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How to Move to Germany: The Definitive Guide

by Andreas Karle on 24 February 2021

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If you’re looking for information about how to move to Germany, you’ve probably done lots of web searches and found little bits of information from many sources. But you might not have found a single source that can answer all your questions in a practical and straightforward way.

If so, this article might be very helpful. Moving to Germany doesn’t need to be as complicated as all these articles on the internet make it seem. It can be easy and stress-free as long as you have the right information and the right people by your side.


Are you considering moving to Germany? We are experts in helping you do so. We can simplify your immigration and relocation process based on your individual needs. With almost 45 years of experience managing more than 4500 international moves per year, we have the perfect solutions, ensuring you can move to Germany, stress-free. Get your quote or contact us today and start planning your relocation to Germany.


image moving to germany

Why Move to Germany?

Did you know Germany is the 8th best country for expats to live in, while two of its cities are among the best places for Americans to live? All this popularity is due to several factors. 

For starters, Germany is the largest economy in Europe, and the fourth among world economies, according to Investopedia. The unemployment rate in Germany is very low – only 5% in 2019. This means that most people living in Germany can find a job.

If you’d rather be an entrepreneur, Germany is also a great option for that, ranking number one in polls like this one from U.S. News & World Report. In addition to a strong workforce, Germany also offers a great quality of life – the fourth-highest in the world, in fact.

You might also be surprised to find out that some of the world’s best universities are in Germany. These universities are also surrounded by a rich history and culture.

Lastly, everything in Germany is extremely well-connected. Public transportation is top-notch, and even the smaller cities have a good network of buses and trams.

These are all really impressive statistics, but they’re certainly not the only reasons why you should be moving to Germany. You might have your personal reasons for wanting to move, but either way, Germany is one of the best countries to live in.

Can You Just Move to Germany?

A work & residence permit is a permission granted by the German government for people who are not German citizens. This permit allows them to work and live in Germany. With a work & residence permit, you can work and live just like a German resident.

Work & Residence Permit Requirements

Each of the possible permits has different specifications and requirements, and you should look make sure you have the following basic requirements e:

  • Have a valid passport from your country
  •  a work contract with a German company
  • CV in English
  • A university degree which is accepted by ANABIN

Can You Move to Germany Without a Job?

It is possible to move to Germany without a job as a non-EU citizen, however, it’s not the easiest process, and it depends on your motivation, education, future plans, and knowledge of languages.

If you don’t have a job but are thinking of moving to Germany, there are a few options you can consider, like the German Language Course Visa, Job Seeker Visa, German Freelance Visa, Germany Training/Internship Visa, Family Reunion Visa, and others.

You can check all Germany visa types and requirements on the Schengen Visa Info website.

PS: If you need immigration guidance for non-EU individuals moving to Germany without a job offer, we’d recommend that you reach out to an immigration lawyer as this is a complex process.

Packimpex is happy to help with all other aspects of your relocation, and if you do have a job offer in the pipeline, we will be pleased to provide immigration guidance as well.

How Much Money do You Need to Move to Germany?

The cost of moving to Germany and living in Germany can vary depending on the city you choose to live in and, of course, your standard of living. Relocating usually means you will have some extra expenses at the beginning, such as relocation services, international moving, rental deposit, and government fees.

In our Relocation Store, you can find out how much it costs to move to Germany based on your personal requirements and budget. You can choose the country you’re moving from and the services you’d like assistance with.

The amount you spend will vary depending on how many tasks you want to complete by yourself and where you want professional and experienced help with moving and settling into your new home.

If you want to know more about how much it costs to live in Germany, have a look at this post about the cost of living in Germany and how to plan your monthly costs.

How to Move to Germany: Step-by-Step

If you want to move to Germany, there are some things you need to consider to make this process easy and stress-free. It can be a relatively long process that requires a lot of planning, documents, and patience – but it is often not as hard as it seems.

In this section, we will walk you through the process and tell you exactly how to move to Germany if you’re not an EU citizen.

1. Plan

The first step to get a work & residence permit in Germany happens even before you apply; it starts with planning. You need to do your research or talk with an immigration consultant to find out your options and prepare. Every person’s situation is different, so the things you will need for your work & residence permit will vary.

We highly recommend you to speak to an expert for an assessment, so you don’t fall into the trap of self-diagnosis on the internet. Some countries don’t require a visa to enter Germany, for instance, and some people will not be eligible for a work & residence permit. So, before you begin, plan and get professional help.

2. Save Some Money

Another important aspect to consider when moving to Germany is spending money. Moving to a new country can get expensive. It can cost extra to transport your furniture or a car, and it can also cost a lot to purchase those things once you get there.

Aside from the moving costs, you also need to get all your documents ready, pay all applicable government and legal fees, and in most cases, pay for the deposit which usually is a few months rent. You’ll also need health insurance, and you may need to hire someone to help you with all the necessary paperwork.

After factoring in every cost and expense you will have, it’s a good idea to add some additional savings on top of that for emergencies. The last thing you want is to have to move back unexpectedly because you didn’t have enough money saved up.

3. Gather Your Documents

Once you’re ready to move forward, start gathering your documents. Talk to your immigration consultant or do some research to learn what documents you need to travel to Germany or get your visa to enter the country. Make sure all the documents – especially your passport – are valid and are not going to expire soon.

4. Approval from the “Arbeitsmarktzulassungsstelle

To start the process of your immigration into Germany, you will need to get an approval by the German authority called “Arbeitsmarktzulassungsstelle”. You will need to hand in all documentation requested by the authority. They will check your application and determine if you are eligible for a work & residence permit in Germany. Usually, after you hand in the application it takes around 4 weeks to get an approval or a rejection. If your application is approved you can start the process to apply for a visa at the embassy. 

5. Apply for a Visa 

If you need a visa to get in Germany, make sure you have all information you need beforehand to apply with all documentation needed at the embassy. Embassies usually decline an application if not all documents are in proper order. 

6. Find a Temporary or Permanent Home

You can choose to either find a place to live before you travel or after you’re already there. The ideal situation is that you find at least a temporary home that you can stay in for a few weeks while you look for something permanent. This way, you have some time to settle in and take your time.

Our housing services will help you find rental accommodations for both short- and long-term using our network of local providers and contacts. If you’ve already found a new home, we can help you to rent furniture! If you want to know more about our services, you can click here to get your instant quote – it’s easy and free.

7. Travel to Germany and Move Your Belongings

Once you have your Visa and all of your documents ready, it’s time to finally leave for Germany. If you have already found your new forever home, you can arrange the transport of your belongings as well. If you’re taking all or most of your household goods, the best solution is to hire a company that has experience in international move management to make sure everything gets to its final destination safely and none of your belongings get stuck at the border because the paperwork wasn’t up to scratch.

8. Register with the Local Authorities

Once you get to Germany, it’s time to register with the local authorities. This is the absolute first thing you must do once you get there. It is mandatory for everyone coming and living in Germany. Not registering your address might result in a fine.

You must register your temporary and permanent address within 14 days of your arrival, We highly recommend you talk to your immigration consultant or check with official sources that are specific to the place you’re relocating to.

Bookings can be made online or by phone, so you can set up your appointment upfront. This ensures you can get this step taken care of within those first few days.

To register with the local authorities, you need to go to the local town hall (called Einwohnermeldeamt, Bürgerbüro, or Bezirksamt) of your city and take the following documents with you:

  • Your passport (and your visa in case you’re required to enter Germany with a visa) or a personal identification card.
  • A “Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung” is a housing confirmation. You should receive this from your landlord once you sign the rental contract. The registration form from the local town hall.
  • If you’re married or have children, a marriage certificate and/or birth certificates of children as originals and an official translation of the documents. Sometimes these need to be legalised. But the local town hall you register with will let you know what is needed in this case.

Once you register, ensure you keep the confirmation document they give you. It is mandatory to present this document when you apply for a work & residence permit. Registering also allows you to automatically apply for your Tax number – which will be sent to your home address within 4 weeks after the registration.

9. Get Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for anyone who wants to live in Germany. In fact, you can’t get a work & residence permit without valid health insurance. Unfortunately, the travel insurance you might have purchased at home doesn’t count; you will need to get German health insurance.

An important note: foreign policies are only accepted if you are on an assignment in Germany. If you are locally hired you must carefully choose your health insurance provider to make sure they are based in Germany. When applying for health insurance, you can opt for either public health insurance or private health insurance. In any case, just make sure you’re covered during the entire period of your stay.

10. Open a Bank Account and Deal with Financial Matters

Another important step towards getting your temporary residence permit in Germany is to prove financial stability. You will need to show that you can support yourself and your family members (if you’re not travelling alone). This is why opening a bank account is essential, so you can transfer your funds into it and get a bank statement that proves you have enough money to live in Germany.

11. Apply for Your Work & Residence Permit

Now it’s time to start your application for your residence permit If you’re not sure of how to do it, or you are afraid to make any mistakes, we highly recommend you hire an immigration consultant in Germany for the complete process

If you’re doing it on your own, you should start checking the website of your local immigration office to download your application form. This form varies according to the type of work & residence permit you’re getting, so make sure you have the right form, then start filling it out.

You should also schedule an appointment with your respective immigration office. Make sure you book the appointment as soon as you can since the offices are usually very busy. 

12. Attend Your Appointment

Don’t be late and don’t forget your documents. This is important! Germans are known for being right on time, and you don’t want to jeopardize the appointment that will ultimately decide whether you get your work & residence permit or not.

Even though German people are punctual, and you have a set time for your appointment, you still might have to wait for a little while before your name is called. Again, it can be quite busy at these offices.

The interview itself will not take longer than 30 minutes. The officer will go through your documents and if you’re missing anything, they’ll ask you to schedule another appointment. If you have everything you need, the officer will send you home to wait for processing. Please be aware that you will need to give fingerprints during the appointment. Usually, this will take between around 4 weeks,  To receive the final work & residence permit in card form.

If you are accepted and granted the work & residence permit, you’re allowed to stay in Germany as long as your permit is valid for.

13. Enroll in a German Language Course

Even though this is not mandatory, enrolling in a German language course might be pretty useful to you. Even though most people in Germany speak English pretty well, you might want to be able to communicate with people even better.


More articles about moving to Germany:

Moving to Berlin: Everything You Need to Know

Cost of Living in Germany: The Definitive Guide

Moving to Munich: Everything You Need to Know


Legal disclaimer: According to the German Rechtsberatungsgesetz – Legal Advice Act – this article does not constitute formal legal advice and should not be considered case-specific advice. It does not replace speaking with our team members or obtaining professional legal advice. Further disclaimer details are incorporated in our Terms & Conditions of Use.

If you need to relocate your company’s employees or are looking for case-specific information, contact us here. Our team of international relocation experts will be pleased to support you.