First Steps After Arriving in Germany

What should I do first when I move to Germany?

When you arrive in Germany, everything might seem new and overwhelming. But don't worry, we have a clear list of steps that will help you settle in quickly and organize your stay.

Why do I need to put my name on the mailbox?

Letters are essential in Germany. Many official documents, including bank cards and PINs, are sent by mail. Without your name clearly displayed on the mailbox, important shipments might be returned to the sender. Therefore, it's crucial to address this small detail to avoid unnecessary complications.

How can I register?

Registering at the local registration office is not only mandatory but also the key to many other procedures. You need to register within two weeks of your move. For this purpose, there are special municipal offices or registration offices. Where the nearest office in your area is located, you can find on

How can I get a mobile phone number?

There are numerous mobile service providers in Germany. You can often find affordable prepaid tariffs in supermarkets. However, before grabbing one, think about whether the phone number is easy to remember. Some providers allow for preferred number selection, making it easier when exchanging numbers with new acquaintances.

Where can I open a banking account?

With just a visa, the process with direct banks can be tricky. So start with a traditional branch bank like Sparkasse. After you've received a residence permit, online banks like C24, ING, or DKB often offer better conditions.

How can I get health insurance?

In Germany, there are statutory and private health insurances. For newcomers, the statutory option is often the best start. A major advantage is that family members can often be insured free of charge. The choice among statutory health insurers is large, but they offer similar basic services. A solid choice is, for example, the HKK.

What is a social security number and how do I get it?

The social security number is your key to the social security system, including health, pension, and unemployment insurance. It is automatically generated when you take up employment and register with a health insurance company. Wait a few days and it will be sent to you by mail.

How can I get a tax number?

After you have registered your place of residence (Anmeldung), you will automatically receive a tax number (Steuer-ID) by mail. This number is necessary for employment. If you haven't received it within a few weeks, contact your local tax office. More details in our article.

Can I drive with my driver's license?

Your foreign driver's license is valid in Germany for the first six months. After that, depending on your country of origin, you might need a replacement or take an exam.

How do I find a long-term rental apartment?

The housing market can be challenging, especially in big cities. Use local real estate portals, network on social media, and prepare a portfolio with your essential documents to make a good impression during viewings.

Do I have to pay the broadcasting fee?

Yes, this fee funds public radio and TV stations. Every household has to pay it, regardless of whether you own a radio or TV. It's a mandatory tax for all households.


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