Welcome at the International Office!

Support and Assistance for International Researchers and Guests

We are delighted that you will soon join our MPI-M community! We will support you with all non-academic questions and will try to make pre-arrival preparations and your stay as smooth and pleasant as possible.

We will help with the following topics:

  • Visa application
  • Information on finding an apartment
  • First steps after arrival (registration, opening a bank account etc.)
  • Health insurance / other important insurances (e.g. liability, household contents)
  • Residence permit
  • Support for spouses / partners and children
  • German and English courses
  • Information about daily life in Hamburg and Germany

The following websites, links and brochures are intended to give you an overview of what needs to be considered and organized before moving to Germany. Of course, every person has different questions and needs - therefore we will clarify all details with you in personal emails and conversations.

Before Arrival

Your stay at the MPI-M is set? Great! Work yourself through the following steps to be best prepared:

Please make sure that you have a valid passport and that it’s valid for at least six months after entering Germany. However, we strongly recommend the passport to have a longer validity to allow for more time to complete all the administrative steps in Hamburg. If your passport expires during your stay in Germany, you may be able to renew it at your country's embassy or consulate in Germany.

In case you have dual citizenship (or even more), please bring all the different passports with you.

If you are not a citizen of the European Union, you might need a visa to enter Germany.

Overview of visa requirements / exemptions

Please file your visa application with your nearest German embassy or consulate in your home country or country of residence well in advance. It may take several weeks or months to get an appointment at your competent German mission or until the visa is issued.

We will guide you through the application process, identify the correct visa category with you and provide you with an invitation letter and other necessary documents.

Please note that the visa is only the “entrance ticket” to Germany – if you stay in Germany for a longer time, you will need to convert your visa into a so-called residence permit at one of Hamburg’s local foreigners’ offices. Do not enter Germany on a tourist or business visa (short-term “Schengen visa”)! Those don’t allow you to take up employment in Germany and cannot be changed into a residence permit later on!

Further information:

Guide “Living and working in Germany”, page 15

German Federal Foreign Office – general information on visa

Euraxess – information platform for researchers in motion

Overview of German missions abroad

In Germany, having health insurance is a legal requirement. To obtain a visa for Germany you will even have to show proof of sufficient health insurance coverage.

Generally-speaking, there are two types of (long-term) health insurance: private and public / statutory health insurance. We will help you identify which scheme applies to you and fits your needs.

We recommend to take out travel health insurance to cover you during your trip to Germany and during the first days here.

If you have current health problems, you should undergo all necessary check-ups in your home country or country of residence before travelling. We also advise you to take sufficient amounts of your prescribed medicine with you to get by during the initial period of stay. Please also bring relevant medical reports with you so that your future German physician can read through them.

Further information:

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 19

Euraxess – information platform for researchers in motion

Please remember to bring important certificates and documents (originals!) to Germany as they may be needed for certain administrative steps. For example: birth certificate, marriage certificate, PhD certificate, University degrees, proof about work experience gained, set of biometric passport-sized photographs, vaccination card, driving license, official language certificates such as TOEFL, TELC or TestDaF. Please note that these documents also apply to all family members travelling and relocating with you.

In some cases, an official translation into German and / or a legalization or apostille may be needed.

Further information:

German Federal Foreign Office – how to use foreign public documents in Germany

If you intent to send or ship personal belongings to Germany - even if only a few boxes by post -please carefully check with the transport company about current regulations. Check about import regulations, customs clearance, make a list of the content of the boxes and seek advice how to label the them correctly.

You should be able to prove that the items sent are your personal belongings, have been part of your household for some time and that you will continue using them in Germany (and not sell them here and make business with them). If you wish to bring and send rather new electronic devices, for example, it will be helpful to also bring the invoices / receipts so that you can prove the purchase.

Please plan on receiving the boxes when you are already in Hamburg and a little bit settled in your apartment. It will be much easier to receive your items personally and handle customs issues on-site if necessary.

Please think of bringing some cash (currency EUR) with you to get by during the first days in Hamburg until you have opened your own bank account. Not every shop, restaurant or landlord accepts credit cards.

Housing in Hamburg

The housing market situation in Hamburg is very tight, unfortunately - finding affordable housing, especially in popular neighborhoods, is difficult. For this reason, we recommend that you start looking for accommodation well in advance of your planned arrival. Sometimes housing opportunities arise only very spontaneously, this is not always foreseeable.

Unfortunately, our MPI-M does not have its own guest house or guest apartments, so that the free housing market has to be explored when looking for accommodation.

Over the years we have built up a small network of housing options and private landlords. We are happy to check if there are vacant rooms or apartments that match your requirements. If that does not work out, we kindly ask you to look for accommodation yourself.

Please check the offers carefully and be cautious and skeptical of very fancy and at the same time very cheap offers - as well as if texts seem strange to you in terms of language or content. There are false and fraudulent offers out there!

Helpful links for finding housing:

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 27

Guesthouse of the University of Hamburg

CityWohnen – agency brokering furnished apartments

WohnenBySpringer – furnished apartments at Grindelhof and Grossneumarkt

Hamburg Homes

WG-Gesucht.de – shared apartments (called WG in German) and temporary housing

ImmoScout24 – unfurnished apartments as well as temporary housing (choose “Wohnen auf Zeit”)

The so-called “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” is a document from your landlord and confirms that you have actually moved into the specified apartment. You need this paper if you want to register your place of residence at the Registration Office. The certificate is intended to prevent bogus residences.

When looking for an apartment, please make sure that you can actually register at your new place of residence and actively ask your landlord whether you can obtain this confirmation.

Registration in Hamburg is absolutely necessary, for example, in order to apply for a residence permit or to open a bank account.

For more information, see "Registration in Hamburg”

Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (pdf)

After Arrival

Finally you have arrived! Welcome! Read here about a few more administrative steps that need to be taken to make your arrival and stay in Germany official. Don’t worry – these steps are not too complicated and we will help you take them.

If you stay in Germany for more than 3 months, it is necessary to become registered (“anmelden” or “Anmeldung” in German) with the local registration office. You must do that within two weeks of your arrival in Germany. Upon successful registration, you will be issued with a registration slip (so-called “Meldebescheinigung”) which you will need to open a bank account or to apply for your residence permit, for example. Thus, getting registered is an important first step and you should keep the registration slip in a safe place. Whenever you move house in Hamburg or Germany during your stay, you will have to repeat this step again.

For the registration, please book an appointment at a registration office (“Meldebehörde / Kundenzentrum”) of your choice (choose "Einwohnerwesen" and "Hauptwohnsitz anmelden").

Closest to the MPI-M (walking distance is 15 minutes):

Kundenzentrum at Bezirksamt Eimsbüttel
Grindelberg 62 - 66, 20144 Hamburg
1st floor

Documents you need to bring:

  • Completed and signed application form
  • Your passport / ID card
  • Your residence permit
  • Completed and signed “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung” (confirmation from your landlord that you actually live at this address).
  • Your rental contract (just in case)
  • 12.00 EUR (current processing fee)

Please also refer to our "Forms, Checklists and Links" section.

If your family relocates with you, all family members must be registered, too. For this you need the same documents, together with your marriage certificate and the birth certificates of your children (possibly translated into German by a sworn translator and apostilled / legalized, if necessary).

Further information:

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 22

If you hold a national visa for Germany, it is usually valid for a limited period of time (90 days up to one year). If your stay in Germany exceeds the validity of your visa, you have to convert it into a so-called residence permit (“Aufenthaltstitel”) at your competent foreigners’ office in Hamburg.

We will help you find your competent office and guide you through the application process.

Further information:

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 23

Refer to our "Forms, Checklists and Links" section

Euraxess – information platform for researchers in motion

Overview of possible residence permits (download HRK leaflet, pdf)

If you stay in Germany for a longer period of time, receive a regular salary and have to pay rent, it is advisable to open a bank account at a bank of your choice. We can provide you with a list of banks that are close to the MPI-M or banks which only operate online. Check out what kind of bank works best for you and meets your needs.

To open a bank account we recommend to arrange for an appointment with the bank. You need the following documents:

  • Passport (incl. your visa)
  • Residence permit
  • Work contract / stipend letter from the MPI-M or proof of external funding
  • Meldebescheinigung (registration slip; proof that you are registered in Hamburg / Germany)
  • Tax ID number

Further information:

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 32

All individuals having their main residence in Germany have got an 11-digit tax identification number (“Steuer-Ident-Nummer” in German) to ensure their unique identification within the tax system. The number will not change if you move house or marry. It will remain with you for your entire life.

Following your initial registration in Germany, the Tax ID number will be assigned to you and sent to you by post to your registered address. This process usually takes 2 – 4 weeks.

Please inform our Human Resources department about your personal Tax ID as the number is needed for paying your salary. Also, the bank will ask you for this number when opening a bank account.

Further information:

German Federal Central Tax Office

Guide “Living and Working in Germany”, page 24

Euraxess – information portal for researchers in motion

Every household in Germany is required by law to pay a monthly broadcasting fee, known as the "Rundfunkbeitrag". This fee helps finance public broadcasting programs (such as ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio) on television, radio and the Internet.

The fee is currently 18.36 EUR per month and is mandatory for all persons with a registered address in Germany regardless of their actual media use.

However, the fee is paid only once per household. That means:

1 person in an apartment = 1 broadcasting fee
1 family in an apartment = 1 broadcasting fee
5 persons living in a shared apartment = 1 broadcasting fee

The “ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice” will generally write to you automatically once you register your place of residence. Alternatively, you can register yourself at their website.


Online registration („Wohnung anmelden“)

Answering their letter online

Forms, Checklists and Important Links

Dual Career Network

The MPI-M is a founding member of the network "Dual Career Hamburg + der Norden".

The central goal of the network is to help scientific and cultural institutions as well as businesses in the Hamburg metropolitan area and northern Germany attract highly qualified employees and to help the partners and spouses of newly hired staff find their own attractive employment opportunities.

Contact persons at the MPI-M: Dr. Ulrike Kirchner and Christina Rieckers.

Buddy meets Newbie – the MPI-M Buddy Program

Where at the institute do I find...? Who takes care of...? And where can I get the best coffee in town? Your buddy knows the answers!

Within our Buddy Program, an experienced colleague acts as your mentor and guides you through the exciting initial phase at the MPI-M.

More information at buddy@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de.


Christina Rieckers

International Office
Phone: +49 (0)40 41173-159
christina.rieckers@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

Bundesstrasse 53 | 2nd floor | room 203 (right behind the elevators)

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