Preparing Your Stay

At a glance

Before you come to Tübingen, there are some things you can already do. And should you have to leave again, it's time to consider a few more things.

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Have you been invited to Tübingen for a research stay? Are you about to start doctoral work? Have you been offered a position as a postdoc?

The information compiled on these pages is here to guide you through the process of planning your stay, preparing for arrival, and getting started. Depending on your host institution, there may also be personal support available. See our list Personal Support to find out if your host institution offers Welcome Services.

Before you leave home

Housing is in short supply in Tübingen, so be sure to start looking as soon as you and your host have established the dates for your arrival. Contact your host department and register with your Welcome Center, and be sure to check the information that we have compiled under Accommodations. Find out early which documents you need to collect and have translated. Both city and university offices can accept original documents in German or English, with certified translations into German if the original is in a different language. These may include:

  • Passports for yourself and any family members accompanying you. They should be valid for the duration of your planned stay.

  • A visa for yourself and any family members accompanying you. Note that some countries such as EU member states, the USA and Japan are exempt from the entry visa requirement. Check the information on our page Visa and Residence Permit and contact your welcome center.

  • Confirmation of your funding with starting and ending dates and the amount of money that will be paid to you each month. This could be a scholarship letter, a written salary confirmation from the administration of your home university if you are on a paid sabbatical, or a letter from your host institute's administration offering you a work contract.

  • Certified copies in German or English of your university and/or doctoral degree(s). Bachelor's and master's certificates should be accompanied by an official transcript showing the credits awarded for each of your classes. Please note that you will be required to prove that you meet the prerequisites for doctoral work in Germany in order to meet the immigration requirements for status as a "researcher". This generally means a degree involving at least four years of coursework in your major subject. Also, while it is a good idea to email ahead a scanned-in copy so that your host administration can make the necessary equivalency checks, you will be required to show the original or the notarized copy on arrival.

  • Coming with your family? Be sure to bring your marriage certificate and your children's birth certificates if your family will be accompanying you. Again, these should be in German or English or accompanied by a certified translation and should bear an apostille. If you have school-age children, check with your welcome center about bringing recent report cards.

  • Confirmation of health insurance. You should enter the country with at least a basic travel health insurance, although in many cases the main policy can be purchased after your arrival. Be sure to read the more detailed information under Health Insurance and speak with your welcome center.

  • Vaccination records, if you have any. If you have an international certificate of vaccination (WHO carte jaune), be sure to bring it along.

  • An international driver's license or your home country driver's license if you plan on driving while in Germany. You can read more under Getting Around - By Car.

  • If you have personal liability insurance at home, check your policy to see if it will also cover you in Germany. If so, please bring your insurance documents along. In some cases, private health insurance policies are available in a package with private liability insurance. You can find more information under Banks and Insurance.

  • If you plan to register as a visiting doctoral student, you will need official confirmation of your enrolment as a doctoral student at your home university for the semester(s) of your stay in Tübingen. This might be an interesting option if you are a guest of the University of Tübingen for up to one year. Your Welcome Center can tell you more.

  • In order to be able open a bank account, you should bring your tax ID number (TIN) from your home country/current country of residence, because it may take several weeks before you are issued a German tax ID number. Of course, if you have already been given a German tax ID, please bring that along. If you are not sure where to find your TIN, please check the overview on the OECD homepage. For more information about opening a bank account, please see the page Banks and Insurance.

Your first two weeks in Tübingen

After you've moved in to your new room or flat, signed your lease agreement, and had your landlord sign the confirmation of residence form, you must register your address in the central municipal offices (Bürgeramt) where you live. By law, you must report your address within two weeks of your arrival, and you’ll need the official confirmation of your address registration to open a bank account, sign a work contract, etc. Address registration also starts the ball rolling for a number of other things, so it is in your interest to get this step done as quickly as possible. You can read more about how to do it on our page Official Registration.

If you have not already done so, finalize your health insurance coverage. Read more on our page Health Insurance.

Check in with your host laboratory. If you will be pursuing your doctoral degree here, be sure to visit the Office of Doctoral Affairs that administers your degree program. If you need to sign a work contract, make an appointment to visit the Human Resources department of your institution.

If you will be signing a work contract, you will need to open a bank account for your paycheck. Even if you are here with a fellowship or with private funds, longer stays will be easier with a German bank account. For more information on opening a bank account and banks in Germany, please see the page Banks and Insurance.

Arrange for any utilities such as electricity that are not included in your rent. You can find out more under At Home.

Want to be reachable? Mobile phone service is relatively inexpensive in Germany. For example, a basic mix of outgoing call minutes or text messages plus fast internet access (for example, 300 min. + 300 MB or 200 min. + 750 MB) is often available starting at only 10 EUR per month with a prepaid card or contract. Starter packs and refill cards are available at most grocery stores, mobile phone storefronts and gas stations.

If you do not already have biometric passport pictures fulfilling the requirements for German IDs (see here), you can have them made while you wait at any photo shop in Tübingen. You will need them for personnel files and for applying for your residence permit.

For several aspects of your registrations and paperwork, certified translations of your non-German documents may be required. You can find the contact details of certified translators in the official Database of translators and interpreters.

As soon as possible

When you register your address, the caseworker at the municipal office (Bürgeramt) will tell you how long the waiting time is before you can come back to apply for your residence permit, should you need one. There is currently a delay of 4-6 weeks, plus six weeks of processing time for residence papers after you have submitted the application, so be prompt. Read more on our page Entry Visa and Residence Permit.

A few weeks after you register your address, you may receive a German tax ID in the mail. The same applies to your German social security number, which is generated when you register with the statutory health insurance system. Take good care of these letters, and if you have a work contract, be sure to send a copy of both to your Human Resources case worker.

Register for Public Broadcast Fees, which are mandatory in Germany.

Consider finding German language classes. Although you can get by with English in most situations, for longer stays your experience will be richer if you know at least a few words of German.

Many foreign driver's licenses are valid for your first six months in Germany. If you want to get a German driver's permit, if will be much easier if you do this during the six-month grace period. You can read more under Getting Around - By Car.

Getting ready to leave Tübingen

We hate to see you go, but you can make your departure a smooth one by planning ahead.

  • Make an appointment to talk with your host or supervisor about how to follow up on your collaboration. According to the rules of good scientific practice, primary research data must always stay in the laboratory where they were generated. Speak with your lab supervisor about archiving your data and about what copies you will be allowed to take with you.
  • Un-register your address at the municipal offices (Bürgeramt). The soonest that this can be done is one week before moving out, so plan ahead to fit it into your schedule. You will need to take along your passport and passports of any family members that are registered with you.
  • Cancel your utilities, broadcast fees or any other charges that may be deducted automatically.
  • If you have a work contract and are covered by statutory health insurance, notify your health insurance provider that you are leaving the country. Your membership is not automatically cancelled when your work contract ends.
  • Be sure everyone who might need to contact you later has a valid address: The University, your host department or institute, your Human Resources office, your Office of Doctoral Affairs, etc. If you have a work contract, speak with your administration to find out what needs to be done if you expect a last paycheck after departure (see below, closing bank account).
  • Speak with your bank about closing your account. If you have an employment contract and will be receiving your final paycheck after you leave, be sure to speak with Human Resources at your workplace. They may require you to keep your German bank account active until the final paycheck has cleared. If that is the case, find out the date on which the account can be closed and then ask the bank what you need to do to have the balance transferred to a bank account back home.
  • Turn in any institute ID cards and talk with your host institution about any special procedures that they have before you leave.
  • Arrange for a final inspection of your room or apartment with your landlord, and make sure you know what needs to be done to get your damage deposit back.
  • If you are leaving Germany permanently after paying into the statutory pension system, it may be possible to arrange for a partial refund. You can find more information under Social Security.

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