Living in Germany
... at the German Aerospace Center – DLR in Cologne! We hope you enjoy your stay, feel welcome and have a successful time. To make your start as easy as possible, we provide a list of the most important things you have to think about when you come to Germany. It differs from case to case, but here is a general starting point.
How to get started in Germany
With any initial problems concerning German administration, visa, organization of child care etc. you can petition Anna-Maria Trautmann, SpaceLife Secretary, for advice. Phone: ++49 2203 601 3011
The following steps are the most important things that will ensure a pleasant start to your stay in Germany. These steps are mainly written for foreigners and should thus be referred to in tackling the labyrinth of German bureaucracy.
1. Preparations at home
Students from abroad are strongly asked to clarify certain formal aspects of international travel and residence permissions, when applying at SpaceLife. Principles apply conditionally for foreign (EU or non-EU) and German PhD's:
EU citizens and citizens from EWR countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do not require a visa to enter Germany, but have to apply for a "Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung", which permits work in Germany.
Citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Israel and South Korea do not require a visa to enter Germany either, but they must apply for a residence permit within the first three months after their arrival at the appropriate Foreigner’s Registration Office. You must wait at least 2-4 weeks until you are allowed to work. So it may be advantageous to apply for a visa with a work permit in a German Embassy before starting your travel to Germany.
Citizens from all non-EU countries should go to the homepage of the German Foreign Office to find out the procedure for the visa application and detailed information for a student visa.
A visitor visa will not be accepted; a visa allowing work in the field of research and science is necessary.
Please submit your application in good time, as it could take up to 3 months for a visa to be issued. Foreign scientists require a multiple entry visa for the Federal Republic of Germany. This is important, as tourist visas do not include a work permit in Germany. Usually, you will need an evidence of health insurance cover in Germany for a visa application (6. Health Insurance).
Please check in time with the SpaceLife Secretary regarding whether you need to bring any specific documents. This could include, for example, your university diploma or birth and marriage certificates. It is best to bring certified translated copies of these documents rather than have translations done on the spot.
2. Finding a room in Cologne or Bonn:
The DLR is located between the two cities of Cologne and Bonn. From Cologne, travelling to the DLR by public transport is a bit more efficient than from Bonn. In case you need our help we will gladly assist you.
First of all you should take in mind following considerations:
What a kind of lodging do you want to live in? How much money would you like to spend for lodging? There are a lot of possibilities for you to choose: single room, flat, apartment-sharing communities, smaller and bigger flats that could be rented either furnished or unfurnished. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) does not maintain its own flats.
3. Registration at the DLR
You will obtain an ample briefing and introduction to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and especially to the Institute’s area and the topics you will be dealing with (e.g. access to computer and an E-mail-account, an access card for the DLR). Your scholarship contract is available at the DLR - Human Resources Department and has to be signed before you start your thesis at DLR.
4. Official Registration and Residence Permit in Germany
All guests staying for less than 3 months with a valid visa for that period need not apply for a Residence Permit in Germany. All guests staying for over 3 months need to obtain a Residence Permit.
The limited residence permit to Germany depends on the country of origin (need of visa, need of letter of invitation, confirmation of financial support, working contract, etc.). If you are accepted as a doctoral student at SpaceLife, you will be supported with a scholarship and will receive corresponding confirmation. Apply with this document for a limited residence permit ("Aufenthaltsgenehmigung") to Germany. You can arrange this procedure through the German Embassy or the German Consulate in your home country, country of residence or at the latest you should apply for this permit in the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländeramt) after your arrival.
Documents for residence permit (16.28 kB)
Within 14 days of your arrival in Cologne you have to personally register at the so-called “Bürgeramt” or “Einwohnermeldeamt”. For the time being you will be registered as an inhabitant of the city you live in. You can find the addresses and opening hours of the Registration Offices of all three places here:
http://www.meldebox.de (click on Behörden/Bundesländer/Städte)
5. Bank Account
To open a bank account you need proof of residence (from Step 4 above) and a valid passport. Have a look at the web pages of the different banks or ask your colleagues for recommendations.
6. Health Insurance
Every citizen in Germany is obliged to be covered by a health insurance. Foreigners visiting our country or living here temporarily must certify a valid insurance cover too (from the very beginning of their stay).
There are many health insurance companies in Germany, both statutory and private ones. Some of the health insurances accept students at a special rate when enrolled at the university. In case you prefer to arrange a private health insurance in your home country for the period of your stay in Germany, you should check whether the comprehensive insurance cover is valid in Germany. It is highly recommended to contact the German Embassy or Consulate, for clearing up the acceptance of the insurance benefits and whether it meets German legal demands. In case of a stay in Germany for more than one year, it might be appropriate to switch-over into a German health insurance. Most of the companies are available on the Internet and some of them have an English speaking service. Some common statutory health insurances services are Barmer, GEK, Techniker Krankenkasse TKK, Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse AOK etc. In case you have questions about health insurance services, please contact Mrs. Trautmann.
Your are obliged to inform the DLR Human Resources Department about the health fund of your choice. If you are already registered in a substitute fund you need to present a coverage confirmation to this department.
Detailed information on this topic is also published at the homepage of the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) under the section: Study and research in Germany.
Please find below helpful addresses which might be helpful:
German Academic Exchange Service
Federal Foreign Office, Germany
Key word: Visa
Facts about Germany
Das Deutschland - Portal
Living and Working in Germany
Edited by Pamela Wilson
3rd Edition, 2008
Survival Books, London, England
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