Life in Germany is a cycle of travel, leisure, work, checking the weather before leaving home and making sure you have the right documents for the right process! Remember Sheldon from Big Bang theory and how he loved paperwork! Well, he sure would've been excited to relocate to Germany if he knew the amount of paperwork he would have to fill out- if memory serves me right he did know to speak German- that's another great point!
When I relocated to Germany, I was incredibly lucky because my husband had relocated about 6 months earlier. He was the one who faced a few challenges regarding the chronology of paperwork- but he too was helped by the HR of this organization. Now, as a working woman, I know the about of tasks to be accomplished at work even while relocating- so I decided to pen down the 5 most important tasks that one needs to accomplish as soon as they arrive in Germany. I hope these life hacks in Germany will make your life slightly simpler!
Most of us from India(or any other non-EU country) would get a German Visa with a limited duration (3 or 6 months) when you first land in Germany. In our case, it was the German National Visa which has a validity of 6 months from its date of issue. Your first goal needs to be converting this National Visa to a long-stay visa, which in our case was EU Blue Card for my husband and Aufenthaltstitel/ Aufenthaltserlaubnis for me.
BOOK AN APPOINTMENT WITH RATHAUS LONGER RESIDENCE PERMIT
To apply for a Residence Permit/ EU Blue Card/ Aufenthaltstitel you need to book an appointment at your city Rathaus. In some cities, it takes 4-5 months to get an appointment. Hence, I recommend reserving a slot within the first week of your arrival. Take a slot a minimum of 5 weeks from the current day, so that you can prepare the paperwork in the meantime.
P.S: The length of the Residence Permit depends upon the length of your job contract.
APPLYING FOR MELDEBESCHEINIGUNG
Meldebescheinigung or Registration Certificate is basically proof that you have a place of residence. It is issued in your name with your current address. This document is also needed for the Residence Permit along with the rest of the documents (Passport, Proof of income, Degree Certificates, Job Contract). Now, you may see the error- you have just landed in the country how do you have a residence? If your company offers you a place to stay for the first few months, you can use that to achieve this certificate. You would need to change the address once again after relocating to your new rental apartment. Apply for an appointment for the Meldebescheinigung within the first 5 days of arrival and you shall receive it within 4 weeks of your application.
TELEPHONE CONTRACT & HEALTH INSURANCE
It's good to finalize a Vertrag (Contact) for your mobile service provider within the first week of arrival as it enables you to use your phone for many tasks. While the most popular ones include 1&1, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and O2, you will find good comparisons online and you can make sure you create a contract that serves you best. Remember, a local phone number is extremely important for job hunt- most conversations don't happen on email- you would need a phone or a letterbox (this shall come later).
When you apply for the visa in your homeland, you would be asked to purchase travel insurance that is valid for at least until your visa expires. Make sure you purchase health insurance (Public or Private) once you are in Germany for a longer-term. You will need to show this (Versicherung) during the Residence Permit appointment.
FINDING AN APARTMENT
Another important document required during the Residence Visa appointment is the Mietvertrag or Rental Agreement. Finding a house in Germany is not easy, it requires time and patience (and a separate blog!). A few important terms associated with German rental markets are:
Kaltmiet (The rent for just space of the apartment)
Nebenkosten (The cost of electricity, water, etc.)
Warmmiete (The sum total of Kaltkiet and Nebenkosten)
Kaution (Security Deposit)
Make sure that you get your Mietvertrag checked by a German friend/colleague or a lawyer to ensure you are not committing any written error. Most apartments come with a 3 month notice period but few don't- so it's always best to check before committing. You may also have to buy furniture since furnished apartments are significantly more expensive than unfurnished ones. Once you sign the rental agreement, get the address on your Meldebescheinigung updated to ensure you don't miss any important communication from the city.
Your first task after moving into the apartment is to paste your name on the Briefkasten or Letter Box. All official documents in Germany arrive by post- including OTP- if your name is missing, your letter will not be delivered!
A simple tip: Even if you don't know to speak German, it helps to know a few introductory sentences. This way you can begin your conversation! Although I am not completely fluent in German, I always begin with Guten Tag! My next blog will be a few German phrases that will help you begin conversations!