Graduate School HIGRADE

Studenten in Leipzig

How to get started in Germany

The following steps are the most important things tfor your start in Germany. These steps are mainly written for foreigners and should be a little help in the labyrinth of German bureaucracy.

1. Preparation at home
2. Registration at the UFZ
3.Official Registration in Germany
4. Bank Account
5. Health Insurance
6. Residence permit

 1. Preparation at home

Contact a German Embassy or a German Consulate in your home country or country of residence. Please, apply in time, because it takes several weeks for a visa to be issued. Foreign scientists require a multiple entry visa for the Federal Republic of Germany . This detail is important, because with a simple tourist visa you are not allowed to work. The Department for Human Resources of UFZ will send you an invitation letter in which the status of your work at UFZ is explained.
Exceptions are citizens from EU countries and the EWR countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, who do not need a visa to enter Germany.

Citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Israel and South Corea do not require a visa to enter Germany as a tourist either, but they must apply for a residence permit within the first three months after their arrival in Germany in the appropriate Foreigner´s Registration Office. This takes time and you have to count with at least 1 week until you are allowed to work. Alternatively you can apply for visa with a work permit at a German Embassy before starting your travel to Germany.

Please, check in time with the staff of the Human Resources Department of the UFZ or your scientific host to find out whether you need to bring any specific documents with you. This could include, for example, your university diploma or birth and marriage certificates. It is best to bring certified translated copies of these documents with you rather than have translations done on the spot.


 2. Registration at the UFZ

Someone from your department should be able to guide you around the UFZ and show you the important things you have to deal with (e.g. access to computer and an E-mail-account, an access card for UFZ and a chip card for the canteen). Your contract is available from the Human Resources Department and has to be signed before you commence working at UFZ. If you come from abroad with a visa the contract will last as long as the Visa is valid. After your arrival in Germany you should get a Residence Permit at the Foreigner´s Registration Office.

A useful guidance about UFZ relevant issues is offered as pdf-booklet:

UFZ Guideline


3. Official Registration in Germany

Within 14 days of your arrival in Leipzig, Magdeburg or Halle you have to go to a so-called "Bürgeramt" or "Einwohnermeldeamt" and register that you are now an inhabitant of Leipzig, Magdeburg or Halle (as appropriate). Also it is important to ask for the "Lohnsteuernummer" (tax number). The Human Resources Department will ask for it later on. This number is the basic for your further tax class. The tax class system in Germany is quite complicated. By the end of the year you have to do a Lohnsteuererklärung (kind of explanation about your income) and it is worthy to inform about. 

You can find the application forms for the registration at inhabitant´s office here:

You can find the addresses and opening hours of the Registration Offices of all three places here:


4. Bank Account

To open a bank account you need the proof of residence (from Step 3 above) and a valid passport. Have a look at webpages of the different banks or ask your colleagues for recommendations. Some common banks in Germany are: Kreissparkasse Leipzig (many ATMa in all over the town, Deutsche Kreditbank (free use of ATMa worldwide), Deutsche Bank (English webpage and English speaking service), Postbank, Sparda, Volksbank...


5. Health Insurance

During your stay in Germany you must have health insurance. There are many companies in Germany, either compulsory or private ones. If you can get some private health insurance in your home country for your stay in Germany, it is best to check with the German Embassy or Consulate, if that insurance is accepted. For the authorities in Germany it is always important to have these documents in German language. So, please, have prepared a translated proof of health insurance. If you stay longer than one year, it will be more appropriate to get German health insurance after your arrival. Most of the companies are available on the Internet and some of them have an English speaking service. Some common compulsory health insurances are: Barmer Ersatzkasse BEK, Techniker Krankenkasse TKK, Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse AOK etc. If you have any questions about health insurances, please, ask the Human Ressources Department. 

Additionally you can find some further information about health system and insurances in Germany on the webpage of "Verbraucherportal":


6. Residence Permit

All guests staying for less than 3 months with a valid visa for that period do not need to apply for a residence permit in Germany. All guests staying for over 3 months need to obtain a residence permit.

In this issue you can contact Barbara Timmel. She arranges the application for you and can acompany you to the Aliens Authority. In the following pdf-download you can find the documents you have to bring along with you and you can enter your data and send to Barbara Timmel. She will prepare your application.

Please, note that since the 1st September, 2011, the residence permit in whole Germany will be issued in form of an electronic residence card. Before the application you should carefully read the instruction and information concerning this new card!

If you work and live in Halle, you should contact Ms. Alena Roos at UFZ Halle:

phone: (0345)/558 5202

email: alena.roos(at)

Foreigner´s Office in Halle

If you work and live in Magdeburg, there are two Phds at UFZ Magdeburg providing internationals with information/assistance:

Jeske Hagemann

phone: (0391) 810 9615

email: jeske.hagemann(at)

Lino Parlow

phone: (0391) 810 9221

email: lino.parlow(at)

Foreigner´s Office in Magdeburg

(Click on arrow to enter)

News & Events

HIGRADE Spring Conference: 29 April 2015, UFZ Leipzig more info

HIGRADE CareerCafé: 30 April 2015, UFZ Leipzig more info

PhD Retreat "DocDays":  4-5 Nov 2015, Colditz

HIGRADE Fall Conference: 17 Nov 2015, UFZ Leipzig

Information for HIGRADE members