Moving to Germany: Pre-departure checklist
Are you heading to Germany soon? If you’re relocating in the near future, here’s a useful checklist of things to take care of before you head to the airport, to make your move a whole lot easier.
1. Sort out your COVID documents
The last two years have been plagued by lockdowns, travel restrictions and new documentation requirements. Germany hasn’t had any entry restrictions in place since June 11, 2022, meaning you don’t need proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test to travel, but that doesn’t mean these rules won’t return in the near future. For peace of mind, make sure you sort out your COVID documentation before you come, including proof of vaccination or recovery.
2. Pay a visit to your doctor
Before departing, you might want to schedule a check-up with your doctor, to make sure you are in good health and to ensure your vaccination and medical records are up to date. Since records often cannot be accessed from abroad, having a copy of your medical file to bring to Germany will help your new doctor understand your medical history, making your life a lot simpler.
If you take any prescription medications, get yourself enough to last 60 to 90 days, to give you time to sort out your new prescription once you’ve arrived in Germany. You don’t want to be panicking about running out of medicine and being forced to rush to a doctor for a refill. You might need to get a doctor’s note to accompany your medication, in case you get checked at customs.
3. Check your passport validity
Did you know that most countries only allow people to enter if their passport has at least six months of validity remaining? Check your passport’s expiration date. Although things vary depending on your citizenship and destination, in general you can’t travel with a passport that has less than six months validity. You also don’t want to be stuck trying to renew your passport in Germany; it’s much easier to get it renewed before you travel.
4. Invest in some luggage trackers
This summer saw many people losing their luggage all over Europe. If you want to keep track of your belongings, you might consider investing in some trackers for your suitcases for peace of mind - just in case! After your journey you can put the trackers to other uses: your wallet, your TV remote, your rucksack, maybe even your pet!
5. Think about health insurance
Everyone who lives in Germany is legally obliged to take out health insurance. It doesn’t matter if you are a student or a job seeker, you still need health insurance or you risk paying a big fine. For your journey, it’s okay to just have travel insurance, but make sure you take out health insurance after you’ve arrived. You’ll need it, for instance, if you’re applying for a residence permit.
6. Make copies of your important documents
You’ll be taking all of your most important documents like your passport, will and your birth certificate with you to Germany, but it makes sense to leave a hard copy of these with a trusted family member or friend. You never know when you might lose your original documents or need a physical copy back in your home country. If anything happens to your documents, you can be calm and know somebody back home has a copy for emergencies.
7. Speak with your bank
Make sure you tell your bank you are moving overseas, so you can have a travel notice placed on your account. This should stop you getting in the unfortunate situation of having your account or cards blocked when you try to access them from abroad. You don’t want to have to make an expensive phone call to get everything sorted out.
8. Get some local currency
You should also get some notes and coins for your first few days in your new city. Skip the cash machine at the airport and get a better rate by exchanging your money in advance. Remember, cash is king in Germany, and some shops and services will only accept cash, it's wise to be ready for Germany’s cash-based culture.
9. Book your appointments
And, finally, make sure to book any important appointments in Germany early, so you can take care of important tasks like registering (Anmeldung) and applying for your residence permit as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered, you can open a bank account, get a phone contract, obtain a tax number and open other doors for your life in your new country.
It can take months to get an appointment at the foreigners’ office (Ausländerbehörde), as many are fully booked for weeks at a time. The sooner you can get booked, therefore, the faster you can get on with your life in Germany.
Settle in for the ride
Having lived in six different countries, my best advice is to plan and make yourself ready for your new home. Life overseas is an adventure, and we should enjoy it, but make sure all of your affairs are in order for a smoother transition to life in your new home. Remember, moving anywhere in the world is a big jump and will require some major planning to make the change successful. I wish you the best of luck with your move to Germany!