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South Africans in Germany

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Checklist after arriving in Germany

Your first days in Germany can be very overwhelming and confusing. The forms you must fill in and the administrative tasks you must do will depend on your reason for being in Germany. A student will have a different to-do list from someone who comes here to work.
The following list is the general things that everyone needs to do. 

Arriving at the airport

The only direct flights between SA and Germany are from Frankfurt to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Some carriers have seasonal flights between Munich and Jhb/Cpt.
The major airports in Germany are Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf.
Almost all towns can be reached via train from airport hubs. Other options to get to your destinations are an organised airport transfer or hiring a car via a car rental company or mobility companies like Car2Go. More information can be found in the Mobility section below.

Travel to Germany – Tips

If you’re planning a trip to Germany, we’ve got some travel tips that we think you’ll find incredibly helpful.  If you’ve got your own tips to share, we’d love to hear them!  Simply submit them to us and we’ll be happy to include them on the page.  Flights The major airports in Germany are Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, and Düsseldorf. Direct Flights between SA and GermanyDirect flights from SA are only to Frankfurt and Munich (Seasonal) Lufthansa flies between Frankfurt and O.R Tambo Intl and Cape Town Condor reinstated their Frankfurt to Cape Town flights. They also have two flights a week between Frankfurt and  O.R. Tambo,

Bringing your Furbabies with you

Pets – Personal stories

Here are some shared experiences by our Facebook members.  If you would like to add your experience to our website, please submit it via our


Dangerous (Banned) Dogs Some dog breeds are banned in Germany. There are additional rules for individual states.  Up-to-date information can be found on the Zoll

Remember you have to go through customs, so make sure you know what you are allowed to bring with you.

What can I bring into Germany

It is very tempting to bring some South African goodies with you when you travel to Germany, and while most items are allowed, there are Restrictions. There is also a limit on duty-free allowances.The German Customs Agency is called the Zollampt. The information on this page is mainly aimed at travellers from South Africa (or most countries outside the Schengen Area) to Germany. For rules and restrictions when travelling within the Schengen Area please refer to the German Customs Website Duties, taxes and allowances Please note that when you move to Germany, different rules and allowances may apply. You can find more

Arrival at your home

One of the biggest surprises you can get is walking into your new home and there is no kitchen installed, nor light fittings. Make sure you know what to expect if you rent accommodation. 
Germany uses type C and F power plugs, make sure you have the correct adaptors or plugs.

Housing in Germany

Types of Housing Flat – Wohnung / Apartment. Atlbauwohnung –  Old building, might be protected Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls Einliegerwohnung –

Finding a place to stay

Finding a place to rent is almost like doing a job interview. You have to “advertise” yourself and you will have to go for interviews.

Registering (Anmeldung)

You must register at your local town hall (Bürgeramt) within two weeks of arriving in Germany.  This is called a Meldepflicht. You will be issued a registration confirmation (Anmeldebescheinigung).  Keep it in a safe place, but in the event of loss, you can re-apply for it at the Bürgeramt.
In smaller towns, the Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde could be in the same building.

Registering at the Local Town Office

If you plan to stay in Germany for longer than 3 months, you will need to register at your local Bürgeramt (Town office).This is called a Meldepflicht and is compulsory. More about the law can be found in BMG (in German) or in EnglishIt must be done within two weeks after moving into your residence. ” Anyone who moves into a residence shall register with the registration authorities within two weeks of moving in. (2) Anyone who moves out of a residence and does not move into another residence in Germany shall deregister with the registration authorities within two weeks of moving out. Deregistration shall be possible

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance is compulsory. If you do not already have medical insurance, you need to organise it before applying for your residence permit.  You need proof of medical insurance before you can apply for a residence permit


Health insurance is mandatory for everyone visiting or living in Germany.When living in Germany you can either take our private (privaten Kran­ken­ver­si­che­rung – PKV) or public (gesetzliche Kran­ken­ver­si­che­rung – GKV) health insurance. Your choice will depend on your age, salary and employment status.To know: It is extremely difficult to change from Private to Public insurance.

Residence permit

A visa allows you to travel to Germany.  When you want to stay longer than 3 months you need to apply for the correct visa in your home country and then for a residence permit in Germany. You apply for your residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde. You need your registration confirmation (Anmeldebescheinigung) before you can apply for residence.
In smaller towns, the Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde could be in the same building.
Permanent Residence (Niederlassungserlaubnis)  is only available after living in Germany for s specific time. Your first residence as a South African citizen in Germany will always be temporary.

Temporary Residence

A Visa allows you to enter Germany, but your stay is limited to no more than 90 days in a 180-day cycle.If you want to

Applying for residence

A visa allows you to enter Germany. If you want to stay longer than 3 months you will need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) at

Permanent Residence

Permanent residence in Germany is called a Niederlassungserlaubnis and may be granted in the form of a Settlement permit or Permanent EC residence permit. Very important!!


You need a social security number to register for a statuary pension.  A tip, if you are not employed when moving to Germany, for example joining as a spouse, consider registering at the Arbeitsagentür, as the time you are unemployed counts towards contribution years on your pension.

Sozialversicherung / Social Insurance

The following Social Insurances are payable in Germany when you are a full-time employee or trainee: Krankenvesicherung / Medical Insurance Plegeversicherung / Long Term care


Homepage of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Information about the German state pension scheme can be found on their homepage for foreign languages. The German site has a lot more information.

Bank Account

Depending on your situation you will need to open a German Bank account. A Girokonto is a current account that you use for daily banking like transfers (Überweisung). A Sparkonto is a pure savings account. 
As a foreigner, you need the following to open a traditional Bank account:

  • Passport
  • Proof of residence (Anmeldebescheinigung)
  • Proof of income
  • A Schufa if possible (credit report)
  • Completed application Form
  • Initial deposit if required

Internet and mobile

Internet, mobile and television packages are usually sold as a bundle.
Warning! Germany has very strict copyright laws. Do not violate copyright laws by illegally downloading a film, music, or other web content.

Acquaint yourself about what is allowed and what the penalties are for not adhering to the rules.
You can also be held responsible for any downloads in your household, also from visitors using your internet connection.

Internet TV and mobile

Internet, mobile and television packages are usually sold as a bundle. Fibre is available in most big cities but not in remote towns.  Legal After registering

Downloading Music, Movies etc

Copyrights in Germany are governed by GEMA, a government-mandated collecting society and performance rights organization. GEMA:  The Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, or

Television Licenses

Television Licence (der Rundfunkbeitrag/GEZ-Gebühr) The first thing you are likely to get in your new mailbox after registering at the Bürgeramt is a reminder to


If you live in a big city you will rarely need your own car. The public transport system is excellent and there are many options to hire a car for a couple of hours. To drive in Germany you will need to convert your drivers licence

Public transport in Germany

The German public transport system is extensive, reliable and very affordable. The Deutsche Bahn AG is the national railway company and is state-owned. The DB offers

Car Insurance

VMK (Versicherungen mit Kopf) has a very informative webpage (in German) about car insurance. No claim bonus Most companies do not give you credit for

Road Rules

Driving on German roads is very well regulated and if you dont adhere to the rules you will get penalty points against your name as

Useful apps

We have a page with a list of apps we think might helpful

Useful apps

Having the correct information available when you need it is priceless.  Here are some apps that can make your life easier in Germany. Note for most we did not add links to the apps, as it is a lot of work to maintain for all operating systems. Use the search function to search the apps Integration Integreat app – Digital Integration platform Arrive App from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit Residence card Ausweisapp2 – Use it to identify yourself online with your electronic residence permit  Mobility DB Navigator – Deutsche Bahn  Navigator to book long-distance train tickets. Local tickets can also be

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Going to the Hairdresser

The first time I went to a hairdresser in Germany, she asked if I want her to cut my pony. I told her no, but

Visiting a doctor

When I first came to Germany, I was fortunate to still frequently travel back to SA, so I did all my check-ups there and tried

Emergency Contacts

The following numbers can be dialled in an emergency, either from a landline or mobile phone. 112The national emergency number. This can be used for