Organisation of your stay
Apply for a visa
First of all, you have to get a visa. Students from non-EU countries should hurry to get the visa application started. The German Federal Foreign Office provides a list of countries where you can see if you need a visa for your stay in Germany.
Which visa is right for you?
Apply for a student visa if you have already been admitted to a German university (letter of admission).
Apply for a prospective student visa if you have applied for a German university but not yet received the letter of admission. In this case, ask the university for a letter of confirmation that they have received your application.
Apply for a German foreign language course visa for the purpose of future studies in Germany if you first want to learn the German language in order to study in Germany later on. You have to pass the DSH exam within two years.
If you do not need a visa, you can apply for a residence permit at the immigration authority of the place where you live upon after arrival.
But: Do not apply for a tourist visa!
A tourist visa does not allow you to start your studies in Germany and cannot be replaced by another visa in Germany.
Our advice: Ask the German foreign representation in your home country which visa suits your purposes best.
Where do you apply for your visa?
You get a visa at the German embassy or the German consulate general in your home country. It is important that you make an appointment as soon as possible as there are long waiting times in many countries.
What do you need to apply for a visa?
- a valid passport,
- the university’s letter of admission or the confirmation that they have received your application and
- proof that you have the financial means to study in Germany (more information on the sheet in the annexe).
It is possible that some German foreign representations ask for evidence of your language skills, programme achievements or other things. Find out in advance which documents are precisely needed.
Settling into life in Germany
Find a place to live
A cosy room or flat will help you to feel comfortable at your new place of study right from the start. Depending on your financial means, you can either live in a student hall, a shared flat (WG) or alone.
Studierendenwerk Thüringen provides inexpensive rooms in student halls to students of all Thuringian universities. The rent depends on university town and student hall and costs between 150 and 280 EUR per month.
www.stw-thueringen.de --> Housing
Our advice: You can apply online for a room in a student hall even before you have received an admission. As student halls are very much in demand, you should apply for a room already four to five months before you start your degree programme. Prior to the semester start, the rooms are distributed according to the order of applications received.
In a Wohngemeinschaft (shared flat) you have your own room, but you share bathroom, kitchen and common rooms with your flatmates. WGs are an inexpensive alternative to student halls. In addition, you quickly get to know other students and your flatmates will give you advice and information.
If you prefer to get your own place, have a look at the flat listings in newspapers or online. Estate agents or residential building cooperatives can be helpful, too.
But: Estate agents sometimes charge a commission. Please ask for possible fees in advance.
Open a bank account
In Germany, almost every bill is paid via a bank account, whether it is the telephone bill, rent or the semester fee. Thus, it is advisable to open a German bank account. Some banks even offer free accounts for students.
In order to open a bank account in Germany, you need:
- your passport with resident permit (visa for non-EU citizens),
- the certification of registration of the registration office (proof: place of residence in Germany),
- the university’s matriculation certificate.
But: In some cases, you need to prove that you have a German bank account with sufficient funding for your stay in order to apply for a visa. In this case, you need to open a German bank account while you are still in your home country which needs to be activated after your arrival. Please find out if this is part of the visa application process at the German foreign representation in your home country.
Get the right health insurance
In Germany, you need health insurance if you want to begin with your studies. You need to present the proof of insurance at your enrolment and at the immigration authority. Take care of your health insurance right after your arrival.
Depending on your age, origin and the purpose of your stay, you can choose between statutory and private health insurance. The student rate of about 75 EUR per month is the same for all statutory health insurance providers. Private health insurance providers have different rates.
|You come from the EU/the EEA countries or from Switzerland||Your existing insurance can be recognised in Germany. Therefore, you need the European Health Insurance Card EHIC, which you have to apply for before arriving in Germany. Some private health insurances can be recognised in Germany, too. Please ask your health insurance provider beforehand if recognition is possible and which documents are needed.|
|You are older than 30 years or you have studied more than 14 semesters.||In these cases, you either go for the normal tariff or the graduate tariff which is only offered by some statutory health insurance providers for about 100 EUR per months. Thus, a private health insurance might be more attractive for you. If you go for the cheaper rates of the private health insurance, you have to keep in mind that you have to advance all outpatient treatment and medications and settle your account with the health insurance provider later. In order not to get lost regarding the different health insurance providers, tariffs and services, please contact Student Services Thuringia.|
|You are a Ph.D. student||Your legal obligation to get health insurance depends on your status respectively your stay's purpose. If you have a research associate contract with your university, you need to get statutory health insurance. Other research associates can choose between statutory or private health insurance.|
|You participate in a preparatory language class||As a participant in a preparatory language class, you will not get statutory health insurance in Germany. You have to find a private provider. If you start a degree programme in Germany after having finished the language class - and if you are not yet 30 years old - you can switch to a statutory health insurance provider. Deutsches Studentenwerk has concluded a framework agreement for participants of a preparatory language class with Union Versicherungsdienst offering cheap rates of 35 to 70 EUR per month.|
Finance your studies
Monthly costs in Thuringia
State universities in Thuringia do not charge any tuition fees. In order to be enrolled, you just have to pay the so called Semesterbeitrag.
The Semesterbeitrag depends on the university, but it ranges from 100 to 200 EUR per semester.
It covers the following services which you, as a student, can make use of:
- Semesterticket: Allows you to use public transportation in your city and regional trains within Thuringia for free.
- Studierndenwerk contribution fee: free (psycho)social and legal advising, student prices in the dining hall.
In addition to the Semesterbeitrag, you need money for your daily life, e.g., rent, clothing, food or leisure. But even if living and studying is rather reasonably priced in Thuringia, you need to prove your means of subsistence when applying for a visa. Therefore, the immigration authority asks for a financial statement showing that you have a regular income of at least 670 EUR per month.
Our advice: There are different possibilities to provide such evidence. It is best if you ask at the German foreign representation in your home country.
The most important scholarship provider for international students is the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD). The DAAD is represented by branches or lectors at the universities in the German philology/German as a foreign language department in many countries. This way you have the opportunity to get advice concerning the scholarship possibilities and to apply for them already back in your home country.
Our advice: While planning your studies in Germany, you should enquire for financial support in your home country first. Although German institutions offer many different kinds of scholarships for international students, sometimes the requirements are very particular and not suitable for every student. In the DAAD’s scholarship database you can search for scholarships awarded by German institutions, sorted by country and discipline.
Some universities offer scholarships to their students (e.g. the Deutschlandstipendium) which help to partly finance their studies. Ask at your university if there are scholarships offered which you can apply for.
A further possibility how to finance student life is a student job. At the beginning of the semester, job offers for students can be found on the campus: Watch out for bulletins in the library or in the departments. International students have to take into consideration things like taxes or limited working hours. The level of your German language skills is important, too.
Our advice: The German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk) provides information about the possibilities and legal particularities of student jobs for international students.
www.internationale-studierende.de --> student finance