctor’s appointment. Patients with statutory health insurance receive medical treatment without having to make payments in advance. The doctors charge your health insurance company for the treatment.
Privately insured patients receive an invoice from the doctor who has treated them which they have to pay and then they will be reimbursed by their insurance company up to the amount stipulated in their insurance policy.
You can find an overview of the doctors, specialists and dentists under the category ‘Fachgebiete’ in the telephone book. The following link takes you to an online search which allows you to search for specialists according to corresponding filters.
Online Doctors Directory [de]
If you need a doctor outside of normal opening hours or at the weekend, call the On-Call Service on the nationwide telephone number: 116 117.
The on-call doctor service looks after patients with acute illnesses outside of practice opening hours. The service might be provided as a home visit or in special practices provided by the doctors belonging to the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.
If you have a dental emergency outside of normal opening hours, enter your postal code on the following webpage and you will receive the contact details of the on-duty dentist:
The pharmacy that is open for emergencies is displayed at the entry to any pharmacy. It is also possible to search on the internet, by entering your postal code (PLZ) on the following page.
Apotheken-Notdienst suchen [de]
Please note that using the emergency pharmacy will incur extra costs that must be paid there and then.
Ambulance and Fire Service: 112
Poison Emergencies: 030 19240
On-Call Doctors: 116 117
If severe illness is suspected or confirmed or you have had an accident, you might have to go to hospital for medical treatment or even be admitted as an inpatient. In general, general practitioners must refer patients to hospitals. Without a referral, hospitals will usually only treat emergencies and private patients.
If you wish to drive a motor vehicle in Germany, you will need a valid licence.
EU/EEA citizens with valid driving licences from their home countries are also permitted to drive in Germany.
If you obtained your driving licence in a country outside of the EU/EEA, your licence will be valid for the first six months of your stay. To be able to keep driving in Germany, you will then need a driving licence which was issued in Germany.
The requirements for being granted a German driving licence depend on the country in which you obtained your driving licence. Please contact the issuing authorities for driving licences in Greifswald (Führerscheinstelle) in good time to find out more about obtaining a German driving licence and the corresponding requirements.
Further information on the validity of foreign driving licences in Germany can be found here:
Information from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure
For local information, please contact your local licence issuing authority (Führerscheinstelle):
Tel. +49 3834 8536 104 or -114 or -116
Tuesday 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m. and 2.00 - 6.00 p.m.
Wednesday 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.
Thursday 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m. and 2.00 - 4.00 p.m.
Friday 9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.
There are three bus services [de] which interconnect parts of the town. However, you will often be faster by bike.
Greifswald is connected to the surrounding area through various bus and train services (see ‘arriving’). If you want to get to know the region by train, regional day tickets for the Usedomer Bäderbahn and the regional trains from Deutsche Bahn are worth it.
In Greifswald, the bus network is operated by buses from the town’s public transport company. The buses cover a relatively extensive network. Tickets can be bought in various shops. You can purchase one-way, day or week tickets directly from the bus driver.
Further information on the bus services and the ticket prices can be obtained from the Stadtwerke Greifswald.
The Verkehrsbetriebe Greifswald Land VBL provides bus services for access to the surrounding region.
Bus Services and Timetables
Buses to or from Greifswald’s surrounding area
If you are planning a trip outside of Greifswald, you can travel by train.
The UBB - the Usedomer Bäderbahn - is particularly well-suited for trips to the surrounding area. The UBB provides good train services to the Island of Usedom and to Stralsund.
The Deutsche Bahn specials ‘Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket’ and ‘Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket’ are very cost-effective means of travel, especially if you are travelling with other people (max. 5 persons per ticket). Find out more on the Deutsche Bahn’s website.
UBB - Usedomer Bäderbahn
Several bus companies provide services to Berlin, Rostock or Hamburg etc. There are various buses that then travel from Berlin and Hamburg to national and international destinations.
In Rostock, you can change buses and board a bus heading to Denmark or Sweden.
UBB Long-Distance Buses
One of the most popular ways of getting around Greifswald, is by bike. There are several well established bike lanes and roads.
Bicycles can be bought new from specialist bike shops, or second-hand from different sources. If buying a bicycle, please make sure that the bicycle conforms to the Road Traffic Act (StVO), i.e. lights, reflectors and other safety features must be fitted and in working order. Greifswald’s police carries out safety checks for bicycles regularly, violations can be punished with a fine. As a cyclist, it is also important to comply with the traffic regulations. As applies for car drivers, jumping traffic lights, turning off wrong, drink riding and lots more are all punishable. Additionally, there are certain roads (motorways and pedestrian zones) on which cycling is not allowed.
Furthermore, you should invest in a good bike lock to secure your bike. Even though there is no law stating you have to wear a helmet, it makes sense to wear a helmet, particularly for cyclists with little or no practice.
We have accumulated a few ideas where you can buy a cheap bike, rent a bike or repair one here:
Germany is a secular state. However, many of the social conventions and customs are based on the long Christian tradition.
Greifswald has a wide range of religious communities. You can find a list of these communities here.
Once a month, the protestant Johannesgemeinde offers a church service in English.
In Germany there are national public holidays and public holidays that only apply to some federal states. The public holidays that only apply to some states are usually religious.
The public holidays listed below are days on which employees are not generally expected to work. That means that not only you have the day off, but also shops and authorities will be closed.
On public holidays, all publicly perceptible work and actions that disrupt the outside tranquillity of the day or contradict the nature of Sundays or public holidays are not allowed.
However, there is quite a number of exceptions for the bans on working, e.g. for medical healthcare, in the transport industry and in agriculture.
On some remembrance and mourning days, the rules of silence for public holidays are kept to very strictly, e.g. it is strictly forbidden to hold dance and entertainment events on Good Friday or on the Volkstrauertag. Failure to respect the noise restrictions can be punished with fines.
The dates for some public holidays are the same every year, some others have varying dates because they are based on the Christian calendar.
- 1st January - New Year’s Day
- Friday before Easter - Good Friday
- Monday after Easter - Easter Monday
- 1st May - May Day Public Holiday
- 39 Days after Easter Sunday - Ascension Day
- 50 Days after Easter Sunday - Pentecost Monday
- 3rd October - Day of Germany Unity
- 31st October - Reformation Day (in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, but not in all German federal states)
- 25th December - 1st Christmas Day
- 26th December - 2nd Christmas Day
Remembrance and Mourning Days
- 8th May - Day of Liberation from National Socialism and end of the Second World War
- Penultimate Sunday before the 1st Sunday of Advent - Volkstrauertag (People’s Day of Mourning)
Last Sunday before the 1st Sunday of Advent - Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead)
University and Hanseatic Town of Greifswald
Greifswald’s cultural calendar
Tourist Information for Vorpommern
State Museum of Pomerania
Caspar David Friedrich Centre
Cinema (Cinestar Greifswald)
Every Sunday they show you a film from the current programme - in the original English version!
If you are expecting post from abroad and receive notification from the Customs Office (Zollamt) in Wolgast, which states that certain documents are missing for your post and that it is therefore being retained there, you should contact the Customs Office in Wolgast immediately to discuss the next steps. If you wish, the Welcome Centre can take care of this for you.
Please note that customs will only retain your post for a maximum of 14 days, it will then be sent back to the sender without further notification.
In most cases, missing details about the contents of the postal items are the reason for receiving such a notification from customs.
We therefore strongly recommend that you attach a pouch on the outside of your post that contains the invoice and your confirmation of payment. This gives customs the possibility of checking whether the contents are subject to tax/customs.
Furthermore, it is recommended to find out which regulations apply before you organise for a package from abroad. Detailed information can be found on the German Customs’ website:
Information from the German Customs’ on shipments to Germany from non-EU countries
If you are moving to Germany from a non-EU country, the property being moved in connection with a transfer of residence (household and personal property, vehicles etc.) must fulfil certain requirements to be freed from customs duty.
Please find out more from your removal company or courier service and directly from German Customs.
Information on property being moved in connection with a transfer of residence
Central Information Unit Customs
Information for private persons
Monday to Friday:
from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Tel.: +49 351 44834 530
Fax:: +49 351 44834 590
Customs Office Wolgast
Lange Str. 19 / 20
Monday to Friday:
8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Tel.: +49 3836 2329 0
Central Customs Office Stralsund
Hiddenseer Straße 2
Tel.: +49 3831 3561 0
Fax:: +49 3831 3561 121
Tel.: +49 3834 420 1175