Kindergeld in Germany

Top 5 points about Kindergeld in Germany: 2024 guide

Top 5 points about Kindergeld in Germany in 2024

As a family, Kindergeld (“Child Benefit” or “Child Allowance”) is probably the second word you hear after Anmeldung when you move to Germany.

What is Kindergeld ?

Kindergeld is the child benefit system in Germany.

Every family, from their first child and whatever their income, can apply for the Kindergeld and receive this child benefit.

The Kindergeld is paid monthly for each child by the Familienkasse (the family benefits office).

Who can get the Kindergeld in Germany?

Any citizen living in Germany (whatever her/his nationality) and having at least one child.
In the general case, your child must be under 18 years old.
Between 18 and 25 years old, some conditions must be met: use our tool or contact your family benefits office to check.

How to apply for Kindergeld in Germany ?

You just moved to Germany ?
The best way to apply for Child Benefit is to use our tool. Take a look to this 2 minutes demo and apply.

How much is Kindergeld ?

Each year, the Kindergeld amount could change.
In 2024, the child allowance is 250€/month (no matter the number of children)

When to apply for Kindergeld ?

You are new in Germany:

  • if you come from EU country, you can apply once you’ve done your Anmeldung

  • If you come from another country, you have to wait until you have obtained your resident permit

You are already in Germany and your child has just been born, you must wait for the birth certificate.

Have in mind that you have up to 6 months to apply once moving to Germany to get the full child benefit from your date of arrival.

Where to apply for the Kindergeld ?

The Kindergeld has to be sent to your local FamilienKasse.

Find the address here:

freelancing in germany

Succeed Freelancing in Germany: your 2022 guide

5 things to know to start freelancing in Germany

Hello, my name is Sebastian and I work for Smart in Germany. Smart is a cooperative for freelancers allowing them to handle their professional activities within the structure of a shared company. They process their freelance activities through Smart and receive their payment as employees of the cooperative, simplifying the administrative task and giving them automatic access to social security.

But before giving you more information on Smart, here are 5 important things you should know about freelancing in Germany.

freelancing in germany

What is freelancing in Germany ?

“Freelancing” is synonymous with “self-employment” in Germany, and the separation between freelancing and employment is very strict

The definition of freelancing in Germany is narrower than in other countries. You’re only considered a freelancer if you don’t work for your clients in an employee-like manner. That means that you must be truly free and independent to decide how, where, and when you work, and you mustn’t be integrated into your client’s business structure. As a freelancer, you’re considered as a “solo entrepreneur” (“Einzelunternehmer*in”) with your own business risks, and you must advertise your activities yourself.

Many independent contractors in other countries would be considered employees under German labour law. There’s the issue of “Scheinselbständigkeit” (bogus self-employment): freelancers who work like employees can be fined if the authorities find out that they work like employees. This also applies to remote work – German law is applicable if you work from Germany.

If you’re unsure about your status, you can request a free and formal check by the German Pension Insurance called “Statusfeststellungsverfahren” (status determination check). Make sure you get professional advice before doing this!


freelancing in germany

What are the different options of freelancing in Germany ?

There are two ‘types’ of freelancing in Germany: “freie Berufe” and “Gewerbe”

The German system has two ‘categories’ or ‘types’ of self-employed/freelance work: “freie Berufe,” or liberal professions, include activities that require a certain education, skill, or a license, such as lawyer, doctor, writer, teacher, or artist. “Gewerbe”-style activities are all other freelance activities. Your local tax office (“Finanzamt”) will determine which category you belong to. For some activities, especially consulting and IT services, the tax offices often decide on a case-by-case basis.

If your activity is considered a “Gewerbe,” you must also register at your local trade office for a small fee, become a member of the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce (“Industrie- und Handelskammer,” IHK), and pay trade tax if your profits exceed 24,500 Euro/year.

freelancing in germany

Is it worth being a freelancer in Germany ?

If you’re start freelancing in Germany, you have a lot of responsibilities

As a freelancer, you must do everything yourself: you’re obliged to let the tax office know that you started your freelance activity by filling out the form “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung” (tax registration questionnaire) to get your special freelance tax number (which is required to invoice your clients). Also, you must sign up and pay for health insurance yourself. It’s also recommended to check if you need any other Insurances. You must hand in a tax declaration to let the tax office know about your revenue, your business expenses, and your profits. Also make sure you understand how to issue invoices correctly.


health insurance germany

What about the health insurance ?

When it comes to health insurance, most freelancers can choose between public and private coverage

Most freelancers can choose between coverage by a public or private health insurance company (“Krankenkasse”).

If you start freelancing in Germany after having moved to Germany from a different country, you can only choose public health insurance if you were previously insured in the public system of another EU country, the UK, or Turkey.

If you choose public insurance, the contribution is a percentage of your profits: 14.6% for health insurance, and 3.4% for long-term care insurance. The minimum monthly contribution is around 200 Euro per month. This can be a lot if you don’t make a lot of money yet.

If you choose private insurance, the contributions don’t depend on your profits but on individual risk factors. It can be cheap when you’re young and healthy, but contributions increase when you get older. Note that once you choose private insurance and remain a freelancer, you cannot switch to public insurance. The switch to public insurance is only possible if you change your status to employee or get access to public insurance via the KSK or family insurance.

There’s a special insurance system for freelance artists, writers, and art teachers called “Künstlersozialkasse” (KSK). The KSK is a government institution that gives this special group access to public health and pension insurance and subsidizes the contributions by 50%. You can also get public health insurance via the KSK no matter what your previous insurance was. To benefit from this system, you must submit a lot of evidence to the KSK to check if you meet the insurance requirements. This can often take months, and it’s recommended to consult with an expert or a non-profit organization to help you with the process.


tax in germany

What about VAT for freelancers in Germany ?

Make sure you understand how value-added tax (VAT) works

When you register the beginning of your freelance activity, you must determine your relationship towards value-added tax (VAT).

If you declare that you’re subject to VAT, you must add VAT on top of your net price (7% or 19%, depending on the service or good you sell) and declare/pay VAT to the tax office. At the same time, you can claim a refund of the VAT included in your business expenses, meaning that you only pay the net price. This relationship towards VAT can make sense if you primarily have business clients who are also subject to VAT (since they can claim back the VAT you charge them) and if you plan on investing in your activity.

The other relationship towards VAT is called “Kleinunternehmer” (literally, ‘small’ businessperson). In this case, you don’t charge your clients VAT, but you also don’t have the privilege to claim a refund of the VAT included in your business expenses. This can make sense if you don’t have a lot of business expenses, and if you mainly have private clients or VAT-exempt business clients such as non-profit associations. For this group of clients, you are cheaper by not adding VAT. In order to remain a “Kleinunternehmer,” your revenue (before deducting business expenses) must remain under 22,000 Euro in the respective previous calendar year.

If you have clients outside of Germany, get professional tax advice because there are many special VAT regulations when it comes to cross-border invoicing.

freelancing in germany

How can Smart help you with freelancing in Germany?

Smart has developed a new way of working as a freelancer in Germany.

You want to start freelancing in Germany ?

Become a Smart member, you don’t have to register your activity at the tax office and you don’t have to worry about most of the administrative issues described above.

Instead, you process your freelancing within a shared company. That means that Smart will issue invoices on your behalf, using Smart’s tax number. Your clients won’t pay you but send their payment to Smart. You receive your payment in the form of an average monthly salary, based on an employment contract with the cooperative and your income processed by Smart.

Your advantages:

  • Smart handles invoicing (including to clients located abroad) and payment reminders
  • You receive a monthly salary
  • If your clients are in the EU, Smart advances your salary during the preparation and execution of your activities, before your client has paid Smart
  • As an employee, you have automatic access to public health insurance and pay into pension and unemployment insurance, and Smart handles all payments to the insurance companies
  • You don’t have to hand in an income tax declaration as income tax is deducted automatically from your salary each month

You can find more information on Smart’s membership requirements here:

If you’re interested in Smart, attend one of our weekly online info sessions:
During the info session, you’ll learn how Smart works in detail, and you can ask questions in the chat. After attending the info session, you can schedule an individual consultation.

Transparency: this article was written by Smart EG, one of our partners. With this article, we wanted to offer valuable information about freelancing in Germany and present the services offered by Smart to support freelancers. We don’t earn any commission with this article

tips in Germany for Expats in Germany

Expats in Germany: 10 Tips for a successful move in Germany

10 Tips for a successful move for Expats in Germany

After a while in a new country, you always think “If I had had this advice sooner…” Here is the list of 10 tips in Germany that every Expat should know before moving to Germany.

Tip 1: Get your documents ready
Tip 2: Choose your health insurance
Tip 3: Book a temporary home
Tip 4: Start learning German
Tip 5: Know your net salary
Tip 6: If you have children
Tip 7: Save a budget for the 1st month
Tip 8: Book an appointment for the Anmeldung
Tip 9: Join Expats groups on social networks
Tip 10: Start to read about Germany

Tip 11 bonus at the end 👇

documents germany

Tips in Germany n°1: Get your documents ready

Germany is probably the most “Process” driven country that I have lived.

The good thing:

  • you know what you have to do and there are no surprises

The difficult thing:

  • you have to do all the paperwork and there is no way to avoid it!

So, our best tip to Expats is to have your paperwork ready before moving to Germany.

Which documents do you need?

  • Visa: this may sound obvious but we must insist on this, don’t come to Germany without your work visa issued, it will not work
  • Passport/ID: 
    • If you are not from EU, have your passport with you, we recommend you renew it if it’s less than 6 months
    • If you are from EU, your ID is enough
  • Marriage or couple certificate:
    • If you are married or in a couple with a formal life partner certificate, ensure you have a certificate from the relevant issuing city
    • A certified German translation is necessary
      • If you were married in the EU, be aware there is an EU regulation which gives you the right to ask for a multilingual certificate for free
      • If you are not from the EU, you will need to arrange an official translation.
      • Try Lingoking, the online certified translations service
  • For children, a birth certificate is necessary:

health insurance germany

Tips in Germany n°2: Choose your health insurance before moving to Germany

The Health insurance system in Germany is one of the best in the world.

That said, you have to choose between various systems (public or private) depending on your profile and salary.

Often Expats in Germany think that they need to wait until they arrive to start the process. However this is not the case, and our tip is to start before moving to Germany.


  • you cannot be paid without registering a health insurance
  • it could take more than a week to get your social security number

Try Feather, the 100% online and in English insurance broker focuses on Expats in Germany

home search germany

Tips in Germany n°3: Book a temporary home

Moving to a new country implies many challenges.  And one of the most notable for Expats in Germany is finding a home.


Because the rental market in Germany is very tense, particularly in big cities like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. There is high demand and low supply.

Also, much of the market is online and landlords prefer to see and meet people physically.

So how is it possible when you’re not yet in the country?

Our tip is to rent a temporary home, either a serviced apartment or a furnished short term let.

It will give you time to familiarize yourself with the new city and it removes the pressure to have an address within 14 days for the Anmeldung.


learn german

Tips in Germany n°4: Start learning German

Many Expats in Germany move without knowing the language.  Generally speaking however, you don’t need it to work.

But even if Germans are known to speak very good English, they appreciate when foreigners speak their language. It facilitates your integration and also your day to day challenges.

Today with the technology available , you can start learning before moving to Germany through many different channels:

salary germany

Tips in Germany n°5: Know your net salary

Before moving, it’s advisable to evaluate your monthly budget and cost of living in Germany.

Generally, you will be advised on your gross salary by your company , higher than in other European countries, however they don’t tell you about your net salary.

Your net salary depends on various factors in Germany:

  • Your health insurance rate
  • Your tax category
  • The number of children you have
  • If you have any advantages like a car or a company allowance

You also need to take into consideration State allowances you are eligible for (like the Kindergeld) or Tax exemptions you may have (with day care for example)

Our tip here is to ask your company HR to provide you a net salary simulation.

You can also use an online tool to help you.

germany with children

Tips in Germany n°6: if you have children

Of course, if you have children, one of your key challenges is to understand the German education system, know which school you should choose for your children and when to start the process.

<6 years old: Children go to KITA system either Creche or Kindergarten

These schools are mainly public so you need to register before the beginning of the school year (August).

This process depends on each city so if you don’t know where you will live, it could be difficult to manage this before moving to Germany.

Our tip here is to at least register and begin the process in the city you expect to live in. Check this blog article from our friend and kita expert Sandra.

>6 years old: private or public school…

from age 6, a child in Germany starts Grundschule.

Predominantly you have a public school system in Germany but if you would like to keep your children’s mother tongue; as a lot of Expats in Germany do; take a look at the international or bilingual schools of your target region.

Take into consideration that you can have a Tax return at the end of the year from the Tax Office if your children are at a private school

If you have children, don’t forget also to apply to the Kindergeld, from your 1st child.

money germany

Tips in Germany n°7: Save a budget for the 1st month living in Germany

This tip may sound obvious but a lot of Expats in Germany don’t consider this in advance and they lose home opportunities.

What to consider:

  • Home: 1st month rental and ⅔ months deposit
  • Furniture: buying new furniture
  • School entrance fees

anmeldung germany

Tips in Germany n°8: Book an appointment for the Anmeldung before arriving

Once you have booked your temporary home, book an appointment for the Anmeldung as early as you can.


Because the Anmeldung is the key to everything:

  • Getting paid
  • Opening a bank account
  • Getting your Tax ID
  • Finalizing your Health insurance
  • Access to any local public service like Garbage (dechetterie)

social network germany

Tips in Germany n°9: Join “Expats in Germany” social networks groups

Joining social network groups for Expats in Germany is a good way to start understanding your new life in Germany as an Expat!

You can get first hand information about your new city and get some tips from others who have been in your situation.

It’s a good way to socialize, start making friends and learn about what living in Germany sounds like.

Of course, if you want to socialize with locals, this is not the place

Join Get In Expat groups in Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin

book germany

Tips in Germany n°10: Start to read about Germany, its culture and way of life…

After almost 2 years in Germany, it’s clear to me that I didn’t really know Germany before moving.

I was full of clichés:

The truth is Germany is a great country to live in. Once you understand the mindset, it’s a country with a lot of opportunities and with a nice balanced lifestyle and a high quality of life.

Bonus Tip in Germany n°11: ask for the support of Move-In !

The bonus tip: ask for help from our Move-In team when moving to Germany

With online tools and relocation packages, we are here to make your relocation to Germany a successful one!


With these tips, enjoy you move to Germany!

Transparency: this article contains affiliation links from our partners for Expats in Germany. If you click on one of their links and register a service with them, we earn a commission but there is no additional cost to you,

certified translations in Germany

Certified translations in Germany in 2022

Certified translations in Germany in 2022

In Germany, official documents that have been issued with a stamp or signature by a foreign authority usually have to be translated by a certified translator. These documents only acquire legal validity through the attestation clause and the signature of the translator. This certification, which confirms the accuracy of the translation, may only be carried out by a court-certified translator.

In Germany, on the other hand, any public body using an official seal may issue official certifications, but this does not apply to certified translations. If you want these documents to be recognised outside Germany, you should ask the relevant foreign authorities whether a certified translation is required.

Here is an overview of which German authorities issue certifications:

  • Governments / consulate (incl. apostille)
  • Courts (incl. apostille)
  • Notaries
  • City halls / citizens’ offices
  • Local mayors
  • County administrations
  • Parish offices

What you should pay attention to as a private person or company when you have to present official foreign documents in Germany. You can find out who is allowed to translate your official documents and when authentication is required in the following article.


  • 1. Where are certified translations needed?
  • 2. Certified translations in Germany — Who needs it?
  • 3. Which documents need to be certified?
  • 4. Who is allowed to issue certified translations?
  • 5. The authentication: apostille & legalisation?
  • 6. Helpful tips to keep in mind.

Where are certified translations needed?

Certified translations in Germany are always required when documents are to acquire legal validity. This applies in particular to contracts, but also to official documents or certificates. These certified translated documents must be presented to the authorities or offices upon request. Consequently, it always makes sense to enquire with the relevant authority/office whether a certified translation is desired and/or required.

Here are a few examples of which institutes and offices require certified translations from you:

  • Federal Employment Agency “Arbeitsamt”
  • City halls
  • Courts & public prosecution
  • Registry office
  • Citizen’s Office
  • Universities
  • Foreigners authority

Certified translations in Germany — Who needs it?

Persons who wish to study or marry in Germany require an officially sworn translator who has been sworn in for their specific national language before a German court in order to submit their documents. When looking for a flat or a job, it can also be advantageous to carry certified translations (confirmation of registration, certificates, etc.) as proof, even if this is not required by official bodies. As a rule of thumb, however: All foreign persons staying in Germany for longer than 6 months (study, work, etc.) should seek appropriate certified translations.

    • People who wish to live and work permanently in Germany (> 6 months)
    • Persons who wish to transact contractual fixed transactions in Germany
    • People who would like to receive medical treatment in Germany
    • Car and driving licence holders who are permanently resident in Germany

Which documents require a certified translation?

As described at the beginning, as a rule all officially issued documents bearing an official stamp or signature must be translated by an officially sworn translator. You can find a complete overview of the most important documents you should certify here:(

Who may issue certified translations?

In Germany, a certified translation may only be carried out by publicly appointed and sworn translators. They confirm the accuracy of the translation with their signature, stamp and a certification note and guarantee that it corresponds to the original. The authenticity is therefore legally binding. Only about 3% of translators are sworn in by the courts. So find out in advance whether the translator meets the set criteria and, if in doubt, ask to see the translator’s certification for the language in question.

The Authentication: Apostille & Legalisation.

An apostille confirms the authenticity of the signature/seal of the signatory (not the actual document). Some official documents only receive legal force through this apostille. Apostilles can only be issued by governments and courts. Official documents from abroad are generally only accepted by German authorities if they have been legalised by the consulate of the country concerned. This authentication procedure of official deeds and documents was laid down in the Hague Convention of 1961.

Résumé and helpful tips to keep in mind.

  • 1. Enquire in advance at the relevant authority whether a certified translation of your documents is necessary.
  • 2. Rely on professional translators & agencies.
  • Allow some processing time. Certified translations must be in the original and thus sent by post.
  • If your document has been issued by a court or government and there is an authentication, this must also be translated.

The author “Florian Mayerhoffer” I Head of Marketing @lingoking
Florian — Head of Marketing at lingoking since 2020 — is responsible for building up the brand & marketing department and the external presentation of the “lingoking” brand. Under the slogan “Push The boundaries”, he wants to use lingoking not only to promote more tolerance and diversity in society, but also to help people overcome boundaries and realise their dreams and success stories all over the world.

The brand “lingoking” — The first delivery platform for translations
lingoking is the first translation delivery service. Our digital and web-based ordering system allows for quick booking of professional language services. For worldwide on-site appointments as well as ordering
written translations from all over the world — officially recognised, seo-optimised and approved for all target countries.


Transparency: this article was written by Lingoking one of our German partners for Expats. If you click on one of their links and make a certified translation with them, we earn a commission but there is no additional cost to you,

Visa in Germany

Visa in Germany: your 2023 guide to choosing the right visa for your profile

How to choose your Visa in Germany

Moving to Germany 

One of the most important topics to consider before moving is whether you will need a visa to live or work in that particular country i.e. Germany .

As a Mexican, I can really identify with the relevance and importance of this topic. Being a citizen of a country that does not belong to the EU or the Schengen area implies many more administrative and bureaucratic procedures. With that being said, whilst it may be a difficult process, it is not an impossible one!

Germany offers various types of visas for various circumstances.  German visas range from student ones to visas that allow you to be an entrepreneur in Germany.

Once you know which visa applies to your case, you can then start the visa application process.

Let’s start to define the following points:

Do I need a visa in Germany?

Whether you need a visa to enter Germany depends on your nationality

EU passport holder and citizens of the Schengen area do not require a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. They only need to do the Anmeldung within the first fourteen days of their arrival to Germany 

What kind of visa do I need?

Short stay Schengen visa.

A short stay visa is required if you wish to stay in Germany or in the Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days for a visit, tourist, business or medical treatment. (See table countries who need visa)

The following nationalities require an Entry Visa (Schengen visa) for short stays (see table)

visa in germany

*The visa waiver applies to SAR passports holders(Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Region passports).
These may not remain on German territory for more than 90 days in any six month period.
Nor may they take up gainful employment whilst here.


If your country is NOT on the list of nationalities listed in the above table that require a Schengen short stay visa, then you can travel to Germany without a visa and stay for up to 90 days (within a 180 day period). If you want to stay longer than 90 days in Germany then you will need to start a visa application for a long-term stay visa.

Furthermore, for a Schengen visa application, every applicant must submit proof of medical travel insurance that covers the entire duration of their stay in Europe.


Airport Transit Visa (Category A)

Citizens of certain countries require an airport transit visa when flying via Germany to their final destination. This allows them a short stay in the international transit area of some airports

Airport transit privilege does not apply and you will need a Schengen short stay visa if:

  • you have to pick up your baggage and/or have to check-in again (please verify with your airline) 
  • or you are transiting through two or more airports in the Schengen Countries 
  • or you hold an open ticket. 


Who needs an Airport transit visa?

Passport holders of the following countries: 

visa in germany - transit visa

Long-term stays / Residence German Visa 

A residence German visa is required:

  • you intend to stay in Germany for more than 90 days for work, 
  • to study, 
  • to join family members or 
  • if you intend to move to Germany permanently.   

Importantly, you are required to do your visa application before entering Germany.


Who needs a residence visa (Long term visa)?

Anybody outside of the EU or the Schengen area. Citizens of the European Union and the Schengen area are only required to do the Anmeldung

Citizens of the countries listed in the tables below who are planning a longer stay in Germany must apply for visas at the relevant embassy before arriving in the country. 

visa in germany - americas
visa in germany - asia
visa in germany - africa
The citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America may obtain the relevant residence permit that is required after entering Germany and city registration. 


Which countries belong to the Schengen area? (see table) 

visa in germany - europe

Types of German visa:

  • Work Visa 
  • Vocational Training visa 
  • Study Visa
  • Visa for the self-employed
  • Research visa 
  • Visa to join a family member living in Germany

Work Visa in Germany

Before applying for a German work visa, you must first find and apply for a job, here are 2 great services we recommend you use:

  • The “ArbeitNow” job board which references more than 6000 open English and sponsored jobs in Germany
  • Lisa Janz, expat-focused job coaching expert. She can prepare you to apply for a job and get ready for interviews

Blue Card EU

The Blue Card is a special permit designed to attract highly skilled professionals who are interested in working in Europe.  To be eligible you require

  • have a recognized university degree, 
  • a job offer that pays you 56,800 Euros or more before taxes per year. 
  • check the visa requirements to enter Germany. 

After arrival contact the local foreigners office to get your Blue Card EU. 

Work Visa with a contract

To apply and be eligible for a work visa you require

  • a recognized university degree
  • a job offer/contract that states your salary
  • proof that your qualification is recognized in Germany. 

You may need a visa to enter Germany. After arrival, contact the local foreigners office to get your residence permit. 

Work visa to work as an IT specialist with work experience 

You are able to work in the IT sector without a recognized degree if you have relevant work experience. More specifically, your visa application must include:

  • you will need to have been working in the IT sector for at least three years within the last 7 years.
  • a job offer in Germany that pays you 51,120 EUR before taxes or more. 
  • a German language skills of at least B1 level (exceptions are possible).

Check the visa requirements to enter Germany. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit.

Working with a qualification that is only partially recognized

You can get the extra qualification in Germany while already working if your vocational qualification is not fully recognized. However, you will need:

  • a German language skills of at least A2 level. Also, you need
  • a visa to enter Germany.
  • A residence permit to work and qualify will be issued for 18 months, and in certain cases for up to two years.  After that, you can get a residence permit to work

Job seeker (academic)

You can stay for up to six months in Germany to find a job corresponding to your academic qualification. For this you need to include in your visa application:

  • a recognized university degree. 
  • proof that you can cover your living expenses
  • a visa to enter Germany. 
  • for up to six months you do not need a residence permit while looking for a job. 

Once you find an adequate job, you can get a residence permit.

Job seeker (non academic)

You can stay for up to six months in Germany to find a job corresponding to your vocational qualification. You need: 

  • to have completed a minimum of two years vocational training that is recognised in Germany, 
  • proof that you are able to cover your living expenses 
  • knowledge of German (B1). 
  • a visa to enter Germany. 
  • for up to six months you do not need a residence permit while looking for a job. 

Once you find an adequate job, you can get a residence permit

Vocational training visa

Vocational training visa with a contract as a trainee or apprentice

If you have a contract with a company as an apprentice and you speak German (level B1). A national visa to enter Germany is needed. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to ask for a residence permit. You are permitted to work for up to ten hours per week.

Vocational training visa to look for a company with a vocational training programme 

You can enter Germany to find a company for your vocational training if you speak German (level B2) and you are younger than 25. A visa to enter Germany is needed. You do not need a residence permit while looking for a job for up to six months.

Study visa

Study with admission to a German university

Proof of admission to a German university, as well as proof that you have enough money to support yourself. A national visa to enter Germany is needed. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit.

Study with a prior language course or internship

Proof of admission to a preparatory language course or internship.  As well as proof that you have enough money to support yourself. A visa to enter Germany is needed. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit. More information for study in Germany 


If you have already been accepted into a PhD programme, and you can prove that you have enough to cover your living expenses, for example a scholarship. A national visa to enter Germany is needed. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit.

Visa for the self-employed in Germany

Liberal Professions

If you want to be self-employed in Germany, you will be required to have the funds for not only your project but also your living expenses.  Additionally you must ask for a permit from Germany to exercise your profession. 

Start a business 

If your products or services have a regional demand or commercial interest in Germany.  You will require a business plan and proof of financial resources to launch your business. 

Research visa

Research visa

If you have a cooperation agreement with a university, private or public research institute in Germany. 

Visa to join a family member living in Germany

Visa to marry a German national

If you wish to marry a German citizen,

  • you have to register the wedding at a registry office in Germany, 
  • you have to be at least eighteen years old, 
  • you will need a basic knowledge of German (A1), 
  • proof that you can cover your living expenses, 
  • German passport or identity card of your fiancé. 

You may need a German visa to enter the country. Once married you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit. 

Visa to marry a foreign national in Germany

If your foreign fiancé/e holds either a residence permit, a Blue Card EU or a permit to permanently stay in the European Union, 

  • you need a registration of the wedding at the registry office in Germany,
  • proof of basic knowledge of German (A1) 
  • proof that you can cover your living expenses. 

You may need a German visa to enter the country. Once married you have to contact the local foreigners office to ask for a residence permit. 

Visa to join your German wife or husband

If you are married to a German national, and you and your spouse are at least eighteen years old, you will need for your visa application:

  • proof of basic knowledge of German (A1), 
  • marriage certificate and 
  • a copy of your spouse’s German passport. 

You may need a visa to enter Germany.  After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit.

Visa to join your wife or husband who is an EU/EEA national

If you are married to a national of an EU country, the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you need proof 

  • that you can cover your living expenses if your spouse is not working in Germany, 
  • marriage certificate and 
  • a copy of your spouse’s passport. 

You may need a visa to enter Germany. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to ask for a residence permit.

Visa to join your wife or husband who is a foreign national 

If you are married to a foreign national who holds either a residence permit, a Blue Card EU, an ICT Card, a permanent settlement permit or a permit for permanent stay in the European Union and if you and your spouse are both at least 18 years old. 

  • Generally, you need to have at least basic German language skills (A1). 
  • No language skills are required if your spouse holds a Blue Card EU. 
  • You need proof that you can cover your living expenses and have adequate accommodation and 
  • a legalized marriage certificate. 

You may need a visa to enter Germany. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to apply for a residence permit.

Visa to join a minor German child

You can get a visa for Germany if your child is younger than 18 years, a German national and if you have custody of your child

  • You need a birth certificate, 
  • proof of custody of your child and 
  • German identity document of the child. 

You may need a visa to enter Germany. After your arrival you have to contact the local foreigners office to ask for a residence permit.

Visa for a child under eighteen years old to join a German parent

The child can get a visa for Germany if he or she is under 18, not married and one of the parents is a German national and permanently residing in Germany. 

  • The child does not need to speak German.
  • You need a birth certificate and your parent´s German identity document. 
  • The child needs a national Visa first. 

After arrival, the child needs to apply for a residence permit from local foreigners office.


Essential documents or requirements you always need for a German visa application

  • Application Form (digital form) 
  • Passport 
  • Biometric Passport photo
  • Proof of medical health Insurances
  • Proof of cover your living expenses (blocked account or account estatements) 
  • Proof or purpose in Germany

Some documents may need a certified translation, use our online partner

Note: Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you may be required to submit additional documentation. Check with the competent German embassy/consulate of your country of residence.

Fees for Visa Application

visa in germany - cost

Tips for your German visa application

  • Validity of your passport for at least one year or more.  Meaning you will not then not need to worry about renewing it, as we are sure you will be quite busy adapting to your new lifestyle.
  • It is often mandatory to maintain a certain balance on your personal bank account for a minimum of 3 months to process your Visa.  Be sure to check this early if you planning to apply for a visa sometime in the near future. It is always better to plan ahead!  If you are a student, it will be your parents bank account information.  Or, you can open a blocked account (sperrkonto) in which you must have a minimum available balance of 861 euros per month or 10,332 euros per year .
  • Check the documents you need to obtain a long-term German visa directly with the competent German embassy/consulate of your country of residence.  The documentation and visa requirements may vary from one country to another.
  • Plan your move or change of residence in advance.
  • Learn the local language.
  • Consider a budget for administrative procedures and translations.
  • After your arrival it is mandatory to do the Anmeldung within the first fourteen days. 


What is a blocked account?

This is a special account for some type of visa that is not freely accessible to the account holder. As a foreign student who is not from an EU Member State, you must furnish proof that you have the financial means to pay for your course of studies and support yourself during your studies. Proof of financial resources must usually be provided when you apply for an entry visa and is a prerequisite when you apply for a residence permit in Germany.

The blocked account must have sufficient credit to cover the costs arising from your stay for the duration of your planned stay in Germany, unless other proof of financial support is presented in the visa procedure. Certain standard rates apply that are based on the rates for German students. From 1 January 2021, the presumed annual requirement that must be paid into the blocked account when applying for a visa amounts to 10,332 euros. The account may also only permit the withdrawal of a certain amount per month (for students currently 861 euros).

move to germany

Succeed your move to Germany: your 2023 guide for paperwork

7 public offices to know when you move to Germany


When you arrive in a new place regardless of whether you are a local or a foreigner, there is always the same question when you need to either, apply or submit paperwork!

I remember in Morocco, as a national citizen, before even applying for an official document, I first had to figure out which office I had to apply to. For example was it a local, regional or a national office and only then could I begin to figure out which paperwork was required!

Well you won’t be surprised to learn that in Germany it’s no different! In fact, in many instances it’s more difficult for expats as a result of Germany being a federal country. This means responsibilities lie on many different German authorities levels ie. national, regional, district or city.

The objective of this article is to give you an idea of the main public offices to know when moving to Germany as well as the services each one provides. The hope is that it gives you a more clear understanding of what you need and where you need to go when moving to Germany.

For more information check out our relocation services, available to help you out when moving to Germany.


The Rathaus [The City Hall]

anmeldung germany

As each and every person is required to register on arrival in Germany this will be your first stop and first paperwork to start your move to Germany. Here you will do your registration/ Anmeldung. Needless to say, this will be your first interaction with German public bureaucracy (yahooooo !!!).

This is managed at a city level and thus each city has at least one Rathaus.

Depending on your city size and organization, there can be other German authorities offices that cover part or all the services that the Rathaus provides. Generally speaking you have one per neighborhood (stadtteil).

To find your local rathaus, enter into your browser “Stadt + city name” and you will find the official city website.

Within the Rathaus you have various offices (Amt) covering various topics.

Die Burgerbüro (The Citizens Office: 1st office you visit when you move to Germany!)

  • City Registration or Deregistration (Wohnung An/Abmeldung) – 1st step when you move to Germany
  • Request a new home certificate ( Meldebescheinigung)
  • Request a criminal record certificate (Führungszeugnis)
  • Request a life certificate (Lebensbescheinigung)
  • For German citizens: apply for passport and ID card

Die Standesamt (The Civil Registry Office)

This service is dedicated to register births, marriages and deaths.

It’s also here that you would go to get the original certificates for any of these events given they occured in the city.

Die Gewerbewesen ( The Business Registration Office)

This service is for Business registration and certificates.

This is the first place you would go when wanting to create/open a new business in Germany.


    • The Anmeldung is mandatory for all citizens living and moving to Germany. If you need a german residence permit to live in Germany, this process is with the Foreign Office
    • Once you have your Anmeldung certificate, you can open a German bank account.
    • The Rathaus is a good place to find information about the local city and events.  We highly recommend stopping by to pick flyers and magazines 
    • You can pick up recycling waste bags (yellow and compost ones) inside the Rathaus.
    • Pick up your waste disposal calendar here too if you unable to print it online
    • Use our Support Expat Service – WikiMove – to call the Burgerburo for more information
    • Use our partner online services to translate your documents for the Anmeldung: Lingoking


The Finanzamt [The Tax Office]

tax in germany

Of course we cannot talk about German offices without talking about the Tax Office. 

As you may know, after the Anmeldung is done, you will automatically and relatively quickly be sent your Tax ID at home (from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern – BZST).   In other words, taxes are very well organized in Germany.

As part of Germany’s ongoing digitalization, you may not need to go directly to your Finanzamt or to get in contact with them directly. However it’s good to know which one you deal with and what they do.

If you start a freelancing activity in Germany, you must register your activity to the German authorities through the Tax office.

The Tax Office manages individual and business tax declarations.

It’s done at the regional level but generally you have one or more offices by district.

To find out which one is relevant to you, go to the BZST website.


  • Paperwork in Germany is being digitised by the public offices. Once you have your Tax ID, register yourself with the Tax Office using their portal.
  • Two important IDs to get when moving to Germany: your Tax ID and your german health insurance number. You may need to provide your Tax ID to finalize the opening of your German bank account


The Ausländerbehörde [The Foreigners Office]

expat in germany

If you move to Germany from outside EU or your country doesn’t have a residence permit agreement in place with Germany, (check our article about Visas) you are required to register with this office once you have settled in your final home (and after the Anmeldung) in order to get your permanent resident permit.

Why this paperwork is mandatory? 

Even if you were granted a visa to come to Germany, you will now need to get a German Residence Permit which is an ID card for Foreigners.

This office is managed at the district level.

To find your relevant office head to this link:

To know more about the visa rules and paperwork in Germany:

Keep in mind you can request any online translation here

The Familienkasse [The Family Office]

kindergeld in germany

This office is officially part of the Labor Office in Germany (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).  However, as it’s an important office to know we will mention it here separately.

Familienkassen is managed at the regional level but as with other public offices in Germany, it has various offices across the region.

This Child Allowance is a monetary allowance granted to you when your first child is born.  Importantly, it is for all families living in Germany. You are entitled to this allowance for all your children aged between 0 to 18 years old. Also worth noting, under specific conditions it is granted until age 25.

For an easy and fuss free application use our Kindergeld online tool to apply for it. You must apply within the 6 months you move to Germany.

  • Kinderzuschlag

Is an additional child benefit for families will lower income.


  • Find your relevant Familienkasse office here
  • In the Hessen region, the Familienkasse organises a monthly meeting for anyone that is interested.
  • Check whether it’s the case in your region.


The Amt für Soziales [The Office for Social Affairs]

elterngeld germany

This office is managed at the regional level and the names differ from one region to another.

The most important thing to know is these offices manage one very important service and paperwork for Families in Germany,:The Elterngeld.

The Elterngeld is a Parents Allowance that allows both parents to take care of their child up until 24 months (if ElterngeldPlus) and receive a benefit for not working (up to ~1800€ depending on last 12 months salary).

To find your regional office, use this link.


Das Elterngeld is an application (in German) that helps to apply for the Parental Allowance.


The Agentur für Arbeit [The Labour Office]

find a job in germany

This office is very important in Germany, and as such, policies are managed at federal level.  Also, they have offices located all around Germany.

A good indicator of just how important this department is, is that their website is in English and Arabic!

Within this office you have the various others:

Agentur für Arbeit

Main office that manages the Unemployment Benefit 1 paperwork in Germany.


This office manages Unemployment Benefit 2 paperwork and helps people to find a new job and to apply for training


They manage Kindergeld; we have already covered this

Berufsinformationszentrum (BiZ)

It’s an office to help young people with their study choices, to find internships and first jobs


Das Elterngeld is an application (in german) that helps to apply for the Parental Allowance.

If you are registered to the Unemployment office, you are covered by the law with a German health insurance.

Car and Drivers License Offices

car in germany

As you may be aware, the car topic is an important one here in Germany. I will not even begin to talk about the famous brands that were founded here!

Whatever your situation in Germany, you may have to deal with among other issues, things relating to cars and/or driving license.  For instance:

  1. You move to Germany with your car from another country.   You will you need to change the number plates, and head to Car Registration Office
  2. You buy a new or second hand car. You will not only need to go to the TüV (Inspection Office) at some point or another but also to the Car Registration Office
  3. Your driver’s license is not valid in Germany.  You will need to exchange it for a German license and potentially redo the training and/or the exam.  Once again, the Drivers License Office is the place to go

Car Registration Office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle or Zulassungsbehörde)

This is where you register your car (new, second hand or imported).  Book an online appointment and be sure to have all the relevant documents ready for your particular circumstances.

This office is manage by district, to find yours, see here:

Driver’s Licence Office (Führerscheinstelle or Strassenverkehrsamt)

This office is also managed at the district level.

To find yours check this website:


Still have questions ?