If you are an Indian citizen and relocating to Germany, this checklist will help you make your relocation much more relaxed.
Relocating to a new country is quite a big decision and could be very challenging. However, you could make it much more relaxed and exciting if you plan ahead.
Four to six weeks prior
Booking flights in advance can save you money
It takes at least 8 hours to fly from India to Germany (not including connection time), depending on where you start your journey and where you go.
Flight rates tend to be quite high between Germany and India since there are no budget airlines operating between the two countries. Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Etihad are the most affordable airlines between India and Germany, while British Airways and Emirates are quite expensive.
Among other operators, Qatar Airways consistently provides better service when it comes to keeping timings, in flight services, and airport services, etc. Qatar also provides better rates compared to other operators considering the services offered.
Try to find a relocation agency
If you are relocating to another country for the first time and don't have any contacts there, it is better to seek help from a trustworthy relocation agency to help you make the relocation tension free.
In general relocation agencies help you move your stuff from your home country, find an apartment for you in Germany, receive you at the airport or arrange transportation from the airport, help you register in Germany as soon as you arrive, help you open a bank account and basically they help you with all the bureaucratic processes.
If you are looking for a relocation agency and not sure where to look, in the last 25 years TM Relocation Services GmbH has successfully established itself in the world of relocation. The company was founded in 1996 and initially concentrated its efforts on and around Munich. More and more locations were added eventually.
TM Relocation is currently present in the following cities and their surrounding areas: Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Mannheim and Stuttgart.
If you are moving to Munich or Bavaria, check out this list of relocation services published by muenchen.de; the official citizen’s portal in Munich.
The price for relocation agencies generally starts around 200€. The price varies depending on the services provided.
Start searching for an accommodation
If you haven’t found a relocation agency or you’d like to manage yourself, you need to start looking for an accommodation as soon as possible.
Expatriates often rent temporary apartments when they move to Germany for the first time. Most newcomers don't buy or rent a single house when they move for the first time.
In Germany, you have the possibility to rent an unfurnished apartment, a serviced apartment or a fully furnished apartment according to your budget.
The best and most popular way to find a place to live in Germany is to make use of the real estate portals. All of them operate in a freemium way by providing the best service with a free account and exclusive services on a paid account.
We have detailed the best ways to find an accommodation in Germany and the things to note when renting an apartment in Germany on our article How to find an apartment in Germany
Inform your local bank
If you are permanently moving from your country, it is better to convert your savings / salary account to an NRI account. This way, you can get rid of the unnecessary taxation paperworks. Changing your salary account to an NRI account also allows you to transfer money from your local bank account to your overseas bank account when necessary.
An additional benefit is that your account or cards will not be blocked when you attempt to access them from abroad.
Ensure that your passport is valid
Most countries only allow people to enter if their passport has at least six months of validity left. Therefore, it's a good idea to check your passport’s expiration date well in advance. Generally, passports with less than six months' validity can't be used for travel. Although it's comparatively easier to get your Indian passport renewed in Germany, it's better to renew it from India itself to avoid any unwanted delays at the immigration.
You can use the Tatkal facility and renew your passport within 2-3 weeks from India.
Find a German language school and apply for an admission
Although it is not necessary to learn German to work in Germany in a variety of professions, having a conversational level German language knowledge would become handy when it comes to socializing in Germany. Especially, when you are required to call the customer care or dealing with your landlord or even when buying something from a local bakery. People expect you to speak in German by default.
There are many types of courses offered by a number of language schools here, including intensive courses (up to six months or lesser), evening classes and regular classes, as well as specialized courses such as exam preparation, German integration courses, etc.
Try to find a contact who can help you in Germany
Moving to a new country always brings new challenges too. Despite having numerous articles and video guides out there on the internet for you to refer to, you probably lack confidence and have a lot of questions unanswered.
It is recommended to find a contact who can help you clarify your questions, and help you with the initial processes up on arrival. If you don’t know someone, just ask your friends and relatives if there are people in their contacts.
If you feel like you need in person support to discuss your concerns and could not find someone from your contacts, Expatova offers one-to-one meetings to help people relocating to Germany for a small fee.
Two to four weeks prior
Consult your doctor
It might be a good idea to schedule a checkup with your doctor before you travel. Make sure you are in good health and your medical records are current. Your Hausarzt (personal doctor) will have a much easier time understanding your medical history if you bring a copy of your medical records to Germany since the records are often unavailable to access online.
If you regularly take medications, it's also a good idea to get a prescription from your doctor in India. Therefore, you may bring a limited number of medications to help you until you can find an alternative in Germany.
Consider travel health insurance seriously
Everyone who lives in Germany is legally obliged to have health insurance. Generally, your employer in Germany will provide you health insurance. However, you only need to have travel insurance for your flight to Germany.
Nevertheless, we suggest getting a good travel health insurance which covers every possible scenario that can occur to you.
One week prior to the travel
Ensure to get attested copies of important documents
Before traveling, it might be a good idea to get copies of original documents such as your academic certificates, aadhar, etc and get it attested by a gazetted officer. Your family members will be able to present it when necessary if they have it.
Schedule your appointments
Book any important appointments in Germany early so you can complete your registration (Anmeldung) as soon as possible and get your residence permit. Upon registering, you can open a bank account, get a phone contract, get a tax number, and start your new life.
It can take quite a lot of time to get an appointment at the registration office (Bürger Büro). Therefore, it would be a good idea to register your appointment as early as possible.
If you’ve already booked the service of a relocation agency, they’ll get the appointments for you and help you with the paperwork.
Remember to convert some rupees to Euros
You should also get some Indian rupees converted to Euros before you travel. You can get a better rate by exchanging money in India. Since many German stores still prefer cash over swiping cards, it would be a good idea to take some cash with you.
As soon as you register in Germany, you can open a Wise account and use it to convert money at a great rate.
Just before leaving your home
Make sure you have all documents in one place
It is recommended to keep all your travel documents in one folder or file. Therefore, it would be easier for you to access it to present to the emigration counters both in India as well as in Germany. These documents generally include your passport, job contract, proof of accommodation, proof of travel insurance, work permit, etc.
Finally, the things listed above are what I did when I moved to Germany six years ago. It is my hope that you will also find this useful at some point.