Preparations in Your Home Country

There are several formalities that you must take note of and attend to before travelling to Germany.

Special attention should be given to the documents needed for a visa, missing documents often lead to delays in their issue. Bear in mind that it is easier to collect the necessary documents in your home country, it is often much harder to do so from abroad.

Please note that the following information is provided for postdocs, academic staff members, doctoral students and visiting academics. Undergraduate and postgraduate students should please continue to contact the colleagues at the International Office

Required documents

Certificates

You will need to provide certificates to various institutions. Which certificate needs to be provided where, varies.
However, apart from a few exceptions, the following guidelines apply:
The documents must be submitted entirely in German.
Certificates that you have received from your home country will have to be legalised by the embassy prior to submission. Translations into German must be realised by a recognised translator and be legally attested by a notary.  We recommend you get your documents translated in your home country.

Legal attestations from notaries in your home country must usually also be legalised. Information about which institution is able to certify which certificate should be obtained from the German consular office that is responsible for you.

Information from the German Foreign Office on certifications and attestations www.auswaertiges-amt.de
Here you will find comprehensive information and can download the information sheet.

The German government’s hotline for “Working and Living in Germany”:
+49 30-1815-1111 www.bamf.de
The hotline provides information on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. The hotline is available in several languages.

You will need translations and legally certified copies of the following documents:
  • School leaving certificate/higher education entrance qualification
  • University degree
  • Doctoral degree
  • Other proof of qualifications
  • If applicable, marriage certificate with legalisation
  • Birth certificate, also for accompanying family members
  • If your insurances are also valid in Germany, certified translation, especially if it concerns health insurance which is important for the residence permit.
  • If you are travelling with children, their school reports must also be copied and legally attested.
The following documents are also required:
  • Passport, which will still be valid at least six months after your planned return to your home country
  • Invitation from the host institute, which stipulates how long the stay will last, if possible how the stay is going to be financed (confirmation of scholarship, declaration of intent to create an employment contract)
  • International driving licence, if you have one
  • International carte jaune (yellow card) - international certificate of vaccination, if needed
  • Biometric passport photos
Visa and Responsibilities

Applying for a Visa

You must first find out whether you require a visa or not. Detailed information on this topic can be obtained from the German Foreign Office, which provides details for all of the countries and their respective visa regulations. The most important information:

Foreign nationals, who plan to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days, or want to work or study in Germany, generally need a visa. Please note that the processing of the visa application can take up to eight weeks, the timeframe varies from embassy to embassy. Therefore apply for your visa in good time!

Please also note: If you possess a residence permit for another EU country, this does not automatically apply for Germany. For example, if you have a residence permit for another EU country, allowing you to work in that country, it does not apply to Germany. You will therefore need to apply for a visa from the responsible German consular office before starting work in Germany.

If you are planning a longer stay, please do not enter Germany with a Schengen visa! This visa cannot be renewed in Germany!

  • Foreign nationals of the following countries are exempt from the visa requirements: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Hungary.
  • After arriving and settling in Germany for a period of longer than three months, citizens of these countries are only subject to compulsory registration, requiring them to register at the Resident Registration Office within a week after arrival in Greifswald.
  • Foreign nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America can obtain the required residence permit even after entry to Germany. To do so, they have to register at Greifswald’s Resident Registration Office within one week after their arrival in Germany and then go to the Immigration Office in Greifswald to receive their residence permit. However, this only applies if you do not plan to immediately start work! If this is the case, foreign nationals who are able to enter Germany without a visa, must apply for a visa PRIOR to entry to Germany, which permits the holder to work.

All other foreign nationals who have not yet been named must apply for a visa from the responsible German consular office PRIOR to entry to Germany.

The corresponding homepage provides you with information about

  • the required documents. Having all of the required documents to hand will speed up the processing of your application and will save you unnecessary trips! Read the information sheets provided by the German consular office carefully!
  • Fees of € 60.00 at the current rate of exchange in the country’s currency will be due, more details can be obtained from the respective consular office.

If you are coming to Greifswald with your family, you must apply for a separate visa for each of the family members! Do not forget the work permit and proof of proficiency in German which may be required for accompanying spouses!

Further information can be obtained from the websites provided by Euraxess Germany and from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

You can also request information about entry to Germany from the Federal Foreign Office or from your German consular office. 

We assume no liability for the information provided, we do, however, regularly check the information. The information provided neither substitutes legal advice, nor does it constitute a legally binding or expert provision of information.

Proof of Funding

For a visa to be issued, it is necessary for the applicant to provide proof of how s/he is going to finance his/her living costs in Germany.

If you are going to be working as an academic member of staff with an employment contract, the invitation from the host institute/department at the University of Greifswald acts as proof.

If you have been granted with a scholarship, a certificate to prove that the scholarship has been granted will act as proof.

If you are self-financing your stay in Greifswald from your own private funds, it might be necessary to pay a certain amount of money into a Sperrkonto (blocked account).  The minimum amount would be € 720 per month or € 8640 for one year (as of September 2016).

Health Insurance

In Germany, health insurance is obligatory for foreign researchers and their accompanying family members.
The local immigration office will require health insurance for the residence permit.

If you are not in possession of health insurance, you will not be issued with a residence permit!

We therefore advise you to contact your health insurance company in your home country, before you leave, to find out whether your health insurance will cover your stay in Germany, so that you have insurance from the first day on.
If this is not the case, we suggest you take out travel health insurance, which will cover you for the first days in Greifswald. After arriving in Greifswald, we will be happy to help you find health insurance to fit your needs.
General information about the health insurance system in Germany can be found here.
There are two different types of health insurance, which one applies for you, depends on your status in your institute/department:

Period of Stay with Employment Contract

Employees with an employment contract must usually be insured by a statutory health insurance company. Depending on the kind of employment contract and your income, in some cases private health insurance might be possible. You would be informed of such circumstances by the HR Department.

There is a large number of statutory health insurance companies, here is a list of insurance companies that have offices in Greifswald:

Statutory Health Insurance Companies

TK-Techniker Krankenkasse
Rakower Str. 11
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0)3834 77 76 2
www.tk.de
greifswald@tk.de

DAK- Deutsche Angestelltenkasse
Schuhhagen 3
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0)3834 830790
www.dak.de

AOK- Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse
Vulkanstr. 16
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0)180-2590590 4358
www.aok.de

Barmer Ersatzkasse
Bahnhofstr. 44
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0)800 3331010
www.barmer-gek.de

Period of Stay with a Scholarship

If you have been granted a scholarship for your stay in Greifswald, you can ask your scholarship provider if they have a partnership with private health insurance companies.
The following private health insurance companies are suited for guest researchers, doctoral students, scholarship holders and postdocs and their families.
The contributions for and the payments made by the individual insurances can be very different and therefore please make sure to inform yourself in detail prior to signing a contract.
Some of the named insurances also offer insurance cover by the day.

Private Health Insurance Companies

The following private health insurance companies are suited for guest researchers, doctoral students, scholarship holders and postdocs and their families.
The contributions for and the payments made by the individual insurances can be very different and therefore please make sure to inform yourself in detail prior to signing a contract.
Some of the named insurances also offer insurance cover by the day. 

Care Concept AG
www.care-concept.de

educare24
www.educare24.de

Mawista
www.mawista.com

Provisit
www.provisit.de

Care Med
www.caremed-reiseversicherung.de

A cooperation between Deutsches Studentenwerk and the HanseMerkur Insurance for students and doctoral candidates
portal.versicherungsdienste.de

Accommodation

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

Please note:
The Welcome Centre Greifswald is not able to attend accommodation viewings for you, sign contracts on your behalf or provide financial support. 

Colleagues

Ask your contacts and colleagues at your institute/department; several apartments are passed on directly to colleagues. 

Housing Associations

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). 

Links

WVG - Wohnungs- und Verwaltungsbaugesellschaft Greifswald [de]
WGG - Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Greifswald [de]

Newspaper Ads

Ads for accommodation can be found in the Ostsee-Zeitung (weekend edition) and online.
Ads for Accommodation in the Ostsee-Zeitung [de]

It is also possible to place your own ad in the paper, stating that you are looking for accommodation. This can be done for the weekend edition of the Ostsee-Zeitung. 

International Guest House ‘Felix Hausdorff’ (IBZ)

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. 

Rooms in Shared Flats (WGs)

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.
wg-gesucht.de

Estate Agents

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

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.

Water

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!

Heating Costs
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.

Cash

Cash

If you are carrying more than € 10,000 on entry to Germany, you must declare it at customs.
After arriving in Greifswald, you will need cash (in euros) for various tasks.
It is not possible to exchange foreign money into euros in Greifswald without a bank account.
However, you can exchange foreign currencies into euros at bureaux de change in all of the large airports and train stations in Germany.


Additionally, you can withdraw euros using a credit card at nearly any ATM. You will be informed about the costs you will incur before the money is paid out by the machine, but also ask your bank in your home country that issued the credit card. 

Information for Doctoral Candidates

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has compiled a comprehensive collection of information for international doctoral candidates that can be found here:

https://www.research-in-germany.org/en/jobs-and-careers/info-for-phd-students.html

Please note that receiving admission as a doctoral candidate does not automatically mean that you will be provided with a flat.