The US News & World Report, the famous American magazine specializing in surveys, reports that Germany is the best country to live in, ahead of Canada. The survey took into account various indicators: Quality of life, entrepreneurship, cultural influence of the country, politics, unemployment rate, etc. I am always very skeptical about the value of surveys, but in this case I agree. However, it is a fact that many people are thinking about moving to Germany.
Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 states and its capital is Berlin. With 82 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state in the European Union and is second only to the United States of America as a country of immigration in the world. The official language is German, and if you want to have good job opportunities in Germany, you need to learn this language.
If you did not learn it in your country before moving to Germany, you need to know that there are about 900 DDV, (German Association for Adult Education), offices throughout Germany. It is possible to attend language courses, the cost of which is reimbursed by the state.
Moving to Germany
– EU/EEA citizens (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) do not need a visa or permit to work and live in Germany. However, you must register your residence with your local Residents’ Registration Office within three months of arrival.
– Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America can enter Germany without a visa.
– The residents of 62 countries can enter Germany without a visa and stay there for 90 days within 6 months.You cannot work during your stay, but you can do business. Citizens of the following countries do not need a tourist visa to enter Germany: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, United Kingdom, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, Cyprus.
– All other nationalities must apply for a visa to enter Germany.
Non-EU citizens who wish to stay in Germany for more than 90 days require a visa from the German consulate.
Non-EU travelers presenting themselves at the German port of entry must present the following documents to be allowed to enter Germany:
- A passport valid for at least three months beyond the date of departure from Germany
- A valid visa, if required
- Proof of sufficient financial resources for the entire stay in Germany. Travellers to Germany must be able to prove that they have at least €45 for each day of their stay
- A round-trip ticket to Germany and back
It is also possible to apply for a long stay visa: for example visa as a job seeker or work visa for qualified professionals
All information about visa regulation, and type of visa you need,can be found on the government website
Depending on the purpose for which you want to enter Germany, you can apply for one of the short-term visas for Germany (tourist visa, student visa, business visa, etc.)
Relocating to Germany, residence permit
With the exception of persons from EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, all other foreign nationals require a residence permit for a stay in Germany of more than 90 days. With a German residence permit, you can stay in Germany longer than just 90 days. During this time you can study, work or pursue other activities in Germany.
Many foreign citizens must apply for a residence permit for Germany in their home country. Citizens who do not require a visa to enter Germany may apply for a residence permit when they are in Germany (Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America).
Temporary residence permit
If you want to move to Germany, the temporary residence permit entitles you to stay in Germany for a certain period of time. However, you can extend it if your situation does not change and you meet all the requirements.
The temporary residence permit is issued to foreign nationals if they have a specific reason for staying in Germany. It does not automatically give you the right to work. The temporary residence permit is the first type of permit that most foreign citizens receive.
The 4 most common residence permits are:
1. Residence permit for employment
You can start your job search from your home country or apply for a visa for job seekers in Germany to come to Germany and look for a job. In any case, if you receive a job offer, you can apply for a temporary residence permit.
Getting a residence permit to work in Germany is not easy. There are some requirements that must be met:
- You must be proficient in the German language
- Your employer must prove that the position cannot be filled by other German nationals, EU citizens or privileged employees
If you find a job, the duration of the work permit is the same as that of the employment contract. However, you can extend it if you extend your work contract.
2. Residence permit for students
You can also get a temporary residence permit if you want to study in Germany. You can get a residence permit for the length of your study program.
- Enrollment in a college/college
- Participation in a study exchange program
- Enrollment in preparatory language courses
- Enrollment in preparatory language courses
- Enrollment in vocational training and internships
While you are studying, you can work full-time for 4 months and half-time for 8 months.
Once you graduate, you can extend your temporary residence permit for another 18 months to find a job in Germany. Once you have found a job, you can apply for a residence permit for employment.
3 Residence permit in case of marriage
If you marry a German citizen or a person with an unlimited residence permit in Germany, you can stay in the country, but you must obtain a residence permit.
To obtain the residence permit, you must have a B1-level command of the German language. The residence permit is initially temporary, but after a few years of marriage it is converted into an unlimited residence permit.
4 The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card give the right to live temporarily in Germany. Foreigners from non-EU countries who are highly qualified in a profession and want to work in Germany can apply for the Blue Card. The best chances to get a Blue Card EU are graduates of IT or STEM.
The Blue Card EU is valid for four years and entitles you to permanent residence if you keep your job. Blue Card holders can bring their family with them.
Permanent Residence Permit
If you want to move to Germany and stay as long as you want, you must obtain the German permanent residence permit.
This permit is issued to people who have already had a temporary residence permit for several years or are Blue Card holders.
To get the Permanent Residence Permit
- You must have worked in Germany for the last 5 years
- You have paid taxes and contributions to the state
- You have mastered the German language
Moving to Germany, useful resources
- The website of the German government, the Federal Immigration Office, which contains news and information about finding a place to live, finding a job, studying, etc.
- For those who want to learn more about moving to Germany, here is a complete guideLiving in Germany aimed at foreigners who wish to move to Germany
- Another guide that can be useful living and working in Germany
- Make it in Germany is the portal of the federal government for workers from abroad. Information about jobs, visa and life in Germany
- A useful guide for immigrants ‘Welcome to Germany‘
- Destination Germany: a Pocket Guide for International Students
Moving to Germany, how to find accommodation
Like everywhere else in the world, finding a long-term rental from abroad is unthinkable, so the best solution is to rent a room in a hostel or on airbnb for a few weeks. Keep in mind that you will not be able to find an apartment until you can show the landlord an employment contract and a certificate that you have no debts in Germany (Schufa). The alternative would be that you know a German citizen who will vouch for you.
There is no law that requires you to have a job to rent an apartment, but landlords want to protect themselves, so they usually ask for the tenant’s last three pay stubs.
Some landlords even ask for the rental debt-free certificate. To get it is a problem for foreigners.
So to find a job you need the certificate of residence (Anmeldung), but if you can not rent without an employment contract, how can you get out of this situation?
There are several options:
- there are inns, hostels and guesthouses where you can apply for a residence permit
- in some areas (Bavaria) it is not necessary to have a rental contract to obtain the residence certificate, it is enough to have accommodation
- a housing solution WG (shared apartment), in this case the owner does not require special guarantees to rent the apartment and you can register your residence
Once you have a job, you can move into your own apartment. However, for various reasons, finding an apartment is not so easy or quick:
- the high demand for housing in major German cities, which is leading to a decline in the supply of housing and a continuous rise in prices. In all major German cities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find an apartment at a reasonable price due to the high rate of immigration
- the apartments are mostly not furnished, sometimes there is a kitchen
- you have to know German, because most of the owners only speak German
Well, finding an apartment in a big German city is expensive and difficult, so you have to live in a WG for at least a year, and then if you know German, you can consider renting an apartment.
You can find out how high the rents are from the rent index of your city, (Mietspiegel), which you can find on the Internet or directly at the housing office of your municipality.
My advice, if you have not decided on a destination yet, choose a medium sized city where the job market is good but where it is still possible to find an apartment without many problems.
Now, finding an apartment in a big German city is expensive and difficult, you have to show: Schufa, 3 proofs of salary and a reference letter from the old landlord and even with these documents it will take a long time.
Also in Germany, beware of scams that can always lurk around the corner, unclear ads with tempting prices, whose owner asks you for an advance because he is not in Germany at the moment. These houses do not exist, they are just scams!
Moving to Germany, rental websites
The best websites for finding accommodation in Germany:
- immowelt, very useful
- immobilo, rental website
- wg-suche, popular website
- Immobilienscout24, very popular website
- immonet, one of the most useful websites
- wg-gesucht, rental website
- Deutsche Wohnen, popular website
- ebay-kleinanzeigen, classifieds website
- wohnungsboerse, useful websites
If you want to hire a real estate agent, by law, commissions are paid in full by the owner.
Documents required to rent a house in Germany
If you are moving to Germany, you need to know that due to the high demand for housing in Germany, it is very difficult to find an apartment quickly and at a good price.
If you want to be successful in your search, you must have all the necessary documents.
- Copy of an identity document (passport or ID card)
- Last 3 payslips and copy of employment contract
- A copy of your Schufa (not older than 3 months)
- Rent debt free certificate: a statement from your current landlord that you have no debts
- Self-disclosure: a form that contains all the information about the future tenants (you); often it is the real estate agency that makes you fill out this form
- A letter of introduction in which you must state what you do in Germany and why you are looking for a new apartment
- Curriculum vitae
- If you have savings in the bank, I recommend that you send a copy of your bank statement to reassure the owner. However, if you have little or no money in your account, you should not submit anything
You should have copies of the documents both in hard copy and on your PC as some agencies require paper documents and others by mail.
What is Schufa?
Schufa deserves clarification, (a word you have to deal with if you want to live in Germany).
Schufa is the abbreviation for“Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung”,a private company that collects information on the creditworthiness of individuals and companies in Germany.
Schufa collects a whole range of information about individuals:
- personal data, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance companies, telephone and Internet contracts, current payments, outstanding payments, criminal records and even fines for missing tickets on public transportation
- schufa can not only collect information about your marital status, your employer, your income and/or assets and the amount of your current account
Based on the collected data, Schufa gives a verdict on your creditworthiness. And if the verdict is not good, it will be very difficult for you to find someone willing to rent you an apartment.