Planning a move to Germany? Here are some tips, both interesting and practical, to help prepare you for your upcoming move. Our move here three years ago was pretty straightforward, since my husband works for the U.S. Department of Defense and our move from Japan was taken care of by them. If you are moving here in an official capacity, as we were, some of these tips won't apply to you--especially the ones about proving residency and car registration/ getting a driver's license. But if you're making the move on your own, and especially if you're coming from the UK, you may find all of the tips to be quite helpful. Best of luck to you in your new adventure!
Top 10 Tips for Moving to Germany
Moving to Germany can be a nerve-racking experience for a first-time or even a seasoned expat. However, the route is a well worn one, as this brief Top 10 shows. Many people have made the move before you, so there is a wealth of experience to draw upon. This Top 10 comes from a guide found on UK removals firm Schepens website; the full guide can be found here: http://www.schepens.co.uk/germany+resources/
1. You will find that when dealing with any kind of officialdom in Germany, you will need to prove your residency (i.e. registered address), so let’s get that out of the way first, and everything else is easy (relatively)! Okay, so it's probably not that easy...
2. Within a week of finding permanent accommodation (i.e. not a hotel), you have to register your address at the local Residence Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt), usually located in the town hall (Rathaus).
3. Generally speaking, Germany, with its toll-free/no-limit autobahns, is the place to be for drivers, but make sure your license if valid. Regulations vary depending on your situation.
4. Foreign vehicles staying for up to one year in Germany do not have to be registered, but after that period the vehicle will become liable for German registration and the accompanying statutory roadworthiness tests. Again, regulations on this will vary depending on how and why you are living in Germany.
5. The biggest supplier in Germany is probably E.on but many companies offer an online facility (unfortunately only in German) for registering as a new customer (Anmelden). Check the website of your respective supplier.
6. Competition in the Internet market in Germany is intense and, like all areas of the telecoms market, there is a wide range of companies offering services and promotional rates to new customers.
7. Education is free in Germany, and also mostly coeducational. Attendance is compulsory from age 6 to 18, with ‘home schooling’ deemed illegal (and the state willing to prosecute families who keep their children away). Note: if your country has a Status of Forces agreement with Germany, you may be allowed to homeschool (this currently applies to U.S. military and DOD civilians).
8. Children who are in kindergarten and possibly early-primary school will likely be allowed to enroll in German schools even if they do not speak German. Older students will need to speak German fairly well. Secondary education is divided into two levels: junior and senior secondary education. Upon completion of the Grundschule (from age 6 to 10), pupils between the ages of 10 and 16 attend one of the following main types of secondary schools: the Hauptschule, the Realschule, or the Gymnasium. Students who complete this level of education receive an intermediate school certificate.
9. Germany has one of the most highly regulated labour markets in the world, with its Labour law designed to protect employees. Whether or not an employment contract exists, all employees have basic rights to such things as holidays, sick pay etc. But, despite what the UK news may tell you, finding a job in Germany isn't easy - especially as a foreigner. And obviously, you'll need to be able to speak German fluently!
10. It may be called "Oktoberfest," but the big event actually starts in September, and has been celebrated every year since 1811. The massive Bavarian shindig is held annually in Munich, beginning on a Saturday in September and ending 16-18 days later (usually) on the first Sunday in October. You'll find mini-Oktoberfest celebrations all around the country--hey, any excuse for a beer, in Germany!