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- Moving to Germany with Kids: A Comprehensive Guide to Parenting for Expats
Adapting to German culture with kids during your relocation involves embracing punctuality, manners, and local traditions. Exploring parks, playgrounds, and encouraging basic German language skills aids in socialization. Introducing German cuisine creates fun, lasting memories. This integration ensures a smooth transition and enriching experiences for your children in their new German environment. Germany is a popular destination for expats who want to enjoy a high quality of life, a strong economy, and a rich culture. However, moving to a new country with kids can also pose many challenges and require careful planning. In this article, we will provide you with some useful tips and information on how to make your transition to Germany as smooth and successful as possible. Before you move Before you pack your bags and board the plane, there are some important things you need to consider and prepare for your move to Germany with kids. Visa and residence permit Depending on your nationality, you and your children may need a visa to enter Germany and a residence permit to stay there. You can check the requirements and procedures on the official website of the German Federal Foreign Office. If you or your partner are entitled to live in Germany, for instance, because you are an EU citizen or have a work permit, your children are also entitled to a temporary or permanent residence permit. Similarly, if your kids are citizens of a member state of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), they don’t need a visa to enter Germany and can live and work there freely. However, if your children are citizens of a country that is not in the EU or the EEA, they will generally need a residence visa to enter Germany. To obtain one, they must be under the age of 18 and not be married, divorced, or widowed. If you are a single parent, you will need the consent of the other parent who is entitled to custody. The visa application process can take several weeks or months, so it is advisable to start it as early as possible. You will need to fill out an application form, provide various documents such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of income, health insurance, etc., and pay a fee. You may also need to attend an interview at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. Once you receive your visa, you can enter Germany and apply for a residence permit within three months. The residence permit will allow you to stay in Germany for a specific period of time and may have certain conditions attached to it. For example, you may need to register with the local authorities, attend an integration course, or prove your language skills. Health insurance Health insurance is mandatory in Germany for everyone, including expats and their children. There are two types of health insurance in Germany: public ( gesetzliche Krankenversicherung ) and private ( private Krankenversicherung ). Public health insurance covers most medical expenses and is funded by contributions from employers and employees. Private health insurance offers more flexibility and choice, but is usually more expensive and may not cover all services. You can choose between public and private health insurance depending on your income, employment status, and personal preference. However, once you opt for private health insurance, it is very difficult to switch back to public health insurance. You can find more information on health insurance in Germany on this website. Public health insurance is available for anyone who earns less than €64,350 per year or works in certain professions such as civil servants, freelancers, or self-employed people. The contribution rate is 14.6% of your gross income, which is split equally between you and your employer. You can also add your spouse and children to your public health insurance plan without paying extra fees if they have no income of their own. Public health insurance covers most medical treatments such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescriptions, dental care, etc., but may not cover some services such as alternative medicine, cosmetic surgery, or glasses. Private health insurance is available for anyone who earns more than €64,350 per year or opts out of public health insurance voluntarily. The premium rate depends on various factors such as your age, health condition, coverage level, etc., and can vary significantly between different providers. You can also add your spouse and children to your private health insurance plan, but you will have to pay extra fees for each person. Private health insurance covers more services than public health insurance such as alternative medicine, cosmetic surgery, glasses, etc., but may not cover some treatments such as preventive care or chronic diseases. Education The German education system consists of preschool ( Kindergarten ), primary ( Grundschule ), secondary ( Sekundarschule ), and tertiary ( Hochschule ) education. Full-time schooling is compulsory at primary and secondary levels for all children aged six to 16. However, German education generally lasts until the age of 18. The state runs most German schools and they are free to attend. However, parents can also opt for one of the many fee-paying private or international schools. Preschool education is optional and not free in Germany. It is available for children aged three to six and aims to prepare them for primary school. Preschools are run by various organizations such as churches, charities, or private companies. The fees vary depending on the provider, location, and quality of the preschool. Some preschools may offer bilingual or multilingual education, which can be beneficial for expat children who want to learn German and other languages. Primary education is mandatory and free in Germany. It starts at the age of six and lasts for four years. Primary schools teach basic skills such as reading, writing, math, science, etc., as well as social and emotional development. Primary schools are usually located close to the children’s homes and have small class sizes. At the end of primary school, children receive a recommendation from their teachers on which type of secondary school they should attend. Secondary education is mandatory and free in Germany. It starts at the age of 10 and lasts for six to nine years. Secondary schools are divided into different types depending on the academic level and vocational orientation of the students. The main types of secondary schools are: Gymnasium : This is the most academic and prestigious type of secondary school in Germany. It prepares students for university education and offers a broad range of subjects such as languages, math, science, arts, etc. Gymnasium lasts for eight or nine years and ends with the Abitur , which is the highest school-leaving certificate in Germany and allows students to apply for any university course in Germany or abroad. Realschule : This is a more practical and less academic type of secondary school in Germany. It prepares students for vocational training or higher education in technical fields. Realschule lasts for six years and ends with the Mittlere Reife , which is a medium-level school-leaving certificate that allows students to apply for some university courses or vocational schools in Germany. Hauptschule : This is the least academic and most vocational type of secondary school in Germany. It prepares students for low-skilled jobs or further vocational training. Hauptschule lasts for five or six years and ends with the Hauptschulabschluss , which is a low-level school-leaving certificate that allows students to apply for some vocational schools or apprenticeships in Germany. Gesamtschule : This is a comprehensive type of secondary school in Germany that combines elements of Gymnasium , Realschule , and Hauptschule . It offers different levels of courses for different abilities and interests of the students. Gesamtschule lasts for six to nine years and ends with either the Abitur , the Mittlere Reife , or the Hauptschulabschluss , depending on the performance of the students. With different types of institutions to choose from at the secondary level, in particular, it’s a good idea to think carefully and weigh up the different options before choosing a school in Germany. You can find more information on the German education system on this website. Tertiary education is optional and mostly free in Germany. It includes various types of institutions such as universities ( Universitäten ), universities of applied sciences ( Fachhochschulen ), colleges of art or music ( Kunsthochschulen ), etc. Tertiary education usually lasts for three to five years and leads to different degrees such as bachelor’s ( Bachelor ), master’s ( Master ), or doctorate ( Doktor ). To enter tertiary education, students need to have a valid school-leaving certificate such as the Abitur or equivalent qualifications from other countries. Some institutions may also require entrance exams, language tests, or interviews. After you move Once you arrive in Germany with your kids, there are some practical steps you need to take to settle in and enjoy your new life. Registering your address Within two weeks of moving into your new home in Germany, you need to register your address ( anmelden ) at the local registration office ( Einwohnermeldeamt ). This is a legal requirement and it will allow you to access various services and benefits in Germany. You will need to bring your passport, visa or residence permit, rental contract or proof of ownership, birth certificates of your children, and marriage certificate if applicable. You will receive a confirmation of registration ( Anmeldebestätigung ) which you will need for opening a bank account, applying for social security benefits, getting a tax number, etc. Finding a Hausarzt for your child One of the most important things to do when moving to Germany with kids is to find a good general practitioner (GP) or Hausarzt for your child. A Hausarzt is the first point of contact for any health issues and can refer you to a specialist if needed. You do not have to register with a specific Hausarzt, but it is advisable to do some research and find one that meets your needs and preferences. Some factors to consider are: The location and opening hours of the practice The languages spoken by the doctor and the staff The experience and qualifications of the doctor The acceptance of your health insurance plan You can find a local Hausarzt by asking your friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations, or by using online directories such as Jameda or Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung. You can also contact your embassy or health insurance provider for a list of English-speaking doctors. To make an appointment, you can call or visit the practice in person. You may have to wait for a few days or weeks for a routine check-up, but some practices offer walk-in appointments for urgent cases. Remember to bring your health insurance card and your child’s passport or ID card to the appointment. If you have private health insurance, you may have to pay upfront and then claim reimbursement from your provider. Learning German Learning German is not only beneficial for finding a job or integrating into the society, but also for helping your children adapt to their new environment. Children under six years of age learn a second language as easily as their mother tongue. This is because children at this age are highly motivated and enthusiastic about learning a language. However, older children may need more support and encouragement to learn German. There are various ways to learn German in Germany, such as taking courses at language schools or online platforms, joining language exchange groups or clubs, watching TV shows or movies with subtitles, reading books or magazines, etc. You can also help your children learn German by exposing them to the language and culture at home, such as playing games, singing songs, reading stories, etc. One of the most effective ways to learn German is to enroll in an integration course ( Integrationskurs ). This is a government-funded program that aims to teach newcomers the basics of German language and culture. The integration course consists of 600 hours of language instruction and 100 hours of orientation on topics such as history, politics, law, values, etc. The integration course is free for some groups of people, such as refugees, asylum seekers, spouses of German citizens, etc. For others, the cost is €1.95 per hour. You can find more information on the integration course on this website. Another option to learn German is to attend a voluntary language course ( Freiwilliger Sprachkurs ). This is a program that offers additional language support for children and adults who have completed an integration course or have a sufficient level of German. The voluntary language course consists of 300 hours of language instruction and focuses on improving communication skills in everyday situations. The voluntary language course is free for everyone who meets the eligibility criteria. You can find more information on the voluntary language course on this website. If you want to learn German at your own pace and convenience, you can also use online platforms or apps that offer interactive and engaging lessons. Some of the most popular ones are: Duolingo : This is a free app that teaches you German through gamified exercises and quizzes. You can set your own goals and track your progress. Duolingo also has a community feature where you can chat with other learners or native speakers. Babbel : This is a paid app that teaches you German through dialogues and scenarios that reflect real-life situations. You can choose from different topics and levels according to your interests and needs. Babbel also has a speech recognition feature that helps you improve your pronunciation. Lingoda : This is a paid platform that offers live online classes with native teachers. You can book classes anytime and anywhere according to your schedule and preferences. Lingoda also provides learning materials and certificates that you can use for official purposes. Making friends Moving to Germany with kids can be lonely and stressful at times, especially if you don’t know anyone in your new city or neighborhood. However, there are many ways to make friends and socialize with other expats or locals in Germany, such as: Joining expat communities or groups: There are many online platforms or forums where you can connect with other expats who share your interests, hobbies, or background. For example, you can join InterNations, Meetup, Facebook Groups, etc., and find events or activities that suit you and your family. Volunteering for a cause: There are many organizations or charities that welcome volunteers who want to contribute to a good cause or help others in need. For example, you can volunteer for Caritas, Red Cross, Amnesty International, etc., and meet like-minded people who share your values and passions. Joining sports clubs or teams: There are many sports clubs or teams that offer opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to exercise and have fun. For example, you can join a football club, a tennis club, a yoga studio, etc., and enjoy the benefits of physical activity and social interaction. Taking part in cultural events or festivals: There are many cultural events or festivals that celebrate the diversity and richness of German culture and history. For example, you can take part in Oktoberfest, Carnival, Christmas Markets, etc., and experience the traditions and customs of Germany. Conclusion Moving to Germany with kids can be an exciting and rewarding adventure, but it also requires careful preparation and adaptation. In this article, we have provided you with some useful tips and information on how to make your transition to Germany as smooth and successful as possible. We hope that this article will help you and your family enjoy your new life in Germany. Some frequently asked questions
- How to Get a Job in Germany as an Expat: A Complete Guide
Germany is one of the most popular destinations for expats who want to work and live in Europe. However, finding a job in Germany as an english speaker can be challenging and requires careful planning and preparation. This article will provide you with a complete guide on how to get a job in Germany as an expat, covering topics such as visa requirements, language skills, job search strategies, application tips, interview techniques, and cultural norms. Whether you are looking for a full-time, part-time, or freelance job, this article will help you achieve your career goals in Germany. Germany is one of the most attractive destinations for expats who want to work in Europe. With a strong economy, a high standard of living, and a rich cultural heritage, Germany offers many opportunities for foreigners with different skills and backgrounds. However, finding a job in Germany as an expat is not always easy. You need to know where to look, what the requirements are, and how to apply for a work visa. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about working in Germany as an expat, including: The job market in Germany The best websites and resources to find jobs in Germany The most in-demand jobs and sectors in Germany The qualifications and language skills you need to work in Germany The types of work visas and permits for Germany The application process and documents you need to work in Germany The work culture and etiquette in Germany The tax and social security system in Germany By following this guide, you will be able to prepare yourself for a successful job search and career in Germany. The Job Market in Germany Germany has one of the largest and most stable economies in the world, ranking fourth in terms of GDP. It is also the largest exporter of goods and services in Europe. Some of the key industries in Germany are: Automotive Engineering Manufacturing Chemicals Pharmaceuticals Renewable energy Information technology Tourism Germany has a low unemployment rate of 3.9% as of May 2020, which is well below the EU average of 6.7%. However, this does not mean that finding a job in Germany is easy for expats. There is a lot of competition for jobs, especially in the major cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Cologne. You also need to have the right qualifications, skills, and language proficiency to stand out from the crowd. According to a study by the German Federal Institution for Population Research, about a third of non-EU migrants who arrived in Germany in 2010–2011 found work within 12 months. However, this situation may have changed since then due to the influx of refugees since 2015 and the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. The good news is that there are some sectors and occupations that have a shortage of workers in Germany, which means that they are more open to hiring foreigners. These include: Health care professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.) IT specialists (software developers, programmers, etc.) Engineers (mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.) Scientists (biologists, chemists, physicists, etc.) Teachers (especially for English and STEM subjects) Skilled trades (electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc.) If you have experience and qualifications in these fields, you will have a better chance of finding a job in Germany as an expat. The Best Websites and Resources to Find Jobs in Germany One of the best ways to find a job in Germany as an expat is to use some of the popular online platforms that list job vacancies. These include: Make it in Germany: This is the official website for qualified professionals who want to work in Germany. It provides information on visa requirements, recognition of foreign qualifications, job opportunities, and living conditions. It also has a job portal where you can search for jobs by keyword, location, industry, and occupation. Federal Employment Agency: This is the largest provider of labor market services in Germany. It offers online job listings, career counseling, vocational training, and unemployment benefits. You can register with them as a job seeker and upload your CV. You can also use their [European Job Mobility Portal] (EURES) to find jobs across Europe. Berufenet: This is a database of more than 3,000 occupations in Germany. It provides detailed information on the tasks, skills, qualifications, salaries, and prospects of each occupation. You can also find links to related job offers and training courses. Xing: This is the largest professional network in Germany. It allows you to create a profile, showcase your skills and achievements, connect with other professionals and employers, and browse through thousands of job ads. Glassdoor: This is a global platform that offers insights into companies, salaries, interviews, and reviews from employees and former employees. You can also search for jobs by keyword, location, company, and industry. Berlin Startup Jobs: This is a niche website that features jobs from startups and tech companies in Berlin. You can find jobs in various fields, such as engineering, design, marketing, sales, and customer service. You can also filter jobs by visa sponsorship, remote work, and language. There are also many other websites that offer jobs in Germany for expats, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, StepStone, and Jobware. You can use these sites to narrow down your search by using keywords, filters, and alerts. You can also upload your CV and apply for jobs directly on these platforms. The Most In-Demand Jobs and Sectors in Germany As mentioned earlier, there are some jobs and sectors that have a high demand for workers in Germany. These are the ones that you should focus on if you want to increase your chances of getting hired as an expat. Here are some examples of the most in-demand jobs and sectors in Germany: Health care: Germany has an aging population and a shortage of healthcare professionals. According to a report by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany will need an additional 260,000 nurses and 51,000 doctors by 2030. If you have a degree and experience in medicine, nursing, dentistry, or other health-related fields, you will have a lot of opportunities to work in Germany. However, you will also need to have your qualifications recognized by the relevant authorities and learn German to a high level. IT: Germany is a leader in innovation and technology. It has a strong digital economy and a vibrant startup scene. According to a survey by Bitkom, the digital association of Germany, there were about 124,000 vacant IT positions in Germany in 2020. If you have skills and experience in software development, programming, web design, data analysis, cybersecurity, or other IT-related fields, you will be highly sought after by employers in Germany. You may also be able to find English-speaking jobs in this sector, especially in Berlin. Engineering: Germany is known for its excellence in engineering and manufacturing. It produces high-quality products and services in various industries, such as automotive, aerospace, chemical, mechanical, electrical, and renewable energy. According to a report by the Association of German Engineers (VDI), there were about 79,000 unfilled engineering positions in Germany in 2019. If you have a degree and experience in engineering or related fields, you will have a competitive edge in the German job market. However, you will also need to have your qualifications recognized by the relevant authorities and learn German to a professional level. Science: Germany is a hub for scientific research and innovation. It has many prestigious universities and research institutes that conduct cutting-edge studies in various fields, such as biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, and biotechnology. According to a report by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany was the third most popular destination for international researchers in 2018. If you have a degree and experience in science or related fields, you will have many opportunities to work in Germany as an expat. You may also be able to find English-speaking jobs in this sector, especially in academia. Teaching: Germany has a high demand for teachers, especially for English and STEM subjects. According to a report by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK), Germany will need an additional 26,000 teachers by 2025. If you have a degree and experience in teaching or related fields, you will have a good chance of finding a job in Germany as an expat. However, you will also need to have your qualifications recognized by the relevant authorities and learn German to a high level. You may also need to complete additional training or exams to teach in public schools. These are just some examples of the most in-demand jobs and sectors in Germany. There are also many other fields that offer opportunities for expats who want to work in Germany, such as tourism, hospitality, finance, marketing, sales, and customer service. However, you will need to do your research and tailor your job search according to your skills, qualifications, and interests. The Qualifications and Language Skills You Need to Work in Germany One of the most important factors that will determine your chances of finding a job in Germany as an expat is your level of qualification and language proficiency. In general, the higher your qualification and the better your language skills are, the easier it will be for you to get hired. Here are some tips on how to improve your qualifications and language skills for working in Germany: Have your foreign qualifications recognized: If you have a degree or vocational qualification from another country, you may need to have it recognized by the relevant authorities in order to work in Germany. This is especially important if you want to work in regulated professions such as health care, engineering, teaching, or law. You can check if your qualification is recognized in Germany by using the Recognition Finder or contacting the Central Office for Foreign Education. You may also need to provide proof of your academic transcripts, certificates, diplomas, and translations. Depending on your qualification and profession, you may need to take additional tests or courses to meet the German standards. Learn German: Although there are some jobs that do not require German skills, such as in IT or tourism, most employers in Germany prefer candidates who can speak and understand German. Learning German will not only improve your chances of finding a job, but also help you integrate into the society and culture of Germany. You can learn German by taking courses at a language school, online platform, or university. You can also practice your German by watching TV shows, listening to podcasts, reading books, or joining a language exchange group. To prove your level of German proficiency, you may need to take a standardized test such as the TestDaF or the Goethe-Zertifikat. The level of German you need depends on the job and sector you are applying for. Generally, you will need at least a B1 level for most jobs, and a C1 level for regulated professions. Improve your English: Although German is the official language of Germany, English is also widely spoken and understood by many people, especially in the business and academic sectors. Having a good command of English will give you an advantage in the global market and help you communicate with international colleagues and clients. You can improve your English by taking courses at a language school, online platform, or university. You can also practice your English by watching TV shows, listening to podcasts, reading books, or joining a language exchange group. To prove your level of English proficiency, you may need to take a standardized test such as the IELTS or the TOEFL. The level of English you need depends on the job and sector you are applying for. Generally, you will need at least a B2 level for most jobs, and a C1 level for jobs that require a high degree of communication and negotiation. Update your CV and cover letter: Your CV and cover letter are the first impressions that employers will have of you. Therefore, you need to make sure that they are clear, concise, and professional. You also need to adapt them to the German standards and expectations. Here are some tips on how to write a CV and cover letter for working in Germany: Use a chronological format: Your CV should list your education and work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent ones. You should also include your personal details (name, address, phone number, email), professional profile (a short summary of your skills and goals), skills (languages, computer programs, etc.), and hobbies (optional). Keep it short: Your CV should not be longer than two pages. You should only include relevant information that matches the job description and requirements. You should also use bullet points and headings to make it easy to read. Be honest: You should not lie or exaggerate about your qualifications or achievements on your CV. You should be able to provide evidence and references for everything you claim on your CV. Use a formal tone: Your cover letter should be written in a formal and polite tone. You should address the employer by their name and title (if known), or use “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren” (Dear Sir/Madam) if not. You should also use “Sie” (formal you) instead of “du” (informal you) when addressing the employer. Explain your motivation: Your cover letter should explain why you are interested in working for the company and in Germany. You should also highlight your relevant skills and achievements that make you a suitable candidate for the job. You should also mention how you can contribute to the company’s goals and vision. End with a call to action: Your cover letter should end with a call to action that invites the employer to contact you for an interview or further discussion. You should also thank them for their time and consideration. Prepare for the German job interview: If you are invited for an interview, you need to prepare yourself well to impress the employer and show them that you are the right person for the job. Here are some tips on how to prepare for an interview for working in Germany: Research the company: You should research the company’s history, mission, values, products, services, and culture. You should also find out who will be interviewing you and what their role is. You should also prepare some questions to ask the employer about the company and the job. Dress appropriately: You should dress professionally and according to the dress code of the company and the sector. You should avoid wearing anything too casual, flashy, or revealing. You should also pay attention to your grooming and hygiene. Arrive on time: You should arrive at the interview location at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. You should also check the traffic and public transportation beforehand to avoid any delays or problems. You should also have a copy of your CV, cover letter, and certificates with you. Be confident and polite: You should greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. You should also maintain eye contact and a positive body language throughout the interview. You should also be respectful and courteous to everyone you meet at the company. Answer the questions: You should answer the questions clearly, concisely, and honestly. You should also use examples and evidence to support your answers. You should also avoid interrupting or arguing with the interviewer. You should also avoid talking about negative topics such as politics, religion, or personal problems. Follow up: You should send a thank you email or letter to the interviewer within 24 hours after the interview. You should also restate your interest and enthusiasm for the job and the company. You should also ask for feedback or next steps in the hiring process. The Types of Work Visas and Permits for Germany If you are not a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you will need a work visa and permit to work in Germany. The type of work visa and permit you need depends on your nationality, qualification, and occupation. Here are some of the main types of work visas and permits for Germany: Job seeker visa: This is a visa that allows you to enter Germany and look for a job for up to six months. You cannot work with this visa, but you can attend interviews and network with potential employers. To apply for this visa, you need to have a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification, proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay, health insurance, and proof of German or English language skills. You also need to have a concrete plan of how you will find a job in Germany. If you find a job within six months, you can apply for a work permit from within Germany. If not, you have to leave the country and apply for another visa from your home country. EU Blue Card: This is a work permit that allows highly qualified non-EU citizens to work and live in Germany and other EU countries. To qualify for this permit, you need to have a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification, a valid work contract or job offer in Germany with a minimum annual salary of €56,800 (or €44,304 for shortage occupations), health insurance, and proof of German or English language skills. You can apply for this permit from within Germany if you have a job seeker visa or another valid residence permit, or from your home country if not. This permit is valid for up to four years, or for the duration of your work contract plus three months. You can also bring your spouse and children with you, and they can work and study in Germany without restrictions. After 33 months (or 21 months if you have a B1 level of German), you can apply for permanent residence in Germany. Skilled worker visa: This is a work permit that allows qualified non-EU citizens to work in Germany in occupations that require vocational training or experience. To qualify for this permit, you need to have a recognized vocational qualification or equivalent experience, a valid work contract or job offer in Germany with an appropriate salary, health insurance, and proof of German language skills (at least A1 level). You can apply for this permit from within Germany if you have a job seeker visa or another valid residence permit, or from your home country if not. This permit is valid for up to four years, or for the duration of your work contract plus three months. You can also bring your spouse and children with you, but they may need to meet certain requirements to work and study in Germany. After four years, you can apply for permanent residence in Germany. Freelance visa: This is a work permit that allows self-employed non-EU citizens to work in Germany as freelancers or entrepreneurs. To qualify for this permit, you need to have a relevant professional qualification or experience, a viable business plan or portfolio of clients, proof of sufficient funds to cover your start-up costs and living expenses, health insurance, and proof of German or English language skills. You can apply for this permit from within Germany if you have another valid residence permit that allows freelance work, or from your home country if not. This permit is valid for up to three years, and can be extended if your business is successful. You can also bring your spouse and children with you, but they may need to meet certain requirements to work and study in Germany. To apply for any of these visas or permits, you need to contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country and submit the required documents and fees. You may also need to attend an interview or provide biometric data as part of the application process. You should apply as early as possible to avoid any delays or complications. The Application Process and Documents You Need to Work in Germany Once you have found a job offer or contract in Germany and obtained the appropriate work visa or permit, you need to complete some additional steps and documents to start working in Germany. These include: Registering your address: When you arrive in Germany, you need to register your address with the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks. You need to bring your passport, visa, work contract, rental contract, and a registration form (Anmeldeformular) with you. You will receive a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) that proves your residence in Germany. You will need this certificate for various purposes, such as opening a bank account, applying for a tax number, or getting a health insurance card. Applying for a tax number: To pay taxes in Germany, you need to have a tax number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) that identifies you as a taxpayer. You can apply for this number at the local tax office (Finanzamt) after registering your address. You need to bring your passport, visa, work contract, and registration certificate with you. You will receive your tax number by mail within a few weeks. You will need this number to file your tax returns, receive your tax refunds, or claim any tax benefits in Germany. Applying for a social security number: To contribute to the social security system in Germany, you need to have a social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer) that identifies you as a social security member. You can apply for this number at the local social security office (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) after registering your address. You need to bring your passport, visa, work contract, and registration certificate with you. You will receive your social security number by mail within a few weeks. You will need this number to pay your social security contributions, receive your social security benefits, or claim any social security rights in Germany. Opening a bank account: To receive your salary and pay your bills in Germany, you need to have a bank account (Girokonto) at a German bank or financial institution. You can open a bank account at any branch or online after registering your address. You need to bring your passport, visa, work contract, registration certificate, and tax number with you. You will receive your bank card (Girocard) and PIN (Persönliche Identifikationsnummer) by mail within a few days. You will need this card and PIN to withdraw money, make payments, or transfer funds in Germany. Getting a health insurance card: To access the health care system in Germany, you need to have a health insurance card (Gesundheitskarte) that proves your health insurance coverage. You can get a health insurance card from your health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) after registering your address and social security number. You need to bring your passport, visa, work contract, registration certificate, social security number, and tax number with you. You will receive your health insurance card by mail within a few weeks. You will need this card to visit a doctor, get a prescription, or receive any medical treatment in Germany. These are some of the main steps and documents you need to work in Germany as an expat. There may be other requirements or procedures depending on your specific situation and occupation. You should always check with the relevant authorities or organizations for the latest information and guidance. You should also keep copies of all your documents and certificates for future reference. The work culture and etiquette in Germany If you are planning to relocate to Germany for a job, you need to be aware of the work culture and etiquette in this country. Germany is known for its professionalism, efficiency, and punctuality. These traits are reflected in the way Germans work and communicate. In this paragraph, you will learn some of the dos and don’ts of working in Germany. One of the most important aspects of German work culture is the respect for hierarchy and authority. Germans tend to follow the chain of command and address their superiors by their last name and title. You should avoid being too informal or casual with your boss or colleagues, unless they invite you to do so. You should also avoid interrupting or contradicting your superiors in public, as this can be seen as disrespectful or rude. Another key aspect of German work culture is the emphasis on planning, organization, and quality. Germans like to have clear goals, deadlines, and procedures for their tasks and projects. They also pay attention to details and accuracy, and expect the same from others. You should be prepared to follow the rules and regulations of your workplace, and to deliver high-quality work on time. You should also be able to justify your decisions and actions with facts and data, as Germans value rationality and logic over emotions or intuition. Communication in German work culture is direct, honest, and precise. Germans prefer to get straight to the point and avoid ambiguity or vagueness. They also tend to express their opinions and criticisms openly and constructively, without sugarcoating or beating around the bush. You should not take this personally or as a sign of hostility, but rather as a way of improving your performance and solving problems. You should also be ready to communicate clearly and concisely, and to back up your statements with evidence and examples. Finally, German work culture is also characterized by a strong sense of responsibility and commitment. Germans take their work seriously and dedicate themselves fully to their tasks and duties. They also respect the work-life balance and expect others to do the same. You should not disturb your colleagues or clients outside of working hours, unless it is an emergency or a prior agreement. You should also avoid making personal calls or browsing social media during work hours, as this can be seen as unprofessional or disrespectful. By following these tips, you can adapt to the work culture and etiquette in Germany more easily and successfully. The Tax and Social Security System in Germany If you are planning to relocate to Germany for work, you should familiarize yourself with the tax and social security system in advance. These are some of the main aspects that you need to know: Income Tax Germany has a progressive income tax system, which means that the tax rate increases as the income level rises. The income tax rate ranges from 14% to 45%, depending on the taxable income and the marital status of the taxpayer. In addition, there is a solidarity surcharge of 5.5% of the income tax and a church tax of 8% or 9% of the income tax for members of certain religious communities. The employer deducts the income tax from the gross salary and transfers it to the tax office on behalf of the employee. You will need to register with the local tax office and obtain a tax identification number and a tax class. Social Security The social security system in Germany consists of four main components: health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and long-term care insurance. The contributions to these schemes are generally shared equally between the employer and the employee, with some exceptions for certain groups of workers. The total social security contribution rate is about 40% of the gross salary, but there are upper limits for each component. The social security system provides various benefits and services to the insured persons, such as medical care, retirement pension, unemployment benefits, and long-term care assistance. You will need to choose a health insurance provider and get a social security card with a social security number. Conclusion Getting a job in Germany as an expat can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation. You need to consider various factors, such as the visa requirements, the job market, the language skills, the cultural differences, the tax and social security system, and the cost of living. You also need to be proactive and flexible in your job search, and use various resources and strategies to find and apply for suitable positions. By following the tips and advice in this guide, you can increase your chances of landing a job in Germany and enjoy the benefits of working and living in one of the most developed and diverse countries in Europe.
- Maternity Leave in Germany: A Complete Guide for Expats [Mutterschutz]
Are you an expat working in Germany or with a German contract and expecting a baby? You might be curious about your entitlements and obligations regarding maternity leave. In Germany, maternity leave or Mutterschutz is a legal protection that safeguards the health and welfare of pregnant and nursing women and their babies. If you are pregnant and working in Germany, or have a German contract abroad, you may be wondering about your rights and benefits regarding maternity leave. Maternity leave, also known as Mutterschutz, is a legal protection for pregnant and nursing women in Germany that aims to ensure their health and well-being during and after pregnancy. In this article, we will explain the main aspects of maternity leave in Germany, such as: How long is maternity leave in Germany and who is eligible for it? How much money will you receive during maternity leave in Germany and who will pay for it? How and when should you inform your employer of your pregnancy in Germany? Can you extend or split your maternity leave in Germany? How does maternity leave in Germany compare with other countries? How long is maternity leave in Germany and who is eligible for it? Maternity leave in Germany consists of two periods: the protection period before childbirth (Schutzfrist vor der Entbindung) and the protection period after childbirth (Schutzfrist nach der Entbindung). The protection period before childbirth starts six weeks before the expected date of delivery and ends on the day of delivery. The protection period after childbirth starts on the day of delivery and lasts eight weeks, or 12 weeks in case of premature or multiple births. During these periods, you are not allowed to work unless you explicitly consent to do so. However, you can revoke your consent at any time. Maternity leave in Germany applies to all women who work in Germany or have a German contract abroad, regardless of their nationality, employment status, or income level. This includes employees, civil servants, freelancers, self-employed, trainees, students, and interns. However, there are some exceptions for certain groups of women, such as those who work in agriculture, family businesses, or domestic services. You can check with your employer or the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) if you are unsure whether you are eligible for maternity leave in Germany. How much money will you receive during maternity leave in Germany and who will pay for it? During maternity leave in Germany, you are entitled to receive maternity benefit (Mutterschaftsgeld), which is a financial compensation for your loss of income due to pregnancy and childbirth. The amount of maternity benefit depends on your average net income in the three months before the start of the protection period before childbirth. The maximum amount of maternity benefit is 13 euros per calendar day. The maternity benefit is paid by two sources: your health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) and your employer (Arbeitgeber). Your health insurance provider pays the basic amount of maternity benefit, which is equal to your average net income per calendar day. Your employer pays the difference between the basic amount and the maximum amount of 13 euros per calendar day. This means that if your average net income per calendar day is less than 13 euros, you will only receive the basic amount from your health insurance provider. If your average net income per calendar day is more than 13 euros, you will receive the basic amount from your health insurance provider and the difference from your employer. The maternity benefit is paid for the entire duration of the protection periods before and after childbirth, which is usually 14 weeks in total. However, if you give birth earlier than expected, the unused days from the protection period before childbirth are added to the protection period after childbirth. For example, if you give birth four weeks before the expected date of delivery, you will receive maternity benefit for 18 weeks instead of 14 weeks. In short : The amount of maternity benefit in Germany depends on your average net income in the three months before the start of the protection period before childbirth. The maximum amount of maternity benefit is 13 euros per calendar day. The maternity benefit is paid by two sources: your health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) and your employer (Arbeitgeber). Your health insurance provider pays the basic amount of maternity benefit, which is equal to your average net income per calendar day. Your employer pays the difference between the basic amount and the maximum amount of 13 euros per calendar day. The maternity benefit is paid for the entire duration of the protection periods before and after childbirth, which is usually 14 weeks in total. However, if you give birth earlier than expected, the unused days from the protection period before childbirth are added to the protection period after childbirth. How and when should you inform your employer of your pregnancy in Germany? As soon as you find out that you are pregnant, you should inform your employer of your pregnancy and the expected date of delivery in writing. You should also provide a medical certificate (Bescheinigung über den mutmaßlichen Tag der Entbindung) from your doctor or midwife that confirms your pregnancy and the expected date of delivery. This will allow your employer to plan ahead and apply for reimbursement from the Federal Insurance Office (Bundesversicherungsamt) for the maternity benefit they have to pay you. By informing your employer of your pregnancy, you will also benefit from job protection (Kündigungsschutz), which means that your employer cannot terminate your employment contract from the beginning of your pregnancy until four months after childbirth. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as if your employer goes bankrupt or if you commit a serious breach of contract. You can consult with a lawyer or a trade union if you face any problems with your employer regarding your pregnancy or maternity leave. Remember : Inform your employer as soon as you discover your pregnancy in writing. Provide a medical certificate from your doctor or midwife confirming your pregnancy and expected delivery date. Employers use this information to plan and apply for reimbursement from the Federal Insurance Office for maternity benefits. Informing your employer grants you job protection (Kündigungsschutz) from the start of pregnancy until four months after childbirth. You can seek legal or trade union advice if you encounter issues with your employer during pregnancy or maternity leave. Can you extend or split your maternity leave in Germany? After the end of the protection period after childbirth, which is usually eight weeks or 12 weeks in case of premature or multiple births, you can choose to extend or split your maternity leave in Germany. This is possible through parental leave (Elternzeit) and parental allowance (Elterngeld), which are separate from maternity leave and maternity benefit. Parental leave is a period of unpaid leave that allows you to take care of your child until they turn three years old. You can take parental leave for up to three years per child, either alone or together with your partner. You can also split your parental leave into up to three blocks, as long as you inform your employer at least seven weeks in advance. During parental leave, you have job protection and can work part-time for up to 30 hours per week. Parental allowance is a financial support that replaces part of your income during parental leave. The amount of parental allowance depends on your previous income and the number of hours you work during parental leave. The basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld) is paid for up to 12 months per parent, or 14 months if both parents share the parental leave. The basic parental allowance ranges from 300 euros to 1800 euros per month, depending on your previous income. The plus parental allowance (ElterngeldPlus) is paid for up to 24 months per parent, or 28 months if both parents share the parental leave. The plus parental allowance is half of the basic parental allowance, but it can be combined with part-time work. There are also additional benefits for parents of twins, multiple births, or children with disabilities. In short : Parental leave in Germany After the protection period after childbirth, you can take up to 3 years of unpaid parental leave per child. You can take parental leave alone or together with your partner. You can split your parental leave into up to 3 blocks. During parental leave, you have job protection and can work part-time for up to 30 hours per week. Parental allowance in Germany Parental allowance is a financial support that replaces part of your income during parental leave. The amount of parental allowance depends on your previous income and the number of hours you work during parental leave. The basic parental allowance (Basiselterngeld) is paid for up to 12 months per parent, or 14 months if both parents share the parental leave. The basic parental allowance ranges from 300 euros to 1800 euros per month, depending on your previous income. The plus parental allowance (ElterngeldPlus) is paid for up to 24 months per parent, or 28 months if both parents share the parental leave. The plus parental allowance is half of the basic parental allowance, but it can be combined with part-time work. There are also additional benefits for parents of twins, multiple births, or children with disabilities. How does maternity leave in Germany compare with other countries? Maternity leave in Germany is one of the most generous and flexible in the world. Compared with other countries, Germany offers a longer period of paid maternity leave, a higher amount of maternity benefit, and more options for extending or splitting the maternity leave. For example, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the average duration of paid maternity leave in the world is 12 weeks, while in Germany it is 14 weeks or more. The average amount of maternity benefit in the world is 53% of the previous earnings, while in Germany it is 100%. The average duration of parental leave in the world is 18 weeks, while in Germany it is up to three years. However, maternity leave in Germany also has some challenges and drawbacks. For instance, some women may face discrimination or difficulties in returning to work after maternity leave, especially if they work in male-dominated or competitive sectors. Some women may also experience a loss of career opportunities or income due to taking a long period of maternity or parental leave. Moreover, some women may not be able to afford taking maternity or parental leave if they have a low income or no health insurance. A Real-World Example of Maternity and Parental Leave in Germany We hope you'll be able to better understand and relate the below story with your current situation. Imagine, Anna is a software engineer who works for a German company in Berlin. She is pregnant with her first child and wants to take maternity leave. She informs her employer of her pregnancy and the expected date of delivery, which is June 15, 2023. She also provides a doctor’s certificate to confirm this information. Anna decides to work until May 1, 2023, which is six weeks before her due date. She is legally allowed to do so, as long as she does not have any health problems or complications. She also has the right to work part-time or reduce her working hours during this period, if she wishes. On May 1, 2023, Anna starts her maternity leave. She will receive 14 weeks of paid leave, which is divided into six weeks before and eight weeks after childbirth. This means that her maternity leave will end on August 10, 2023. During this time, she will receive a maternity allowance ( Mutterschaftsgeld ) from her health insurance and a top-up payment ( Arbeitgeberzuschuss ) from her employer. The amount of these payments depends on her previous income and the type of health insurance she has. Anna gives birth to a healthy baby boy on June 18, 2023. She is happy and excited to be a mother. She enjoys spending time with her newborn son and bonding with him. She also takes care of her own health and recovery. After eight weeks of mandatory leave following childbirth, Anna can choose to return to work or extend her leave by applying for parental leave ( Elternzeit ). Parental leave is an unpaid leave that allows parents to take care of their children until they are three years old. Anna decides to take parental leave for one year, until June 18, 2024. She informs her employer of her decision at least seven weeks before the end of her maternity leave. Anna’s employer agrees to grant her parental leave and guarantees that she will have the same or a similar job when she returns. Anna’s employer also cannot fire her during this time, unless there are very exceptional circumstances. Anna can also work part-time during her parental leave, up to 30 hours per week, if she wants to. Conclusion If you are pregnant and working in Germany, or have a German contract abroad, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of maternity leave in Germany and plan ahead accordingly. You should also seek advice from your employer, your health insurance provider, your doctor or midwife, and other relevant authorities or organizations if you have any questions or concerns about maternity leave in Germany.
- Schools in Germany: A Comprehensive Guide for Expats
Germany, a favored expat destination for its quality of life, strong economy, and rich culture, offers diverse schooling options. From public to private and international schools, this article discusses the pros and cons of each, helping you make the right choice for your family. Germany is a popular destination for expats who want to enjoy a high quality of life, a strong economy, and a rich culture. However, moving to a new country can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding the right school for your children. Fortunately, Germany offers a variety of education options for expat families, from state-run schools to private and international schools. In this article, we will explore some of the pros and cons of each type of school, and provide some tips on how to choose the best one for your needs. State Schools in Germany State schools in Germany are free to attend and provide a high standard of education. They follow the national curriculum, which varies slightly depending on the federal state. The school year usually runs from August or September to June or July, with breaks in between. The main advantage of state schools is that they allow your children to learn German and integrate into the local culture. They also have small class sizes and well-qualified teachers. However, there are some drawbacks to consider as well. For instance, state schools only teach in German, which can be difficult for children who are not fluent in the language. Moreover, state schools have a rigid system that tracks students into different types of secondary schools based on their academic performance and teacher recommendations. This can limit their future options and flexibility. If you want to enroll your child in a state school, you will need to apply through the local education authority ( Schulamt) or the school itself. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your child’s birth certificate Your child’s passport or ID card Your child’s vaccination records Proof of residence in Germany Proof of health insurance in Germany Transfer certificate from the last school (if the child was attending a school in the previous country) Private Schools in Germany Private schools in Germany are mostly funded by tuition fees and donations. They offer an alternative to state schools, with more flexibility and diversity in their curriculum and teaching methods. There are different types of private schools in Germany, such as: Denominational or religious schools: These are schools that follow a specific faith or denomination, such as Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Islamic schools. They usually teach religion as a subject and may have stricter rules on dress code and behavior. Waldorf schools: These are schools that follow the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, which emphasizes creativity, imagination, and holistic development. They offer a wide range of subjects, from arts and crafts to languages and sciences. Montessori schools: These are schools that follow the educational approach of Maria Montessori, which focuses on individualized learning, self-directed activities, and hands-on materials. They encourage children to explore their interests and potentials at their own pace. The main benefit of private schools is that they offer more personalized attention and support for your children. They also have smaller class sizes and better facilities than state schools. However, there are some disadvantages as well. For example, private schools can be very expensive, ranging from 200 to 2,000 euros per month depending on the school and grade level. Additionally, private schools may not be recognized by the German authorities or other countries, which can affect your child’s transferability and qualifications. If you want to enroll your child in a private school, you will need to contact the school directly and follow their admission process. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your child’s birth certificate Your child’s passport or ID card Your child’s vaccination records Proof of residence in Germany Proof of health insurance in Germany Proof of income or financial support Transfer certificate from the last school (if the child was attending a school in the previous country) Here is a list of some of the best private schools and their location and curriculum in Germany: Gymnasium Stift Neuzelle: This school is located in Neuzell, a small town in the state of Brandenburg. It offers a bilingual education in German and English, with the option to take the Abitur or the IB diploma. The school has a strong focus on music, arts, sports, and social responsibility. It also provides boarding facilities for students from grades 5 to 12. Institut Schloß Wittgenstein: This school is located in Bad Laasphe, a spa town in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It offers a German curriculum with the Abitur as the final exam, as well as an international program with the IB diploma. The school has a multicultural and multilingual environment, with students from over 30 countries. It also offers boarding facilities for students from grades 5 to 12. Max-Rill-Schule Schloss Reichersbeuern: This school is located in Reichersbeuern, a village in the state of Bavaria. It offers a German curriculum with the Abitur as the final exam, as well as an international program with the IB diploma. The school has a holistic approach to education, with an emphasis on individual development, creativity, and social skills. It also offers boarding facilities for students from grades 5 to 12. Zinzendorfschulen Königsfeld: This school is located in Königsfeld, a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg. It offers a German curriculum with the Abitur as the final exam, as well as an international program with the IB diploma. The school is based on the principles of the Moravian Church, which promote tolerance, peace, and community. It also offers boarding facilities for students from grades 5 to 12. Gymnasium Lindenberg: This school is located in Lindenberg, a town in the state of Bavaria. It offers a German curriculum with the Abitur as the final exam, as well as an international program with the IB diploma. The school has a special focus on natural sciences, mathematics, and languages. It also offers boarding facilities for students from grades 5 to 12. International Schools in Germany International schools in Germany are mostly attended by expat children who want to continue their education in their native language or follow an international curriculum. There are many international schools in Germany that cater to different nationalities and languages, such as: American international schools: These are schools that follow the American curriculum and offer the American High School Diploma and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. They usually teach in English and prepare students for college admission in the US or other countries. British international schools: These are schools that follow the British curriculum and offer the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and A-levels. They usually teach in English and prepare students for university entry in the UK or other countries. Other national international schools: These are schools that follow the curriculum of a specific country other than Germany, such as France, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, India, etc. They usually teach in the language of that country and prepare students for further education in that country or elsewhere. Religious international schools: These are schools that follow an international curriculum but also incorporate religious teachings and values into their education. They usually teach in English or another language and cater to students of a specific faith or denomination. Method international schools: These are schools that follow an international curriculum but also adopt a specific educational method or philosophy, such as Waldorf, Montessori, or IB. They usually teach in English or another language and cater to students of different backgrounds and abilities. The main advantage of international schools is that they offer a familiar and comfortable environment for your children. They also have a more multicultural and diverse student body than state or private schools. Furthermore, international schools have a more flexible and transferable curriculum than state or private schools, which can help your children adapt to different education systems and cultures. However, there are some drawbacks as well. For instance, international schools can be very costly, ranging from 500 to 5,000 euros per month depending on the school and grade level. Moreover, international schools may not help your children learn German or integrate into the local society. They may also have long waiting lists and strict admission criteria. If you want to enroll your child in an international school, you will need to contact the school directly and follow their admission process. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your child’s birth certificate Your child’s passport or ID card Your child’s vaccination records Proof of residence in Germany Proof of health insurance in Germany Proof of income or financial support Your child’s academic transcripts and test scores Your child’s language proficiency certificates Transfer certificate from the last school (if the child was attending a school in the previous country) If you are looking for the best international schools in Germany, here are some of the top choices that offer excellent education and facilities. Munich International School: This school is located in Starnberg, near Munich, and follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. It offers education for students from 4 to 18 years old, and has a diverse and multicultural community. The average annual fees for grades 1 to 8 are €15,400, and for grades 9 to 12 are €19,700. Berlin Brandenburg International School: This school is located in Kleinmachnow, near Berlin, and follows the IB curriculum as well. It offers education for students from 3 to 19 years old, and has a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). The average annual fees for grades 1 to 8 are €16,500, and for grades 9 to 12 are €20,500. Bavarian International School: This school has two campuses, one in Munich-Schwabing and one in Haimhausen. It also follows the IB curriculum and offers education for students from 3 to 19 years old. It has a mission to inspire global citizens and future changemakers. The average annual fees for grades 1 to 8 are €16,340, and for grades 9 to 12 are €22,090. St. George’s, The British International School: This school has three campuses, one in Munich, one in Düsseldorf Rhein-Ruhr, and one in Cologne. It follows the British curriculum and offers the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and A-levels. It offers education for students from 3 to 18 years old, and has a British ethos and culture. The average annual fees for grades 1 to 8 are €14,000, and for grades 9 to 12 are €17,000. Frankfurt International School: This school is located in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, and follows the IB curriculum as well. It offers education for students from 3 to 18 years old, and has a reputation for academic excellence and innovation. The average annual fees for grades 1 to 8 are €18,000, and for grades 9 to 12 are €22,000. These are just some of the best international schools in Germany. There are many more options to choose from depending on your preferences and needs Conclusion Choosing the best school for your children in Germany can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider, such as your budget, your child’s age, language, interests, and goals. Therefore, it is important to do your research and visit different schools before making a decision. You can also consult with other expat parents or education consultants who can share their experiences and advice with you. Ultimately, the best school for your children is the one that meets their needs and expectations, and helps them grow and thrive in their new home country.
- Car Insurance in Germany: A Complete Guide for Expats
For expatriates taking the wheel in Germany, having a flexible car insurance policy is not just a convenience – it's a necessity. The intricacies of the local traffic landscape demand adaptable coverage that can effectively address the array of challenges and potential risks that drivers might encounter. Driving in Germany can be a great way to explore the country, but you will need to have some form of car insurance before you hit the road. Car insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Germany, and you cannot register a vehicle without it. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about car insurance in Germany, including: The basics of car insurance in Germany The different types of car insurance in Germany and what they cover The costs and discounts of car insurance in Germany The steps to apply for and cancel car insurance in Germany How to get your eVB number, which is required for registering your car The best ways to compare and choose car insurance in Germany What to do if you have a foreign driving license and how to exchange it for a German one Adding an additional driver to your car insurance in Germany The Basics of Car Insurance in Germany Car insurance in Germany is regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, or BaFin). There are three main types of car insurance providers in Germany: Direct insurers: These are online-based insurers that offer low-cost and convenient services. However, they might have limited customer support and personalization options. Traditional insurers: These are established insurers that have physical branches and agents. They offer more comprehensive and customized services, but they might charge higher premiums and fees. Independent brokers: These are intermediaries that work with multiple insurers and offer impartial advice and assistance. They can help you find the best deal and handle the paperwork for you, but they might charge a commission or a fee. Car insurance in Germany is based on a bonus-malus system, which means that your premium will depend on your driving record and experience. The more years you drive without any claims or accidents, the lower your premium will be. This is called a no-claims bonus (Schadenfreiheitsrabatt, or SFR). Conversely, if you cause any damage or injury to others, your premium will increase. This is called a malus (Rückstufung). Car insurance in Germany is also linked to your car registration (Zulassung). You need to have a valid car insurance policy before you can register your car in Germany. You also need to inform your insurer if you change or sell your car, or if you move to another address. Types of Car Insurance in Germany There are three main types of car insurance in Germany that you can choose from: Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung): This is the minimum and mandatory coverage that covers the damage or injury you cause to others with your car. It does not cover any damage to your own car or yourself. The legal minimum coverage is €7.5 million for personal injury, €1.12 million for property damage, and €50,000 for financial loss. Partial coverage (Teilkaskoversicherung): This is an optional coverage that covers the damage to your own car caused by theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, animals, or glass breakage. It does not cover any damage caused by collision or vandalism by yourself or others. Comprehensive coverage (Vollkaskoversicherung): This is an optional coverage that covers the damage to your own car caused by collision or vandalism by yourself or others. It also includes partial coverage. You can also add additional coverage to your car insurance policy, such as: Personal injury protection (Insassenunfallversicherung): This covers the medical expenses and compensation for yourself and your passengers in case of an accident. Legal expenses protection (Rechtsschutzversicherung): This covers the legal fees and costs if you are involved in a dispute or lawsuit related to your car. Breakdown assistance (Schutzbrief): This covers the roadside assistance and towing services if your car breaks down or has an accident. Rental car (Mietwagen): This covers the cost of renting a car if your car is damaged or stolen. The Costs and Discounts of Car Insurance in Germany The cost of car insurance in Germany depends on various factors, such as: Your driving history and experience: Some insurers offer lower premiums for drivers who have a clean record, a no-claims bonus, or a long driving experience. You can also get discounts for taking a defensive driving course or having a dashcam installed in your car. Your car model and value: The type, age, and value of your car will affect the cost and level of coverage you need. For example, if you have a new or expensive car, you might want to get comprehensive insurance to protect it from theft, vandalism, or damage. On the other hand, if you have an old or cheap car, you might be fine with just liability insurance. Your location and usage: Where you live and how often you use your car will also influence your car insurance premium. For instance, if you live in a big city or a high-risk area, you might pay more than if you live in a rural or low-risk area. Similarly, if you drive frequently or long distances, you might pay more than if you drive occasionally or short distances. Your personal preferences and needs: Finally, you should choose a car insurance policy that suits your personal preferences and needs. For example, you might want to get additional coverage for personal injury, legal expenses, breakdown assistance, or rental car. You might also want to look for an insurer that offers good customer service, online access, flexible payment options, or English-speaking staff. The average cost of car insurance in Germany is around €300 per year for liability insurance, €500 per year for partial coverage, and €900 per year for comprehensive coverage. However, these are only rough estimates, and the actual cost can vary significantly depending on the factors mentioned above. To save money on car insurance in Germany, you can also look for discounts and special offers from different insurers. Some of the common discounts are: Annual payment: If you pay your premium in one lump sum instead of monthly installments, you can save up to 10%. Low mileage: If you drive less than 10,000 km per year, you can save up to 30%. Garage parking: If you park your car in a garage or a secure place, you can save up to 20%. Eco-friendly car: If you drive a car that has low emissions or uses alternative fuels, you can save up to 15%. Family policy: If you have more than one car or driver in your household, you can save up to 10%. The Steps to Apply for and Cancel Car Insurance in Germany To apply for car insurance in Germany, you need to provide some information and documents to your chosen insurer, such as: Your personal details: name, address, date of birth, nationality, occupation, etc. Your driving license: number, date of issue, country of issue, etc. Your car details: make, model, year of manufacture, registration number, value, etc. Your previous insurance details: insurer name, policy number, no-claims bonus, etc. You can apply for car insurance online, by phone, by mail, or in person. You will receive a confirmation and a contract from your insurer once your application is approved. You will also receive an electronic insurance certificate (eVB-Nummer) that you need to register your car in Germany. To cancel car insurance in Germany, you need to follow some rules and procedures: You can cancel your car insurance at the end of the contract period (usually one year) by giving one month’s notice before the expiration date. You need to send a written cancellation letter (Kündigungsschreiben) to your insurer by mail or email. You can also cancel your car insurance before the end of the contract period if you have a valid reason, such as selling or scrapping your car, moving abroad, changing your car model or usage, or finding a cheaper offer. You need to send a written cancellation letter with proof of your reason to your insurer by mail or email. You can also cancel your car insurance within 14 days of signing the contract without giving any reason. This is called the cooling-off period (Widerrufsrecht). You need to send a written cancellation letter to your insurer by mail or email. Your eVB Number (Elektronische Versicherungsbestätigung) Before you can register your car in Germany, you will need to get an eVB number from your insurance company. This is a seven-digit code that proves that you have valid third-party liability insurance for your vehicle. You can request your eVB number online, by phone or by email from your insurer. They will send it to you by mail, email or SMS. You will need to provide this number to the registration office when you register your car. The eVB number is valid for a limited period of time, usually between three and six months. You can only use it once, and it will expire if you do not use it within the validity period. If you need a new eVB number, you will have to request it again from your insurer. The Best Ways to Compare and Choose Car Insurance in Germany To find the best car insurance in Germany for you, you can use online comparison platforms like Check24, Tarifcheck. These platforms allow you to compare different offers from various insurers based on your personal details and preferences. You can also read reviews from other customers and get quotes from multiple insurers. Alternatively, you can consult an independent broker or agent who can advise you on the best options for your situation and help you with the application process. You can find brokers and agents online or through recommendations from friends or colleagues. You should compare and choose car insurance in Germany based on the following criteria: The price: You should look for the best value for money and not just the cheapest offer. You should also consider the deductible (Selbstbeteiligung), which is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurer covers the rest of the claim. The coverage: You should look for the level and type of coverage that meets your needs and expectations. You should also check the exclusions and limitations of each policy. The service: You should look for an insurer that offers good customer service, online access, flexible payment options, English-speaking staff, etc. You should also read the terms and conditions (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen) of each policy carefully before signing it. You should also check the cancellation policy and the claim process of each insurer. Adding an additional driver to your car insurance in Germany If you want to let someone else drive your car occasionally, you might need to add them as an additional driver (Zusatzfahrer) to your car insurance policy. This will ensure that they are covered by your insurance in case of an accident or damage. However, adding an additional driver might also affect the cost and conditions of your car insurance. The rules and requirements for adding an additional driver vary depending on the insurer and the type of coverage you have. Some insurers allow you to add an additional driver for free, while others charge a fee or increase your premium. Some insurers also limit the number of additional drivers you can add, or the age and driving experience of the additional drivers. Generally, you need to inform your insurer about the details of the additional driver, such as their name, date of birth, driving license number, and driving history. You also need to specify how often and for how long they will drive your car. You can usually add an additional driver online, by phone, by mail, or in person. If you want to add an additional driver temporarily, for example, if you have a visitor or a friend who wants to borrow your car for a short period, you might not need to inform your insurer. Some insurers allow occasional drivers without any extra charge or notification, as long as they have a valid driving license and permission from you. However, this depends on the insurer and the policy, so you should always check with your insurer before letting someone else drive your car. If you want to add an additional driver permanently, for example, if you have a spouse or a child who shares your car regularly, you might need to pay more for your car insurance. This is because adding an additional driver increases the risk of accidents and claims. However, some insurers offer discounts or special offers for family members or spouses who drive the same car. For instance, some insurers do not charge extra to cover your spouse as a driver. Adding an additional driver to your car insurance in Germany can have advantages and disadvantages. It can give you more flexibility and convenience when sharing your car with others, but it can also increase your insurance costs and responsibilities. Therefore, you should always compare different offers and conditions from different insurers before adding an additional driver to your car insurance policy. What to Do If You Have a Foreign Driving License If you have a foreign driving license, you may be able to use it in Germany for a limited period of time, depending on your country of origin. However, if you are a long-term resident in Germany, you will need to have German car insurance, even if you brought your car from abroad. Foreign car insurance does not suffice. You may also need to exchange your foreign driving license for a German one, depending on the country that issued it. Some countries have reciprocal agreements with Germany that allow you to exchange your license without taking any tests. Other countries require you to take either the practical or theoretical driving test in Germany. If you need to take a driving test in Germany, you will need to register with a driving school (Fahrschule) and complete some mandatory lessons and courses. You will also need to pass an eye test and a first aid course. The driving test consists of two parts: a theory test and a practical test. Some Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Germany
- How to Apply for a German Family Reunion Visa in India
Are you an Indian citizen who wants to join your spouse, parent or child in Germany? If so, you may need to apply for a family reunion visa, which is a type of German national visa that allows you to stay in Germany for more than 90 days. The German family reunion visa allows family members of foreign nationals residing in Germany to join them and live as a family unit. This visa enables spouses, children, parents, and other eligible family members to reunite with their loved ones in Germany. In this article, we will explain what a family reunion visa is, who can apply for it, what are the requirements and how to apply for it from India. What is a Family Reunion Visa? A family reunion visa is a visa that allows you to join your family member who is already living in Germany. Depending on your relationship with your family member, you may need to apply for a different type of family reunion visa. For example: If you want to join your spouse who is a German citizen or a foreigner with a residence permit in Germany, you need to apply for a Family Reunion for Spouses. If you want to join your parents who are German citizens or a foreigner with a residence permit in Germany, and you are under 18 years old and unmarried, you need to apply for a Family reunion visa for children to join one or both parents in Germany. If you want to join your child who is a German citizen or a foreigner with a residence permit in Germany, and you have the custody of the child, you need to apply for a Family reunion for parents of German or EU Citizen children. A family reunion visa allows you to live and work in Germany as long as your family member maintains their residence status. You may also be eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit after living in Germany for a certain period of time. Who Can Apply for a Family Reunion Visa? You can apply for a family reunion visa if you meet the following criteria: You are an Indian citizen or a legal resident of India. You have a valid passport that was issued within the last 10 years and has at least two empty pages. You have a family member who is living in Germany as a German citizen or a foreigner with a residence permit. You have proof of your relationship with your family member, such as marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce decree, death certificate, etc. You have proof of your family member’s residence status in Germany, such as certificate of residence, residence permit, etc. You have proof of sufficient financial means to support yourself in Germany, such as bank statements, salary slips, sponsorship letters, etc. You have proof of adequate health insurance coverage for yourself in Germany, such as travel insurance policy, health insurance card, etc. You have proof of basic knowledge of German language (A1 level), unless you are exempted from this requirement due to certain circumstances (such as age, disability, education level, etc). You have no criminal record or security threat that would prevent you from entering Germany. How to Apply for a Family Reunion Visa? To apply for a family reunion visa from India, you need to follow these steps: Fill out the online application form for German National visa on the website of the German Embassy or Consulate in India. You will also need to fill out some additional forms depending on the type of family reunion visa you are applying for. For example: Declaration on true and complete information Additional contact and legal representation information Annexure for employment visas (if applicable) Declaration of consent (if applicable) Additional questionnaire (if applicable) Print out the application form and the additional forms and sign them. Make sure you have all the required documents as per the checklist for your specific type of family reunion visa. You can find the checklists on the website of the German Embassy or Consulate in India. For example: Checklist for family reunion / spouse visa Checklist for family reunion visa for parent of a German or EU citizen child Checklist for family reunion visa for a child joining one or both parents in Germany Checklist for dependents (accompanying spouse) Checklist for dependents (accompanying children) Checklist for intended marriage Book an appointment at the nearest VFS Global center or the competent German Mission in India to submit your application and documents. You can book the appointment online or by phone. You will need to pay a visa fee of 75 euros (or equivalent in Indian rupees) at the time of submission. You will also need to provide your biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) at the VFS Global center or the German Mission. Wait for the processing of your visa application. The processing time may vary depending on the type of family reunion visa, the volume of applications and the individual circumstances of your case. You can track the status of your application online or by contacting the VFS Global center or the German Mission where you submitted your application. Collect your passport and visa from the VFS Global center or the German Mission where you submitted your application. You will need to show your receipt and a valid ID proof to collect your passport and visa. You should check the validity and accuracy of your visa before leaving the VFS Global center or the German Mission. German family reunion visa checklist for Indians Valid passport with at least two empty pages and valid for at least another year Application form, declaration form and contact information form duly filled and signed Personal covering letter from the parents explaining the exact purpose and duration of stay Copy of the first and last page and all pages containing entry stamps/visas of your passport and parents’ passport Certificate of residence of the parent(s) living in Germany, not older than 6 months Copy of parents’ residence permit, if applicable School certificate mentioning parentage and date of birth, if applicable Proof of marriage of parents, if applicable (see details in the search results) Birth certificate issued under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1969 Divorce judgment and decree of parents, if applicable Death certificate of parent, if applicable Only in case of family reunion with a non-German parent in Germany: proof of sole custody or declaration of consent from the other parent Proof of German language skills (A1 level) for minors aged 16 and above, if they apply for a family reunion with a non-German / non-EU national Two passport pictures according to biometric specifications, not older than 6 months Visa fee (75 Euro for adults and 37.50 Euro for children up to 18 years) Conclusion A family reunion visa is a great way to join your family member who is living in Germany. However, you need to be aware of the requirements and procedures involved in applying for this visa from India. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can prepare your application and documents and submit them to the competent authorities. Frequently Asked Questions about Family Reunion Visa Here are some common questions and answers about the family reunion visa in Germany:
- How to Apply for a German Work Visa from India?
Are you an Indian citizen who wants to work in Germany? Do you have a job offer or a contract from a German employer? If yes, then you will need to apply for a German work visa and a residence permit before you can travel to Germany and start your employment. Germany is one of the most attractive destinations for skilled workers from India, offering a high standard of living, a strong economy, and a diverse culture. However, moving to Germany for work requires some planning and preparation, especially when it comes to the visa process. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a German work visa from India, what are the requirements and documents you need, and what are the steps you need to follow. Who Can Apply for a German Work Visa from India? A German work visa is not available for everyone in every situation. Only Indian citizens who meet certain criteria can apply for a German work visa from India. These criteria include: Having a job offer or contract from a German employer that matches your qualifications and skills. The job offer or contract should specify the duration, salary, and working conditions of your employment in Germany. OR Having a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification that matches an equivalent qualification in the German education system. You can check if your degree is recognized in Germany on the Anabin online database or obtain a Statement of Comparability from ZAB (German Central Office for Foreign Education). Having sufficient knowledge of the German language (at least level A2 as of 2023) or being exempted from this requirement if your job does not require it. Nursing professionals should possess level B1 proficiency in German. Having sufficient funds to cover your living expenses in Germany until you receive your first salary. You can prove this by opening a blocked account, obtaining a formal obligation letter from your employer in Germany, or showing your bank account statements. Having adequate health insurance that covers your medical needs in Germany. You can prove this by obtaining a private or public German health insurance or a private foreign health insurance that meets the requirements of being equivalent to a German public health insurance. If you meet these criteria, you can apply for a German work visa from India and start your journey to work in Germany. What is a German Work Visa? A German work visa is a type of national visa that allows Indian citizens to enter Germany for the purpose of gainful employment. A national visa is different from a Schengen visa. Schengen visa only allows short-term stays of up to 90 days within the participating Schengen states. The initial German work visa you get from India is usually valid for three months, during which you can apply for a residence permit at the local foreigner’s office in Germany after arrival. A residence permit is a document that grants you the right to live and work in Germany for a longer period of time, usually up to four years or according to the duration of your employment contract. There are different types of work visas and residence permits for Germany, depending on your qualifications, skills, and occupation. Some of the most common ones are: Work Visa: This is the general category for skilled workers who have a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification and a job offer or contract from a German employer. EU Blue Card: This is a special category for highly qualified workers who have a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification and a job offer or contract from a German employer with a minimum annual salary of 56,800 Euros (or 44,304 Euros for shortage occupations such as engineers, IT specialists, doctors, etc.). Job Seeker Visa: This is a category for skilled workers who have a recognized university degree or equivalent qualification and want to look for a job in Germany. This visa allows you to stay in Germany for up to six months and attend interviews or apply for jobs. However, you cannot work with this visa and you need to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay. Other categories: There are also other specific categories for workers such as researchers, artists, freelancers, self-employed persons, etc. You can find more information on these categories on the official website of the Federal Foreign Office. How to Apply for a German Work Visa in India? The application process for a German work visa in India consists of the following steps: Schedule a Visa Appointment You must schedule a visa appointment with the German mission responsible for your state. You can find the list of German missions in India and their administrative and consular states here. Depending on the mission, you may have to book your appointment online through their website or through a certified visa application center (such as VFS Global). Collect the Required Documents for a German Work Visa Before you can submit your visa application, you must collect a set of required documents. These documents include: Your valid passport (issued within the last 10 years and with at least 12 months validity left at the time of submission of the application) Two copies of your passport’s data page (A4 size copy) Three passport pictures according to biometric specifications (no older than six months). Cover letter from applicant explaining the exact course of action to find employment in Germany as well as further career plans should stay in Germany be unsuccessful Proof of academic qualification and work experience (from a German university or equivalent to a German academic degree) and relevant previous work experience certificates for future employment in Germany (for recognition of non-German degrees kindly refer to www.anabin.de) (if applicable) Personal CV containing full education and employment history Proof of accommodation in Germany for the initial period of 30 days (if applicable) Proof of financial means to cover the costs for the time of your stay by one of the following documents: Blocked account for the sum of 5,604 Euros “Verpflichtungserklärung” (formal obligation letter) by sponsor living in Germany bank account etc. (if applicable) Proof of personal status in India, birth certificate of applicant, Aadhar card (with English translation) Proof of health insurance - ONE of the following documents: Proof of a private German health insurance which fulfills the below mentioned requirements and starts at your tentative travel date OR Proof of a public German health insurance, which consists of a letter from your German healthcare provider, as well as a travel health insurance for the first three weeks. OR Proof of a private foreign (including Indian) health insurance including the policy you choose which fulfills the below mentioned requirements and starts at your tentative travel date Alternatively, you can also get a recognized travel health insurance for your travel. When does a health insurance meet the requirement of being equivalent to a German public health insurance? No limit to the reimbursement in case of sickness If the insured person becomes sick, no deductible higher than 300€ per year can be demanded Pre existing conditions must be included No clause for termination regarding the insured person reaching a certain age, change of residence permit or loss of residence permit The Insurance cover cannot have any time limit (or needs to be automatically renewed) Complete the Visa Application Forms You will need to fill out two application forms for your work visa: the national visa application form and the declaration form. You can download these forms from the website of the German mission in India or get them from the visa application center. You must complete and sign both forms and attach them to your application. Pay the Visa Fee You will need to pay a visa fee of 75 Euros (or equivalent in Indian Rupees) for your work visa application. You can pay this fee by cash or demand draft at the time of submission of your application. The fee is non-refundable and non-transferable. Please make sure to cross-check with the corresponding German Consular website for the actual amount, as it may vary. Attend the Visa Appointment You must attend your visa appointment in person at the German mission or the visa application center where you booked your appointment. You must bring along your original documents, copies, and passport. You will also have to submit your biometric data (fingerprints) and answer some questions about your application. How Long Does It Take to Process a German Work Visa in India? The processing time for a German work visa in India may vary depending on the type of visa, the completeness of your application, and the workload of the German mission. Generally, it may take between 8 to 12 weeks for your visa to be processed. Therefore, you should apply for your work visa well in advance of your planned travel date. What to Do After Receiving Your German Work Visa? Once you receive your German work visa, you can travel to Germany and start working for your employer. However, you will also need to apply for a residence permit at the local foreigner’s office in Germany within three months of your arrival. You will need to bring along your passport, visa, employment contract, proof of accommodation, proof of health insurance, and biometric photos. You will also have to pay a fee for your residence permit. A residence permit will allow you to live and work in Germany for up to four years or according to the duration of your employment contract. You can also extend or renew your residence permit if you meet the requirements. What to Do If Your German Work Visa Application Is Rejected? In some cases, your German work visa application may be rejected by the German mission or the visa application center. This may happen due to various reasons, such as: Missing or incomplete documents False or misleading information Insufficient funds or health insurance Lack of qualification If your German work visa application is rejected, you have a few options to consider: Review the Rejection Letter: Carefully review the rejection letter provided by the German mission or visa application center. It should outline the specific reasons for the rejection. Understanding the grounds for rejection will help you determine the appropriate steps to take. Appeal the Decision: In some cases, you may have the option to appeal the decision. The rejection letter should provide instructions on how to appeal and the timeframe within which you must submit your appeal. Follow the instructions and provide any additional documentation or information that may strengthen your case. Reapply with Corrected Documents: If your application was rejected due to missing or incomplete documents or false information, you can rectify the issues and reapply. Make sure to address the reasons for rejection and provide all the required documents accurately and completely. It's important to note that specific steps and procedures may vary depending on the individual case and the reasons for rejection. Consulting with the German mission or visa application center and seeking professional advice will provide the most accurate guidance for your particular situation. Conclusion Applying for a German work visa from India is not a complicated process if you follow the steps and requirements outlined in this article. However, you should always check with the German mission in India or the official website of the Federal Foreign Office for any updates or changes in the visa regulations. We hope this article has helped you understand how to apply for a German work visa from India and what are the documents and procedures involved. We wish you all the best for your work and stay in Germany!
- How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plans for Expats in Germany
PAID PARTNERSHIP Germany is renowned for its excellent healthcare system, providing top-notch and affordable medical care to its citizens. However, understanding and maneuvering through the German health insurance system can be bewildering, particularly for foreigners unfamiliar with its rules and regulations. Let's explore the primary health insurance options in Germany, their functioning, and the factors to consider when selecting a plan that meets your requirements and financial constraints. Germany is known for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, offering high-quality and affordable medical care to its residents. However, navigating the German health insurance system can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for foreigners who are not familiar with the rules and regulations. Let’s understand the main types of health insurance in Germany, how they work, and what to consider when choosing a plan that suits your needs and budget. The German Health Insurance System The German health insurance system is divided into two tiers: public and private insurance providers. By law, everyone who lives in Germany must have some form of health insurance coverage, either statutory (public) or private, issued by a licensed medical insurance provider. The type of health insurance you can get depends on your income, citizenship, family size, employment status, and overall health. Public Health Insurance in Germany Public health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – GKV) is the most common form of health insurance in Germany. It is funded by social security contributions from employers and employees, as well as taxes from the government. Public health insurance offers a comprehensive range of benefits, such as: Free choice of doctors and hospitals within the public network Free preventive care and screenings Free or subsidized prescription drugs Free or subsidized dental care Free maternity care and childbirth Free family insurance for spouses and children Sick leave and sick pay Long-term care insurance The monthly premium for public health insurance is based on a percentage of your gross income (around 14.6% in 2023), which is split equally between you and your employer. There are over 100 public health insurance providers (Krankenkassen) in Germany, each offering slightly different services and rates. Some of the most popular ones are: Techniker Krankenkasse Barmer AOK DAK-Gesundheit You can compare the different public health insurance providers and their benefits on krankenkassen.de To apply for public health insurance in Germany, you need to register with a provider of your choice and fill out an application form. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your passport or ID card Your visa or residence permit (if applicable) Your registration certificate (Anmeldung) Your employment contract or proof of income Your bank account details Once you are enrolled, you will receive a health insurance card (Gesundheitskarte), which you need to present whenever you visit a doctor or hospital. Private Health Insurance in Germany Private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung – PKV) is an alternative option for those who are not eligible or do not want to join the public health insurance system. Private health insurance offers some advantages over public health insurance, such as: Shorter waiting times and faster appointments Access to more doctors and hospitals, including private clinics More personalized and flexible coverage options Higher reimbursement rates for medical expenses Better-quality facilities and equipment Once you switch to private health insurance, you cannot go back to public health insurance unless your income drops below the threshold or you change your employment status. The monthly premium for private health insurance depends on various factors, such as your age, gender, health condition, coverage level, deductible amount, and provider. Unlike public health insurance, private health insurance does not cover your dependents for free; you have to pay an additional premium for each family member. Private health insurance also does not include long-term care insurance; you have to purchase it separately. There are many private health insurance companies in Germany, offering different plans and rates. Some of the private health insurance companies in Germany are: Allianz Care Cigna Global DFV Feather Ottonova You can also compare the best private (as well as public) health insurance providers in Germany and get personalized advice and quotes for free on MW Expats. To apply for private health insurance in Germany, you need to contact a provider of your choice and fill out an application form. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your passport or ID card Your visa or residence permit (if applicable) Your registration certificate (Anmeldung) Your employment contract or proof of income Your medical history and health questionnaire The provider will then assess your application and offer you a quote based on your risk profile. You may also have to undergo a medical examination or provide additional information. Once you accept the offer, you will receive a confirmation and a policy document. Expat Health Insurance in Germany Expat health insurance is a special type of private health insurance designed for foreigners who are living or working in Germany temporarily or permanently. Expat health insurance offers some benefits over public or private health insurance, such as: Worldwide coverage for medical emergencies and treatments No waiting periods or restrictions for pre-existing conditions No minimum income or residency requirements Flexible contract duration and cancellation options Multilingual customer service and support Expat health insurance is suitable for anyone who wants to have comprehensive and flexible coverage while living in Germany, regardless of their income or employment status. It is especially recommended for those who travel frequently, have chronic or complex health issues, or do not qualify for public or private health insurance. There are many expat health insurance companies in Germany, offering different plans and rates. Some of the expat health insurance companies in Germany are: Feather Cigna Global Foyer Global Health Mawista Swisscare To apply for expat health insurance in Germany, you need to contact a provider of your choice and fill out an online application form. You will also need to provide some documents, such as: Your passport or ID card Your visa or residence permit (if applicable) Your registration certificate (Anmeldung) Your proof of travel or relocation (if applicable) The provider will then assess your application and offer you a quote based on your personal and medical information. You can then choose a plan that suits your needs and budget. Once you accept the offer, you will receive a confirmation and a policy document. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Health Insurance Plan in Germany Choosing a health insurance plan in Germany can be challenging, as there are many factors to consider and compare. Here are some of the most important ones: Coverage: What services and treatments are included in the plan? Are there any exclusions or limitations? How much reimbursement do you get for medical expenses? Cost: How much is the monthly premium? Are there any co-payments or deductibles? How does the premium change over time or with age? Eligibility: Do you meet the income, residency, or health requirements for the plan? Are there any waiting periods or restrictions for pre-existing conditions? Flexibility: How easy is it to change or cancel the plan? Can you choose your own doctors and hospitals? Can you adjust your coverage level or add-ons? Quality: How reliable and reputable is the provider? How good is the customer service and support? How fast and easy is the claim process? To help you make an informed decision, you can use online tools and resources to compare different plans and providers, such as: MW Expat Solutions Krankenkassen.de Check24 If you wish to get much more comprehensive and personalized advice and guidance based on your situation and needs, you can use the service from MW Expats who provide English speaking support. Tips on What to Watch Out for When Signing Up for Health Insurance in Germany Signing up for health insurance in Germany can be a smooth and easy process if you follow the steps and requirements of your chosen provider. However, there are also some potential pitfalls and challenges that you should be aware of and avoid when signing up for health insurance in Germany, such as: Not having health insurance at all: This is illegal and risky, as you will have to pay for all your medical expenses out of pocket and may face fines or penalties from the authorities. You should always have some form of health insurance coverage as soon as you arrive in Germany or before you apply for a visa or residence permit. Not having adequate health insurance coverage: This can lead to unexpected costs and gaps in your medical care, especially if you have special needs or conditions that are not covered by your plan. You should always check the details and benefits of your plan carefully and make sure it meets your needs and expectations. Not informing your provider of any changes: This can result in your plan being invalid or canceled, or your premium being increased or decreased. You should always inform your provider of any changes in your personal or medical information, such as your income, address, marital status, health condition, or family size. Not comparing different plans and providers: This can result in you paying more than you need to or missing out on better options and deals. You should always compare different plans and providers before you sign up for health insurance in Germany and look for the best value and quality for your money. Not reading the fine print: This can result in misunderstandings, disputes, or disappointments with your plan or provider. You should always read the fine print and terms and conditions of your plan and contract carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear or confusing. By following these tips, you can avoid common mistakes and problems when signing up for health insurance in Germany and enjoy a hassle-free and secure healthcare experience. Conclusion Health insurance in Germany is an essential and mandatory part of living and working in the country. Whether you choose public, private, or expat health insurance, you can benefit from a high-quality and affordable healthcare system that covers most of your medical needs. However, choosing a health insurance plan in Germany can be challenging, as there are many factors to consider and compare. Therefore, you should do your research, use online tools and resources, consult with experts, and read the fine print before you sign up for health insurance in Germany. By doing so, you can find the best plan and provider for your situation and budget and enjoy a smooth and easy healthcare experience in Germany. About MW Expat Solutions At MW Expat, we are more than just an independent insurance broker. We are your trusted partner for creating and protecting your financial future. We understand how hard you work to grow your investments and retirement funds, and how important it is to safeguard what you have already achieved. That’s why we offer you tailor-made insurance and pension solutions that suit your needs and goals. We help you prepare for the unexpected risks that can derail your financial plans, such as accidents, illnesses, or other emergencies.
- How can temporary rentals help you when you first move to Germany
PAID PARTNERSHIP Temporary rentals provide a degree of versatility that conventional apartments cannot offer. Initially relocating to a foreign country may make it challenging to determine the ideal housing requirements. Choosing a temporary apartment enables individuals to have the liberty of exploring diverse housing alternatives before committing to a long-term lease. Moving to Germany can be an incredible adventure, but it can also be overwhelming. It can take time to adjust to a new country, culture, and way of life. One of the biggest challenges is finding the right place to live. Many people overlook the option of temporary rentals when they first move to Germany. Short term rentals offer flexible lease terms Temporary rentals offer a level of flexibility that traditional apartments simply can't match. When you first move to a new country, you may not know exactly what you're looking for in terms of housing. By renting a temporary apartment, you have the freedom to explore different options before committing to a long-term lease. Temporary rentals also offer flexibility in terms of lease length. If you're not sure how long you'll be staying in Germany, or if you don't want to commit to a long-term lease, a temporary rental can be a great alternative. You can rent for as little as a month or as long as a year, which gives you plenty of time to figure out your next steps. Temporary rentals are more affordable than other alternatives Moving to a new country can be expensive, and finding affordable housing can be a real challenge. However, temporary rentals can offer significant cost savings. Many temporary rentals come fully furnished and include utilities, which means you don't have to worry about buying furniture, kitchen appliances, or paying extra bills in your initial days. Temporary rentals also often have lower up-front costs. Most traditional apartments require a security deposit and the first and last month's rent up-front. With temporary rentals, you may only need to pay a small deposit or even no deposit at all. This can be a big relief when you're just starting out and trying to manage your finances. Temporary rentals let you live your life uninterrupted When you move to a new place, one of the biggest challenges is finding reliable, comfortable housing. Many people overlook temporary rentals as an option and opt for hotels or other short-term accommodations. However, temporary rentals offer many advantages that make them a great choice when moving to a new country. One of the biggest benefits of temporary rentals is that they usually come with everything you need to continue your normal daily life uninterrupted. Most temporary apartments are fully furnished and come equipped with all the necessary kitchen appliances, wardrobes, and other furniture, as well as access to the internet and other amenities. This means you don't have to worry about buying furniture or living out of suitcases until you find your ideal long-term rental. In addition, some temporary rental companies even offer additional services such as cleaning services or pet sitting. This can help make the transition to German life smoother and provide peace of mind knowing that you're taken care of during your first few weeks in a new country. They give you time to choose the right neighborhood When moving to a new city or country, you might not know exactly which neighborhood would be best for you. This is especially true if you've never been to the place before. By choosing to live in a temporary rental, you can give yourself time to explore different neighborhoods and get a feel for what each one has to offer. You can spend time walking around, checking out local shops and restaurants, and talking to locals to get a sense of what it's like to live in that area. This is a great way to help you make an informed decision on where to settle in more permanently. Plus, you won't be locked into a long-term lease in a neighborhood you end up not liking. Overall, choosing a temporary rental when moving to a new place can give you the flexibility and freedom to make the right decision on where to live. It can take the pressure off and allow you to fully explore your new home before settling in for the long haul. They allow you to start the Anmeldung process sooner One thing that is very important to know when moving to Germany is the process of Anmeldung. This is the process of registering your address with the government, and it is legally required if you plan to stay in Germany for three months or longer. Anmeldung is important because it affects your ability to do things like opening a bank account, enrolling in healthcare, or getting a residence permit. When you first move to Germany and start looking for a place to live, many landlords of temporary rentals understand the situation and will allow you to use their address for Anmeldung registration. This is because they know you won't be living there long-term and that Anmeldung can be a tricky process when you first arrive in Germany. You can use Homelike’s online rental agreements for the Anmeldung process. Registering for Anmeldung is simple and involves filling out a form at your local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You'll need to bring your passport or ID, your rental agreement, and a copy of your landlord's ID or passport. You may also need to bring proof of your health insurance and your tax identification number. In short, doing Anmeldung is very important for anyone planning on staying in Germany for three months or more. Just be sure to get your appointment and take all the necessary documents to the registration office. With Anmeldung under your belt, you'll be able to fully enjoy all that Germany has to offer. How to find short term rentals in Germany? Finding a temporary rental in Germany can be a daunting task, but there are many options available. One of the best options is Homelike, a platform that connects you with temporary rentals of all kinds. Homelike offers thousands of fully equipped apartments, from studio apartments to larger family-friendly options. The process is simple: just enter your desired location and length of stay, and Homelike will give you a list of available properties. You can filter your results by price, location, and amenities to find the perfect temporary home. Homelike also offers virtual tours of many properties, so you can see exactly what you're getting before you book. Homelike is a great option because it offers both flexibility and convenience. With properties all over Germany, you can find a temporary rental that meets your specific needs. Plus, Homelike allows you to book and pay for your rental online, so you don't have to worry about dealing with currency conversions or navigating foreign banking systems. So why not explore the many temporary rental options on Homelike and find your perfect home away from home in Germany? In short, choosing a temporary rental when you first move to Germany can offer many benefits as you’ve seen above. It makes your move stress-free and enjoyable. If you're considering moving to Germany, be sure to explore the option of a temporary rental as your first step towards your new life in this amazing country.
- How to change tax classes in Germany?
Taxes are one of the major deductions from your salary; especially if you are in the higher tax paying category. However, you can still make an impact in your monthly drawn salary by moving to a lesser tax paying class. Most things about taxes in Germany are a hot topic and not very easy when it comes to managing axes on your own. However, not every topic needs to be very hard. It is rather easy to change your tax classes in Germany and we’ll walk you through the process. Tax classes in Germany In Germany, your tax class will not affect your tax amount, but rather, depending on your income, the amount you pay will vary. Taxes are, however, calculated based on the amount of income you earn each month. Your overall tax bill remains the same over the course of the year. Singles are taxed in tax class I. This includes widows, divorcees, and civil partners. A married person who is not in class II, III, or IV can also be in class I. Unmarried expats in Germany or those whose spouse lives in a different country will automatically be assigned to tax class 1 upon arrival. Single parents living separately are taxed under tax class II. Those who are married and whose spouses are classified under tax class V or who have recently died are in tax class III. Tax class IV will be assigned to both spouses. A couple earning nearly the same amount should fit into tax class IV. You will automatically be assigned class IV if you arrive in Germany with your spouse or if you marry in Germany. If you are married to someone who has tax class III, you fall under tax class V. Those earning multiple wages from multiple employers are considered to be in tax class VI.. How do I know my tax class? On your payslip, you can find your tax class in the left upper corner, marked SKI. The tax class numbers range from 1 to 6, or from I to VI in Roman numerals. What is the process for obtaining a tax class? Your tax ID and tax class will be assigned to you by the Finanzamt (tax office) after you are registered in Germany. While the tax ID will be valid during your stay in Germany, the tax class depends on your marital status. What are the steps to change your tax class in Germany? German tax classes can be changed quickly and easily. Fill out the form for changing your tax class You will need to submit the Antrag auf Steuerklassenwechsel bei Ehengatten if you want to change to the tax class combination III/V. It is possible to do this online or to print out the form from the website of the Finanzamt and fill it out. Unfortunately, the form does not come in English. Alternatively, you can use Google translate’s document translate option to translate the form to English or to a language you understand. However, make sure you submit only the German form to Finanzamt. Send the form to the tax office (Finanzamt) The tax office will inform your employer of the changes within five days of the next month if you send the form in before the end of the month. When to change my tax class in Germany? It is easy to change your tax class in Germany. Most expats become concerned about tax class when they marry or move to Germany alone if they are married. Separation, divorce, the birth of a child with full custody or a change in employment or income can also result in a change in tax class. It will usually be the spouse who files the request alone who signs the form in these cases. In the event that one spouse passes away, the tax class of the other spouse will be changed automatically. Even during a single year, tax classes can be changed a number of times depending on the circumstances.
- How to adopt a dog in Germany as an expat?
As a dog owner in Germany, it is important to be aware of the legal requirements and regulations that apply to owning a dog. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about registering your dog, obtaining dog liability insurance, obtaining a dog license, obtaining a dog passport, and adopting a dog in Germany. Firstly, an expat adopting a dog is no different from a German adopting a dog. The process and legal compliance are similar. How can I adopt a dog in Germany? If you are interested in adopting a dog in Germany, there are several options available. You can adopt from a shelter or rescue organization, or you can purchase a dog from a breeder. It is important to do your research and find a reputable organization or breeder. When adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you will typically need to fill out an application and may undergo a screening process. This could involve an interview, a home visit, or a background check. The purpose of the screening process is to ensure that the dog is placed in a safe and loving home. When purchasing a dog from a breeder, it is important to choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. You should ask to see the breeder's facilities and meet the dogs in person before making a purchase. In order to adopt a dog, you could reach out to places like animalhouseshelter.com, or tierschutzverein-muenchen.de, etc. If you are looking for a breeder, you could google the breeder next to your town or city. Alternatively, you can look for breeders in your area via the official German dog breeder association (VDH). Only breeders who are official members of the VDH can legally sell dogs. Some good to know facts about owning a dog in Germany Registering Your Dog in Germany In Germany, it is mandatory to register your dog with the local government authorities. This is done at the local town hall, or "Einwohnermeldeamt". When registering your dog, you will need to provide information such as your dog's breed, age, gender, and proof of ownership, such as a sales contract or vaccination record. The registration process usually involves paying a fee, which varies depending on the local regulations. Registering your dog is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that your dog is identifiable and traceable if they go missing. Secondly, it helps to prevent dog theft, as registered dogs can be traced back to their owners. Finally, in Germany it is a legal requirement to register your dog, and failure to register your dog can result in a fine. If you move to a new address in Germany, you need to register your dog within 2–4 weeks. In most cases, you can do this in person at the Bürgeramt. You can find out how it works in your region by contacting your local Burgeramt. Additionally, dog owners must pay an annual dog tax of €90-150 per animal. You may receive a fine if you fail to have your dog's Steuermarke when walking. Whenever your dog is in public, it must wear its dogtag (Hundesteuermarke). You could get fined if your dog is not registered Dog Liability Insurance In Germany, it is mandatory to have dog liability insurance. This insurance protects you if your dog causes injury or damage to others. If you own a dog in Germany without liability insurance, you could be subject to hefty fines. The cost of dog liability insurance varies depending on the breed of dog and the insurance provider. It is important to shop around and find the best deal for you and your furry friend. Dog License A dog license is required in Germany, and the process varies depending on the state or region in which you live. In some areas, a dog license is obtained by registering your dog with the local authorities. In other areas, you may need to take a test to prove that you are a responsible dog owner. The cost of a dog license also varies depending on your location. The purpose of a dog license is to ensure that dog owners are responsible and that their dogs are well-behaved. The license may require proof of vaccination, training, or other evidence of responsible dog ownership. Some areas also have breed-specific regulations that apply to dogs, such as restrictions on certain breeds or mandatory muzzling. Dog Passport If you plan to travel with your dog outside of Germany, you will need a dog passport. A dog passport is an official document that lists your dog's identification, such as microchip or tattoo number, as well as vaccination records. To obtain a dog passport, you will need to have your dog microchipped or tattooed, and then visit a veterinarian to have them fill out the necessary paperwork. The dog passport is important for traveling with your dog because it allows you to prove that your dog has received the necessary vaccinations and is in good health. Without a dog passport, you may not be able to bring your dog with you on your travels. Banned dog breeds in Germany In Germany, there are certain breeds of dogs that are considered to be potentially dangerous due to their size, strength, and temperament. As a result, these breeds are either completely banned or restricted in some regions of the country. The German government and animal welfare organizations believe that these regulations are necessary to protect public safety and prevent dog attacks. The most commonly banned breeds in Germany include : Pit Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier Bull Terrier Tosa Inu Dogo Argentino Fila Brasileiro Akita Inu Mastiff Bullmastiff These breeds are often associated with aggression and have been involved in several high-profile attacks in Germany and around the world. However, it's important to note that not all regions in Germany have the same restrictions and regulations when it comes to these breeds. Some regions may have stricter laws than others, while some may have no restrictions at all. Additionally, some regions may have different rules for mixed-breed dogs that include one of the banned breeds. Overall, it's important for anyone considering owning a dog in Germany to be aware of the laws and regulations in their specific region. It's also important to note that even if a breed is not officially banned or restricted, owners are still responsible for ensuring that their dog is well-behaved and does not pose a threat to public safety. Finally, it is expected that dogs in Germany adhere to the Ruhezeiten, which are designated quiet times during the day. During these periods, dog owners are expected to limit their dogs barking. Additionally, outside of the quiet times, dogs should not bark continuously for more than a certain amount of time. This might sound surprising, but it is a real regulation. In fact, neighbors have the legal right to take action against owners whose dogs do not comply with these rules.
- If a flight is delayed or canceled, what are your rights as an expat in Germany?
If your flight is delayed or cancelled in Germany, you should know your rights as an airline passenger. In some cases, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline. As an airline passenger in Germany, you have certain rights protected by EU law if your flight is delayed or cancelled. These rights are designed to ensure that you are adequately compensated for any inconvenience you may experience as a result of flight disruptions. Here is an overview of what you can expect. Delayed Flights If your flight is delayed, you may be entitled to care and assistance from the airline. This can include free meals and refreshments, free access to communication (e.g., phone calls or emails), and free hotel accommodation if necessary. The exact type of assistance you are entitled to will depend on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight. Cancelled Flights If your flight is cancelled, you have the right to choose between a full refund of the ticket price or rerouting to your final destination. In some cases, the airline may offer you a replacement flight, but you are not obligated to accept this option. If you opt for a refund, the airline must provide it without undue delay and, in any case, no later than seven days after the cancellation. Compensation for Delayed or Cancelled Flights In addition to the assistance and compensation outlined above, you may also be entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled. The amount of compensation you are entitled to will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the length of the delay. Generally, if the flight is delayed for more than three hours, you may be entitled to compensation of up to 600 euros, although this will depend on the distance of the flight and other factors. How do I complain or get compensated? Know your rights before talking to the airline or tour operator. Ensure that you keep a record of all conversations. You can contact your country's European Consumer Centre, which can assist you with cross-border flights, or a national consumer center for domestic trips if you are not satisfied with the airline's response. A formal EU airline complaint form can be filled out if you believe your airline owes you compensation. In conclusion, if you are affected by a delayed or cancelled flight in Germany, it is important to be aware of your rights as an airline passenger. You are entitled to care and assistance from the airline, as well as compensation in some cases. To ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to, it is advisable to keep all relevant documentation and to contact the airline as soon as possible.
- What is the cost of living in Germany in 2023?
Moving to a new country usually involves wondering about the cost of living in the city in which you plan to live. The cost may vary from city to city, but when you compare it to another person's expenses, you might get a sense of what you might expect to pay. Germany is known for its strong economy and high standard of living, but what does it actually cost to live there? In this article, we'll take a closer look at the cost of living in Germany and what you can expect in terms of expenses. I only lived in Stuttgart and Munich in Germany. Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to define the real cost of living in different cities in Germany. However, I can tell you how much it costs for a 3 member family to live in Munich - one of the most expensive cities in Germany. Before talking about the expenses, let’s take a look at the average salary in Germany. The average salary in Germany is around €47,000 per year, but this can vary depending on the industry, location, and level of education and experience of the individual. For example, a recent study showed that the average salary in the finance industry in Germany is around €80,000 per year, while the average salary in the retail industry is around €30,000 per year. We’ve published an article on how much a good salary in Germany looks like. Check it out to understand the minimum wages and different salary scales in Germany. There are a number of ways in which it can be categorized in terms of the cost of living. However, we are trying to categorize the most common categories here in order to make it easier for you. I have included my monthly expense calculator at the end of this article, so that you can easily compare your monthly expenses with someone who actually lives in Germany and get a glimpse of real life here. What is the average cost for accommodation in Germany in 2023? The average cost of accommodation in Germany in 2023 can vary greatly depending on the type of housing, the location, and the individual's preferences. Here are some average costs for different types of housing in Germany: Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center: The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center in Germany is around €800 to €1,500 per month, although the exact cost can vary depending on the location and the type of apartment. Rent in major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich tend to be more expensive than in smaller cities or rural areas. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside of a city center: The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside of a city center in Germany is around €500 to €1,000 per month, although the exact cost can vary depending on the location and the type of apartment. Rent for a shared apartment: Renting a room in a shared apartment in Germany is an affordable option for many people, with the average cost ranging from €300 to €800 per month, depending on the location and the type of apartment. It's worth noting that the cost of accommodation in Germany can vary greatly depending on the type of housing, the location, and the individual's preferences, so it's important to research and compare the different options before making a decision. Additionally, there are often additional expenses associated with renting a home, such as utility bills, Internet, and insurance, so it's a good idea to factor these costs into your budget as well. What is the average electricity cost in Germany in 2023? The average electricity cost in Germany in 2023 is around €0.30 to €0.40 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This means that the monthly electricity bill for a typical German household can range from €70 to €120, depending on the usage and size of the home. It's worth noting that electricity prices in Germany can vary depending on the region and the provider, so it's important to compare prices and select the best option for your needs. Additionally, there are various ways to reduce electricity costs, such as using energy-efficient appliances, implementing energy-saving measures, and taking advantage of renewable energy options. What is the average heating cost in Germany in 2023? The average heating cost in Germany in 2023 can vary depending on the size of the home, the type of heating system used, and the location. However, on average, a typical German household can expect to pay around €500 to €1,500 per year for heating expenses. This cost includes the cost of fuel, maintenance, and any upgrades or repairs to the heating system. It's worth noting that the cost of heating in Germany can be influenced by various factors, including the weather and energy prices, so it's important to budget accordingly. What is the average internet cost in Germany in 2023? The average cost of internet in Germany in 2023 can range from €20 to €50 per month, depending on the type of service and speed. For basic internet services with speeds of up to 100 Mbps, you can expect to pay around €20 to €30 per month. For faster internet speeds and more premium services, such as unlimited data usage, you can expect to pay around €40 to €50 per month. It's worth noting that the cost of the internet in Germany can vary depending on the provider and region, so it's important to compare prices and select the best option for your needs. Additionally, there are various discounts and deals available, so it's a good idea to research and compare the different options before making a decision. What is the average cost for Food and Groceries in Germany in 2023? Eating habits, dietary requirements, and lifestyle may make a significant difference in the average cost of food and groceries. However, here are some estimated average costs for food and groceries in Germany: Groceries: The average cost of groceries in Germany is around €200 to €400 per month, depending on the individual's eating habits and dietary requirements. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat, and bread are generally available at reasonable prices in Germany. Dining Out: The average cost of dining out in Germany is around €15 to €30 per person per meal, depending on the type of restaurant and location. Fast food and street food are generally cheaper than sit-down restaurants, while gourmet restaurants and high-end eateries can be more expensive. It's worth noting that the cost of food and groceries in Germany can vary greatly depending on the individual's eating habits, dietary requirements, and lifestyle, so it's important to budget accordingly and keep track of spending. Additionally, there are often discounts and deals available for various types of food and groceries, so it's a good idea to research and compare the different options before making a decision. What is the average transportation cost in Germany in 2023? The average cost of transportation in Germany in 2023 can vary depending on the mode of transportation and the region. Here are some average costs for different types of transportation in Germany: Public Transportation: The average cost of public transportation in Germany is around €40 to €120 per month, although the exact cost can vary depending on the city and the type of pass. Monthly passes for public transportation are usually available for a discounted rate, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for many people. Taxi: The average cost of a taxi in Germany is around €2 to €4 per kilometer, although the exact cost can vary depending on the city and the time of day. Additionally, there is usually a starting fee of around €5 to €10, as well as a fee for luggage and additional passengers. Car: The average cost of owning a car in Germany is around €200 to €400 per month, including expenses such as fuel, insurance, maintenance, and parking. The exact cost can vary depending on the type of car and the driving habits of the owner. It's worth noting that transportation costs in Germany can vary greatly depending on the mode of transportation and the region, so it's important to consider the different options and budget accordingly. Additionally, there are various discounts and deals available for public transportation, so it's a good idea to research and compare the different options before making a decision. What is the average insurance cost in Germany in 2023? The average cost of insurance can vary depending on the type of insurance, your age, and other personal factors. Here are some average costs for different types of insurance in Germany: Health Insurance: On average, health insurance in Germany costs around €100 to €180 per month, although the exact cost can vary depending on the type of coverage and the insurance company. Everyone who lives and works in Germany is required to have health insurance. Car Insurance: The average cost of car insurance in Germany is around €600 to €1,500 per year, although the exact cost can vary depending on the type of vehicle, driving history, and other personal factors. Home Insurance: The average cost of home insurance in Germany is around €100 to €600 per year, although the exact cost can vary depending on the value of the property, location, and other personal factors. Life Insurance: The average cost of life insurance in Germany is around €20 to €50 per month, although the exact cost can vary depending on the type of coverage, age, and other personal factors. It's worth noting that insurance costs in Germany can vary greatly depending on the type of coverage and the insurance company, so it's important to compare prices and select the best option for your needs. Additionally, there are various discounts and deals available, so it's a good idea to research and compare the different options before making a decision. How much will loans cost on average in Germany in 2023? The average cost of loans in Germany in 2023 can vary depending on the type of loan, the lender, and the borrower's credit score and financial history. Here are some average costs for different types of loans in Germany: Personal Loans: The average interest rate for personal loans in Germany is around 2% to 4%, although the exact rate can vary depending on the lender and the borrower's credit score. The overall cost of a personal loan can be estimated by multiplying the loan amount by the interest rate and dividing by 12 to get the monthly payment. Mortgage Loans: The average interest rate for mortgage loans in Germany is around 1% to 2%, although the exact rate can vary depending on the type of mortgage, the lender, and the borrower's credit score. The overall cost of a mortgage loan can be estimated by multiplying the loan amount by the interest rate and dividing by 12 to get the monthly payment. Car Loans: The average interest rate for car loans in Germany is around 2% to 4%, although the exact rate can vary depending on the type of loan, the lender, and the borrower's credit score. The overall cost of a car loan can be estimated by multiplying the loan amount by the interest rate and dividing by 12 to get the monthly payment. It's worth noting that the cost of loans in Germany can vary greatly depending on the type of loan, the lender, and the borrower's financial history, so it's important to compare prices and select the best option for your needs. Additionally, there are various fees and charges associated with taking out a loan, so it's a good idea to review the terms and conditions carefully before making a decision. What is the average cost for Leisure and Entertainment in Germany in 2023? The average cost of leisure and entertainment in Germany in 2023 can vary greatly depending on the individual's interests and lifestyle. However, here are some estimated average costs for leisure and entertainment in Germany: Cinema: The average cost of a movie ticket in Germany is around €10 to €15, depending on the location and time of day. Theater: The average cost of a theater ticket in Germany is around €30 to €50, depending on the performance and location. Sports: The average cost of a gym membership in Germany is around €30 to €70 per month, depending on the gym and location. Other sports activities, such as football or basketball games, can range from €10 to €50 or more, depending on the event and location. Music: The average cost of a concert ticket in Germany is around €30 to €100, depending on the performer and location. Museums: The average cost of a museum admission in Germany is around €5 to €15, depending on the museum and location. It's worth noting that the cost of leisure and entertainment in Germany can vary greatly depending on the individual's interests and lifestyle, so it's important to budget accordingly and keep track of spending. Additionally, there are often discounts and deals available for various leisure and entertainment activities, so it's a good idea to research and compare the different options before making a decision. What is the average tax in Germany? Depending on a person's income and other factors, the average tax in Germany in 2023 will vary greatly. However, here is some general information on taxes in Germany: Income Tax: Germany has a progressive income tax system, which means that people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate. The average income tax rate in Germany in 2023 ranges from 14% to 42%, with a special 45% rate for income above €260,000. Value-Added Tax (VAT): Germany also has a value-added tax (VAT), which is a consumption tax that is included in the price of most goods and services. The standard VAT rate in Germany in 2023 is 19%, although there are reduced rates of 7% and 0% for certain goods and services. Social Security Contributions: In addition to income and value-added taxes, most people in Germany are required to pay social security contributions, which help to fund various social welfare programs, such as pensions and health insurance. The average social security contribution rate in Germany in 2023 is around 13.5% to 15.5% of an individual's income, depending on their insurance coverage. It's worth noting that taxes in Germany can vary greatly depending on a person's income, insurance coverage, and other factors, so it's important to research and consult a tax professional for more detailed information. Additionally, there are often tax breaks and deductions available for various expenses, such as education and housing, so it's a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities to lower your overall tax bill. Our article on What expats need to know about German tax and tax classes will give you a thorough understanding about different tax classes in Germany and how you can benefit from the annual income tax returns. Therefore, make sure to check it out. Additionally, you can use an online German tax calculator to calculate your tax returns at the end of the year. Real life expenses I used Google Sheets to create a monthly house expense calculator and below is a screenshot of it. In this example, I am trying to give you an idea of how much a family of three spends a month. In conclusion, the cost of living in Germany in 2023 is relatively high compared to other countries, but it's worth it given the country's strong economy, high standard of living, and excellent public services. If you're planning to move to Germany, it's important to carefully consider your expenses and budget to ensure that you have enough money to live comfortably.
- What happens when you lose your job in Germany?
Getting laid off at an unexpected time can be stressful and difficult, but knowing your rights can make it easier for you to get back on track after a layoff. Losing your job in Germany can be a difficult and stressful experience. While unemployment can happen to anyone, it is important to know what to do when it occurs and what your rights are. In this article, we will explore what happens when you lose your job in Germany and what steps you should take to get back on your feet. What happens when you lose your job in Germany? Get started as soon as possible Getting laid off is devastating, especially if it comes as a surprise. However, you must act immediately. In Germany, you have three weeks from the day you receive a written termination notice to file a dismissal protection suit (Kündigungsschutzklage). All employees who have passed their probationary period (usually six months) are eligible to file a dismissal protection suit. The dismissal protection suit can be filed by you on your own or by a lawyer. Generally, a dismissal protection suit seeks to have you reinstated. Most often, however, both parties agree on severance pay packages. Depending on the number of years you worked for the company, your severance pay could equal your monthly gross salary multiplied by that number. The rate can be even higher if you have only been employed for a short period of time. What steps should you take when you lose your job in Germany? Inform the job center: The job center will help you find a new job, provide you with job search support and offer training and education opportunities. Register as unemployed: To receive unemployment benefits, you must register as unemployed with the job center. You will need to provide proof of your employment and earnings, as well as proof that you have been laid off. Those who are unemployed in Germany are entitled to unemployment benefits, which are funded by contributions from employers and employees. Based on your previous earnings and length of employment, you will receive around 60% of your previous net salary on average. Start searching for a new job: While receiving unemployment benefits, you are required to actively search for a new job. This means you must attend job fairs, send out applications and attend job interviews. Consider additional training or education: If you have difficulty finding a new job, you may consider additional training or education to improve your chances of finding employment. The job center can provide you with information on available programs and how to apply. Seek legal advice: If you feel that your rights have been violated or if you have any questions about your rights, you can seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer. In conclusion, losing your job in Germany can be a difficult and stressful experience, but it is important to know your rights and what steps to take to get back on your feet. With the support of the job center and unemployment benefits, as well as a commitment to actively searching for a new job, you can find employment and get back to work as soon as possible.
- N26: The Best Online Bank for Expats in Germany
N26 is a great choice for anyone who wants a convenient, affordable, and secure digital bank in Germany. With its cutting-edge technology, user-friendly interface, and innovative financial services, N26 is quickly becoming one of the most popular banks in Germany. If you are an expat living in Germany, you might be looking for a bank account that suits your needs. You want a bank that is easy to use, offers low fees, and supports multiple currencies. You also want a bank that has a user-friendly app, a reliable customer service, and a secure online banking system. Sounds too good to be true? Well, not anymore. Meet N26, the best online bank for expats in Germany. What is N26? N26 is a fully-mobile bank that operates in 25 countries across Europe and the US. It was founded in 2013 by two German entrepreneurs who wanted to create a simple and transparent banking experience for the digital age. N26 offers personal and business accounts, as well as savings, investment, insurance, and credit products. N26 has over 7 million customers worldwide and has raised more than $800 million from investors such as Tencent, Allianz, and Peter Thiel. Why choose N26 as an expat in Germany? There are many reasons why N26 is the best online bank for expats in Germany. Here are some of them: No paperwork required: You can open an N26 account in just a few minutes from your smartphone or computer. All you need is your passport or ID card and a proof of address. No need to visit a branch or fill out any forms. No monthly fees: N26 offers a free standard account that comes with a free Mastercard debit card. You can also upgrade to premium plans that offer additional benefits such as travel insurance, partner discounts, and metal cards. No foreign transaction fees: You can use your N26 card to pay in any currency without any fees. You also get free ATM withdrawals in euros and up to 5 free withdrawals per month in other currencies. No language barriers: N26 supports 5 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. You can choose your preferred language in the app and on the website. You can also contact the customer service via chat, phone, or email in any of these languages. No hassle: You can manage all your finances directly from your smartphone or computer. You can view your transactions, set spending limits, lock/unlock your card, send money to friends, and more. You also get instant notifications for every activity on your account. How to open an N26 account as an expat in Germany? Opening an N26 account as an expat in Germany is very easy. Here are the steps you need to follow: Go to N26 website or download the N26 app on your smartphone. Choose your country of residence and the type of account you want to open. Enter your personal details such as name, email, phone number, date of birth, and address. Verify your identity by taking a photo of your passport or ID card and a selfie. Confirm your email address and phone number. Choose your card design and delivery address. Activate your card by entering the PIN you received via SMS. Enjoy your N26 account! Benefits of N26 Easy and Quick Sign-Up: N26 makes it incredibly easy to open an account, with the process taking just a few minutes and can be done entirely online. User-Friendly App: N26’s app is user-friendly, intuitive, and offers customers a range of features, including account tracking, card management, and the ability to view transactions in real-time. Overdraft Protection: N26 offers overdraft protection, which means that customers can spend up to 10000 euros more than their account balance without incurring any fees. Competitive Interest Rates: N26 offers competitive interest rates on savings accounts, making it an attractive option for people who want to save money. No Hidden Fees: N26 is transparent about its fees, making it easy for people to budget and keep track of their finances. Secure: N26 uses state-of-the-art security measures to protect its customers' finances and is fully licensed and regulated by the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). Disadvantages of N26 Limited Services: Today, N26 can only offer basic banking services and does not have a branch network, which may not be suitable for everyone. No Physical Checks: N26 does not offer the option to write physical checks, which may be a drawback for some customers. Limited Customer Support: N26 offers limited customer support, with the only option being email or through its in-app support center. Limited Credit Options: N26 does not offer a wide variety of credit options like traditional banks offer, which may not be suitable for everyone. Not Yet Available in All Countries: N26 is currently only available in Europe and a few other countries, meaning that it may not be a suitable option for everyone. Conclusion N26 is the best online bank for expats in Germany because it offers a convenient, low-cost, and secure banking experience. You can open an account online in minutes without any paperwork or fees. You can also pay in any currency without any fees and access various financial products and services. N26 is the perfect bank for the digital nomads who want to live and work in Germany. If you are interested in opening an N26 account, you can use this link.
- Why should expats in Germany have an American Express Payback credit card?
Payback is a valuable rewards program for expats living in Germany. It offers a great way to save money on everyday purchases, provides a wide range of rewards, is easy to use, and supports local businesses. Whether you’re looking to save money on groceries, gas, or other expenses, Payback is a great choice for expats in Germany. So why not sign up for an account today and start earning rewards for your purchases? American Express, or Amex, is one of the world's largest credit card issuers. The company has a long history of providing high-quality credit products and services to its customers. In Germany, one of Amex's most popular offerings is the Payback Card. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the Amex Payback Card, including its features, benefits, and drawbacks. Features of the Amex Payback Card The Amex Payback Card is a credit card that provides a variety of benefits for its users. Some of the key features of this card include: Reward program: The Amex Payback Card offers a generous rewards program that allows cardholders to earn points for every purchase they make. These points can then be redeemed for a wide range of rewards, including merchandise, travel, and statement credits. Welcome bonus: First-time cardholders are eligible for a welcome bonus of up to 10,000 points, which can be redeemed for valuable rewards. No annual fee: Unlike many other credit cards, the Amex Payback Card does not charge an annual fee. This means that cardholders can enjoy the benefits of the card without incurring any additional costs. Worldwide acceptance: The Amex Payback Card is accepted at millions of locations around the world, making it a convenient option for international travel. Customer service: Amex is known for its exceptional customer service, and the Payback Card is no exception. Cardholders have access to 24/7 support, and can take advantage of a variety of benefits and services, including travel insurance and extended warranty protection. High Level of Security: The American Express Payback Card uses state-of-the-art security measures to keep your personal and financial information safe and secure. This means that you can have peace of mind knowing that your information is protected, even when shopping online or using the card abroad. Access to Travel and Insurance Services: The American Express Payback Card provides cardholders with access to a range of travel and insurance services, including travel accident insurance, emergency assistance, and travel services. This can provide added peace of mind when traveling and can help ensure that you are covered in the event of an emergency. Easy to Use: The American Express Payback Card is designed to be easy to use, with an intuitive interface and simple online account management tools. This means that you can easily keep track of your spending and manage your account from anywhere in the world. Benefits of the Amex Payback Card In addition to its features, the Amex Payback Card also offers several benefits to its users. Some of the key benefits of this card include: Generous rewards program: The rewards program offered by the Amex Payback Card is one of the most generous available. Cardholders can earn points for every purchase they make, and can redeem these points for a wide range of valuable rewards. No annual fee: The lack of an annual fee makes the Amex Payback Card an affordable option for consumers who are looking for a credit card that provides great rewards and benefits without additional costs. Worldwide acceptance: The Amex Payback Card is accepted at millions of locations around the world, making it a convenient option for international travel. Exceptional customer service: Amex is known for its exceptional customer service, and cardholders of the Payback Card can take advantage of 24/7 support and a variety of benefits and services. Is it possible to cash out my Payback points? You can cash out your Payback points on the Payback website. Before logging in, you must make sure that you are on the official website. You can also use the Payback app. If you go to www.payback.de/pb/bargeld, you will be able to cash out your Payback points. When you log in, you will be able to check your bank details. Ensure that the data is entered correctly. When you click on "Confirm", the payout process begins. From 200 points collected, it is possible to pay off the credit balance. The points are worth one cent each, so at least two euros must be paid out. There is no need to pay off the entire credit balance. Also, you can decide to cash out only part of your points and invest the remaining in Payback rewards. Credit balances are repaid relatively quickly. If your credit is approved the next day, it can be on your account the very next day. Usually, it takes one week for your credit to be approved. Drawbacks of the Amex Payback Card While the Amex Payback Card offers many benefits, it also has a few drawbacks that potential cardholders should be aware of. Some of the drawbacks of this card include: High interest rate: The interest rate on the Amex Payback Card is relatively high, which could make it an expensive option for those who carry a balance. Limited rewards redemption options: Although the rewards program offered by the Amex Payback Card is generous, the redemption options are limited. Some cardholders may find that they are unable to redeem their points for the rewards they want. Foreign transaction fees: The Amex Payback Card charges a fee for foreign transactions, which could make it an expensive option for international travel. Conclusion The Amex Payback Card is a great option for consumers in Germany who are looking for a credit card with a generous rewards program and a range of benefits. While this card has a few drawback.
- Moving to Germany from India: Your Expert Checklist for a Successful Transition
If you are an Indian citizen and relocating to Germany, this checklist will help you make your relocation much more relaxed. Are you in the process of moving to Germany from India? You are not alone. Many Indians choose Germany as their new home for various reasons. Maybe you want to pursue higher education, find a better job, or explore a different culture and lifestyle. Whatever your motivation, Germany has a lot to offer you. But before you can enjoy the benefits of living in Germany, you need to do some homework. Moving to a new country is not easy. You have to deal with many things like visa, education, health, money, housing, and more. It can be overwhelming and stressful if you don’t know what to do. In this article, we will give you a handy checklist of everything you need to prepare before and after relocating to Germany from India. We will guide you through the steps and provide you with useful tips and resources. By following this checklist, you will be ready to start your new adventure in Germany. 12-9 Months Before Departure: Research and Decision: Before you embark on your journey to Germany, it's crucial to thoroughly research the country's culture, lifestyle, and cities. Understand the unique characteristics of different regions and consider factors such as climate, job opportunities, and quality of life. Take time to decide on the city that aligns with your personal and professional goals. Language Skills: Learning German is a significant advantage when relocating to Germany. Not only will it make your daily interactions smoother, but it will also help you integrate into the local community and workplace. Consider enrolling in language courses, using language learning apps, or engaging in language exchange programs to build your language skills gradually. 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. 9-6 Months Before Departure: Passport and Visa: Your passport is your gateway to international travel. Ensure that your passport has a validity of at least six months beyond your intended return date. Research the specific visa or residence permit you'll need based on your purpose of relocation – whether it's for work, study, or family reasons. Carefully review the requirements and prepare the necessary documentation for the visa application process. You can use the Tatkal facility and renew your passport within 2-3 weeks from India. Job Search/Admission: If you're moving to Germany for work or study, this is the time to actively search for job openings or apply to universities. Tailor your CV and cover letter according to the expectations of the German job market. Reach out to professional networks, attend job fairs, and research potential employers or educational institutions that align with your career aspirations. Finances: Moving to a new country involves initial financial commitments. Estimate the cost of living in your chosen city and plan your finances accordingly. Set up a separate savings account dedicated to your relocation expenses, including accommodation, transportation, and initial settling-in costs. Opening a German bank account before you leave India can help streamline financial transactions once you arrive. 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. 6 Months Before Departure: Health Insurance: Health insurance is a mandatory requirement for most visas in Germany. Research and purchase health insurance coverage that meets the country's standards. Compare private and public insurance options, understanding the coverage they offer for medical emergencies, doctor visits, and medications. Having proper health insurance ensures your well-being throughout your stay. Accommodation: Researching neighborhoods and housing options in your chosen city is essential for a smooth transition. Understand the rental market, popular residential areas, and average costs of different types of accommodations. If you can, consider booking temporary accommodation for your initial arrival to provide a base while you explore more permanent housing options. 4-3 Months Before Departure: Visa Application: The visa application process can be intricate, involving various documents such as proof of financial stability, visa application forms, passport-sized photos, health insurance confirmation, and official employment or university acceptance letters. Make appointments with the German consulate or embassy well in advance to submit your application and allow ample time for processing. Inform Current Authorities: Notify local authorities, banks, and institutions about your planned move. Inform tax authorities about your change in residency status, close or transfer existing bank accounts, and settle any pending bills. Informing these entities ensures a smooth transition and prevents potential complications later. Sell/Discard Items: Before packing up, declutter your belongings. Decide what items you want to take with you, what you want to sell, and what can be donated. Consider the practicality of shipping larger items and furniture versus purchasing them anew in Germany. This process not only lightens your load but also helps you start afresh in your new home. 3 Months Before Departure: Visa Approval: By this time, you might receive your visa or residence permit approval. This exciting milestone means you're one step closer to your relocation journey. Confirm your travel dates based on your visa's validity and your personal plans. Flights: Once your visa is approved and you have confirmed travel dates, book your flight tickets. Booking in advance can often lead to better deals and more flexible options. Consider booking a one-way ticket, especially if you're unsure about your return plans. 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. 1 Month Before Departure: Notify Services: Inform utility services such as electricity, water, and internet providers about your move-out date. Settle any outstanding bills to avoid complications. Cancel or transfer subscriptions like magazine memberships, streaming services, and gym memberships. Packing: Begin packing your belongings systematically. Label boxes based on their contents to make unpacking easier. Prioritize essentials and items you'll need immediately upon arrival, like clothing, toiletries, and important documents. Legal Documents: Gather essential legal documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and academic transcripts. If these documents aren't in German or English, consider having them translated and authenticated for use in Germany. 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. 2 Weeks Before Departure: Farewell: Take time to bid farewell to friends and family. Organize gatherings or intimate get-togethers to create lasting memories before you embark on your new adventure. Emergency Contacts: Share your new contact details, including your German address and phone number, with close friends and family members. This ensures they can reach you in case of emergencies. 1 Week Before Departure: Travel Essentials: As departure nears, ensure you have all essential travel documents within easy reach, including your passport, visa, flight details, and health insurance information. Pack any necessary medications and prescriptions, and keep them in your carry-on luggage. Notify New Address: If you have a confirmed place of residence in Germany, inform your future landlord or housing agency about your expected arrival date. This ensures a smooth check-in process upon your arrival. Arrival in Germany: Initial Accommodation: Upon arriving in Germany, your initial accommodation will provide you with a temporary base while you settle in. This could be a hotel, Airbnb, or a temporary rental. Use this time to get acclimated to your surroundings and prepare for the next steps of your journey. Register Residence: Register your address at the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within a week of your arrival. This is a mandatory step in Germany and is important for various administrative purposes. Bank Account: Open a German bank account to manage your finances conveniently. Many transactions in Germany are cashless, and having a local bank account is essential for salary deposits, bill payments, and everyday financial transactions. Language Courses: Enroll in language courses to enhance your German language skills. Not only will this assist with daily interactions, but it will also help you feel more comfortable and integrated in your new environment. 1-2 Months After Arrival: Apartment Hunting: Begin the search for long-term accommodation if you haven't already secured it. Attend viewings, interact with potential landlords, and consider factors like proximity to work or university, transportation options, and local amenities. Job/University Formalities: Complete any remaining formalities related to your job or university enrollment. This might include submitting additional paperwork or attending orientation sessions. Social Integration: Actively engage in local events, clubs, and activities to meet people and become part of the community. Exploring your new city and forming social connections will enhance your overall experience in Germany. Conclusion: And there you have it, fellow explorers! We've covered the whole shebang, from researching your dream destination to settling into your new life in Germany. The journey might have seemed like a roller coaster, with twists and turns aplenty, but armed with our comprehensive checklist, you're now primed for success. Remember, moving to a new country is more than just packing bags and hopping on a plane. It's about embracing the unknown, immersing yourself in a new culture, and creating memories that'll last a lifetime. With your paperwork in place, your language skills on point, and your spirit of adventure ready to roll, you're set to conquer Germany, one pretzel at a time. So go on, make friends, explore corners you've never seen before, and make this chapter of your life a story worth telling. From the stunning landscapes to the charming streets, Germany is yours for the taking. Here's to your journey, your new beginnings, and the countless adventures that lie ahead. Prost to the excitement ahead and auf Wiedersehen to the worries – it's time to take the plunge!
- The proper way to separate waste in Germany
If you have ever wondered how to separate household waste while in Germany, here are some tips to help you out. In Germany, you can get a fine of up to 1.500€ if you do not follow the waste management procedures. One of the confusing questions you may have in your first week relocating to Germany would be how to separate the household waste. The reduction of residual waste allows us to use smaller or fewer residual waste bins, which can reduce the cost of disposal. Materials that are not recyclable The term residual waste refers to waste that can no longer be recycled. Most of these wastes are burned in thermal power stations and converted into electricity and district heating. Unfortunately, a large number of recyclable materials end up in the residual waste bin. The amount of residual waste can be significantly reduced by consistently separating waste at home itself. Nevertheless, using smaller or fewer residual waste bins will reduce your waste fees if you separate your waste better and throw less waste into them. What can be thrown in the gray residual waste bin? Vacuum cleaner bags Litter for cats and small animals Sanitary paper and diapers Carbonless paper and paper wax Etc… Paper wastes Paper and cardboard should be disposed of in the blue bin. Separating paper waste from non recyclable waste saves energy and water and protects forests because waste paper is reused in new paper production. What can you put in the blue paper bins? Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, prospectuses Letters, envelopes Forms, office paper Note books, books without covers Folded cardboard boxes, wrapping paper without tape Clean paper bags paper packaging Pizza box without leftovers Bio or organic waste Kitchen and garden waste should be disposed of in the brown compost bin. It is not allowed to put plastic bags in the organic waste bin! Compost is made from organic waste. Some cities produce green electricity from the fermentation process at the same time. Tree and shrub cuttings can, however, be sent to your city's local recycling depot for disposal. What can you put in the brown bin? Leftover vegetables, salads, and fruits (both raw and cooked) Leftover meat and fish (both raw and cooked) Peels of potato, egg, nut, and fruit Bread and baked goods that are old Ground coffee, coffee filters, and coffee pods Potting soil, flowers and plants (without pots) Trimmings from trees, shrubs, grass, and leaves Newspapers and kitchen paper can also be disposed in bio bins to soak up moisture Bottles and aluminum packages Separate packaging for recycling since it can be reused. In order to put the glass bottles in the packaging, it is necessary to empty it of its contents, no rinsing is required. It is important to separate different materials, such as the aluminum lid of the yogurt pot. What can you put in the glass disposer? Glass bottles. There is no need to remove the lids Containers, plastic packaging, plastic bottles, plastic cups, polystyrene, packaging films (e.g. beverage cartons, plastic packaging) Aluminum foil, aluminum cans, aerosol cans, crown caps, screw caps on bottles and jars, tinplate, tin cans, etc. Shoes and old clothes Unfortunately, there are still a lot of old clothes ending up in the residual waste bins. There is simply no point in throwing away old clothes in non recyclable waste bins. At the recycling depots or in the city area, you will find many containers for old clothes. What can you put in the clothes disposer? Any type of wearable clothes Wearable, clean shoes Gloves and hats Items such as tablecloths and bath towels. Curtains Bed linen Duvets Furthermore, there are recycling depots in every city where bulky waste, problematic materials, and green waste can be dropped off free of charge. Fines for not separating waste in Germany You could end up paying a huge fine if the administration discovers you fail to separate waste and do it regularly. However, the amount of the fine varies from state to state. Bussgeldkatalog has a comprehensive list of offenses and the fines against them on their website.
- How to choose the best personal liability insurance in Germany in 2023?
In Germany, it is essential to have personal liability insurance as you are completely liable for any damage you cause to others and their property. People in Germany will go to any length to get the compensation for the damages they have suffered. If you are already an expat in Germany or planning to relocate to Germany any sooner, you need to understand why getting personal liability insurance as soon as you arrive is so important. What Is Personal Liability Insurance In Germany? The purpose of personal liability insurance is to provide protection for you and your family in the event that a third party suffers injury or property damage due to an action committed by you or your close family members. Generally, personal liability refers to legal costs and damages that you are required to pay in compensation. Personal liability insurance is optional in Germany. However, we recommend you seriously consider purchasing a good personal liability insurance plan to protect against any unforeseen financial risk. Is personal liability insurance necessary in Germany? In Germany, it is essential to have personal liability insurance as you are completely liable for any damage you cause to others and their property. People in Germany will go to any length to get the compensation for the damages they have suffered. Even if you think you are in a good position to pay for any damages you may cause to somebody, sometimes things can go far beyond your control. For instance, you may be able to cover the cost of a television you broke in your friend's apartment. However, if your actions caused someone to seek medical care or any serious issues, the compensation amount could go up to millions. Personal liability insurance in Germany: a real-life example When I first moved to Germany, I lived in a friend's apartment. He had an old washing machine which was a bargain deal he bought from somewhere, and I had to use it one day. After I had put the clothes in it, I turned it on and left the room for some other tasks. After an hour, the washing was finished and I returned to the bathroom to pick up the clothes. I was shocked to see water spilled over the floor of the bathroom from the washing machine due to a damage in the waste water hose. In a few minutes, I had cleaned up the water and turned on the room heater to warm the floor. From my perspective, the situation appeared to be under control. My doorbell rang the next morning, and the person who lived downstairs invited me to his apartment to show me his bathroom roof. As the roof absorbed the water from my bathroom floor, I was shocked to see that the roof had been damaged. After that, I had to pay 450€ in compensation because I did not have personal liability insurance. Which causes are covered by personal liability insurance? The general coverage of personal liability insurance in Germany includes but not limited to, Damage to rented apartments Lost keys Damage caused by small pets Unintentional damage to others and properties of others However, the liability insurances generally do not cover, but not limited to, Broken glass Damage to your own property Fines and penalties Locksmith Are There Any Good Personal Liability Insurances In Germany? We’ve compared a handful of plans from different insurance providers. Finally, we think the Personal liability insurance provided by Feather insurance covers almost every cause and is rated good in many platforms. However, it is recommended that you consider the benefits and drawbacks of different liability insurance providers before choosing one. The Berlin-based Feather Insurance Company was founded in 2018. Their focus is exclusively on expats in Germany, and they are an insurance aggregator. They are therefore able to conduct their entire process in English and with great efficiency. You can get liability coverage for up to 50 million euros for as little as 4,94€ a month for a single person and 8,94€ for your spouse and children. Why should you choose Feather Insurance? English speaking customer service Cancellation is possible at any time Coverage is easily accessible Worldwide coverage No waiting period to file your first claim Feather does not cover Broken window glasses Damage to your own belongings, to belongings in a rental property, or to your own home is not covered. Any fines and penalties Payment to locksmith to break into your apartment Finally, after reviewing several liability insurance providers, Feather liability insurance offers the most things covered under a comparable cost. They have great English speaking customer service support, transparent and fast claiming procedures, and cover up to 50 million euros.
- Which is the Best electricity provider in Germany and how to change?
As soon as you move into a new apartment in Germany, you will automatically be signed into a contract with the basic electricity provider in your building. This is convenient to start with, as you move into a place with electricity. However, it is best to compare the plans from different providers and select the one that meets your needs. It is rare for some builders to only use connections from a specific provider. Therefore, you have to choose between the different plans offered by that provider. However, the majority of apartments in Germany have connections from different providers, so you can choose offers from different providers that suit your needs. There is never a time when you will be without electricity in Germany. You will always have electricity from your basic city provider regardless of whether you change providers or have a gap in your contract. In Germany, how can I switch electricity providers? You can change the electricity contract either as soon as you move to a new apartment, or at the time when your current contract period ends. However, it would be difficult for you to choose a different provider if the electricity cost is covered within your rent or additional costs. Germany has more than 1000 electricity providers. There are, however, not all of them in every state or city. Previously, the companies focused only on Germans. Startups such as Ostrom, however, are taking over the energy production and distribution in Germany while providing expat friendly services. Ostrom is the first electricity provider in Germany to offer a website, and customer service in English. The only plan offered by Ostrom is the 100% renewable energy plan. It is all digital and very much flexible. Your contract won't be locked in for one or two years and you can cancel the service online at any time. Ostrom also got many great reviews in Trustpilot. Unlike other service providers, Ostrom does not require you to calculate your monthly energy consumption cost. Instead of this, you pay a flat fee. They offer electricity plans throughout Germany, so moving from place to place is also very simple. Unlike many traditional energy providers, Ostrom charges live market prices. As a result, your monthly price will increase if the energy price rises. However, Ostrom also lowers your monthly bill if the energy price falls. Step 1: compare electricity providers in Germany Using a comparison tool like Tarifcheck will enable you to compare various electricity providers the traditional way. The disadvantage of most comparison tools is that their websites are in German. If you want to see it in English, you'll need to use your browser's translation feature. Go to www.tarifcheck.de, click on Storm und Gas (Electricity and Gas) from the menu and open Stromvergleich (Electricity Comparison). In the next page, enter your postcode and how much energy are you planning to consume a year (this is usually 2500 Kwh for a two person household). The result will show you the list of electricity providers available in your area. Step 2: choose the provider of your choice Tarifcheck will show you many offers from the providers signed up with them. However, in order to make your decision, you may need to know some names. The following are some of the popular electricity providers in Germany Stadtwerke München (SWM) EON Energie Yello Strom Eprimo Vattenfall The current climate change is causing German consumers to embrace renewable energy more and more. It is often more cost-effective and easier to sign up for renewable energy than traditional sources of electricity. You might like to consider renewable energy sources than conventional ones if you prefer them Ostrom NEW Energy Eprimo Stromee Naturstrom Knauber Strom The first year you switch providers, you typically benefit from bonuses offered by them. You may also get unexpected offers from the existing provider when you tell them that you are switching! Perhaps, you need to do this every year to keep getting bonuses. Anyway, once you compare the prices, features offered and decide on a provider, select the desired provider (weiter) and fill out your personal details in the next section and submit. Step 3: Confirm the new contract and cancel the old one You usually get an email confirmation about the new contract in the next few days either by email or by post. In some cases, a representative of the electricity provider may contact you to discuss further about the offer. To cancel your current electricity contract, you do not need to do anything as the cancellation will be handled by the new provider. If you move to a new apartment or take on a new electricity contract, be sure to inform the existing electricity provider to avoid misunderstandings and double billing. What to consider when switching to a new electricity provider in Germany? There are several providers with almost similar features listed in the comparison tools. However, there are some specific points you should keep in mind. Bonus and offers provided Length of the contract - 12 months is a safe and recommended contract term Payment frequency - Choose only monthly payment Contract-long price guarantee Notice period when canceling the contract - 3 -6 months recommended Customer reviews that are positive Finally, switching to another electric provider in your apartment can save you hundreds of euros per year. I was charged more than 70 euros per month by the default electric provider when I moved into my new apartment. Afterward, I switched to Eprimo for 24€ per month, and I am planning to switch to Ostrom at the end of my Eprimo contract.
- What you need to know about moving to Germany with kids
After overcoming the initial challenges of moving to Germany with kids, expats with children get to enjoy a wide range of benefits. Relocating to a new country especially with children is quite a big decision and could be very challenging. After you overcome your initial anxiety about the kids' transition, moving to Germany with children can be way more relaxing with the great support offered by the government. When you have been hired or accepted into a German university, and you want to bring your family, especially your kids, to Germany, how do you proceed? Obtain the visa for kids If your nationality requires it, arranging visas for family members is a first step when moving to Germany with kids. In addition, your children also qualify for a German residence permit if you are authorized to live in Germany. Children who are citizens of a member state of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) don't need a visa to live and study in Germany. The citizens of third countries will generally need a visa to enter Germany. To obtain a German residence permit as your depended, the children must be under 18 years of age. Single parents can also apply for visas for their children with the consent of the other parent who is entitled to the custody of the child. Applying child benefits and parental benefits You can apply for both child benefit as well as parental benefit as soon as you register in Germany. Every parent who is a resident in Germany regardless of being a German citizen or not is entitled for child benefits (Kindergeld) if they have children which are registered in Germany. The kindergeld is provided by the Familienzentrum (Local Family Office) upon submitting an application form. We’ve already detailed the application procedure in another article. You may also be eligible to receive Elterngeld - a social benefit provided from the German social security system. Parental benefit is given to all parents to have the loss of earnings caused by the time off work due to the birth of your child under certain conditions. If you live in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein or Thuringia, you can apply for parental allowance online. A detailed description of the application process can be found here. Once accepted, both the child benefit as well as the parental benefit, or any other social security benefits are transferred to your bank account monthly. German school admissions for expat children After you register in Germany, you can approach the schools in the area you live. Generally, the childrens go to the primary school of the area where you live. However, if you make a special request, you may be able to get to a primary school outside your neighborhood. In Germany, a child can start school at the age of six. It is common for school authorities to hold Schulanmeldung (school registration days) around six months before the start of the new academic year. There are, however, differences in the procedure between schools in different states. You may contact the schools by email or phone to get more details about their specific admission procedure. It is important to note that in Germany, failing to send a child to school is a punishable offense. In every state, preschools and schools have different registration processes. In some states, registration forms must be submitted to the local registry office (Bürgeramt). Depending on the state, the local registry office may assign children to schools, while other states require parents to register their children directly with the school. Documents required for the school registration in Germany Passport Birth certificate A health certificate from the State Health Office (Staatliches Gesundheitsamt) A residency permit, if applicable, is also required Meldebescheinigung If both parents or you as a single parent are working, and there’s nobody else to take care of the children, you can send the children to a kinderkrippe. Krippes are nurseries that look after the children in the day time. There may be several public and private ones in your area, depending on your location. While the seats will be limited in the kinderkrippe and the demand is higher, it's better to contact them as soon as you arrive. Additionally, Germany has numerous private and international schools for expat children. The majority of German students attend local schools for free, but many expat families consider sending their children to an international school to help them ease their transition. The reason for this is that the students can continue their education in a language and curriculum that they are familiar with. Moreover, German international schools usually have small class sizes, excellent facilities, and high academic standards. Some international schools in Germany are part of the public system, but most are privately run. Welcome center Germany has managed to list down a few major international schools in different cities with their contact information. Parenting in Germany In general, Germany is considered to be a great place to raise children. Children in German families are taught to be independent as adults by their early ages itself. Rather than raising children under the parents' wings, they see the home as a place to develop children’s individuality and aspirations. There is a general tendency in Germany to treat children like adults. Consequently, people, including parents, will greet them and speak to them with that in mind. As young adults go to university or become financially independent, most move out of their parents' homes. The challenges of childcare As a parent moving to Germany with young children, you should prepare yourself for the fact that securing a place for them in a kindergarten can sometimes be challenging. Although childcare is becoming easier to pay for considering the benefits you may get from the government, getting into a kindergarten would become a challenge. Despite the city council's central enrolment system, there would hardly be any seats available until the school year begins. Depending on when you move to Germany, you may have to wait until the beginning of an academic year for a school to confirm your child has a seat there. The kindergartens in Germany are generally better than those in other European countries, according to many expats. As well as being well organized, they have a well-trained staff pool as well. An additional and perhaps unforeseen challenge every parent may face is the illness of their child. Generally, kids get sick when they start school or kindergarten. Therefore, it is important to learn about insurance in Germany. Child welfare payments in Germany A major incentive for parents in Germany is the generous financial support they receive from the government. A concern about the declining birth rate in Germany and the country's demographic future motivated the program. As compared to most western countries, Germany's social security system offers generous welfare payments to parents with various benefits, tax allowances, and deductions. As of first January 2021, the first two children who are under 18 years get 219 euros each. The third child gets 225 euros and every child from the fourth child gets 250 euros each until they turn 18. It is also possible for parents to receive a tax-free child allowance under certain conditions. Finally, expats with children moving to Germany might be frustrated by the long school admissions waiting period, or finding a kindergarten or kita. In spite of this, they find that the various benefits and support they receive from the government is very helpful.
- The Best Methods for Learning German in 2023
Today, you can learn German in a number of ways. From words to phrases to sentence construction, there are apps that help you learn the language, and there are also old-fashioned classrooms where you learn the language together. However, how do you choose between these options? Being an expat in Germany for the last six years, I have tried almost every method to learn German. Initially, I took German A1.1 in a classroom with 17 other people and later used apps and online training. Using my own experience and that of others I know, I try to describe what to expect from each option. Learn German online It was way before the pandemic that people were learning languages online, either through live sessions or through an app. There has only been an increase in the trend since the pandemic began. German learning apps Duolingo In terms of apps that help people learn languages, Duolingo is among the most popular. Over a billion people are learning a language to gain access to better opportunities and living experience. For most people, learning a language is expensive and unaffordable. Duolingo was created to give everyone access to free language learning without hidden fees or premium content. It's just free to start. Duolingo can be used by anyone, regardless of their proficiency in the language they want to learn. As per Duolingo, many public school students in developing countries use it to learn a language on a daily basis. However, in my experience, it's rather difficult to get further when you reach a point in Duolingo. Babbel Babbel offers two modes of learning. With the Babbel app on the one hand, you can easily stay engaged with content that is relevant to real-life conversations. It helps you build an effective routine and learning habit that fits into your schedule. The courses are tailored to your level of proficiency, so you can learn at your own pace. Babbel Live on the other hand provides live online language classes. You can learn with the support of teachers and in small groups. With live, you gain confidence quickly with classes focused on real-life conversations. You get to choose from different classes and keep practicing with the self-study app. In my experience using the Babbel app for quite some time, the learning experience is much more mature compared to other learning platforms. The Babbel method is quite close to the real life scenarios and it's rather easy to remember what you learned when it comes to the actual real life scenario. We recommend online self paced classes only to the ones those don't have time to go for a regular class or to strictly organized people. Otherwise, it's quite difficult to keep the drive and use the app daily. A private language teacher You can find private tuition for German quite easily. Most institutes as well as online platforms like Lingoda offer one on one German language tuition. There are also self employed teachers that offer tuition to individuals or small groups. In most cases, the classes are taught by native German speakers with experience and qualifications in teaching languages. Private tutoring tends to be more flexible and tailored to the student's needs and goals than learning in groups. However, the one on one tuition is way more expensive than the group study; either in an institute or through an app. Its quite easy to find private German tutors online. You can check the expat German Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram groups or apps like Lingoda, italki, etc to find a one on one tuition. The company I work for once arranged private tuition for me and three of my colleagues before the pandemic. The teacher was very old (around 70 years) and not so familiar with online meetings. Therefore, we could not continue that during the pandemic. One 90-minute session cost around 200€ per person, as I recall. Choosing this option allows you to learn German more flexibly and personalised, and to learn at your own pace if you can afford it. German language schools There are many types of courses offered by language schools, including intensive courses, evening classes and regular classes, as well as specialized courses such as exam preparation, German integration courses, etc. It is easy for a newcomer to make initial contacts in Germany since most language schools run their classes in relatively small groups of 5-10 people. A four-week intensive group course at a language school generally costs around €250 and above, depending on where you live. When it comes to working in a relaxed environment with small groups, a language school would be the best choice for you. In Germany, you can choose from several language schools. Volkshochschule, Goethe Institute are the best and most popular in Germany. Each of them offers a wide range of courses at different levels and available at various times and lengths. Finally, I have found that learning German isn't necessary these days to live in Germany. People are more than willing to help you in English if they find that you don't speak German. It would, however, be very difficult to socialize with others without speaking German in Germany. Therefore, if you plan to stay here for a long time and eventually become a citizen, you should seriously consider learning German.
- How to become a German citizen?
In general, it takes at least eight years for a person to become eligible to apply for German citizenship. However, this can be shortened to as short as seven, six, or even three years in some cases. Among other countries in Europe, Germany has strict citizenship rules, which require expats to live in the country at least for eight years before being eligible to apply for its citizenship in a normal scenario. How do I become a German citizen? If a person has lived legally in Germany for at least eight years and possesses the appropriate residence permit, they are eligible to apply for German citizenship. Applicants for naturalization must also declare their allegiance to the constitution of Germany and know the German language well. For integration into German society, German language knowledge is essential. A candidate for naturalization must understand the legal system, society and living conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany and be able to support themselves without social assistance, unless circumstances beyond their control prevent them. There should also be no serious criminal offenses on the candidate's record. Additionally, when you apply for German citizenship, you must renounce your previous citizenship. However, multiple nationalities may be considered in some cases and for certain groups of people. How to get German citizenship by derivative naturalization It is also possible to speed up your citizenship application by applying for derivative naturalization. This basically means that, in a registered relationship, someone who has not completed the required period of residence in Germany can still apply for citizenship at the same time as their other partner who has completed all citizenship requirements. Similarly, minors can apply with their parents at the same time. Read more about Derivative naturalization in the Federal Ministry of Interior and Community’s website Apply for German citizenship after seven years You have the possibility to apply for German citizenship after completing 7 years in Germany if you pass the German integration course. In this special integration course, you will gain a thorough understanding of German culture, laws, and everyday life. Moreover, you may be exempt from the integration course costs. To apply, you must write to your contact person at the Federal Office for Migrants and Refugees. Local integration course organizers can be found by searching for integration courses (available only in German). Alternatively, you can obtain their addresses from the Foreign Nationals Authority or a migrants' advice center. Otherwise, a 700-hour German integration course would cost €1,540, which is about 2.20 per teaching hour. Apply for German citizenship after six years The refugees and specially integrated are the two groups eligible for citizenship after six years. Asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless adults who have lived legally in Germany for at least six years, including the period of time they waited for a decision on their asylum application, are considered refugees. Additionally, this group of people benefits from the fact that Germany generally allows dual nationality. In the second category of applicants, those who can pass a B2 level of German language examination will generally be eligible to apply for citizenship after six years. Additionally, you can still try to apply for citizenship if you hold a master's degree or doctorate from a German university, complete a vocational training in the country or showcasing high professional or academic achievements even if you don’t have a B2 certification. Apply for German citizenship after three years You will be eligible to apply for German citizenship if you marry a German citizen. However, you must be in a registered partnership or have been married to a German citizen for at least two years when you file the application. Additionally, other citizenship requirements, such as proficiency in the German language and passing a citizenship test, also apply. Finally, the coalition government parties pledged in the election campaigns in 2021 that the residency requirements for citizenship would be reduced from eight to five years, and that the residency requirements for exceptionally integrated people would be reduced from six to three years. It's unclear when this legislation will become law, but it's considered a priority project by the Interior Ministry. Which means, as long as all other requirements are met, people with B2 German language skills may be eligible to apply for citizenship after just three years in the country.
- A guide to avoiding rental scams in Germany
Scams involving rental apartments are becoming more prevalent as the rental market in major German cities becomes more competitive. What can you do as an expat in Germany to avoid becoming a victim of these scams? I was in search of a new apartment in Munich after the arrival of our baby in 2021. A fake advertiser contacted me offering a rather costly apartment for a lower price in a relatively expensive area. As I read the emails received from the advertiser, I understood the scam and played him a little bit. After a couple of emails with me, he should have realized that I found out about his foul play, so he stopped contacting me. Beware of fake advertisers A common scam involves advertising for apartments that don't exist. It has been found that these types of ads appear on all of the major rental portals, including Immowelt and immobilienscout24. In order to attract potential victims, fraudsters often advertise apartments for surprisingly low rents in relatively hot areas. It might be a good idea to be skeptical if the rent offered is much lower than similar offerings in the same area. Additionally, read the description carefully and compare it with the images in the advertisement. There is a high chance that the advertisement is fake if the images and the description contradict each other. Furthermore, do your research before contacting the advertiser for a viewing appointment. A fraud involving an advance payment The practice of requesting advance payments is particularly prevalent in Germany. Often fraudsters request the victims to transfer a portion of the deposit to their bank account or paypal in order to offer a viewing. They convince you by telling you that the deposit is to filter and reduce the number of people coming for the viewing. In addition, you will be told that if the apartment isn't offered to you, the money will be refunded. You should never pay anything before the contract is signed. No legit owners ask you to pay in advance before signing the contract. Unless you are absolutely sure that the owner is legit, do not pay by cash. Instead, use bank transfers. It is very unlikely that you will get your money back if you pay in cash or use another form of money transfer. Taking advantage of your identity This is what I was asked to do by the fake advertiser. They do not ask you to transfer money to a bank account abroad. You are instead asked to provide copies of your passport, visa, pay stubs, and bank statements. Additionally, you will be asked to send a picture of yourself holding your passport or national ID and claim that this is for verification. This personal information can then be used by fraudsters to open bank accounts, obtain loans, apply for credit cards and leave you high and dry. These kinds of scams are very difficult to identify at an early stage as some of these documents are often requested by landlords and other real estate agencies before preparing the contract. Therefore, it is recommended that personal documents are not shared unless the landlord specifically requests them. Make sure that the person asking for your passport and visa is trustworthy before sharing them. What should I do if I believe I have been scammed? If you are contacted by a scammer, or if you’ve come across a potential fake advertisement on an online portal, make sure to report it at the earliest. Thus, you are probably taking precautions to ensure your safety and that of others using the platform as well In the event that you have been the victim of a scam, you should contact the police immediately. You can either walk into a nearest police station or file a complaint online. Some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the rental scams in Germany
- What should you do if you receive a parking fine in Germany?
Prompt payment is recommended for parking fines in Germany to avoid extra processing fees. However, if the decision is disputed, an appeal can be made within the given timeframe, including relevant evidence. Taking responsibility for violations while also exercising rights to contest unjust fines is important. In the event that you fail to buy or showcase a parking ticket in a controlled area, you are most likely to get a parking fine in Germany. Issuing parking fines It is usually the Ordnungsamt who issue parking fines in Germany. Their power is limited to finding out public offenses, issuing fines and dealing with small disturbances. Despite this, they cannot make arrests. A white slip (Verwarnung) will usually be placed under your windscreen wipers if you are accused of parking illegally. Tickets can cost anywhere from 5 to 60 euros. However, this ticket is only a warning. You will receive an official notice via post if you do not pay the warning fine within the specified time period. It is recommended to pay the warning as soon as possible to avoid incurring any additional fines. In most cases, the ticket contains the payment details of the local authority. You can pay the fine using online banking. However, make sure to include the ticket reference number in the customer reference area to avoid any confusions. Even if you believe you have been wrongly accused, appealing the parking warning fine is usually not possible. If you wish to challenge the warning, you need to wait until you receive the official notice of offense (Bußgeldbescheid). You will usually receive it in the post within one to three months. The Bußgeldbescheid will be 20 - 25 euros higher than the warning notice as it includes the processing charges as well. Appealing your parking offense If you can prove yourself that you haven't committed the offense, you can take it to the next level by appealing against the fine. Usually this is proved by different photos of your vehicle parked on the location in question. As soon as you receive the official notice of offense by post, you have 14 days in which to appeal the offense in writing to the issuing authority. If you miss the appeal deadline, you will lose your chance to appeal. Therefore, It is best to send the appeal with a tracking number in order to avoid any future conflicts with the authority. Do I need a lawyer to appeal against the parking fine? The fine can generally be appealed by you on your own. You can prepare your appeal letter by using one of the many templates available online.. In the event that you wish to appeal against the fine, it is recommended to hire a lawyer who specializes in traffic violations. However, the cost of hiring a lawyer would be much more expensive if you do not have lawyer insurance. Your appeal will be replied to with a stiffly worded letter referring to the laws that uphold the offense. They will typically request payment within 14 days of receiving your appeal. The fine will then increase significantly if you are still not willing to pay. If you wish to defend your case, you can inform them of your intention If the authority understands and accepts the appeal, you will receive another letter stating that the fine has been waived. There have also been times when the authority did not respond to the appeal. Choosing a lawyer can be a daunting task if you don't know where to begin. Yourxpert provides a variety of options to seek legal and tax advice and a free initial assessment and consultation in Germany. You just simply enter your question with a brief description about your situation on their website and they will get back to you. Finally, we recommend that you think very carefully before seeking legal counsel to contest a relatively small fine. The costs can easily reach hundreds of euros. In most cases, it's more trouble than it's worth unless you are very sure about your innocence. Some frequently asked questions about parking fine in Germany