Skip to content

South Africans in Germany

Home » Checklist

Checklist

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

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

Pets

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.

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 – An old building, that might be protected Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls

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.

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

Medical

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.

Temp Aufenthalt

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!!

Pension

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

Pension

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
If you need assistance with opening a bank account, feel free to contact the financial advisors listed below.

Chad Joubert – Wealth Advisor

DIE GUTE WAHL – THE GOOD CHOICE – Agency for Allfinanz Deutsche Vermögensberatung. We are here for you, we provide you with professional support in

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

Mobility

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

You cannot register your vehicle without having insurance. There are basically three options for vehicle insurance – third-party, partial or comprehensive.Third-party liability insurance is compulsory,

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

Road Rules

  Driving on German roads is very well regulated and if you don’t adhere to the rules you will get penalty points against your name

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

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

Settling into a new country can be challenging at times, and it’s important to ensure that you have all the information you need to make the transition as smooth as possible. After all, you want to enjoy all that Germany has to offer, without worrying about any logistical or administrative issues that may arise. 

Travel and Transport

General Travel tips – Flying

When it comes to travelling, especially by air, taking precautions and planning ahead is key to ensuring a smooth journey. Here are some general travel tips that can come in handy during your next flight! We also have some advice

Driving in Germany

Germany is a beautiful country known for its scenic drive routes, bustling cities, and rich culture. If you are planning to own a car in this country or drive here, there are some important things that you need to know.

General Travel tips – Booking Flights

This page is dedicated to helping you make the best choices when it comes to planning your travels. We have information about  Airlines that fly between Germany and South Africa, airports in Germany and tips for searching for flights that fit your

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 long distance, regional and local travel options.Here is a list of PDF Files with the route

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

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.

Checklists

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

Registering in your town

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

Residence

Temp Aufenthalt

Residence in Germany

A Visa allows you to enter Germany, and stay for no more than 90 days in a 180-day cycle.When you want to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for the correct visa in

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 the local immigration authority (Ausländerbehorde )You can only apply for a residence permit after you registered

Temporary proof of German Residence

To stay in Germany longer than 90 days in a 180 period, you will need a residence permit. Qualifying for a residence permit will depend, among other things, on the type of visa you applied for. Your long-stay visa allows

Learning German

Learning German

There are several approaches to learn German, all of which can help you achieve your language learning goals. You can opt for convenient online sites that offer a range of language courses or download mobile apps that make learning on-the-go

Making life easier

Finance

The most important financial topics for daily life in Germany Income Tax Information about taxes and where to find assistance Pensions How does the German state pensions work, what can you do to supplement your pension Foreign Exchange- ZAR to

Waste disposal and recycling

This is a general guide to waste disposal and recycling. Some rules may differ from town to town, for example, the collection of bulky waste, so always make sure about the rules that apply in your town.You can search for

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

Schools and Studies

General school information Take note that Home Schooling is not allowed. German Vocational training Interested in doing Vocational Training (Ausbildung) in Germany?Germany is one of the best providers of Vocational Training. German Vocational training All the information you need to

Minijobs and hired help

Are you looking for services like cleaning, someone to look after the kids or help out with the gardening?The sites we list here are currently only available in German. You have the option to hire someone on a more permanent

Keeping in touch with your roots

South African Communities

Church Groups American Protestant Church in Bonn – from August they will have an Afrikaans speaking pastor, Ds Mario Weyers. If you would like more info feel free to contact DeWet Herselman Kirche in Aktion, het kampusse (gemeentes) in Frankfurt,

Radio Stations and Playlists

Most South African radio stations have a streaming option, another option is to download apps with a selection of radio stations. Here are some suggestions   Information Radio South Africa Play your favourite FM radio station via an Android app

Keeping in touch virtually

As an ex-pat, it is essential to keep in touch with family and friends from back home. We yearn for news and contact with loved ones, and although we cannot always be physically together, we can at least try to keep

Similar Shops

Back home, you know exactly in what shop to look for specific items, where to find quality products and what shops have cheaper options.We tried to make a comparison of SA and German shops in the list below. You welcome

Products we love

We all miss familiar products we loved in South Africa. Some of these you can buy here in Germany, and for some, you will have to find a suitable substitute.  The following shops sell South African Food/Grocery items Search our

Streaming South African content

Your best option to legally watch South African products is to get a subscription to Showmax or Netflix.  Showmax Unfortunately Showmax will only be available outside of South Africa until 1 December 2023. We will keep you updated if there

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp
Email

Before embarking on your journey to Germany, it is crucial to be aware of all the administrative tasks that will require your attention. While this list is not solely focused on moving tasks, it serves as a comprehensive guide to all the essential administrative factors that need to be tended to before boarding the plane.
By taking care of administrative aspects upfront, you can ensure a smoother transition to your new home in Germany without any hassle. It is highly recommended to go through this list carefully to avoid any last-minute chaos and to give yourself ample time to resolve any issues that may arise. 

Passports

Renewing a passport from outside SA is a long and tedious process. Check the validity of your Passport and make sure there are at least 2 years left, else apply for a new passport. 
Another tip – to register a the Dept. of Home Affairs, or use their online services, you need an OTP and they only send it to South African numbers. Consider converting your SA cellphone number to a prepaid number and make sure it stays active (dual sim phone or extra mobile phone).  

Applying for a new South African passport in Germany can take up to a year. So always apply in advance 

Applying for your passport in Germany

When you apply for your new South African passport in Germany, you have to apply at either the South African Embassy in Berlin or the Consulate in Munich, depending on where you live.  Official information can be found on the Consulate’s website. The Embassy has taken great care to document all the relevant information, that can be downloaded from their website.  After submitting your application, the documents are sent to South Africa for processing. The new passport

Read More »

Passport – Applying in South Africa

Passport Application Applying for a new Adult Tourist passport in South Africa can be done online via the Department of Home Affairs E-Services. This service allows you to fill in the application form online and make an appointment for your biometrics.  Biometrics can be done at participating banks. You do not need to be a client of the selected bank.  You can collect your passport at the selected bank. You have to collect your passport

Read More »

Visas and other travel documents

  • Make sure your visas are issued correctly, and make sure of the type and dates
  • If you are travelling with Children, please look at the information on our Travel to Germany –  tips page. There are different rules regarding documentation (including consent letters) for children for each country as well as airlines.  When you travel alone with your children, make sure you have the parental consent letters before your spouse leave the country.

General Travel tips – Booking Flights

This page is dedicated to helping you make the best choices when it comes to planning your travels. We have information about  Airlines that fly between Germany and South Africa, airports in Germany and tips for searching for flights that fit your needs. We also cover essential topics such as packing your

Read More »

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

Read More »

Travel to SA – Tips

Are you planning a trip to South Africa? We have some helpful tips to ensure it is a smooth and enjoyable one. However, we know that you may have unique travel experiences and tips that may benefit others. So, don’t hesitate to submit your tips and we can include them on this page.  New

Read More »

Accounts

It is important to take proactive steps when it comes to managing your accounts, particularly if you know you will not be using them in the future.  While it is true that many accounts can be closed over the Internet or via telephone, it is always a good idea to check with the specific company or organization before assuming that this is possible. Remember your electricity accounts as well.

Bank accounts

You can only close a bank account when you are in South Africa. Most people keep their bank accounts open, at least for the first couple of years.
It is relatively easy to transfer money from your German bank account to a SA account. You will need to fill in a form for SARS once a year (mostly online) if you transfer money to your own account.
Make sure your internet banking is all set up, and consider making use of a banking app. This you will have to do in South Africa.
If you decide to keep your SA bank accounts, notify your bank that you will be out of the country.

Foreign Exchange- EUR to ZAR

We are not financial advisors and therefore cannot give financial advice. The information here should not be seen as financial advice in any way.Always make informed decisions and speak to a professional when you are unsure. What is exchange control? Foreign exchange controls are various forms of controls imposed by

Read More »

Cash

Make sure you take some Euros with you to be able to pay for small things.
Germany is very much cash-based and you cannot pay everywhere with a credit card.
EC-Cards (Debit cards) are accepted in most businesses.

Documents

We have a page dedicated to what documents you need to bring along if you plan on moving to Germany

Documents to bring to Germany

The documents you will need in Germany will depend on your type of visa, your family situation, the company you work for, the schools or universities you want to attend etc.We will try to list all those we think you might need. Remember, it is always better to be

Read More »

Cellphone contracts

If you want to keep using your SA number in Germany, consider converting your number to a pre-paid contract.
Make sure it is open for roaming.
If you still have SA bank accounts you might need your SA number, also for banking apps. To interact with the Department of Home Affairs e-services, you need a South African cellphone number.

Photos

You will need photos (physical photos) for every application you make in Germany. Get photos professionally taken in the accepted German format for the Ausländerbehorde (Passbild) and print at least 20 photos. 

Insurance policies

Cancel the insurance policies you will not need anymore.
Take our travel insurance for the first 3 months. You can get emigration travel insurance at TIC

Language certificates

This will depend on your type of visa.
For most Family reunification visas, your spouse will need an A1 German language certificate but there are exceptions. See detailed info on the page below.

Family Reunification Visa

“German citizens or citizens from non-EU countries who have an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit) are allowed to bring their relatives to Germany. This is known as the ‘reunification of families.  For short term family visits please refer to the relevant page.To enter Germany, the relatives require a visa; to continue to stay, they require a residence permit. A visa allows you to travel to Germany and you apply for it in South Africa. You then

Read More »

Medical and Medication

Depending on your situation, cancel your South African medical aid.
If you are planning on returning to SA in the near future, consider talking to your medical aid provider and ask about an option that allows you to pay the minimum as you will be out of the country.
You will have to get medical cover in Germany.
You can bring your medical records with you, for example MRI scans, x-Rays and medical diagnosis. Most German doctors will anyway do all the tests again just to make sure of the diagnosis. 
You are allowed to bring enough medication with you for max 90 days, and only if you do not stay for longer than that e.g on a tourism visa. When you stay longer you will have to get your medication in Germany.
You might be asked for a copy of the prescription from you doctor for any medication you bring with you. Best is to pack it in your luggage and not send it via your container.

It is very easy to buy non-prescription medication online on websites like shop-apotheke.com

Read more on the Zoll Website about what medication you are allowed to bring into Germany. 

Appointments for registration

As soon as you arrive in Germany you need to register at the Bürgerampt for your Anmeldung, as well as the Auländerbehorde to get your residence permit.
If possible see If you can book online appointments for these when your travel dates are fixed. Appontments must be made in the town or “Kreis” you will live in.

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 the local immigration authority (Ausländerbehorde

Read More »

TV license

Make sure you cancel your TV license and have proof of it

Pension and provident funds

Please talk to a financial advisor on what will suit you best regarding your SA funds

Plugs

Germany uses the type C and F power plugs. If you ship any appliances, consider taking a couple of adapters with.
Take one with for your cellphone chargers.
This website has excellent information on power plugs and sockets of the world.

Financial emigration

SARS – what qualifies an individual as a non-resident
We have a page regarding taxes. SA and Germany have a double taxation treaty

Financial Emigration

Financial emigration is the process used by many South Africans abroad to formalise their non-resident status for both tax and exchange control purposes. The detail

Read More »

South African Drivers licence

If you stay in Germany for longer than 6 months you will need to convert your driver’s licence to a German one. 
You will need your South African licence card to convert it. Make sure your licence card is valid for at least another year.
Some cities are now requiring proof of “Confirmation of South African Driving licence” when you apply for a German driver’s licence. An example of this is in Böbblingen.  Rather be as prepared as you can be, and bring this document with you. This Confirmation can be requested from the RTMC, see more info from DIRCO. You can also use companies to assist you, see our marketplace for more information. 
You can send an email to dlconfirmations@rtmc.co.za. 
Your request must include your contact numbers (including email address), a copy of your ID or a copy of your driving licence.  Find more information on our Driving and Drive’s licence page

International Drivers licence

Get a international drivers licence. 
It might not always be possible to get credit for your no claim bonus related to your car insurance, but bring a copy with just in case. 

Police clearance certificate

In most cases a South African police clearance certificate is not required, and should not be confused with a German Führungszeugnis.
You can of course apply for one in advance to cover your bases.
According to the police website, it should take around 15 working days to get one, and it will only be valid for 6 months after issue.
It is possible to apply for a police clearance certificate when you are outside of the country.
The German equivalent is a Führungszeugnis – a certificate of good conduct. It can be issued after you registered in Germany.

Postboxes

Cancel any post boxes you have, or arrange for someone to empty them regularly. Alternatively, you can apply for redirection of your mail to another SA mailbox.
It is a good idea to inform those who send you mail that you will no longer use the address.

Subscriptions

Cancel your magazine and any other subscriptions

Vaccinations

Remember to bring your and your children’s vaccination certificates. Please note that measles vaccinations are mandatory in Germany.

Electronic devices (laptops, mobile phones etc.)

Germany has strict copyright laws, so it is essential to ensure that your electronic devices comply with these regulations. Make sure there are no torrents running on your devices, as downloading movies, music, or other copyrighted material can result in substantial fines. 
Additionally, we highly recommend removing any illegal software or unauthorized downloads from your electronic devices before you arrive in Germany. 

Backup all your import data!

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

Read More »

Wills and Testaments

The intention of this page is to serve as a reminder to make sure your paperwork is in order. It is important to know what laws will apply to you and your heirs or estate when you are deceased and you were a South African citizen with permanent residence in Germany.Do

Read More »

Wills and Estate

It is important to update your will to accurately reflect your current situation. 
For assets located in Germany, you might need to create a separate will. German inheritance laws can be complex, and having a will that specifically addresses your assets within Germany can help avoid legal complications and potential disputes. It is advisable to consult with a legal expert who is familiar with both South African and German inheritance laws to ensure that all aspects of your estate are properly managed.

Related content

Moving to Germany

Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. The thought of starting a new chapter in your life

Beds, Mattresses and Duvets

The sleeping arrangements in Germany is a bit different from what we are used to in South Africa. The average German couple sleeps on a

Good to know

Your Visas are approved, your paperwork is finalised and you are ready to start planning the big move. This can be a very stressful time,

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp
Email