Moving to a new country can feel pretty daunting but if you do your research properly and allow yourself sufficient time then you’ll make your move that much easier. To make that process smoother we’ve done some of the hard work for you and put together our advice on what you need to do when you’re moving to Germany.
Get the basics sorted first. It’s easy to forget essential elements like ensuring that everyone’s passport is up to date. You aren’t going anywhere if your passport is lying at the bottom of a drawer, three months out of date. The best time to realise that your passport is lost or out of date isn’t as you set off for the airport on your way out of the country!
And while you’re at it, think about your visa options. Depending on the period of time you will be living in Germany for, and the country you are coming from, you may need to ensure you have the appropriate visas arranged. Check out our section on Getting a Visa to make sure that you know what rules will apply to your particular situation.
Next take a moment to think through your finances. In the excitement of moving to a new country it’s easy to get carried away with optimism and assume everything will be perfect, but take a moment to check out our Wages and Taxes section to be sure that you will be able to make ends meet in your new home.
Perhaps the biggest change will be your new job- not only will it provide your income, but your new social circle, and the area in which you’ll be living. Look at our Getting a job page for thoughts and advice and then check out what’s available on the Jobs Board.
An essential part of this process is ensuring that your CV is up to date and reflects the best of what you can bring to a new role. It may be that this will necessitate making sure that your qualifications are recognised in Germany and what you can do if they aren’t. Again our Getting a Job section can help you with this.
So now you know what you are going to do, where are you going to live? Whatever your living situation currently you will also have to make arrangements for the property you are now in. If it’s a rented property this may be as simple as giving notice , but if you are a home-owner then you will need to decide whether you are going to sell your home before you leave, or perhaps rent it out until your return. At the other end you will need to decide whether you wish short or long term accommodation in Germany, or even whether you are making a permanent home there and would like to buy property. The Germany homepage can help you to make this decision and has a useful guide to property prices in Germany.
If you are shipping out your furniture this is the time to start looking around for the best quotes for a removal firm- and to consider what exactly you plan to do with Fido. Depending on what pet you own, and how long you plan to stay in Germany, you need to make arrangements either to move your pets or to rehome them while you are away.
Consider whether you need to keep a bank account open at home as well as in Germany. Our Wages and Taxes page may help you to decide. Do you have a German bank account set up and ready for any expenses at that end?
Other loose ends will need to be tied up. Have you paid up and cancelled all your bills- big and small? Most people remember to cancel the gas and electric, but have you cancelled the newspapers and magazine subscriptions- and the milk? Have your post redirected for those inevitable things that you have forgotten about- either to your new German address or to family or trustworthy friends.
Arrange health and travel insurance- depending on your home country you may be entitled to use a European Health Insurance Card. If not shop around for the best deal.
Once you are in Germany be sure to apply for a German Tax Card (Lohnsteuerkarte) as soon as possible. Our Wages and Taxes page will take you through the procedure.
Unlike many other countries which make provision for out of school education, in Germany school attendance is compulsory from the age of 6, so do enrol your children in school as soon as you are settled. And contact the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs to find out if you will have to exchange your current driving licence for a German one.