Welcome to Germany

Here you find general information about the first weeks in Germany.

To support you in the best possible way with your start at GEOMAR we ask to get in contact with us as soon as possible! Please fill the form and send it to welcome(at)geomar.de

Here you find your personal checklist and suitable information to make your first weeks in Germany as easy as possible.

Doctoral students will find important information here.



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)kiel.de. 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 need a social security number (VSNR) to receive your salary. You can either contact the German pension insurance or your health insurance company to obtain your social security number.

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in Germany. For shorter stays in Germany, you can take out travel insurance, but for longer stays you will have to take out insurance through the public health insurance companies or a private health insurance company. There are different health insurance companies from which you can choose. Please forward your health insurance information to the GEOMAR personnel department after you have made your selection.
You can start an internet search for statutory health insurance or health insurance Germany and find different providers. Since benefits, benefits and costs can vary, it can be helpful to ask colleagues for recommendations.

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

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact our personnel department: jpeters(at)geomar.de

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 current account to receive your (monthly) salary. Most banking institutions require a registration certificate to open your account, and you may also need a residence permit from the Aliens Department. Some online banking institutions may not require these documents, but they do require some form of identification. 
There are exceptions in which it is possible to open an account without prior registration in the registry office. These can be obtained from any bank. 

Since there are many possibilities for a "current account" (with different services, benefits and costs), you can also ask your colleagues for recommendations.

Your salary is paid monthly at the end of each month.


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

Key information on the rental agreement you´ll find here.

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.

Unfortunately, the Welcome Office cannot provide any apartments or overnight accommodation. 

Maybe you have the possibility to find a short-term accommodation in a vacation apartment, here are a few helpful tips: