Relocation process in Germany

The relocation process starts after you get an employment contract with a German company. See the article Recruitment process for more details. 

Many IT companies that hire foreign nationals offer free relocation packages for staff and their families. Those packages may include all or some of the following:

  • Visa support.
  • Registering in Germany.
  • Opening a German bank account.
  • Applying for health insurance.
  • Accommodation, including temporary accommodation for 14 days, home search, and assistance with the rental agreement.

In any case, you may need to get familiar with the whole process of relocation that is usually quite complicated.

1. Applying for a work visa

If you’re a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can work in Germany without a visa or residence permit.

If you’re a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea or the United States, you don’t need a work visa and you can apply directly for the Blue Card (see section 7 of this guide).

Germany visa

Others require a 3-month national German work visa (D type visa) to start working in Germany.

You should apply for a work visa when you already have an employment contract in Germany. And your spouse can apply for a visa based on family reunification. Make an appointment at the German Embassy or a visa center in your country and apply for a visa with the following documents (the ultimate list may be different depending on your country):

  • Valid passport (with at least 3 months validity) and a copy of its data page.
  • Application form (it should be filled out and signed).
  • Employment contract with a German company with your and your employer’s signatures.
  • Cover letter explaining the exact purpose and duration of stay.
  • Educational credentials (degree or diploma). If your university degree is not in the Anabin database, it needs to be recognized by the Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (ZAV). For a ZAV application, you will need a copy of your degree with a certified translation in German or English, a copy of your work contract, and your CV. The application form is filled out by your employer in Germany. One of the organizations responsible for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications is Recognition in Germany (
  • CV.
  • 3 passport photos not older than 6 months.
  • Certificate of compulsory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) from your German employer valid from date of employment. Some of the best-known German health insurance companies include Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), Barmer, Betriebskrankenkasse (BKK), and Techniker Krankenkasse (TK).
  • Separate travel health insurance for the period from arrival in Germany until the beginning of employment (if not included in the compulsory insurance).
  • Address in Germany: it may be a temporary address or the company’s address.

The processing time is from 3 weeks to 2 months. 

It is recommended to bring €5–10 thousand with you to Germany. You will need that money to pay for a rental apartment, to buy furniture and food as well as to carry other expenses. 

2. Finding a home

The first thing you should do after arriving in Germany is finding a place to live. As it’s hard to find a permanent apartment at once due to the high rental demand, allow one or two months to hunt for a home. 

Temporary accommodation can be offered by your employer. If not, you can find it on Airbnb or similar websites before you arrive in Germany.

Housing in Germany

A permanent home can be found on one of the real estate websites:


There are two kinds of rental prices in Germany:

  • Kaltmiete (“cold rent”): it’s the cost of renting an apartment, without services and utilities.
  • Warmmiete (“warm rent”): it’s the cost of rent with utilities and services (Nebenkosten): garbage disposal, street and building cleaning, heating, and water supply.

The total rent (Warmmiete) is paid to the landlord. Electricity, telephone, Internet, and natural gas are paid directly to the providers.

You may have the following costs associated with renting an apartment in Germany:

  • Broker’s fees. In Germany, the broker’s commission is paid by the tenants. Its size is not limited and is the subject of negotiations between the homeowner and the broker. Usually, it amounts to one month of rent. E. g., if you rented an apartment for €1,000 “cold rent”, expect to pay €2,000 to a broker.
  • Security deposit (Kaution). It amounts to 1–3 months of rent and is refunded before the end of the rental agreement unless the tenant has damaged the landlord’s property.
  • Your first month of stay.

Therefore, you may have to pay a 6-fold sum of “cold rent” at once. 

Moreover, the majority of apartments in Germany are leased unfurnished. Depending on your needs, set aside between €1,000 and 3,000 for furniture. You can buy used things on the website.

To rent an apartment in Germany, you will need the following documents:

  • Passport with visa.
  • Work contract and salary records for the last 3 months (Gehaltsnachweis).
  • Letter from your employer confirming you work with them (Beschäftigungsbescheinigung).
  • Reference letter (Vorvermieterbescheinigung) from a past landlord confirming you are a good tenant. If you’ve never rented an apartment for the long term, you can ask the landlord of your temporary accommodation for this paper.
  • Written confirmation from your last landlord which confirms that you don’t have any outstanding rent debts (Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung).
  • Credit report confirming that you have a good credit history (SCHUFA Auskunft). It can be bought on the EasyCredit website. 
  • Application (Mieter-Selbstauskunft) with the following information: name, date of birth, nationality, marital status, family members, phone number, email, workplace, employer’s name, monthly income, etc.

3. Registering

You need to register at a local registration center (Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt in the local town hall (Rathaus)) within 7–14 days after arriving in Germany (depending on the city). You can use the address of your temporary accommodation. After signing the rental agreement and settling in your permanent apartment, you will need to register again at your new address.

You can apply for an appointment online. Here are the links:

Registering in Germany

The certificate of registration (Anmeldebescheinigung) is free of charge and is issued within 10–15 minutes. To get it, you will need to apply to the registration office online and come to the appointment with the following documents:

  • Your passport with a work visa.
  • Employment contract.
  • Confirmation from your landlord that you have moved to the apartment. (Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers (Vermieter)), if applicable.
  • Completed registration form (Anmeldeformular) which you will obtain at the local town hall or from the HR team.
  • Marriage certificate (translated into German), if you’re relocating with a partner.
  • Children’s birth certificates (translated into German), if you’re relocating with children.

Every time you move to a new residence within Germany, you must report your new address to the registration office.

4. Getting a tax number

During the registration process, you will also be issued a tax ID number (Steueridentifkationsnummer), which will arrive via post within 2 weeks after your registration.

You need this number to determine your tax class which may be different depending on marital status and family size. If you are married and have children, you are entitled to some tax benefits. To claim these benefits, you need to present the following documents at the registration office:

  • Marriage certificate including a certified translation into German.
  • Your spouse’s passport and registration certificate.
  • Children’s birth certificates including a certified translation into German.
  • Children’s passports with registration certificates.

5. Getting a German phone number

To live and work in Germany, you may also need a German SIM card. You can buy it in electronics or homeware retailers (such as Mediamarkt or Saturn), in one of the major chain supermarkets, drugstores, petrol stations or from one of the mobile phone service providers (e. g. O2, T-Mobile or Vodafone).

Germany SIM card

6. Opening a German bank account

To get your salary in Germany, you need to have a bank account within the EU. Many other payments may also require a bank account in Germany. To open it, you need to provide the following documents:

  • Passport.
  • Proof of registration (Anmeldebescheinigung) from the registration office.
  • Registration form.
  • Work contract.

It takes 20–30 minutes to open a bank account. The bank will send you your card and details by post.

The major German banks include Berliner Volksbank, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB), Hamburger Sparkasse, Postbank, Sparkasse, and others.

7. Applying for the Blue Card

If you’re a non-EU national, you need to obtain a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) to stay in Germany for more than 90 days.

IT workers normally apply for a residence permit called the EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte). This kind of permit has great advantages:

  • It allows high-skilled specialists to live and work in any EU country, excluding Denmark and Ireland. The only condition is to work at least 18 months in the country that issued your Blue Card.
  • It also allows the main applicant’s spouse to live and work in the country. The spouse is not required to have proof of German language knowledge.
  • Children (under 18 years of age) of the main applicant can also live in Germany. They don’t have to meet the requirements for the Blue Card.
  • It’s possible to apply for a German permanent residence permit 33 months after getting the Blue Card if you can speak German at a basic level. If you have proficiency in the German language at level B1, you can apply after 21 months. You are also entitled to an EU long-term residence permit after holding the Blue Card for 5 years.
  • The holder of the EU Blue Card can spend up to 90 days within 180 days in the other Schengen States for tourism.
  • Owners of the Blue Card can stay out of the EU for up to 12 months without losing the right of staying in Germany or the EU.
EU Blue Card Germany

You can apply for the Blue Card if you:

  • Are at least 20 years old.
  • Have a university degree that is comparable to a German one or relevant work experience of at least 5 years.
  • Have an employment contract with the minimum term of 12 months and the minimum annual salary of €43,056 per year (€3,588 per month).

The Blue Card costs €100–140. Renewal costs €65–96 depending on the city and the term of renewal.

You need to apply for the Blue Card within 1 month after entering Germany. To do this, go to the local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde)’s website and book an appointment. Here are the links:

To get the Blue Card, you will need the following documents:

  • Application form (Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels).
  • Passport with a valid German visa.
  • Employment contract.
  • Confirmation that you are really working (Beschäftigungsbescheinigung).
  • Certificate of registration (Anmeldebescheinigung). The appointment at Ausländerbehörde can be set in a week or in a month — it depends. You don’t need to have the registration certificate at the time of booking the appointment. Just make sure you have it at the time of the appointment. Alternatively, you can submit a rental agreement and a confirmation of occupancy from the landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung).
  • German health insurance (or proof of having applied for it).
  • Educational credentials (degrees, diplomas, language certificates).
  • Recent biometric photo. 
  • Educational credentials and an assessment certificate by the Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (ZAV), if applicable.

Your spouse also needs to submit documents:

  • Passport with a valid German visa.
  • Certificate of registration (Anmeldebescheinigung).
  • German health insurance (or proof of having applied for it).
  • Recent biometric photo.
  • Marriage certificate.

The processing time is 3 weeks to 3 months. The Blue Card application gives you the right to stay in Germany even if your work visa expires. It’s not recommended to leave Germany until you get the Blue Card.

The Blue Card is valid for 4 years. If the employment contract covers less than 4 years, the card will be valid for the time of the contract plus 3 months. The term of the Blue Card can be extended multiple times.

If you want to change your job in Germany in the first 2 years of employment, you need to get authorization from the local Foreigners Office. If you become unemployed, you will have 3 months to find a similar job in Germany. If you fail to do it, your Blue Card will expire.

8. Getting a German social security card

If you are working in Germany, a social security card (Sozialverischerungsausweis or Rentenversicherungsausweis) is usually issued automatically to you when your employer enrolls you in the social security system. This card will arrive by post within 6 weeks of starting your job. A social security card proves that you contribute to pension and health insurance.

That’s basically all formal procedures you need to go through to start working and living in Germany.