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
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. If you brought your pets with you, read more here.
Remember you have to go through customs so make sure you know what you are allowed to bring with you.
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.
Types of Housing Flat – Wohnung / Apartment. Atlbauwohnung – Old building, might be protected Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls Einliegerwohnung –
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.
You need to register at your local town hall 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
Medical insurance is compulsory. If you do not already have medical insurance, you need to take it out before applying for your 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 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.
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.
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:
- 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, 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
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 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
We have a page with a list of apps we think might helpful