General Requirements for Residence Permits to Germany

This page will help you understand what general requirements for any kind of permit are needed when you want to apply for a residence permit for Germany. The provided descriptions are of general nature and can vary depending on the residence permit you apply for.

What does it mean to have assured means of subsistence for a residence permit? Don’t tell me I have to have as much money as Rockefeller! You know not even my cousin belongs to the Rothschilds.

Equation for Sufficient Means of Subsitence

  general costs for living for all family members
+    costs for appartment / house
+    costs for health insurance for all family members
=    sufficient means of subsitence

Your means of subsistence are considered to be assured if you can meet the cost of living yourself or through a sponsoring close relative, and have sufficient health insurance coverage without having to make a claim on public funds. In numbers this means: € 345 in Berlin and Germany’s older states of Germany and € 331 in the newer German states (former GDR). In other words, you are renting an apartment for € 400, you must be able to show in Hamburg € 745 and in Dresden € 731. Please understand these limits as an absolute minimum – if you can show that you have/earn more the better it will be.
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How do I show that I have assured means of livelihood?

This can be shown via

  • bank statements,
  • income tax assessments,
  • credit cards,
  • accountant's statement of income,
  • dividends,
  • income slips,
  • etc.

It will be best to have an accountant or tax consultant (from home) issue an income statement. (Don't forget to submit the original and a translation in German!) If you intend to freelance, you have to have this amount available or already have assignments lined up that will come up with at least the minimum you need here to survive.

What does it mean to have sufficient health insurance?

Health insurance is considered sufficient if it includes such benefits as medical treatment by a doctor, dentist treatment, treatment in a hospital, and treatment for childbirth (for women during child-bearing age) - and all this inside of Germany. The law determines that statutory insurance meets these requirements ex lege.

May I continue on my insurance from home?

Not really. You are expected to have an insurance that can operate in Germany. When your policy is in English it would be best to supply a simple translation or have your agent write in German the basics of the policy. The policies of all foreign insurance companies will be checked with more scrutiny. An insurance will be typically denied when your policy has some kind of financial limitations – even if only in the millions. A limitation is a limitation and you never know how high medicamentation costs will develop in the future.

Gee, I am supposed to have a place to live even before I am in Germany. Argh. What kind of dwelling do I need to show? Will my houseboat suffice?

You deserve a decent place – of course. Law sets the minimum standards for living space for all persons in Germany. These standards require, for each person, older than 6 years, at least 9 m² of living space, and for each person from 2 through 6 years at least 6 m² (§2 IV AufenthG). Babies will be excluded from these calculations. In your special case, I would not mention that you will be living in a houseboat and only provide a normal physical address (= street and house number). If you have friends that will "lend" you their postbox until you enter Germany, that will suffice. Once you are in Germany, you will really need to have a real rental contract.
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What is better statutory or private insurance?

Well, this is a wrong question. Your question ought to be: "Can I choose which insurance scheme I wish to take out?" When you are in the statutory health insurance system as a mandatory member (§5 SGB-V), family member (§10 SGB-V), or voluntarily member (§9 SGB-V), then you are always sufficiently insured. You will only have to produce a membership certificate. To know more about the health insurance system in Germany, click here.

Health insurance when Entering Germany
I was supposed to receive my residence permit and was told I have to register with the police but others said at the registration office. What is meant by this? Does not having a residence permit mean that I am registered in the town where I live?

Receiving a residence permit does not mean you have your address registered. It only gives you the right to stay here. Your permit was granted by the foreigners authority (Ausländeramt) and not the registration office (= Meldeamt or "Einwohnermeldeamt). These are two very different authorities. Everybody who lives in Germany must register their address. This applies to everyone – Germans as well as foreigners. A fine can be imposed for not registering with the police. The concept behind this is for the authorities to have formal competence on your situation.

How do I find this office?

Though the formal requirement is sometimes still called "police registration (polizeiliche Anmeldung)", be aware that at most municipalities, you do not register at the police but at the “Meldestelle” in your city hall.

By when do I have to register my address?

Do not delay registration because – by law – you only have two weeks to get it done after moving in. Practical experience, however, shows that the administration will be happy as long as you claim to have a rental contract no older than six months, and as long as you tell them you moved in within the past week. Now do not come up with the idea that you can go to the office ahead of time into to instruct them that starting next month, you will have a new address. That will not work because it is too early. The authority wants to know where you live and not where you intend to be living.