A written warning (Abmahnung) is a formal request to stop doing something. It's similar to a cease and desist letter, a letter of demand or a mise en demeure.

Anyone can send an Abmahnung, not just the wronged party. This means you can send an Abmahnung for something that does not affect you. An Abmahnung can also ask you to pay for legal costs. If you hire a lawyer to write an Abmahnung, the letter can ask the person to pay for the lawyer.

Some law firms use this to make money. They target people who pirate movies in Germany, or websites that break minor laws1.

The deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung) confirms that you have deregistered your address in Germany. You get this document when you do your Abmeldung.

Do not confuse this with the Anmeldebescheinigung. You get an Anmeldebescheinigung when you register your address.

The Abmeldung is the process of deregistering your address. You must deregister your address when you move out of Germany. After you deregister, you stop paying for health insurance and TV tax.

In Berlin, you can do your Abmeldung in person at the Bürgeramt, or by mail.

For more details, see this guide.

A letter of intent (Absichtserklärung) is a letter written by a company that wants to hire you. This letter states that the company will hire you for a specific project at a specific hourly rate. The companies who sign them are not forced to hire you; they just intend to.

When you apply for the German freelance visa, you must have at least 2 letters of intent from German companies. This proves that you can find work in Germany.

For more information, see this guide.

Unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld I or ALG I) is a type of social assistance in Germany.

All employees must pay for unemployment insurance. It costs 1.5% of their salary every month. For freelancers, unemployment insurance is optional1.

You get ALG I when you lose your job. You only get ALG 1 if you have paid unemployment insurance for at least 12 months in the last 30 months1, 2. You must apply for ALG I at the Bundesagentur für Arbeit1.

ALG I pays 60% to 67% of your previous salary, up to ~2000€ per month.(in 2020)

Welfare (Arbeitslosengeld II, ALG II or Hartz IV) is a type of financial assistance in Germany. The official name is Arbeitslosengeld II, but it's often called Hartz IV.1

You only receive ALG II when you have nothing left: no property, no savings, no private pensions. ALG II is your last protection against poverty, homelessness and bankruptcy1.

You apply for ALG II at the Jobcenter. When you receive ALG II, the government also pays for your health insurance1.

ALG II is not unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance is called ALG I.

A registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung or Meldebestätigung) proves that you live at a certain address. It looks like this.

You get an Anmeldebestätigung when you register your address (the Anmeldung). You get it during the appointment.

You need an Anmeldebestätigung to open a bank account, get a cellphone contract, etc.

For more details, see this guide.

The Anmeldung is the process of registering your address at the citizen's office (Bürgeramt). Every time you move in Germany, you must register your new address at the Bürgeramt. This will become your official address in Germany.

During your Anmeldung appointment, you will receive an Anmeldebestätigung. This document confirms your official address in Germany. It's often required to open a bank account or get a cellphone contract. During your first Anmeldung, you will also receive a tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer).

For more details about the Anmeldung, see this guide.

The artist visa is a type of freelance visa. This visa is for freelance artists and journalists who want to live in Berlin. It's only available in Berlin. It is not available in the rest of Germany.

The process for getting an artist visa is the same as for getting a freelance visa. You can get the visa on the same day, instead of waiting 3-4 months. That's the only difference.

A residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) allows you to settle in Germany. This is what long-term German visas are called. The freelance visa, the artist visa, the work visa, the Blue Card, the student visa and other Category D visas are all residence permits. The residence permit is usually a plastic card or a sticker in your passport.

The immigration office (Ausländerbehörde or Landesamt für Einwanderung) issues German visas and residence permits. This is where foreigners go to apply for a German visa.

The official name is Landesamt für Einwanderung, but most people still call it the Ausländerbehörde.

An apprentice (Azubi or Auszubildender) is a student the must complete an apprenticeship (Ausbildung) to graduate1. Azubis learn their job by doing it.

Azubis are not the same as working students (Werkstudents). Working students are students with a part time job. Azubis are workers in training. Their job is part of their studies.

The Berliner Stadtreinigung (or BSR) is the trash collection service in Berlin. They also clean the streets and empty the trash bins in the city.

You can find more information about BSR on their website.

Job disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung) pays you a salary if you are too sick or injured to do your job. For example, if you are a surgeon and you lose a finger, this insurance can be useful.

This insurance is useful if you have people who depend on you, or if you have a mortgage to pay. It costs around 20€ per month for most professions. It's cheap, because accidents that prevent you from doing your job are rare.

The EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte) is a residence permit that allows you to live and work in Germany. The Blue Card is similar to a work visa, but it's a different kind of visa. You can also get a Blue Card in other European Union countries.

In Germany, a part of your salary goes to health insurance, pension contributions and other taxes. The total amount you earn is called the Brutto income. The amount you keep after taxes is the Netto income.

A bookkeeper (Buchhalter) is a person who can help you with your bookkeeping. Unlike tax advisors (Steuerberater), being a Buchhalter does not require specific qualifications, and is not liable for his mistakes. For more details, see this guide.

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Agentur für Arbeit, Arbeitsagentur, or BA) provides services for the German labour market. It is responsible for the employment of foreigners, the job centres, unemployment benefits and labour statistics.

The citizens' office (Bürgeramt) handles many aspects of German bureaucracy. This is where you register your address, exchange a foreign driving licence, apply for an International Driving Permit and more. If you need a piece of paper, you often get it from the Bürgeramt.

Useful link: List of Bürgeramt locations in Berlin

The Bürgertelefon is a special phone line in Berlin. It gives information about administrative services. It can help you find an appointment at the Bürgeramt or at the vehicle registration office. Their phone number is 115.

The BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) is the public transit company that manages the U-Bahn, the trams and the busses in Berlin. The S-Bahn is not managed by the BVG, it's managed by the Deutsche Bahn.

Category D visas (or Type D visas) are long term residence permits. They are also called National Visas.

Commerzbank is one of the large German banks. They offer general and business banking services to German residents.

Degiro is a discount stock broker that operates in several European countries, including Germany. For more details, see our review of Degiro.

Deutsche Bank is a German bank. This bank is popular with foreigners because it offers a blocking account (Sperrkonto)1, and because it offers service in English. Fintiba and X-patrio also offer blocking accounts. N26 and bunq also offer service in English.

The Deutsche Rentenversicherung is the German public pension office. They manage the German public pension system.

The DSGVO (Datenschutz-Grundverordnung) is a privacy regulation that came into effect in May 2018. It's called the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in English.

This new regulation defines how businesses must treat their users' data. For more details, see this guide.

In Germany, apartments do not always come with a furnished kitchen. The kitchen will be completely empty. You must install your own kitchen counter and sink.

Einbauküche or EBK means that the apartment comes with a furnished kitchen.

Income tax (Einkommensteuer) is the percentage of your income that goes to the German tax office (Finanzamt). The amount you must pay depends on your income. The maximum income tax rate in Germany is 42%.

You can use this calculator to calculate your income tax.

A registered letter (Einschreibebrief) is a type of letter with a proof of delivery. If you need to send legal documents, you must send them per Einschreiben. These letters require a signature from the recipient, and they come with a tracking number1.

The profit and loss statement (Ertragsvorschau) is a requirement for the German freelance visa. This document shows what your business income and expenses should be.

When you want to register a vehicle, you must get an eVB number from your insurance company. This number tells the registration office that vehicle will be insured.

eVB stands for elektronische Versicherungsbestätigung (electronic insurance confirmation).

Expat insurance or incoming insurance is a type of temporary health insurance. You use this insurance to get your German visa and move to Germany. Once in Germany, you should switch to public or private health insurance.

For more information, read this guide.

Bicycle insurance (Fahrradversicherung) covers bike theft. If your bike is stolen, the insurance company will pay to replace it.

The Fahrzeugbrief is the old type of vehicle registration papers. It looks like this. It was replaced by the Zulassungsbescheinigung.

A Fiktionsbescheinigung is a temporary residence permit. It lets you stay in Germany while you wait for a real residence permit. It's usually valid for 3 months.

If you apply for a residence permit, and some documents are missing, the Ausländerbehörde will give you a Fiktionsbescheinigung. It gives you more time to find missing documents.

The tax office (Finanzamt) is responsible for collecting taxes in Germany. When you start a business or become a freelancer in Germany, you must declare your business with them by filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung.

A proof of financial resources (Finanzierungsnachweis) is required when applying for foreign student, au-pair, language student and job-seeker visas. Usually, this means you have to open a blocking account (Sperrkonto). Deutsche Bank, Fintiba and X-patrio offer blocking accounts.

The Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung is a form you must fill to declare your business to the German tax office (Finanzamt). This is how you become a freelancer or start a business in Germany.

See this guide for instructions on how to fill the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung. An English translation of this form is available here.

The German freelance visa is a type of National Visa. It allows you to be self-employed in Germany. The artist visa is also a type of freelance visa.

For more information, read this guide.

If you are a freelancer, or if you make over 64350€ per year, you are voluntarily insured (freiwillig versichert). This means that public health insurance companies are not forced to accept you. It also means that you can choose private health insurance. Teachers and students are also voluntarily insured.

A pay slip (Gehaltsabrechnung) shows how much you earned, and what contributions you have paid. You get it from your employer every month. It looks like this.

You can use your Gehaltsabrechnung to find your tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) and your social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer).

Statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV), or public health insurance is a type of health insurance in Germany. The price statutory health insurance is based on your income. The alternative is private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung or PKV).

Public health insurance companies are often called Krankenkassen.

For more details, see this introduction to German health insurance.

In Germany, the trade licence (Gewerbeschein) is a certificate that lets you to run your business in a city. This licence is issued by the trade office (Gewerbeamt) or by the Ordnungsamt. In Berlin, you can apply for it online. Some businesses do not need a Gewerbeschein. For more details, see this guide.

The trade tax (Gewerbesteuer) is a tax most German businesses must pay.

If you are classified as a Gewerbetreibende, and you make more than 24 500€ per year, you must pay the trade tax1. Freiberufler do not have to pay the trade tax.

For more information, see this guide.

Profit (Gewinn) is how much money you make after expenses. Profit is not the same as revenue (Umsatz).

Let's say you have a product that costs 6€ to make, and sells for 10€. If you sell 100 units, your total revenue is 1000€, but your profit is only 400€. The other 600€ are your business expenses.

The property transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer or GrESt) is a tax you pay when you buy real estate in Germany. The tax is 3.5% to 6.5% of the value of the property1. The exact amount varies between states. In Berlin, it's 6%1.

The real estate transfer tax is not the same as the property tax (Grundsteuer).

The property tax (Grundsteuer, sometimes Bodenzins) is a tax home every home owner in Germany must pay. The property tax is 0.26% to 1% of the value of the property, every year1. It varies depending on the type of property, and the state you live in.

If you are renting, you do not need to pay property tax.

A Green Card (Grüne Karte) is a document that lists the countries where your car insurance is valid. When you cross a border with your vehicle, you usually need to show your Green Card. This map shows where the Green Card is accepted.

You can request a Green Card from your car insurance company. This is usually free1.

If you cause an accident in Germany, you can be sued by the victim. If the victim wins, you will have to pay reparations1. A lawsuit like that can easily ruin you.

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) protects you from these damage claims. If you cause an accident, your insurance company will pay the legal fees and the reparations.

If you lose your apartment key, you might have to pay to replace all the locks in the building. Your liability insurance usually covers that.

For more details, see this guide.

The German Trade Register (Handelsregister) is a register all businesses must be listed in, except for small businesses (Kleinunternehmer), freelancers (Freiberufler) and companies constituted under civil law (GbR). For more details, see this guide.

The Handelsregisternummer is a number every business gets when it's listed in the German Trade Register (Handelsregister). You get a Handelsregisternummer by filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung. For more details, see this guide.


The main tenant (Hauptmieter) is the person who is responsible for paying the rent to the landlord. The Hauptmieter can sublet the apartment with the permission of the landlord.

The Hauptmieter can act as the Wohnungsgeber and sign the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. You need this document to register an address in Germany.

Home contents insurance or household insurance (Hausratversicherung) insures the content of your house, up to a certain value. This includes your furniture and all the other movable things in the house. It can also cover things like computers and bicycles.

If you don't own expensive furniture, it's cheaper to insure items individually. For example, you can get bicycle insurance instead of a home insurance that covers bicycles.

Some household insurance policies also cover locksmiths. If you lock yourself out of your apartment, your insurance will pay for the locksmith.

The house administration (Hausverwaltung) is the people in charge of an apartment building. You call the Hausverwaltung when you have problems in your apartment: loud neighbours, lost keys, problems with utilities etc. In some smaller buildings, this can be the landlord himself. In larger building, it's usually a separate company.

If you don't know who you Hausverwaltung is, look on your lease. You can also find it on a billboard in your apartment lobby.

The price of public health insurance is based on your income. If you earn more money, you pay more for your health insurance.

The Höchstbeitrag is the maximum amount you can pay for health insurance. If you earn more than 58050€ per year, the price stops going up.1

There is a different Höchstbeitrag for freelancers, the Selbstständige Höchstbeitrag. In 2021, it's around 885€1.

In some German states, a dog handler permit (Hundeführerschein) lets you walk your dog without a leash.

Dog liability insurance (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung) pays for the damages caused by your dog. For example, if your dog bites someone, or destroys another person's things, your insurance will pay for the damages.

It's sometimes called pet liability insurance (Tierhaftpflichtversicherung) or pet owner liability insurance (Tierhalterhaftpflichtversicherung).

Dog liability insurance is mandatory in Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Thuringia.

The dog tax (Hundesteuer) is a tax you pay when you own a dog in Berlin.

Guide dogs are exempt from the dog tax.

In Berlin, the Hundesteuermarke is a dog tag you receive when you register your dog at the Finanzamt. This confirms that your dog is registered, and that you pay the dog tax (Hundesteuer).

The IBAN number is used to transfer money between bank accounts. In Germany, IBAN numbers have the following format: DE 1234 5678 9012 3456 7890 12.

You will usually find your IBAN on the front of your bank card (Girokarte or EC-Karte). You can usually see it when you log into your online banking account.

The Impressum is a page on a website. This page should contain important information about the owners of the website, such as their contact information. In Germany, an Impressum is required on all commercial websites. For more details, see this guide.

The job seeker visa is a type of National Visa. It allows to come to Germany to look for work. The job seeker visa is valid for up to 180 days. It does not allow you to work or study in Germany. The job seeker visa can't be extended1, 2.

Once you have found a job, you can apply for a freelance visa, a work visa, or a Blue Card.

The cold rent (Kaltmiete) is the rent you pay before utilities (Nebenkosten). The cold rent (Kaltmiete) + utilities (Nebenkosten) = the warm rent (Warmmiete). The warm rent is what you actually pay to your landlord every month.

The apartment deposit (Kaution, Mietkaution or Mietsicherheit) is an amount you give to your landlord when you sign an apartment contract. When you leave the apartment, this amount will be returned to you, with interests. If you broke something in the apartment, the landlord can use the money from your Kaution to fix it

In Germany, the Kaution is usually 3 times your monthly rent (Kaltmiete). This is the legal maximum.

The vehicle registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle) is where you register a vehicle you just purchased. You must register your vehicle there before you can drive it on the road.

In Germany, churches can collect taxes from their members. This is called the church tax (Kirchensteuer).

The church tax is 8% of your income tax in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and 9% in the rest of Germany1. If you earn 50 000€ a year in Berlin, you would pay around 800€ in church tax1. You can use this calculator to know how much church tax you should pay.

These religious communities collect a church tax1, 2:

  • The Evangelical Church (Evangelische Kirche)
  • The Roman Catholic Church (Römisch-katholische Kirche)
  • The Jewish Community (Jüdische Gemeinde)
  • The Old Catholic Church (Altkatholische Kirche)
  • Various Free Religious communities (Freireligiöse Gemeinden)

If you are not a member of a church that collects church tax, you do not have to pay the church tax1. If you are, the only way to stop paying the church tax is to leave the church. You declare your religion during your Anmeldung. If you were baptized in your home country, the church can tax you even if you registered as an atheist.

The Kita or Kindertagesstätte is a type of preschool or daycare centre for children who are under 6 years old. Every child in Germany is entitled to a place in a Kita, but finding one can be extremely difficult. For more details, see this guide.

A Kitagutschein is a voucher that allows you to get free childcare in Berlin. This document is required when applying for a place in a Kita. The Kitagutschein states how many hours of Kita your child is entitled to. Many Kitas won't put your child on the waiting list unless you have a Kitagutschein1.

For more information about the Kitagutschein, see this guide.

A small business (Kleinunternehmer) is a Freiberufler or Gewerbe with a revenue of less than 22 000€ in the first year, and less than 50 000€ in the following years1,2. Note that this is revenue (Umsatz), not profit (Gewinn). The law that defines small businesses is called the Kleinunternehmerregelung.

The main benefit of being a Kleinunternehmer is that you don't need to charge VAT to your customers1.

For more details, see this guide.

A bank account statement (Kontoauszug) shows how much money you have in your bank account. It also shows your recent transactions. It does not have a specific format. You can usually get it online from your bank. You can even use a screenshot of your bank account.

If you own a car in Germany, you must pay a vehicle tax (Kraftfahrzeugsteuer or Kfz-Steuer) every year. Use this vehicle tax calculator to know how much you must pay.

If you are an employee, you get sick pay (Krankengeld) when you are too sick to work. For the first 6 weeks, you are paid your full salary. After 6 weeks, you only get 70% of your salary1. You can get Krankengeld for up to 78 weeks every 3 years1.

If you are a freelancer, you do not get Krankengeld. If you want Krankengeld, you must pay a little more each month for your health insurance1. Even then, you only get Krankengeld after 6 weeks1. You can also get disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung). It pays your salary if you are too sick or injured to work.

Krankenversicherung is the German term for health insurance. In Germany, everyone must have health insurance. For more information, read this guide.

A sick note (Krankschreibung, Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung or AU-Bescheinigung) is a document you get from a doctor. It confirms that you are sick, and that you should take sick leave.

The Krankschreibung is a small yellow piece of paper. It looks like this.

Many German employers ask for a sick note if you are sick for more than 3 days1. They can ask for a sick note on the first day1.

Most phone, internet and electricity contracts in Germany have a cancellation period (Kündigungsfrist). If you want to end your contract, you must do it before that period. For example, you must cancel your Vodafone contract at least 3 months before it ends. Vattenfall has a Kündigungsfrist of 6 weeks. If you don't cancel your contract, it's renewed automatically for another year.

In some cases, you can cancel a contract early if there is a price increase, or if you move to an address where the service is not available1.

Rent contracts also have a Kündigungsfrist. The default is 3 months. It can be less than 3 months, but never more than 3 months.

The certificate of registration (Meldebescheinigung) is a copy of your registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung). You can request a Meldebescheinigung from the Bürgeramt.

You need this document to confirm your address. For example, you often need it to apply for a residence permit, open a bank account, get health insurance, or get a mobile phone contract.

For more details, see this guide.

The Meldebescheinigung zur Sozialversicherung or Jahresmeldung is a document you get from your employer. You get it once every year, between January 1 and February 151. It confirms that you made pension payments.

This document does not have a specific format. Every employer uses a different format.

When you apply for an apartment in Germany, you must show a proof of income.

If you don't have a steady income, you can ask a parent or a friend to be your guarantor. If you don't pay the rent on time, your guarantor will have to pay it. This is a good option for students, freelancers and people with a low income. This is called a Bürgschaft or Mietbürgschaft.

The Bürgschaft letter has no specific format. If your mother or father is your guarantor, you can use this Mietbürgschaft template.

The rent cap (Mietendeckel) was a rent control law in Berlin. It came in effect on January 30 2020, but it was repealed in court on April 15 2021.

The Mietendeckel is not the same as the Mietpreisbremse, another rent control law.

A tenants' association (Mieterverein or Mieterschutzverein) protects tenants from abusive landlords. When you are a member of a Mieterverein, you can get help from experienced lawyers. They can check your lease, help you with a bad landlord, get your rent reduced, and help you sublet an apartment.

Being a member is not expensive: the Berliner Mieterverein charges 9€ per month1. The Berliner Mieterverein and Mieterschutzbund Berlin are the two biggest associations in Berlin.

A Mietkautionskonto is a special bank account. You deposit your apartment's security deposit (Kaution) in this account. The money stays there until you move out.

The rent price brake (Mietpreisbremse) is a rent control law in Berlin.

The Mietpreisbremse is not the same as the Mietendeckel, another rent control law that was repealed in April 2021.

The Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung is a document you get from your landlord. It confirms that you don't owe any money to your landlord. This document is useful when you apply for an apartment.

The price of public health insurance is based on your income. If you earn less money, you pay less for your health insurance.

The Mindestbeitrag is the minimum amount you can pay for health insurance. If you earn less than 1096.67€ per month (in 2021), the price stops going down.1

There is a different Mindestbeitrag for students over 30 years old and freelancers, the Selbstständige Mindestbeitrag. In 2021, it's around 180€.

A Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) makes it easier to sell digital products and services in other EU countries. Instead of register for VAT in every country where you have customers, you only need to register for VAT in Germany. This guide and this guide explain how a Mini One Stop Shop works.

A minijob or a 450 Euro job is a job that pays 450€ per month or less. There are a few benefits to minijobs:

  • If you only have a minijob, you don't need to pay income tax1.
  • If you only have a minijob, you can use your spouse's or your parents' public health insurance1.

A Monatskarte is a monthly pass.

Usually, this means a monthly public transit pass. For example, the BVG sells a Monatskarte. It lets you use public transportation for one month.

N26 is an online bank that operates in multiple European countries, including Germany. N26 is a popular bank for expats who settle in Germany, because it offers its services in English, and does not require an official address in Germany. For more details, see our review of N26.

The National Visa (also known as Type D or Category D Visa) is a type of visa. It allows you to live in Germany.

The student visa, the job seeker visa, the freelance visa, the work visa, the Blue Card and the artist visa are types of National Visas. The tourist visa is not a National Visa.

The Nebenkosten is the price you pay every month for utilities (hot water, central heating, trash collection, etc). The Nebenkosten are included in your warm rent (Warmmiete). In other words, cold rent (Kaltmiete) + utilities (Nebenkosten) = warm rent (Warmmiete). It does not include electricity for the lights and appliances.

The Nebenkosten are adjusted every year. Every year, you receive a Betriebskostenabrechnung. It shows you how much hot water and electricity you really used. If you used more than you paid for, you will get an invoice. If you used less, you will get some money back.

In Germany, a part of your salary goes to health insurance, pension contributions and income tax. The total amount you earn is called the Brutto salary. The amount you keep after taxes is the Netto salary.

This calculator shows you how much money you keep after taxes.

The public order office (Ordnungsamt) is responsible for various aspects of public order in Germany. They handle noise complaints, wild animals and parking spaces, among many other things.

Ottonova is a private health insurance startup in Germany. It's a 100% digital insurance company that offers English customer support.

Pfand is the deposit you pay on some bottles in Germany. When you return the bottle, you get a few cents back. Many bottles have a Pfand of 0.08€ to 0.25€. Car batteries have a Pfand of 7.50€.

For more information about Pfand bottles, see this guide.

If you are an employee and you make under 64350€ per year, you are compulsorily insured (Pflichtversichert). This means that public health insurance companies must accept you. It also means that you can't have private health insurance.

When you are not Pflichtversichert, you are voluntarily insured (freiwillig versichert). Public health insurers do not have to accept voluntarily insured people.

A Postleitzahl is a German post code or zip code. It has 5 digits. For example, the post code of the Brandenburg Gate is 10117.

You should always include the Postleitzahl in a German address. In a big city like Berlin, many streets have the same name. The only difference is their post code.

Private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung or PKV) is a type of health insurance in Germany. The price of private health insurance is based on your health condition. It is cheaper when you are young, and more expensive when you are old. The alternative is public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV).

For more details, see this introduction to German health insurance.

The Maklergebühr or Provision is the fee you pay to the rental agent. This fee is usually 2-3 times the monthly rent. The person who hired the agent pays this fee. If the landlord hired the agent, you should not have to pay the fee. If you hired the agent, you will have to pay the fee.

For more information, see How to find an apartment in Berlin.

Legal insurance gives you free access to a lawyer. If you have a problem with your landlord, your employer, the tax office or anyone else, you can call a lawyer. You can ask them questions, they can write letters for you, and they can go to court with you. Legal insurance can be very useful.

There is private legal insurance (for you), and professional legal insurance (for your business). Private legal insurance costs around 15€ per month. Professional legal insurance is more expensive. The price varies depending on your type of business.

The Ringbahn is a railroad that runs around Berlin. The S41 train goes around the Ringbahn in one direction, while the S42 goes in the opposite direction. The Ringbahn is often used to separate what's in central Berlin, and what is not.

The area inside the Ringbahn is an environmental zone. Only low-emission vehicles with green stickers can drive in this area.

Map of the Berlin Ringbahn

The GEZ or Rundfunkbeitrag is a monthly fee every household in Germany must pay. It's often called the TV tax because it pays for public radio and television. It costs around 17€ per month.

For more information, see this guide.

Seasonal plates (Saisonkennzeichen) are vehicle registration plates that only let you drive during certain months. For example, a motorcycle can have Saisonkennzeichen from April to October, or March to November. You can choose the dates when you register the vehicle.

The main benefit of seasonal plates is that your vehicle insurance is cheaper. You only pay insurance for the months you can drive.

Outside of the allowed months, you can't drive your vehicle, and you can't park it on the street1. You must put it in storage, or use a private parking space.

German insurance companies give every driver a class (Schadenfreiheitsklasse). If you don't make any insurance claims, your Schadenfreiheitsklasse gets higher every year. A high Schadenfreiheitsklasse means that you are a safe driver. If you have a high Schadenfreiheitsklasse, you pay less for insurance.

The shadow rent (Schattenmiete) is a clause is some rent contracts in Berlin.

Many tenants had a lower rent because of the Mietendeckel. The Schattenmiete is the rent tenants would pay if the Mietendeckel was repealed1.

On April 15 2021, the Mietendeckel was repealed1.

A Schengen visa (also called a tourist visa or Category C visa) allows you to visit Germany and other Schengen countries. A tourist visa allows you to stay in Germany and other Schengen countries for up to 90 days. You are not allowed to work or study in Germany with a tourist visa.

Australian, Israeli, Japanese, Canadian, South Korean, New Zealand and American citizens do not need a tourist visa. They can spend up to 90 days in Germany and other Schengen countries1, 2. If they want to stay longer than 90 days, or work in Germany, they need a National Visa.

European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norwegian and Swiss citizens do not need a tourist visa. They can live, work and study in Germany without a visa1.

Schufa is a credit bureau in Germany. They give a credit score to German residents. If you have a good Schufa score, it's easier to rent an apartment or get a loan.

When you apply for an apartment, you should include a Schufa Bonitätsauskunft (credit report). This document shows your credit score. There are many ways to get a Schufa Bonitätsauskunft.

A direct debit authorization (SEPA-Lastschriftmandat) allows a company to withdraw money from your bank account. You must sign one when you sign an insurance contract or register a vehicle.

A SEPA-Überweisung is a bank transfer between two banks in the European Union. They are the standard type of bank transfers in Germany. A SEPA transfer usually takes less than 2 business days.

The Sozialversicherungsnummer, Versicherungsnummer, Rentenversicherungsnummer or RNVR is the German pension insurance number. The german public pension scheme (the Deutsche Rentenversicherung) uses this number to identify you. You can get this number from your health insurer. The German social insurance number has this format: 12 123456 A 1231.

For more details, see this guide.

A Späti or Spätkauf is a small store that sells drinks, snacks and tobacco products. Most of them stay open until late. Most of them are also open on Sundays. Spätis are similar to convenience stores, corner shops, newsagents and bodegas in other countries.

A blocking account (Sperrkonto) is a special type of bank account. A Sperrkonto is a requirement when applying for certain visas.

Unlike a normal bank account, a blocked account only lets you withdraw a fixed amount every month.

Deutsche Bank, Fintiba, X-patrio and some Sparkasse branches offer blocking accounts1.

A tax advisor (Steuerberater) is a professional who can help you with your personal and business taxes. Your tax advisor can file your taxes, do your bookkeeping, handle employee payrolls, and more. Steuerberater is a protected title in Germany, and only people with specific qualifications can be tax advisors.

For more details, see this guide.

When you make a tax declaration, the Finanzamt sends you a Steuerbescheid by post. It looks like this.

This document shows how much tax you owe the Finanzamt.

The tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer, Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identificationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or SteuerID) is a unique identification number all German residents receive. This is the number the tax office (Finanzamt) uses to identify you. It has the format "12 345 678 901". You receive that number after registering your address in Germany.

The tax ID is also called a Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identificationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or SteuerID. Do not confuse the tax ID with the tax number (Steuernummer).

When you start working in Germany, you must give your tax ID to your employer. Your employer needs your tax ID to calculate your income tax.

For more details, see this guide.

Tax classes (Steuerklassen) determine how much income tax you pay. There are 6 tax classes (Steuerklassen) in Germany12.

Tax classDescription
I Workers who are not in category II, III or IV.
IISingle parents who are entitled to single parents' allowance.
IIIMarried workers whose spouse does not have any income, or whose spouse is classified under tax category V. Widowed workers in the year that follows their spouse's death.
IVMarried couples if both spouses earn a wage and live together in Germany.
V Married worker whose spouse is in tax class III.
VIWorker who receives a wage from multiple employers.

The tax number (Steuernummer) is a unique number that identifies businesses and freelancers. It's a 10 or 11 digit number, and has the format "12/345/67890". It's sometimes written in the unified federal format as "3012034567890", where the first two digits are the number of your Bundesland1, 2.

You obtain this number when you submit the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung to the tax office (Finanzamt). Do not confuse the Steuernummer with the tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) or VAT number (Umsatzsteuernummer).

Your Steuernummer is not private. It should appear on your invoices, and in your Impressum. If you move to a different area, your Steuernummer will change.

For more details, see this guide.

The German student visa allows you to study in Germany. With a student visa, you can also work during your studies. The student visa is a type of National Visa.

Techniker Krankenkasse (or TK) is the largest public health insurance company in Germany.

Teilkasko car insurance only covers the damage to other people and vehicles. If you cause an accident, your Teilkasko will pay to fix other people's cars, but it will not pay you to on your own car. If the accident is someone else's fault, their insurance will pay for the repairs on your car. It also covers certain things like theft, broken windows and natural catastrophes.

For more information, see this guide.

Pet health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung) covers the veterinary bills if your dog gets sick. Usually, it does not cover routine operations like vaccines or castration1. However, it covers expensive operations. This can be important when your dog gets old.

The price of pet insurance depends on the age, race and sex of your dog. It costs around 20€ per month if your dog is still young.

Use Check24 to compare prices. If you don't speak German, Coya offers pet health insurance, and they speak English.

The Übergabeprotokoll is a document you fill with your landlord before moving out of an apartment. It describes the state of the apartment, and the damages that need to be repaired.

It also contains the numbers on your electricity meter. You will need to give those numbers to the electricity company.

The Übergabeprotokoll can have any format. You can even create your own. It usually looks like this.

The Anmeldung is when you register your address in Germany. The Ummeldung is when you change your registered address after you move. The Anmeldung and the Ummeldung are exactly the same thing. The process is exactly the same.

Revenue (Umsatz) is how much money you earn, ignoring expenses. It's not the same as profit (Gewinn).

Let's say you have a product that costs 6€ to make, and sells for 10€. If you sell 100 units, your total revenue is 1000€, but your profit is only 400€. The other 600€ are your business expenses.

The Umsatzsteuer, Mehrwertsteuer, Ust. or MwSt. is the the German name for the value added tax (VAT).

For most products and services, the VAT is 19%.

The VAT number (Umsatzsteuernummer, Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer or USt-IdNr.) is a number that's used to identify you when you make VAT payments to the Finanzamt. You can request a VAT number by filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung.

In Germany, the VAT number has this format: DE123456789.

The VAT number is also called a Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer, or USt-IdNr.

Scooters and mopeds don't need to be registered at the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle. They only need to have insurance plates (Versicherungskennzeichen). Insurance plates look like this.

A Volkshochschule is the German equivalent of a community college. They offer different courses for adults, including language classes.

Vollkasko car insurance covers the damage to your car and to other cars, even if the accident is your fault. If you destroy your car in an accident, the insurance company will replace it. Vollkasko insurance is usually much more expensive than Teilkasko.

For more information, see this guide.

The power of attorney (Vollmacht) is a document that gives another person (usually a lawyer or a tax advisor) the legal right to act in your name. This allows other people to handle legal matters for you. You need a Vollmacht to let someone else file your taxes for you, represent you in legal cases, do the Anmeldung for you, apply for a Kitagutschein for you etc.

The warm rent (Warmmiete) is the total amount of rent you pay every month. It's the amount you pay to your landlord every month. The cold rent (Kaltmiete) + the utilities (Nebenkosten) = the warm rent (Warmmiete).

The Warmmiete does not include electricity for the lights and appliances. You must choose an electricity company yourself.

A Werkstattbindung is an option for your car insurance. With a Werkstattbindung, you can save up to 20% on your car insurance1, 2. In many cases, you also get a free rental car while they repair your vehicle. However, if you have an accident, you must repair your car at a garage approved by your insurer.

This option is only available for Teilkasko and Vollkasko insurance1. Haftpflicht insurance does not cover repairs to your own vehicle.

WG or Wohngemeinschaft is an apartment where multiple tenants share the rent. It's called a flatshare in English. Living in a WG is a good way to save on rent. Most WGs are listed on WG-Gesucht and eBay Kleinanzeigen. For more details, see this guide.

The Wohnberechtigungsschein or WBS is a document that qualifies you for social housing in Germany. Some landlords accept applicants with a WBS, and some landlords require it.

Low income families, students and seniors can apply for a WBS, among others1.

The Wohnungsgeber (the "apartment-giver") is the person who gives you a room or an apartment to rent. It can be the landlord, or the main tenant (Hauptmieter). The main tenant must always get the permission of the landlord before subletting a room or subletting the apartment, and the landlord can refuse1, 2.

The Wohnungsgeber can sign the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung. You need this document to register your address in Germany.

The Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (also called Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers or Vermieterbescheinigung) is a document given by the landlord or the main tenant (Hauptmieter). This document proves that you are allowed to live at this address.

The Wohnungsgeberbestätigung is required for your address registration (Anmeldung). Without it, you can't register your address.

The main tenant can't sign this document without the permission of the landlord1, 2. This means that you can't register a place as your official address without the permission of the landlord. This also means that you can't use a hotel or an AirBnB as your official address.

English translation of the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung form

The German work visa (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Aufnahme einer Beschäftigung) allows you live in Germany and work for a German employer. It's officially called a "residence permit for the purpose of employment", but everyone calls it a work visa or work permit.

The work visa is a type of National Visa. The work visa and the Blue Card are two different things.

For more information, see this guide.

The Working Holiday Visa lets citizens of certain countries work in Germany for up to 1 year.

Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan and Uruguay citizens between 18 and 30 years old can apply for a Working Holiday Visa1.

Canadian citizens between 18 and 35 years old can apply for a Youth Mobility Visa, which is very similar.

The Youth Mobility Visa allows Canadian citizens between 18 and 35 years old to work in Germany for up to 12 months1. It is similar to the Working Holiday Visa.

The Zentrale Anlauf- und Beratungsstelle (ZAB) is Berlin's central point of contact for the Ordnungsamt in Berlin. You can call them to make noise complaints, and for other small problems. Their phone number is on their website.

Each electricity meter has a unique number called the Zählernummer. It's written on the electricity meter.

When you move to a new address, you must share the meter reading with your electricity company. You must give the meter number (Zählernummer) and the meter reading (Zählerstand).

The meter reading (Zählerstand) is the number of kilowatts/hour (kWh) on your electricity meter. It looks like this.

When you move to a new address, you must share the meter reading with your electricity company. You must give the meter number (Zählernummer) and the meter reading (Zählerstand).

The Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung or ZAV is the office that gives foreigners permission to work in Germany. They verify that there is enough demand for their skills in Germany.

The ZAV is part of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit.

The Zulassungsbescheinigung is a vehicle's registration papers. In Germany, this document has two parts. The first part (Teil 1) folds to the size of a business card. You must carry it with you. The second part (Teil 2) is the size of a sheet of paper. You must leave it at home.

You get a Zulassungsbescheinigung when you register the vehicle in Germany.

The Zulassungsbescheinigung replaces an older type of registration paper, the Fahrzeugbrief.

Public health insurers charge an extra contribution (Zusatzbeitrag). It allows them to offer extra services. It's between 0% and 2.7% of your income1, but your employer pays half of it. If you pick a health insurer with a lower Zusatzbeitrag, you will pay less for health insurance.