Checklist of First Steps

A number of things need to be taken care of in your first few weeks in Germany. We have summarised the most important things here for you and also indicate how we can help you with them.
  Local Registration Office | Bürgeramt

Registration with the Bürgeramt is mandatory for all persons residing for more than two months in Berlin. You will receive confirmation of registration immediately after registering. Keep this in a safe place, as you may need it later: for example, to apply for a residence permit, conclude an employment contract (tax number) or open a bank account.

  • The International Scholar Services will be happy to assist you in booking an appointment with the Bürgeramt and with completing the registration form
  Residence permit from the Foreigners’ Registration Office

If you require a residence permit, you should come directly to our office during consultation hours in the first weeks after your arrival.

  • We will handle the application for you - you do not need to go to the Foreigners’ Registration Office yourself.
  Health insurance policy

In Germany you are required to have valid health insurance. You must have it from the day you arrive. However, if you have an employment contract at HU, you have to get insurance through a statutory health insurance; and can select and register with a provider of your choice. If you are a researcher at HU under a scholarship, as a visiting scholar or in a self-funded capacity, you usually require a private health insurance. Please check in time which insurance cover will be necessary for you.

  • We can advise you whether or not your insurance coverage is adequate.
  • We can inform you about both statutory and private health insurers.
  Bank account

If you wish to open a German bank account, you need to be registered with the Bürgeramt first.

  • We can inform you of services and other provisions for international scholars and will also provide informational materials.

To ensure that you can be reached on the go, you can conclude a mobile phone contract or buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card.

  • We have a list of available providers and their tariffs in our support office for you.
  Radio and television licence fee

Everyone living in Germany and registered in housing is legally required to pay a licence fee to fund public broadcasting. You can find more information on this on our website.



  Enrolling as a doctoral student
Have you submitted an application for registration as a doctoral student but are not yet enrolled? You must usually apply for enrolment within four weeks of being approved. To do so, contact the admissions office for international students.
  Applying for an HU account
(e.g. to use the internet and an HU e-mail address)

You can find information on applying on the Computer and Media Service page.


For researchers with an employment contract with HU

  Tax ID

The HU personnel department requires this number to correctly account for and pay you your salary. You will receive a tax number if you state that you will be working as an employee when registering at the Bürgeramt.

Further information in English can be found on the website of the Federal Central Tax office.

  Selection of tariffs with the VBL

The VBL (Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder, Federal and State Pension Institution) provides occupational pension coverage. As an HU employee, you will be automatically registered there. For the first two months of your employment, however, you have the option of selecting between two tariffs when working under a temporary contract. Especially if you are working in Germany for less than five years, it is highly advisable to get informed about the different options.

Do you have other questions?

If so please contact the International Scholar Services.

Checklist as PDF

Here you can find all important points as PDF download.