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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. A lot of what you need to do will depend on why you are 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. Most will link to pages with more information

Airport arrival

The only direct flights between SA and Germany is 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 is an organised airport transfer or hiring a car via a car rental company or mobility companies like Car2Go.
See more about recommended apps at the bottom of the page.

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


Customs Info Zoll – German Customs, provisions on the import of pet animals Zoll –  Dangerous dogs Dangerous (Banned) Dogs Some dog breeds are banned in Germany,

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.

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 a place. 
Germany uses type C and F power plugs, so make sure you have some adaptors.

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.

Residence permit

A visa allows you to travel to Germany.  When you want to stay longer than 3 months you need a residence permit. You apply for your residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde
In smaller towns, the Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde could be in the same building.

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

Residence in Germany

A Visa allows you to enter Germany, and stay for no more than 90 days in a 180-day cycle.If you want to stay in Germany

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

Registering (Anmeldung)

You must register at your local town hall (Bürgeramt) within two weeks of arriving in Germany.  This is called a Meldepflicht. Information on where to do it and what you need can be found on this page.
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.It must be done within two weeks of arriving in Germany.

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance is compulsory. If you do not already have medical insurance, you need to take it out before applying for your 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.


You will 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 (Anmeldung)
  • Proof of income
  • A Schufa if possible (credit report)
  • Completed application Form
  • Initial deposit if required

Internet and mobile

Internet and television packages are usually sold as a bundle. 

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 is a reminder to pay your TV & radio


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

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 system. Use the search

Related content

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