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 guides 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. Before you start your job, you will need to find an apartment, register your address, get a tax ID, and get health insurance. Ideally, you should arrive 1 month in advance to do all of this.

If you are not a resident of the European Union, you need a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) to live, work and study in Germany. 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 need a job seeker visa to look for work in Germany.

If you want to freelance or start a business in Berlin, you need to apply for a freelance visa. 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 things.

Many banks will require an Anmeldebestätigung to open a bank account. You can't get this document until you have registered your address. Fortunately, some banks do not require an Anmeldebestätigung.

N26 is a good bank if you just moved to Germany. They speak English, they do not require an Anmeldebestätigung, and they have very low fees. You can open an account before you arrive in Berlin through their app.

If you are a student and need a blocking account (Sperrkonto), you don't have many options. Most people go with Deutsche Bank when they need a blocking account.

If you need to transfer a lot of money to your German bank, 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. 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, 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.

    You can also use websites like Check24 and Tarifcheck to compare health insurance options, but talking to a broker is a better idea. The cheapest option is not always the best option.

    If you are an EU citizen, you are covered by your EHIC card until you start working. Once you start working, you must have German health insurance.

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    Get liability insurance

    There are two types of insurance you really need in Germany: health insurance, and liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). Liability insurance is not mandatory, but most Germans have it.

    Liability insurance protects you from damage claims. For example, if your washing machine breaks and floods your neighbour's apartment, the insurance company will pay for the repairs. If you accidentally send someone a virus that breaks their computer, they can sue you for damages. Liability insurance will pay for your lawyer, and for computer repairs.

    Liability insurance is very cheap, usually less than 5€ per month. Popsure offers liability insurance for 4€ per month. They are based in Berlin, and they speak English. Use websites like Check24 and Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options.

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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 English-speaking specialists

      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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