Passport and visa
For travelling into Germany you need a valid passport or other document that confirms your identity. You will also need the passport later when you go to register at an authority. Residents of countries outside the European Union (EU) also need a visa.
You can apply for a visa at the German Embassy (consulate) in your own country. Do you already have a contract of employment in Germany, or do you have family members living here? Then it will be easier for you to get a visa. You can find information on this from the Federal Foreign Office.
Citizens of the EU or a country that belongs to the European Economic Area do not need a visa.
Residents‘ registration office and residence permit
In Germany you have to register at the Einwohnermeldeamt (residents‘ registration office) in your town/city of residence. Next you need to go to the Ausländeramt (immigration office). There you will be issued with a residence permit. It is a card showing your residence status. It says how long you are allowed to remain in Germany and whether you are allowed to work.
Do you need to visit an office, but can’t speak German very well? Then you can ask for an interpreter. That’s someone who can speak German and your language and will help you to communicate.
If you can’t speak German very well, then you are allowed to do an integration course. Sometimes you have to do the integration course. You will learn better German in the course. And you will also be given important information about life in Germany. The immigration office gives you a certificate for the course and tells you where you can do the course. You can read more about it by following the Integration course link.
Finding work and vocational training
The next step is finding work. Have you learnt a profession already in your own country, or have you been to university? Then you need to have the documents translated and certified. Ask where you could have that done at the employment agency. The employment agency will also help you to find work. If you don’t yet have a profession or school-leaving qualification, you should also go to the employment agency. They will give you careers advice. They will help you if you are unsure what sort of work you would like to do or would be able to do. The employment agency will also provide you with information about apprenticeships and courses. You can find more information on this in the text Studying and vocational training.
Children and school
Children are required to attend school. Register your child at a school. The Jugendamt (youth office) in your town/city can help you. Read more on the following pages: Early education and School system.
Some of the insurance schemes are very important: in particular health insurance, pension insurance and care insurance (see Insurance). If you have a job, you will automatically be insured on these schemes (see Starting work). And you need a current account at a bank (see Bank account and finances).
You are looking for integration course providers or an immigration office? Under the heading Important addresses you can search for these addresses near your place. Then you will see the results with information such as address or telephone number on a map.
Frequently asked questions
You can find a list on the European Union website.
All EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
If you come from an EU country or from within the European Economic Area, then yes. If you come from another country, then you can drive on it for 6 months. Then you have to take a German driving test. But driving licences from certain other countries are accepted, refer to ADAC: foreign driving licences.
ADAC: foreign driving licences
You can find information on many aspects of this here:
Federal Foreign Office.
I do not understand this important letter. Who can help me with complicated documents in bureaucratic German / official German?
Please contact Migration Advice or local integration councils in your area. An overview can be found under “Mein Weg nach Deutschland” in the "Help" section.
You can contact a counselling centre. In the "Help" section you can find information on consultation such as: Migration Advice for adults as well as youth migration services. In the “Wichtige Adressen” section you can find Migration Advice in your area. There you can receive advice about your options and the best way to proceed.