General Information about the first weeks in Germany

Here you will find some suitable information to make your first weeks in Germany as easy as possible:


For your travel to Germany and to acquire a German visa, you need your passport or an equivalent travel document that is valid for your entire stay in Germany.

Please note that all foreigners, except for citizens of the EU, the EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss nationals, require a visa.

People who stay in Germany for more than 90 days or who plan to take up employment in Germany need a “National Visa”. It is advised to book an appointment at the German mission in your country in advance, as processing time can be lengthy and you will need a valid visa upon arrival.

Please inform yourself about the  procedures on the  Website of the  German Federal Foreign Office.

General information about your visa application:

List of German agencies abroad:

National Visa (over 90 days):

Registration Office

Everyone who is not just a visitor is required to register their place of residence at the local Registration’s Office. You must register yourself and your family members within the first two weeks of your arrival to avoid extra fees and to obtain your “Meldebescheinigung” (proof of registration). You and all your family members will have to register in person.

You will need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (This is a landlord confirmation that you moved into the apartment. If you are subletting from someone, they can give you the confirmation.)
  • Possibly a marriage certificate
  • Possibly the birth certificates of your children

It is recommended to have all of your documents translated to English or German before coming to Germany. Please note that in many cases an official certification is required. If in doubt, please ask the public authorities.

It is advisable to already book an appointment online from your home country as the waiting period for an appointment can be long and you need the “Meldebescheinigung” for many things such as opening a bank account, etc.. Alternatively, there are open consultation hours at the town hall of Kiel on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 7:30 am to 12:00 pm where you can go without an appointment.

Booking an appointment:

GEOMAR needs your Steueridentifikationsnummer (tax identification number) in order to pay your salary; this number should be sent to your address automatically after your first residency registration.

Residence Permit

Everyone who is subject to visa requirements must register at the Immigrations Office to obtain a residence permit within the 90 days of the tourist visa. For most people who start at GEOMAR, the appropriate office is the Immigrations Office (Zuwanderungsabteilung) in Kiel. You can make an appointment via email  Zuwanderungsabteilung(at) You should include your and your family’s full names and dates of birth as well as the reason for the appointment.

You will need the following documents:

  • Meldebescheinigung (proof of registration)
  • Certification of health insurance

Further information

Social Insurance

You will need a social security number (VSNR) in order to obtain your salary. You can either contact the German pension insurance or your health insurance company to acquire your social security number.

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in Germany. You can register for a travel insurance for shorter stays in Germany, but if you will stay for a longer period you will have to be insured through the statutory health insurance funds or a private health insurance. There are different health insurance funds that you can choose from. Please forward your health insurance information to the Personnel department of GEOMAR after choosing.

You can start an internet search for Gesetzliche Krankenkasse (statutory health insurance) or health insurance Germany and you will find different suppliers. Since services, benefits, and costs can vary, it might be helpful to ask colleagues for recommendations.

If you have health insurance that is valid in Germany, you will need proof of its validity.

Pension System

The statutory pension insurance is part of the German social security system. Additional insurance might be provided by your employer with VBL, which is a provider of supplementary pension for the public sector. The contributions will be paid by your employer and yourself.

Information sheet "Basic Facts about Pension Insurance for New Employees"

Financial Information and Bank Account

It is necessary to have a German or European checking account to obtain your (monthly) salary. Most banking institutions require a “Meldebescheinigung” to open your account and they may also require a residency permit from the “Ausländerbehörde” (Immigrations Office). Some online banking institutions might not need these documents, but they will require some sort of identification.

Since there are plenty of options for a “Girokonto” (with different services, benefit and costs), you might also ask your colleagues for recommendations.

Your salary will be paid monthly at the end of each month.


Finding suitable accommodation in a new country can be a challenge.

Shared apartments are called “Wohngemeinschaft” (WG) and if you search on the web for “Wohngemeinschaft Kiel” or "WG Kiel" there will be different pages where you can find such living arrangements. If you prefer to rent your own place you can find websites for apartments by searching “Immobilien” (real estate) Kiel.

Some helpful vocabulary:

Wohngemeinschaft – shared apartment

Immobilien – real estate

WG- Zimmer – room in a shared apartment

Wohnung – apartment

Haus – house

Miete – rent/ rental fee

Kaltmiete – basic rent (without ancillary costs)

Makler – estate agent

In some cases, the assistant of your research unit might be able to help you find a temporary accommodation.

GEZ (licence fee for radio and TV)

The licence fee is a compulsory contribution to finance public broadcasting services. All adults are charged regardless of their media use, for every apartment or house with 17,50 Euros a month. You will receive the information about payment after your registration at the Registration’s Office. Please remember to cancel the licence fee when leaving Germany to avoid paying extra. If you live in a shared apartment, make sure you ask your flatmates if your apartment is already paying the license fee and if that is the case, inform the GEZ office about it.  

General Information


  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

    Wischhofstraße 1-3
    D-24148 Kiel


  • More about science & research in Kiel and many other links related to work&life in Kiel are available via the  Wissenschaftsportal of the city of Kiel


The TOTAL E-QUALITY award is presented to GEOMAR for efforts in terms of human resource management aimed at providing equal opportunity.

More information in the TOTAL E-QUALITY award.