Moving to Berlin: the definitive guide

Moving to Berlin: the definitive guide

The definitive guide to settling in Berlin, Germany. Everything you need to know about starting a new life in the German capital.

So it's official, you're moving to Berlin! This guide is a starting point for people who are settling in Berlin. It links to all the useful guide we have written on this topic.

Find a job

It's better to find a job offer before coming to Berlin. It allows you to focus on other things once you arrive in Berlin. It's also easier to find an apartment when you have a work contract.

If you are not a resident of the European Union, you need a visa to live, work and study in Germany. A visa is also called a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). There are different ways to obtain a German visa, and the requirements depend on your nationality. You can use this tool to find which visa you need.

If you are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, or the United States, you can stay in Germany without a visa for up to 90 days. You can't work without a visa, but you can come to Germany and look for a job. If you are a citizen from any other country, you can't visit Germany without a visa, but you can apply for the job seeker visa.

If you want to freelance or start a business in Berlin, you need to apply for a freelance visa. In this case, it's easier to apply for the visa once you are in Berlin. This is not possible for everyone; it depends on which country you come from.

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Open a bank account

As soon as you arrive in Berlin, you need to open a bank account. You need a bank account to pay your rent, to get a cellphone contract, and many other thing.

Many banks will require a Meldebescheinigung to open a bank account. You get this document by registering your address, but you can't get an apartment without a bank account. Fortunately, N26 and a few other banks do not require a Meldebescheinigung.

If you need to transfer a lot of money from another country, use TransferWise or XE.com. They have better exchange rates and lower fees than banks or wire transfers. I used TransferWise a lot. It works really well.

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Find a place to live

Finding an apartment is the hardest part of moving to Berlin. The market is very competitive. Finding a place can take weeks, and even months. If you want to find a place to live, you must be well prepared.

Having an official address in Germany is important. When you register your address, you get a tax ID (SteuerID), and an Anmeldebestätigung. You need those to get paid by your employer, get a cellphone contract, apply for a residence permit, open a bank account etc.

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Get health insurance

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. Choosing the right type of health insurance can save you a lot of money. An independent health insurance broker can help you choose the right health insurance. Their help is free.

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Send your children to the Kita

The Kita or Kindertagesstätte is a type of preschool or daycare centre for children who are under 6 years old. Finding a Kita for your child is very difficult., You must start looking as soon as possible.

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Find help

If you need help with settling in Berlin, these lists of English-speaking professionals will come useful.

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Get used to life in Berlin

There are lots of little things you must get used to after moving to Berlin. No one tells you the simple things like sorting your trash and safely watching pirated movies. We are here to help.

Daily life:

Paperwork and bureaucracy:

Where to find...

Get your German driver's licence

6 months after settling in Germany, your foreign driver's licence becomes invalid. You can usually trade your foreign driving licence for a German one. If you don't have a driving licence, you can enroll at a driving school.

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