Welcome to Hamburg, the North German all-rounder
Studying in Hamburg isn't just about improving your qualifications, it's a chance to get to know one of the loveliest cities in Germany and its friendly people. We've put together lots of information and advice on things like student visas, health insurance and of course on living in Hamburg so you can have a worry-free start to your studies and enjoy life here.
We wish you a successful and enjoyable stay!
Information about your visa
Do I need a visa?
Students from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) don't need a visa to enter Germany. Most students from outside the EU will need a visa, particularly if they plan to stay longer than 90 days. Either a "student visa" or a "student application visa" is required. A few countries outside the EU are exempt from the requirement, however. Germany's Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) can give you further information.
In your first three months in Germany you'll need to report to the foreigners' authorities with your visa and apply for a residence permit for study purposes. To get your residence permit you'll have to prove that you have health insurance. Proof of health insurance is compulsory for students from the EU and EEA too.
Where and how can I apply for a student visa?
If you want to study in Germany you should apply for a student visa before entering Germany at the German embassy or consulate in your country. If you haven't been admitted to a university yet, you can apply for a student application visa. A tourist visa will not be enough, because it's only valid for 90 days and doesn't allow you to register as a university student or get a residence permit.
Before you apply you'll need a passport, a letter of acceptance from your university, proof of health insurance and proof of financial resources for your stay in Germany among other things.
Do I need to apply for a residence title?
If you are a citizen coming from a EU-member-country you don't need to apply for a residence title in Germany. If you are non-EU citizen and holding a valid student visa you don't need a residence title either. Six weeks before your visa expires, you need to go to the German foreigner's authority and apply for a residence title in order to keep up your study and stay in Germany.
If you don't hold a valid student visa yet or if you happen to be citizen of a country that doesn't require any visa to study in Germany, you need to apply for a residence title as soon as you arrive. Your residence title will be valid for up to two years. It will therefore need to be extended if you wish to stay and study longer in Germany.
Irrespective of where you come from, after arrival you need to get registered at your local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
Who can help me if I've got a question?
You can find everything you need to know about entering Germany on the Federal Foreign Ministry website. The site has the latest visa requirements, a list of countries whose citizens require a visa to enter Germany and visa application forms as downloads.
All information about your health insurance
Do I have to have health insurance?
Yes. If you want to study in Germany, you have to have health insurance. You're required to do so up to the age of 30 or to the end of your 14th study semester. Without health insurance you won't be able to register to study, alternatively your name may be removed from the university register. It's best to take out insurance before you leave for Germany. You can still do it after you arrive though.
Tip: If you opt for private insurance, HanseMerkur's foreign health insurance provides you with cover tailored to your individual needs and has won an award from Stiftung Warentest, the German consumer body.
What kinds of health insurance are there?
There are two health insurance options for foreign students in Germany:
- statutory: up to the age of 30 or to the end of your 14th study semester at the student rate, or
- private: for young people under 35 and for those over 35 (with and without family members)
If you are only staying for one semester (six months) you will need to get insured privately. In cooperation with our award-winning partner Hanse Merkur, Reisemeister offers private health insurances that suit the needs of international students.
Staying for two semesters or even longer you will need to get insured under the statutory insurance scheme. The DAK is one of Germany's biggest statutory insurers with comprehensive service and quality. You can take out insurance easily online. Should you bring your whole family with you, your kids and not employed spouse, they will be insured under your statutory insurance as well at no cost.
Note: Once you've opted for private health insurance you won't be able to switch to the statutory scheme at a later date.
Will my statutory health insurance be recognised in Germany?
If you're insured under a statutory scheme in your home country, your insurance will be recognised in Germany as long as a social security agreement exists between your country and Germany. That's the case for EU and EEA countries plus one or two others. It's best to check before you leave what papers you'll need to present to get your health insurance recognised. As a rule, students will need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Your health insurer will issue this free of charge.
In some circumstances, foreign private health insurance is recognised in Germany. It's a good idea to check at an early stage with your insurance company. If you're privately insured, you'll have to provide confirmation when you register at your German university that you're exempt from statutory health insurance.
Note: Often statutory health insurance doesn't cover all the costs if you fall ill when you're abroad. It's a good idea to check before you leave which costs are covered by your insurance scheme and which aren't. Private health insurance can extend your cover to include important benefits.
Does Germany have a social security agreement with my country?
Germany has concluded social security agreements with the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Students from these countries can get an EHIC free of charge from their statutory health insurers.
There are also bilateral social security agreements with several other countries. You can find out which these are from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
All information about live in Hamburg
How can I find somewhere to live?
Accommodation is in short supply in Hamburg, particularly places that are affordable. Start looking as early as possible, preferably several months before you arrive. Many private landlords offer rooms or flats for rent.
You can find listings on property websites on the internet or in daily papers. International flat shares (WGs) and, of course, student residences are suitable for foreign students. You can find Hamburg's biggest student accommodation website here: Campus Hamburg.
How much money will I need?
Students should allow about €1,000 a month, including tuition fees, according to research by Deutsches Studentenwerk, the German national association for student affairs. You can find important information for foreigners living in Germany here: AngloINFO - Housing in Germany.
What is there to do in Hamburg?
Hamburg offers a wide range of things to do in your free time. It's easy to get around thanks to the good underground (U-Bahn) and rapid transit (S-Bahn) network. There are many shops and shopping arcades close to Hamburg's City Hall, which is worth a visit for its architecture alone. Starting from nearby Jungfernstieg, the Hanseatic heart of the city, you can lose yourself in a labyrinth of streets teeming with stylish shops, arcades and cafés. In the evening it's the turn of the opera, world-class musicals, the legendary Reeperbahn or the countless pubs in the Schanzenviertel district. The many parks and the riverbank areas are perfect places for relaxing between or after lectures. But that's not all Hamburg has on offer. There are many more touristic sights to discover.
You can find information about Hamburg, its transport system, how to find a flat or open up a bank account and much more on AngloINFO
It just remains for us to wish you a really exciting time in this multicultural metropolis on the River Elbe.
Health insurance and peace of mind for young visitors
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The right insurance for long-term stays in Germany
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