Relocation to Germany
The historic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 led Germany to be one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the European Union. It holds the reputation as being a highly influential nation in the international community and possesses the fourth largest economy by Gross Domestic Product.
Germany is one of the founders of the European Union that was established in 1993. To this day, its rise to power is unstoppable with the help of several leading industries such as the automobile, machinery, manufacturing as well as technology and software. Expats who will relocate to this robust nation are about to experience a high quality of living, reliable universal health care system and globally competitive standard of education. Here are some valuable tips that can help every aspiring foreign national to join the 70 million expatriates who are already enjoying life in Germany.
Applying for a visa
Citizens from non-EU states are required to secure a permit/visa before relocating to Germany. Expats must be aware that some permits must be obtained in their home country so they should prepare ahead of time for the processing time in the consulate can take a couple of days or weeks. One example of a visa for Germany is the temporary residence permit which is valid for five years and can be used for education, humanitarian, gainful employment or family-related purposes. This type of permit also serves as a work visa and the general processing fee is €60.
Renting a House
The months of March-April and September-October are considered as the peak season where the demand for housing is at its highest due to the influx of the student population, especially in the central cities. The two most common types of housing in Germany are apartment buildings and detached homes. Rental prices are also posted online but be mindful of some German letting terms such as:
- Kaltmiete (cold rent) where the cost of utilities should be shouldered by the tenant.
- Warmmiete (warm rent) which normally includes cleaning services, garbage collection and in lucky situations even the electricity and heating.
As mentioned above, some landlords do not include the cost of utilities in the rental. Before relocating to Germany, expats must plan their finances, and they should prepare a monthly budget of:
- Water, Electricity, Heating and Garbage Disposal - €200
- Unlimited internet connection (10mbps) - €20 to €30
The US dollars is considered as the universal money and is widely accepted in Germany. However, for a more convenient transaction, it is still best for expats to bring Euro which is the country’s official currency. Expats can exchange their dollars to Euros at any bank or money counter in the terminal of their countries of origin’s airport before boarding where they will be charged a conversion fee. Keep in mind though that its best to bring only a substantial amount of cash (Euro) upon arrival to Germany, just enough to cover the taxi metre rate going to their hotel/accommodation or city centre. Once settled, expats can always go to any local bank where they can convert a larger sum of their money.
Moving your belongings
Shipping goods to Germany takes more preparation than what other countries may require.
For expats importing goods from home, among the documents required are a copy of the shipper's passport, visa and work permit, along with an inventory of the items shipped, a signed declaration stating all items are personal belongings and are not any of the goods restricted by customs, three copies of the German Customs Form 0350 (Zollantrag) stating none of the shipped items will be sold in a span of one year and a health certificate.
For new items which fall under the restricted or dutiable category, a receipt will be required. For alcoholic beverages, a declaration stating the details of the beverage is to be supplied, along with other goods such as tobacco, tea, coffee, perfumes and the like. For electronic items, the receipt and serial number should be presented.
Guns should have a license, and the passport of the owner should be presented (duty-free if a firearm has been owned for at least six months before import) as well as an application for a German ownership permit for the owner and an inventory indicating the model, calibre and serial number.
Expats should know that when relocating to Germany, the highly restricted items constitute a long list that includes explosives, ammunition, drugs and narcotics, protected animals or species or any item of historical significance such as leopard fur, and pornographic materials. Grape juice, wine and many other types of beverages and foodstuff may be allowed for import, but not in large amounts.
The list of required documents is longer, and it is wise to visit the official German customs website to avoid missing anything.
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