Moving to and living in Frankfurt

Important formalities

After your arrival in Germany, you have to deal with some formalities, depending on your contract and the duration of your stay in Germany. The following are the most important ones if you want to live and work in Germany.

  • Entry visa

    EU citizens do not require a visa to enter Germany, all other foreigners do. Nationals of those countries for which the European Union has abolished the visa requirement, e.g. the U.S., do not require a visa for visits of up to 90 days in an 180‑day period. You will find a list of those countries as well as application forms at the Federal Foreign Office.

    To obtain an entry visa for the purpose of taking up work in Germany, please contact the German Embassy or Consulate General responsible for your current place of residence. As your future German employer we need a copy of your entry visa as soon as possible to forward it to the labor office (Agentur für Arbeit).

  • Residence registration

    Within the first week after arrival, you have to register at the registration office (Bürgeramt) at your place of residence (e.g. at the Bürgeramt Frankfurt; see contact details below) even if you only have a hotel address.

    You have to obtain a confirmation of registration (Anmeldebestätigung). Every time you change your residence within Germany, no matter if you move next door or across the country, you must report this to the registration office within one week. The confirmation of registration serves as proof of address and you will need it, for example, when you open a bank account or want to register with a city library.

    To register, you need:

    • your passport and/or identity card
    • the rental agreement, signed by your landlord and yourself
    • signed confirmation form (Abmeldung) of your former place of residence in your home country (not necessary for U.S. citizens); if you keep your apartment/house in your home country, no confirmation form is needed
    • details on your marital status, child support, and religious affiliation; please take a copy of your marriage certificate and of your children’s birth certificates along with you in case they are needed.

    Bürgeramt (Zentrale)
    Zeil 3
    60313 Frankfurt am Main

    When living outside of Frankfurt, you should go to the local town hall (Rathaus) to register your residence.

  • Residence Permit

    EU citizens have the right to move freely within the European Union. For exemptions, see the information of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community

    In Germany, the residence permit can only be applied for after registration. For this purpose, please apply to the office for non-German nationals (“Ausländerstelle”). For non-EU-citizens, the residence permit is usually issued for a maximum of one year and will be stamped into your passport. You can apply online via Ausländerbehörde. The overview page is availabe only in German, but you can choose from ten languages in the online application process.

  • Work Permit

    EU citizens as well as nationals from states in the European Economic Area (EEA) do not require a work permit for Germany. Foreign nationals from states outside the EEA may as a rule only start work in Germany if they have a valid work permit. The work permit will be valid for the same period of time as the residence permit. The work permit can be obtained at the labor office (Agentur für Arbeit):

    Agentur für Arbeit
    Fischerfeldstraße 10-12
    60311 Frankfurt am Main

    Some further information in English is provided by the Federal Foreign Office.

  • Finding work for your spouse

    To provide assistance to spouses and partners of new employees SAFE joined the Dual Career Network Rhein-Main. Professors appointed together with Goethe University can also benefit from the Dual Career Service Frankfurt. Please contact Dea Lapi if you need any assistance in this respect.

Social security

Everyone working in Germany has to participate in the social security system which includes retirement, unemployment, healthcare, long-term care, and disability insurance. Social security contribution rates are usually shared equally between employee and employer. The income level (up to an upper limit) and the contribution assessment limit determine the amount of monthly contributions.

  • Statutory Pension Insurance (Rentenversicherung)

    The statutory pension insurance in Germany follows a pay-as-you-go system. Since January 2018, the pension insurance contribution rate has remained unchanged at 18.6% of your income - equally shared by you and your employer. The contributions are deducted monthly from your income by your employer.

  • Unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung)

    The mandatory contribution to the unemployment insurance is currently at 2.4% of your income - equally shared by you and your employer. The contributions are deducted monthly from your income by your employer.

  • Statutory accident insurance (Unfallversicherung)

    Your employer is obliged to insure you against the consequences of accidents at work and on your way to and from work. The statutory accident insurance provides payment for full medical treatment, occupational and social rehabilitation assistance, supplementary assistance and cash benefits. It is financed only by the employer.

  • Health insurance

    As long as your income does not exceed a certain level (mandatory insurance limit), you have to join the statutory health insurance system by applying for membership in one of the public health insurance providers. The insurance contribution rate varies slightly depending on the provider; your employer will contribute partly to the contributions. The contributions are deducted monthly from your income by your employer.

    The statutory health insurance generally covers hospitalization and medical costs. It also insures your spouse and, up to a certain age, your children at no extra charge – provided that they do not have their own insurance. Health insurance is provided from the first day of employment.

    Private medical insurance may be chosen by those who earn more than the annual mandatory insurance limit. It is only for you personally, so additional contributions for your spouse and dependants are required. Private medical insurance allows you to tailor the insurance to meet your needs. The insurance premia depend on your health condition, gender, and age at entry. You can still expect your employer to pay a supplement to your contributions. Once you have signed up for private health insurance you are by law no longer allowed to become a member of statutory insurance.

  • Private liability insurance

    If you unintentionally cause a damage in Germany (e.g., in an accident), you will be held liable for this damage according to German law with all the money and possessions you currently own as well as any future income. Therefore we highly recommend you a private liability insurance. 
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Finding accommodation in Frankfurt can be time-consuming. So, you should start searching as early as possible. Below, you find some links that might help.

Further information