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Guide to Germany

Checklist for students

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What to organize before you arrive

1. Education qualifications to study in Germany

Information on whether your education qualifications are accepted by universities in Germany is available from the DAAD database on admission requirements. You can also use the website My Guide to match your education qualification with specific academic study programmes.

2. Finding and applying for a university place

To find a suitable academic programme in Germany, the Higher Education Compass provides an overview of all university courses and campus locations.

To apply for an academic programme, you can apply directly at the university of your choice or use, for instance, the online application tool in English from the website uni-assist.

 A young female student sits at the dining table using her laptop with her dog on her lap.

3. Student visa requirements

Most non-EU citizens who wish to study in Germany will need to organize a student visa before travelling. There are exceptions for some nationalities, so check the overview of visa and entry requirements from the website of the Federal Foreign Office. If you are a non-EU citizen who has temporary residence as a student in another EU country, you could also be exempt from the  requirement to obtain a student visa before entering Germany.  

If you require a visa to enter Germany and study, you will need to apply at the German Mission in the country you are living in. Of course, the German Mission will tell you what you need for the visa application, but here are a few things you’ll likely have to prove:

  • A letter of acceptance from a German university.
  • A Blocked Account to prove financial security for the time you are in Germany. If you have a scholarship to a German university, you could be exempt from this requirement.
  • Incoming travel insurance that covers you from the time you get off the plane until the day of enrolment at university.
  • Proof of public health insurance to attach this to your visa application. Barmer will send this confirmation to you quickly so you can submit your visa application to the German Mission.

Important: All non-EU citizens who want to study in Germany will have to apply for a residence permit after they arrive. So even if you don’t need a visa to enter Germany, you’ll still have to prove your financial security and health insurance later on. More information about the residence permit are found in our next section "After arriving in Germany".

Need more information? The Federal Foreign Office of Germany has up-to-date FAQs regarding student visas.

4. Organizing accommodation

Finding a place to live in Germany will depend on the extent of your personal connections. If you don’t have anyone to support you, it’s best to choose temporary accommodation until you have settled in, such as student accommodation, co-living spaces, and shared or furnished apartments. Of course, the international office at your university should be able to help you find accommodation, but here are some useful links:

DAAD has a list that helps you to find student accommodation halls across Germany, including prices and contact details. 

Shared accommodation in Germany is often called a “WG” (Wohngemeinschaft), pronounced “VeeGee”. There are many websites that help you to find shared accommodation in Germany.

It’s also easy to make an online search for furnished accommodation (mobilierte Unterkünfte) which is also a good option, especially if you have a higher budget and prefer some extra privacy.

In larger cities, you can also find co-living spaces. It’s a great way to meet new people and still have the privacy you need.  

5. Incoming travel insurance & reciprocal agreements

As soon as you begin your studies in Germany, you can become a member of a public health insurance provider like Barmer. This means you’ll need an incoming travel insurance to bridge the gap between arriving in Germany and enrolling at university.

If you need a student visa before travelling to Germany, you will have to prove this incoming travel insurance during the visa application process. 

For nationalities who don’t require a student visa to enter Germany, you also need to make sure you are appropriately covered from the moment you arrive in Germany until you enrol at university.

In some cases, a reciprocal healthcare agreement may exist between Germany and the country you are currently insured in – which would provide some basic healthcare cover in the time between arriving in Germany and enrolling at university. To check this, you need to contact your current insurance provider directly for confirmation. But even if a reciprocal healthcare agreement exists, a private incoming travel insurance is an extra safety net well worth having when you first arrive in Germany. 

6. Health insurance

In Germany, all students need to prove that they have appropriate health insurance for the duration of their studies. Here are some good tips depending on your nationality and age.

European students:
Are you from an EU/EEA state, Switzerland, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey or Tunisia and plan to study in Germany? Does your university in Germany require a German health insurance provider to confirm your foreign health insurance? You can download the application for the provision of an insurance certificate for the university here. Please note: We prefer that you send the application via post to our central postal address: BARMER, 73523 Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. If you send the application via email to, please note that we use TLS encryption in the current version. If you have activated TLS encryption, the data you send to us cannot be read by third parties.

If you work alongside your studies, you may need to become a member of a public health insurance provider in Germany. Please feel free to contact us when you find a job – we’ll be happy to welcome you as a member of Barmer. 

Non-European students:
Public health insurance is mandatory for students under 30 years of age. It’s a good idea to contact Barmer before you arrive in Germany so we can organize your public insurance in advance and provide you with necessary insurance-related documents for your visa application and enrolment. But don’t worry, we’ll still support you quickly and easily if you’re already here.

Are you a student over 30 and need public health insurance? Get in touch with us because you may need to pay higher contributions.

At Barmer, we make health insurance easy for you. Contact us today for your perfect start.

Join Barmer now

What to organize after you arrive

1. Registering your address

The first thing you need to do is register your German address in person at your local residents’ registration office. In Germany, this local government office is called the “Einwohnermeldeamt” but in some cities, it is also called the “Bürgerbüro" or “Bezirksamt”. 

It is important that you register your address within one or two weeks, otherwise you might have to pay a fine. Due to the pandemic, a registration appointment might not be possible straight away, so it’s important that you book an appointment early to avoid any complications. 

Making an appointment to register your address

To make an appointment at the residents’ registration office, you need to book online in advance. The easiest way to find the right website is to make an online search with the words “Terminvereinbarung Einwohnermeldeamt + the city you are living in”. Please note: these websites are in German. Possible key words to look out for on these websites are “Wohnsitz anmelden” or “Terminvergabe Online”. 

If you speak German, you can also call the number 115. This is a special hotline from the German government that helps you to connect with different local government offices and make appointments. When you call this number, the phone network recognizes the city you are in and transfers you to a local operator. The operator can then make an appointment for you and explain exactly what documents you need to register your address.

What to bring with you to register your address

If you don’t receive a list of requirements from the residents’ registration office, you’ll need to contact them – or call 115 – to find out what to bring with you. The most common requirements to register your address are:

  • Passport (with visa) or personal identification card (EU students)
  • Completed housing confirmation form (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) signed by the property owner or manager of your accommodation (normally downloadable from the Einwohnermeldeamt website).
  • Completed registration form from the residents' registration office (downloadable from the Einwohnermeldeamt website).
  • If relevant, a marriage certificate or birth certificates of children. Please make sure these certificates are displayed in at least one main European language.

2. TAX ID Number

During your first registration at the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt), a notification is automatically sent to the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern). Your Tax ID Number (steuerliche Identifikationsnummer) is then issued and sent via standard post to your registered address, usually within 2 weeks. The Tax ID Number never changes and is required when you open a German bank account or start working alongside your studies. BARMER also needs this number to inform the tax authorities about your social security contributions. 

Note: The Tax ID Number is different to the so-called Tax Number (Steuernummer). When you submit a tax return in Germany, you will be issued with a Tax Number from the local tax office (Finanzamt) in the area you live in. Therefore, you won’t need to organize this when you first arrive in Germany.

3. Bank account

We recommend you to open a current account with a German bank so that you can easily pay your insurance contributions, shop without cash and receive your wages if you decide to work alongside your studies. To open an account, you will also need your confirmation of address registration and Tax ID number. It‘s a good idea to compare banks as some offer better service for international residents and lower fees.

4. Confirmation of public health insurance

Once you have registered your address, you’ll need to submit a copy of the address registration certificate to BARMER so that we can confirm your membership for university enrolment and send you your electronic health insurance card. You will also need the health insurance membership certificate for your residence permit application. Barmer also needs your bank account details to set up a direct debit payment system for your contributions.

5. Social security number

If you organized your Barmer membership before arriving in Germany, we’ll have already applied for your social security number (Rentenversicherungsnummer or RVNR). Barmer needs this number for administrative purposes, and so will any employer if you decide to work alongside your studies. Of course, we can also organize this number for you after you arrive in Germany.

6. University enrolment

Confirming your health insurance for enrolment is easy. Barmer will send a digital confirmation of your health insurance directly to your university. In turn, the university will then digitally confirm your enrolment with Barmer. There’s nothing you need to do. We’re also able to give you any certificates you need, which can also be downloaded at any time from the Barmer-App.

7. Residence permit

After you arrive in Germany and complete your basic administrative tasks (e.g. above steps 1-6), you need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) from the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). In some cases, it may be possible to apply for a residence permit before your university enrolment. The application for the residence permit is made in person at the local immigration office, and you will need to make an appointment first. The easiest way to make an appointment is online – but the websites are normally in German. Try using the search words “Ausländerbehörde + the city you are living in + Online-Termin”. Remember, you can only apply for a residence permit if you enter Germany the correct way. Check with your local immigration office directly to find out exactly what to bring to the appointment. Some of the things you might need to bring with you are:

  • Application form (mostly downloadable from the immigration office website)
  • 1 biometric photograph 
  • Passport & visa
  • Confirmation of address registration
  • Current rental contract or proof of current rental payment
  • Confirmation of health insurance
  • Proof of financial security (Blocked account; Scholarship)
  • Certificate of academic enrolment or the letter of acceptance
  • Residence permit fee