The first steps for newcomers in Germany

Arriving in Germany : A guide to a successful start

Starting a new life in a foreign country can often be overwhelming. All of a sudden you are introduced to a new culture and are surrounded by people whose language you don't understand. On top of all this unfamiliarity, there are often certain challenges and tasks to complete. With all these new things to consider, it can be difficult to keep track of everything. In Germany in particular, there are numerous formalities that are important when starting a new life.

This article is intended to serve as a guide to inform you of the most important steps. Our team has compiled the information that was particularly important to us when we arrived in Germany and the information we wished we had known beforehand. 

Here you will find a description of the most important steps and a guide to help you with your arrival in Germany.

1. Registering in Germany

The first and most important step for newcomers to Germany is to register their place of residence. Registration (Anmeldung) should take place within 14 days of arrival and is possible at the local registration office, usually the Bürgeramt or city hall. You will need to present your passport or identity card as well as a confirmation of residence from your landlord. Registration is crucial as it is required for many other steps, such as opening a bank account or obtaining insurance.

2. Obtaining health insurance:

In Germany, insurance is compulsory and this also applies to migrants. It is important to take out health insurance as soon as possible in order to be covered in the event of illness or accident. There are two types of health insurance in Germany: statutory health insurance (GKV) and private health insurance (PKV). People with an income below a certain limit are obliged to take out statutory insurance, while people with a higher income have the option of to obtain private insurance. If you come from another EU country, you do not have to arrange a new health insurance policy.

3. Opening a bank account:

A bank account is essential for carrying out financial transactions and organizing your everyday life. There are numerous banks in Germany where you can open an account. To open an account, you will usually need your passport or identity card, your registration (Anmeldung)  certificate and, if applicable, a residence permit. Many banks offer special accounts for migrants, which can also be opened without a regular income.


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4. Integration through language learning

The German language plays a decisive role in integration into society and the job market. It is therefore a good idea to attend a language course early on to improve your German language skills. There are various options for taking a language course, from state-subsidized integration courses to private language schools. The Lingoda online language school is particularly suitable as a private language school, as you can start your language course before you move. Taking part in a language course not only makes it easier to communicate in everyday life, but also increases your chances of finding a job. Even finding a German tandem partner or watching films and series in German will help you learn the language.

5. Recognition of qualifications and the job search

If you have professional qualifications or an academic degree that you obtained abroad, you should have it assessed to see whether it can be recognised in Germany. The recognition of foreign qualifications can facilitate access to the German labour market and improve your career prospects. The relevant professional associations or authorities are responsible for recognising foreign qualifications. If your previous qualifications are not sufficient to find an interesting and well-paid job in Germany, you can consider the possibility of state-subsidised further training. You can use our free course counselling service to get support from our course counsellors in your search for a suitable continuing education course.

If you already have your dream job in sight but are still in the application process, you can find more tips on how to optimise your CV and cover letter in this blog article. 

6. Integrating into society:

In addition to the formal steps, it is important to actively integrate into German society. It is best to take advantage of the wide range of integration courses, cultural events and social projects available to make connections and deepen your knowledge of the country and its people. You can also get involved in clubs or organisations and take part in local events to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and make new friends.

Integrating in Germany is a process that requires time and commitment. By following the steps mentioned above and actively working on your integration, you build the foundation for a successful and happy life in your new home country. Make the most of the information and support services available and be open to new experiences and encounters. Welcome to Germany and all the best for your new life here!

If you have any further questions, you can find more interesting information on the subject of integration at Handbookgermany.