Depending on where you are from, you will require different legal documents in order to live and study in Germany. Below is a simple table to show which documents you require depending on your country of citizenship. Everyone in Germany, including German nationals, is required to register their address within two weeks of arriving or changing address. You may additionally require a visa prior to entering Germany and/or a residence permit which you can apply for within 3 months of your arrival in Germany.
(Please note: We provide this information as a guide only. This type of information changes often and Student Affairs is not always aware of all country-specific information. We suggest that you check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Germany ("Auswärtiges Amt"), Foreigner's Office in Berlin (“Ausländerbehörde”), the German Embassy in your own country, and/or your own country’s Embassy regarding specific case-to-case details. The German Academic Exchange Service “DAAD” is also an excellent resource.)
If you are from a country requiring a visa (see the table above) make sure that you contact the German Embassy or relevant body in your home country in good time (at least three months before departure). It can take several months to process a visa application and there may even be a waiting list during the peak traveling season. Contact the body in your country for more detailed information on the application procedure and processing times.
Please make sure you apply for a student visa (not a tourist/Schengen visa). If you enter Germany on a tourist visa, you will have to leave after three months. That may also apply if you already obtained a visa/residence permit for another EU-country (other than Germany). In this case please check the requirements with the German Embassy in the respective EU-country before applying at the Berlin Foreigner's Office for a residence permit for studying at the Hertie School of Governance.
Make sure that your passport will be valid during the whole time of your stay in Germany and that you do have sufficient consecutive empty pages for your entry visa (1-2 pages).
For more detailed current information see: Ministry of Foreign Affairs ("Auswärtigesamt").
All new residents, regardless of citizenship and including Germans, must register (“anmelden”) their address. This is the very first thing you need to do in order to take all further steps in “settling in” to Berlin. This step should be done within your first 2 weeks in Germany. (Ideally, you will register your new apartment, but you can do this step even if you have temporary housing. Once you move to your permanent place, you will have to re-register or "ummelden".) This step is essential for any other paperwork that follows, not just for your Residence Permit, but also for opening a bank account, a phone contract, etc.
Registration is done at a “Bürgeramt”, which roughly translates to “Citizen’s Center”. A “Bürgeramt” is where most official paperwork gets done, from birth and death certificates to issuing of tax cards and applications for social benefits. But what you need to know for now is that this is the place where you need to do your “Anmeldung”, which is the city registration.
1. There are several “Bürgerämter” in Berlin and you can register at any of them, even if you do not live in that neighbourhood. Here you can find the various locations and opening hours.
2. You can either make an appointment with them by clicking on “Termin buchen” on the website, or you can just show up, but be prepared to wait for a while (up to a few hours sometimes) after you have taken your turn, or “Wartenummer”.
3. You need to bring the following documents (and copies) with you:
Upon registration at the “Bürgeramt”, citizens of EU countries (including new member states), Switzerland & EEA countries should request the “Freizügigkeitsbestätigung”, which is a document stating that they have the right of freedom of movement, living and working; for citizens of these countries, there is no further permit required for studying in Germany
Depending on your country of citizenship, you may or may not need a Residence Permit (“Aufenthaltsgenehmigung”) in order to remain in Germany for your studies (see chart above). If you need one, you will have to do this at the foreigners’ office (“Ausländerbehörde”). Make an appointment ideally one month before arriving in Germany! You can make an appointment online ("Termin buchen" at bottom right of page). On the day of your appointment, be sure to allow yourself enough time to get there and make sure to be punctual!
Specific information on the foreigners’ office “Ausländerbehörde” website for students studying in Germany is available in German, with certain information available in English, Turkish, Russian, and in some cases further languages.
Once you’ve made an appointment, make sure to get a hold of the following necessary documents (and photocopies), which may take some time to gather:
Please note: The student permit will allow you to work in Germany under the guidelines of "student employment".
You will receive your electronic residence permit in the mail up to six weeks after your application. (If the duration of your visa will end during this six-week time period, you will receive a temporary residence on the spot.)
All general information regarding the new electronic residence permit can be found at (currently only available in German): www.bamf.de/eaufenthaltstitel
Take a look at this chart-form summary of the information given above.