Moving to Germany: your checklist and timeline


Updated on Sep 03 • 9 minute read

Moving to Germany calls for plenty of planning and a pinch of calmness. Better get used to this combination: Germany will trigger your love for checklists, schedules & co. in a blink of an eye!

So why don't you start your relocation to Germany with some German organisation? Here we go, we’ve compiled a checklist to relocate to Germany. Our timeline puts all the tips into perspective and gives you a sense of when you ought to get things done before moving to Germany!

Your checklist for moving to Germany

Before making your dream of living in Germany come true, a brief reality check is needed to see where to start in the first place. As stuffy as to-do lists are, the less you’ll want to move without them.

There are some things you really shouldn't underestimate, such as applying for a visa or making appointments for local registration.

Here's your checklist for moving to Germany:

1. Plan your budget

2. Check validity of your documents

3. Get a visa

4. Remember all deadlines

5. Book appointments to de/register

6. Register with a health insurance

7. Open a bank account

8. Check out insurances

9. Find an accommodation

10. Terminate/sublet your current apartment

11. Cancel memberships

12. Change phone contract

13. Cancel/register utilities

14. Make backup copies

15. Make yourself familiar with Germany

Now, let's dig a bit deeper into the your checklist for moving to Germany. Make sure you adapt the checklist to your situation so that absolutely nothing goes wrong:

1. Money, money, money: yes, unfortunately, there’s nothing for free. Get an overview of your financial situation beforehand and how much money you should keep on the side for your move. Are there tuition fees or semester fees for my studies in Germany?

2. Validity of the documents: What is the expiry date of my documents, such as my driving license, identity card, or passport? Your opportunity to brush up on all your documents. Don't forget to prepare documents for your pets, if you're bringing them!

3. Visa: If you're moving to Germany from the EU, chances are you've been lucky here. The situation looks different when you move from the USA to Germany. Which student visa do you need for Germany and what are the entry requirements?

4. Deadlines: Get an overview of all upcoming deadlines. Which timings do I have to meet for my visa? When do I have to enroll in my university courses?

5. Offices: As your center of life is shifting, you should book an appointment at the Bürgeramt in your new city to register. In Berlin, for example, you have to register in your accommodation within 2 weeks; the same applies to many other cities.

6. Health insurance: Most students from EU countries can relax here: typically, you’re covered internationally by your home health insurance. Are you taking up a new job in Germany, though? Then your employer will arrange health insurance for you when you start your job.

7. Bank: Contact your bank and check whether your debit/credit card also works in Germany. There's still much emphasis on cash and giro accounts; credit cards are not always accepted in Germany. So, make sure in advance that you can use your card to pay.

8. Insurance: Which insurances do I need in Germany and which are covered by my local insurance?

9. Finding accommodation: Possibly one of the most essential things on your checklist! Take some time to find out about the neighbourhoods in your new city. Are you moving to Berlin and you'd be thrilled to get involved in the art world? Then start looking for a place to live in Kreuzberg. To prevent falling for scammers, you should search for accommodation on a safe platform like HousingAnywhere. Our smart artificial intelligence detects scammers in no time!

10. Termination of apartment/ subletting: Do you want to return to your old place after you've lived in Germany? Then list your room online and look for a subtenant.

11. Cancel memberships: Luckily, by moving abroad, you normally receive a special termination notice for your fitness club or yoga studio that allows you to terminate your contract.

12. Phone: Does my phone also work abroad? Coming from an EU country, your internet will also work in Germany. However, things look different coming from the USA or other non-EU countries. Your best option may be to change your telephone contract in Germany.

13. Cancel/register utilities: If you are moving out of your flat for good, you should cancel your old contracts and choose utility providers for your new home in Germany - if they are not already included in your new accommodation.

14. Backup copies: Make a photocopy of important documents that you can carry with you.

15. Make yourself familiar with Germany: Finally, to boost your enthusiasm about Germany, try to get the hang of the country a little and maybe even learn a word or two in German!

Accommodation hunting: Most internationals are searching in March and April

We dived deeper into the search behaviour when looking for accommodation on HousingAnywhere.

Generally, the search for housing kicks off with the acceptance of students, which means that the first ones start looking in March/April.

In May and June, the housing hunt tends to intensify, so that many students find their accommodation in Germany during this period.

Did you know that you can find the widest selection of accommodation between May and June (at the latest by the beginning of July)? Here you will not only find the biggest choice, but also the best prices.

But no need to worry: You'll see for yourself that there's enough room for everyone in Germany; we promise, your new life will not start without a shelter above your head. And to be fair, international students are relatively relaxed: up until the last week of August and the first two weeks of September, some students wait to book their accommodation. However, keep in mind that by that time the places for the best prices might be gone.

Young professionals strike faster

Different patterns among the diverse internationals can soon be identified. Young professionals tend to form a clear vision of what the room or flat should look like. For instance, two to three months before moving they look for accommodation and then book it on the spot. In contrast to students, their search is not influenced by seasonal factors.

Relocation to Germany: your timeline

To feel in tune with your new everyday life in Germany, it might be a good idea to become accustomed to the German way of organisation and structure. So, here's your timeline so that nothing goes wrong.

Did you know that most international students look for a new flat between May and June?

2 to 6 months before moving to Germany

The time has come to pick up the first essential steps:

  • Create "moving folders" online: To make sure you don't miss a to-do or deadline, it's best to create your relocation folder on Google Drive or Dropbox to gather all the important information.

  • Visa: Do you need a visa or are there entry restrictions? Or do you need a work permit? If so, you need to take care of it in good time. Bureaucratic matters can take a while; the sooner you take care of them, the safer your stay abroad will be.

  • Searching for accommodation: Start your housing search at an early stage. After all, it's the quickest way to get a feel for housing in your new city. However, there's no pressure to rush: there's still plenty of time to commit yourself to a housing.

  • Looking for a new tenant or subtenant: Parallel to looking for accommodation yourself, you can also start searching for a new tenant or subtenant. Do you plan to move back into your old apartment after you’ve been abroad? Then simply advertise your room or flat for this period on HousingAnywhere.

  • Grants and scholarships: To get a financial boost, you might want to apply for grants and scholarships or request governmental funding early on.

  • Leave of absence: Students who spend a semester abroad need to apply for a leave of absence at most universities. Check with your university on the requirements.

  • International Student ID: Apply for your international student ID beforehand.

  • Schoolkids: Are you moving to Germany with your family? Then you should deregister your children from their current school and enroll them at the new school in Germany.

  • Applying for documents: Permits, documents, certificates. Take a look at your passport to see if it's still valid. If it isn't, now is the time to arrange an appointment at the local office and have a new one issued to you. Are you moving to another continent? Then you probably need an international driving license you should apply for now.

  • Health check: Just before you leave, you should have a health check at your family doctor, dentist, or gynecologist and get a fresh prescription for all your medication, so that you are well equipped when you go abroad. Arrange your doctor appointments now to make sure you’ll get checked on before leaving. Do you need any special vaccinations for your move to Germany? Have a look at your vaccination card to see if you meet all the requirements and get vaccinated if necessary.

  • Learn the language: Truth to be told, there's no obligation to learn German, but it can certainly help you break down a language barrier in Germany. Also, los geht’s!

8 weeks before moving to Germany

  • Health insurance: Make sure that your health insurance company knows that you are going abroad. As a student, you might be covered by an international health insurance scheme. However, if you start your career in Germany, you will be required to pay a health insurance contribution there. Your employer will sign you up with a health insurance company when you start working.

  • Book a flight: Time to get down to business! Flights are cheapest on average 7 weeks before departure.

  • Clarify financial matters: Before you move to Germany, you should carefully consider the financial hurdles you will face and how much money you should set aside. Did you sense that you would need to keep a tight rein on your finances in Germany? If so, try to find a home in a district where the cost of living is relatively low.

  • Hire a moving company: Moving with all your belongings? Then you should hire a moving company to help you. It's best to book now to make sure you get a fair deal.

6 weeks before moving to Germany

  • Meet with your doctors: Sit down with your doctors to see if you can hand over your medical records to your new doctor. They can also advise you if there are certain aspects you need to consider about your medicines or illnesses.

  • Choose a home: Still undecided about your future flat in Germany? Try to make up your mind this week or the next and secure yourself a home. By the way: by booking with HousingAnywhere, you don't need to worry about scammers. Our platform works with smart artificial intelligence that detects scammers straight away, so you’re protected.

  • Pack: Start packing step by step and compile a checklist. Every time you use something that you might not use very often, you should write it down. That way you will not forget it in the end.

4 weeks before moving to Germany

  • Preparing for the semester: Four weeks to go! Time to create your timetable at your German university.

  • Electricity, internet, and water suppliers: Will you have to arrange for internet, TV or other utilities in your new home in Germany? Then you can start checking out which provider you're going to choose and perhaps even set up the first utilities.

  • Cancel providers: Whilst you are busy exploring new utility providers in Germany, you need to cancel your existing ones now.

  • Cancel memberships: Before moving, terminate your gym membership and any other outstanding subscriptions.

  • Collect documents in a central place: Start saving important documents in one place. Keep your birth certificate and passports handy for everyone who is moving with you.

  • Register of voters: Once you have moved to Germany and changed your registration, you are probably no longer on the electoral roll in your home country. Be sure you are aware of how you can still participate in elections from now on.

2 weeks before moving to Germany

Arrange appointments: Start your new life with the maximum ease and organise your first appointments already. Relocating to Berlin? Then make an appointment at the Bürgeramt now so that you can register in Berlin in time. Maybe you'd like to open a bank account in Germany? To do so, you can make an appointment now.

  • Pack: Get rid of some of the clutter when you move. Take things that you no longer use but are in good condition to charities or give things away.

1 week before moving to Germany

  • Packing: Packing, packing, packing. Don't underestimate your belongings: often it ends up being more than you expect.

  • Withdraw cash: Get some Euros that you'll be able to use in Germany. Germans are still quite into cash, so with this, you're on the safe side.

  • Clean your flat: Before you move out of a flat, you should clean it all up. After all, you also want to move into a clean flat, right?

Moving day!

  • Check the meter counter: Take a final count of all meters (gas, water, electricity) and record it in the form of a photo. This way you are sure that you will not pay more than you have used later.

  • Got everything? Double-check that you have brought all your essentials with you.

Ready to move to Germany?

We promise you: with a little organisation you'll easily master your move. Adjust the checklist to your individual needs and keep an eye on it at all times - that way you won't forget anything. The timeline helps you keep track of the timing of your administrative formalities and ensure that preparations run smoothly on the day of your move and upon arrival in Germany. Good luck!

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