The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) finances a network of contact points, which render support to German researchers regarding the application of research projects within the 5. Framework Programme for Research, Technology and Demonstration of the EU. Besides giving advice it is an important task of the Contact Point for the Marie Curie Fellowships to assist the foreign Marie Curie Fellows and other researchers who work in EU-funded projects during their stay in Germany. This guide will show a way through the jungle of administration, tax laws and social security.
We will start by giving advice about accommodation, banking and schools (for fellows with children). Then we will indicate which local authorities need to be contacted after the arrival in Germany. One important part is the explanation of the taxation system. Another important part is the presentation of the health and social insurance system (amount of contributions, volume of services and the transferability to the home country). The guide will conclude with a brief introduction of the German scientific system.
The information has been collected on the basis of the current law codes and information leaflets of the responsible authorities, ministries and the EU. As the laws are subject to permanent change we will regularly revise the Internet version of this booklet. This guide is intended as a means of assistance. We cannot, however, accept liability for the correctness of the contents, although the data has, of course, been collected with due care.
The information given here will be regularly checked, updated and complemented. In order to do this, we depend on your first-hand information. We would be grateful if you could inform us about your practical experiences as well as help us with suggestions, comments and corrections. Your help enables us to revise future versions of the printed guide and to update the Internet version on a regular basis.EU-bureau of the BMBF
Thank you very much for your help.
Your team of the EU-Bureau
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If you are a citizen of a EU- or EEA -country you do not need a visa for coming to Germany. It is sufficient to register with the local authorities (see Ch. 3). If you are a citizen of another country you should at first inform your-self about the entry regulations at the German Embassy or Consulate. It is important that you do not apply for a tourist visa but for a multiple entry visa which enables you and if necessary, your family, to stay for a longer period of time. A visa for Germany normally also includes free travelling to the other EU-countries. In addition to a visa, you will need a work permit. The work permit does, however, have to be applied for before you come to Germany and you have to present it when you apply for your visa at the German Embassy at the country of your residence. The work permit for scientists funded by the EU is granted smoothly and unbureaucratically by the Central Employment Agency ZAV in Bonn: Mr. Daniel Elferich, Zentralstelle für Arbeitsvermittlung, Internationale Arbeitsvermittlung, Villemombler Str. 76, 53123 Bonn, Tel: 0228/713-1055, Fax: 0228/713-1037, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your host institute has to apply for your work permit and will, if necessary, be assisted by us.
Before coming to Germany, you should ask your supervisor about a central contact point for foreign guest researchers at the host institute. At the universities this is generally the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt), the research institutes have similar help desks. They help, for example, with finding accommodation and can give information about your status at the university or the research institute.
You should check in time with the staff administration to find out whether they need any specific documents from you so that you may bring these papers along with you. These can include the obvious documents such as your residence permit or income tax card (see chapter 3), but also include other ones such as your university diplomas.
Looking for inexpensive accommodation in Germany is as difficult and time-consuming as anywhere in Europe, especially in big cities and university towns. If you do not have the opportunity to look for accommodation before you start your fellowship, you should consider staying in a boarding house or apartment hotel for the first few weeks. If you bring your family, it is strongly recommended to find housing in advance.
There are different ways to find accommodation: You can go through the ads for apartments in the local newspaper where you will find an extensive advertisement section, usually on Wednesdays and especially on Saturdays. You can also advertise in the paper yourself. In many cities there are also special advertisement papers containing small ads mostly by young people seeking to sell or buy objects and offering or looking for accommodation. These ads primarily offer student rooms or shared flats (see below).
Especially in university towns, singles also have the possibility to move in a furnished student room (möbliertes Studentenzimmer) or a shared flat (Wohngemeinschaft - WG). In a furnished student room you generally share the bathroom with other tenants, often there is a kitchen, too. In shared flats several persons live together in one flat, which means that each one has his or her own room and that both bathroom and kitchen are used jointly. Shared flats are mostly inhabited by young people and students, and they provide a good opportunity to get into contact with Germans and to make friends. The "WGs" normally choose their flatmates themselves whereas the tenants for student rooms are usually selected by the landlord. You can find those student rooms or "WGs" through small ads, but also through notice boards (Schwarze Bretter) at the universities, usually to be found in canteens, at heavily frequented locations and in the institutes. They are accessible to all students and employees and you can look for or post notes. In addition, the International Office and the students' representation (ASTA - Allgemeiner Studentenausschuß) also offer an accommodation service.
To employ a real estate agent is the most expensive way to find a flat because you have to pay up to two months' rent as agent's fees, hardly a worthwhile investment for a short stay. You should, in any case, only choose agents affiliated to a professional association (e.g. Ring Deutscher Makler - RDM).
Some universities and research centres keep guest houses or flats which they offer to foreign research fellows. The administration of the research institute or the International Office of the university will be able to supply this information. It may also be possible to move into the flat or house of a German researcher who is going abroad himself.
Most university towns have one or more Mitwohnzentralen which offer information on flats or rooms available for subtenancy. For the address of the local Mitwohnzentrale ask the International office or your host institute or have a look in the phonebook.
Generally, housing costs are quite high in Germany, especially in big cities like Munich or Frankfurt where you have to pay up to 15 � per square metre. In small towns or suburbs, however, the price per squaremetre merely amounts to about 5-8 �. The information about the level of rent charged mostly refers to the basic rent (Kaltmiete) which means that you have to pay extra for electricity, water, heating and waste disposal. In contrast, these additional costs (Nebenkosten) are normally included in the rent for furnished flats (Warmmiete). When you read descriptions of apartments, pay attention to the addition Warmmiete/warm (including additional costs) or Kaltmiete/kalt (excluding additional costs) respectively.
In Germany you can rent furnished, partly furnished or empty flats. Empty flats have neither carpets nor curtains, lamps or kitchen equipment. Partly furnished or furnished rooms have at least some furniture and kitchen equipment. Flats are rarely offered with furniture, whereas single rooms are generally furnished.
Accommodation small ads are often difficult to understand, because they are full of abbreviations. Here are the most important ones:
5ZKDB: (5 Zimmer Küche, Diele, Bad) 5 rooms, kitchen, corridor,
ZH: (Zentralheizung) central heating
800,- + NK: (800 � Kaltmiete plus Nebenkosten) 800 � basic rent plus additional costs
KM: (Kaltmiete) basic rent
Wfl.: (Wohnfläche) size of flat in square metres
G-WC: (Gästetoilette) separate toilet
OG: (Obergeschoß) upper floor
TG: (Tiefgarage) underground car park
Attention: The letters IMM or RDM signify "Immobilienmakler" (real estate agent) and "Ring Deutscher Makler" (Association of German real estate agents). This means that you must pay a fee of up to two months' rent on conclusion of the lease.
If a phone number is indicated, you can call the landlord or estate agent directly. You should call as early as possible (from 7.30 a.m. on) and make a viewing appointment. If only a box-number is indicated you have to apply for the apartment by letter, addressed to the newspaper and indicating the box number.
You should indicate your position as a research fellow and your academic title. This will increase your chances, since status and title are still very important in Germany.
When you rent a flat, you generally have to make a deposit of about 1-2 months' rent. This sum will, however, be returned to you with interest when you move out, provided that you leave the flat without damages. The lease should specify the exact terms regarding the deposit.
The tenancy has officially begun when both you and the landlord have signed the lease. Your signature legally binds you to the terms of lease. Therefore it is essential to read the document very carefully before signing, including the small print.
The lease specifies, in particular, the amount of rent and additional costs payable, the period of notice to be given of termination of lease, payment for any necessary repairs, responsibility for renovation, length of lease and terms of rent increase. Furthermore, the lease may contain additional arrangements (e.g. use of the garden, car parking facilities etc.). Should you intend to keep domestic animals, you have to obtain the permission of the landlord beforehand.
The lease also lays down the general house rules which, among other things, stipulate that before 7 a.m., between 1 and 3 p.m. and after 10 p.m. all unnecessary noise must be avoided. They also regulate which jointly used areas (staircase, entrance area, basement) have to be cleaned by each tenant and in which intervals the cleaning has to take place.
If you do not understand parts of the lease or if you feel that unusual conditions are imposed, you should ask your German colleagues for assistance and advice. In case of doubt you can also contact the German Tenants' Association (Deutscher Mieterbund - DMB), which can give you information on legality. You can also obtain brochures on tenants' rights from the DMB (Deutscher Mieterbund, Littenstr. 10, 10179 Berlin, Tel: 01805/835835).
Before you move into the rented accommodation, you should make an appointment with the landlord to check the apartment with him for any defects (scratches, stains, wear and tear, damage etc.). All this should be put down in writing, even if damages appear to be very slight. Otherwise you may be charged for repairs or your deposit will not be repaid to you in full when you move out because it is assumed that the respective damage has been caused by you. The list of defects and damages must be signed by the landlord and a copy is kept by both parties.
In Germany it is still common to pay in cash for food or minor items. In department stores, clothes shops, restaurants or for larger amounts payment by credit card or eurocheque card is generally accepted.
You need to open a current account with a bank, Sparkasse or post office as soon as possible to receive the instalments of your grant and to carry out regular payments, such as rent, electricity, etc. The different banks offer more or less the same service, but as the fees vary considerably, a comparison is worthwhile. Meanwhile, there are many banks which offer homebanking or telebanking, which allows you to handle your bank transactions by computer or phone.
If you expect frequent remittances from or to your account in your home country, it could be worthwhile to ask your home bank whether it cooperates with a specific bank in Germany. This could shorten and cheapen the transfer of money to the bank abroad. When you open a current account, you have to produce your passport or identification card. A current account offers you the possibility to:
Generally, you will receive a customer card with which you can withdraw money from all cash dispensers of your bank. In addition, you may obtain a eurocheque card, a debit card. Many bigger shops also offer direct payment by this card. Moreover, you can use this card to withdraw money from all cash dispensers in Germany for a small fee and from your own bank's cash dispensers without charge. Eurocheques are valid throughout Europe and the eurocheque card can be used to withdraw money from cash dispensers in most European countries for a small fee. Besides your current account, you may open a savings account. In Germany you hardly receive any interest on your current account, so that it is worthwhile to open such an account for your savings. Interest rates currently amount to 2-4% depending on the kind of account.
All children living in Germany must attend school from the ages of six to fifteen. First they are enrolled at the Grundschule or elementary school (grades 1 to 4). After the fourth grade or a further two year transition period (only in some Länder), pupils switch to one of the following secondary schools: the Hauptschule where they can obtain the basic school-leaving certificate (up to grade nine or ten), the Realschule with the intermediate school-leaving certificate at the end of grade 10 and the Gymnasium which leads to the Abitur, the university entrance qualification at the end of grade 13. In addition, there is the comprehensive school (Gesamtschule - all day school) which is organised not according to subject preference, but to individual ability and combines the various types of schools.
At German schools, classes are only held in the morning between, i.e. 8 and 12 a.m. in elementary schools and between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the other schools. Only comprehensive schools offer all day classes. School attendance is free of charge. There are very few fee-charging private or foreign schools, most of which are very expensive.
Children from 3 to 6 years of age may voluntarily attend kindergarten. The conditions of kindergartens vary considerably between the old an the new Länder . In the old Länder the number of places for children is insufficient especially in big cities so that you may have to wait for some time before your child is accepted. Children whose parents are both working are preferred. Generally, children attend the kindergarten in the morning hours only, between 8 a.m. and 12 noon. Some kindergartens are also open in the afternoon between 1 and 5 p.m., but this offer is extremely rare. In the new Länder there are sufficient places in kindergartens for all children between the age of 8 weeks and school age. They are open continuously from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (sometimes even 6 p.m.). The children receive lunch and it is possible for them to take an afternoon nap. Children can attend for half days or whole days (8 hours). The fees depend on the income of the parents and vary from town to town.
In the new Länder children as young as 8 weeks of age are accepted to kindergarten. On average, children start kindergarten when they are between 12 and 18 months old. In contrast, it is very difficult to find child care facilities for children under the age of 3 in the old Länder. There are only very few places in nurseries which accept small children from the age of 3 months to 3 years. Some research institutions and universities have their own Kindergarten or at least an information office for childcare. Nannies (Tagesmutter), who care for your child individually, can be found through newspaper ads or the youth welfare office (Jugendamt). Baby-sitters, who care for your child for a few hours during the day or in the evening, can best be found by word of mouth. You should ask both neighbours and colleagues if they can recommend a trustworthy sitter.
Information about kindergartens can be obtained from the youth welfare office at the local administrative authority, while information about schools can be obtained from the school office (Schulamt). For the enrolment of your children at a school or kindergarten you have to contact the administration of the chosen school or kindergarten. There you can also inform yourself about the class to which your child will be assigned and whether additional German lessons are offered for children from foreign countries.
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As soon as you have found accommodation in Germany you have to register with the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). The German registration regulations require registration for everyone who changes residence within Germany. You have to inform the registration office whenever you change your address and, as well, when you leave Germany. At the residents' registration office you will receive a registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung) and an income tax card (s. ch. 3.1.2.) which you have to hand over to your host institution in case you get a work contract. The registration office is situated in the town hall (Rathaus or Stadthaus).
In addition, even though you are a EU-Citizen, you have to register at the aliens' registration office (Ausländerbehörde), where you will receive your residence permit. You have to bring along:
As an EU or EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway)-citizen you are entitled to a work permit. This also applies to your spouse or partner. As a citizen of another country you have to apply for a work permit, before you come to Germany. This is no problem if you are paid e.g. from EU-funds. Your host institute has to arrange for the work permit before you come to Germany.
A PhD degree which has been acquired abroad is not automatically acknowledged in Germany. However, you need this acknowledgement if you want to use the title „Dr." as part of your name, especially for official purposes (e.g. the registration office). Nevertheless, it is no problem to obtain an approval of your degree if it has been acquired in an EU country or in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, or Switzerland. You should call or write to the Ministry of Science (Wissenschaftsministerium) of the Land you live in stating the country and university where you acquired your PhD. You will then receive a letter of acknowledgement of your PhD. Your host institute has already accepted your qualification by taking you on.
Following are the addresses of the Ministries for Science:Baden-Württemberg
Behörde für Wissenschaft und Forschung
Hamburger Str. 37
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
PF 32 60
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung
PF 32 80
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
PF 10 24 52
Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
PF 10 05 50
PF 37 80
Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur
Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
PF 6 72
Driving licences from other EU- or EEA -countries are generally accepted in Germany and they need not to be exchanged to a German one. Licences from further countries such as Estonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuanai, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland are accepted as well, but you have to convert it into a German driving licence after 6 months at latest. This will be done without further examination. You have to go to the local driving licence office (Führerscheinstelle) which can usually be found in the town hall or district hall (Kreisverwaltung). You should apply for the German driving licence in time (at least 3 months before expiry of the set term of 6 months), because processing may take time. Otherwise you will violate German law by driving without a valid licence. When you apply for the German driving licence you have to present:
If you come from another than the above mentioned countries you have to obtain a German driving licence. This means that you have to pass the German driving test with a practical and a theoretical part (traffic rules). This can be done in other languages as well. You can contact a driving school to determine whether your knowledge is sufficient. If not you will be required to take some driving lessons.
If your stay in Germany is not only temporary - a stay of more than one year will certainly be considered as such - your car must be registered in Germany. For this you have to go to the local motor vehicle registration office (Kraftfahrzeugzulassungsstelle), where you can also obtain the necessary forms. You will be asked to present:
After that you are required to do the following:
The fees for registering your car, including the costs for obtaining the number plates will amount to app. 50 �. The costs for TÜV and AU total about 75 �. When you register your car in Germany, you will be charged with a motor vehicle tax; the amount charged depends on the type of car. If you intend to take out a German car liability insurance you should request proof of the period of your accident-free driving from your insurance agency at home.
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The question of whether or not you have to pay taxes depends on the kind of contract your host institute concludes with you. If you have a "real" work contract you have to pay regular taxes and social security contributions. A Stipendium (fellowship), on the other hand, is an established term laid down in the German tax law. Stipendien are generally tax-free if they fulfil the following requirements: they have to be paid by a public institution for the support of research or scientific training and the amount must not be higher than what is necessary to cover the costs of subsistence (German law text). This means that Stipendien are tax-free up to a certain amount (roughly up to 2000 �). The final decision regarding this rests with the local tax authority, i.e. the German „Finanzamt" which is responsible for you. The exemption from taxes also means that you do not have to pay social security contributions.
As a Marie Curie Fellow of the EU you enter into a work contract which means that you have to pay taxes and social security contributions. In a IHP-Research Training Network, however, it is up to the institute which kind of contract it concludes with the guest researcher. Both a work contract and a fellowship contract are possible choices.
The income tax will be paid directly to the state by the host institute. The amount of taxes depends on income, family status and tax classification.
To avoid double taxation of foreigners in Germany and in their home country, Germany has concluded the so-called double taxation agreements with about 75 countries. These agreements state in which country taxes have to be paid.
Generally, taxes have to be paid in the country where the salary is received if the employee stays for more than half a year (183 days) within a tax year (which, in Germany, is equivalent to the calendar year). If this it not the case, the salary will be taxed in the home country.
Besides this general rule some countries have concluded additional arrangements. For instance, in some countries a salary received from a public institution (in Germany this includes universities and research centres) will be taxed in the country where the public institution is located (see Table 3, column public inst.). In other countries, foreign researchers, who do research in a public institution for up to two years, may pay their taxes in their home country (see Table 3, column research activity). Sometimes this regulation is only valid for university teaching which means it only applies to lecturers and professors (see Table 3, column teaching). In some countries the latter two regulations are further restricted by the fact that the money has to come from outside the host country (e.g. the EU or the home country). You should check (with an accountant) whether these restrictions apply to you.
Table 1: Regulations of the Double Taxation Agreement in the EU and the countries associated with the Research Framework Programme of the EU
|Country||183-days-agreement (1)||public inst. (2)||research activity (3)||teaching (4)|
1.Taxation in the country where you stay for more than 183 days per
2. Taxation in the country where the public institution is located.
3. If doing research work in the host country for up to 2 years, taxes may be paid in the home country .
4. If doing university teaching in the host country for up to 2 years, taxes may be paid in the home country.
When you register at the residents' registration office, you will receive your income tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte). This card will state your marital status, number of children and the resulting tax classification as well as a possible affiliation to a church (s. chapter 4.2). If you enter into a work contract you have to hand the Lohnsteuerkarte over to your host institution (staff administration) at the beginning of your stay. The host institution will enter the tax paid on your behalf during the past calendar year on this tax card. At the end of the year or of your stay the card will be returned to you. This is crucial for the tax declaration which you should submit at the end of a calendar year (see chapter 4.1.3).
The amount of taxes charged is determined by your income and family status. Depending on your marital status and number of children, you will be assigned to a tax bracket (Steuerklasse) which will be noted on your tax card:
The highest tax-rate are paid by singles; the lowest tax-rate by families with only one income. The income of married couples will be assessed jointly in the tax declaration which means that you pay considerably less tax if only one has an income. However, your spouse will only be taken into consideration if she/he has accompanied you to Germany or if she/he is living in an EU-country without an income of her/his own.
Children will also be noted down on the tax card. They will be taken into account for your taxation. As a foreigner your are entitled to child care allowance (Kindergeld) when you have a valid residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis, not Aufenthaltsbewilligung!). Children living in your home country will be recognised as well. The amount of child allowance is 154 � per child per month for families with up to two children. The amounts rise with more children. You have have to apply for the child allowance at the family pay-office (Familienkasse) of the local job centre (Arbeitsamt).
The German tax laws are fairly complicated and difficult to understand. It might therefor be a good idea to buy a guide for tax regulations or (in special cases) to consult an accountant (Steuerberater, fees about 100-150 �) or a cooperative association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein). The following part of this brochure can only cover the basics regarding this.
After the close of a calendar year you have to fill out a tax declaration for the annual adjustment of income tax (Einkommenssteuererklärung) and forward it to the local tax authority (Finanzamt) which also issues the necessary forms. It is advisable to take the time to submit a tax declaration since some part of your tax payments is usually reimbursed. You may also send in your tax declaration after your return to your home country. It should reach the tax authority preferably by May of the following year, at the latest by 31. December. After the tax authority has checked it, you will receive a tax notification (Steuerbescheid) stating the amount of money which will be returned to you. In very rare cases it may occur that you have to pay additional tax. A tax declaration is particularly worthwhile if you did not work for a whole calendar year here or at home because your lower annual income is taken into account. If your spouse did not have an income (of more than 325 � per month) your income will be divided among the both of you so that you pay considerably less tax. (For married couples there is the regulation of the so-called Ehegattensplitting: the income of both spouses is assessed jointly in the tax declaration.)
In the tax declaration you can put forward special costs, which will reduce the tax burden (von der Steuer absetzen). Particularly important in this respect are the so-called Werbungskosten, like driving to and from work, keeping two households (doppelte Haushaltsführung), a private health insurance, a private third-party insurance (e.g. for a car registered in Germany), books or other equipment privately purchased for your work or a business or job search panel. With your tax declaration a lump sum of 1044 �/year of these Werbungskosten will automatically be exempt of tax, even if your expenses were lower. If your expenses were higher you have to prove all costs (e.g. with receipts, train tickets, etc.). That means that you have to collect receipts during the year. If your family remains in your home country or you still have a flat there you can put forward costs for keeping two households: deductible from tax are additional living expenses in the first three months (Verpflegungsmehraufwendungen) and costs for journeys home and accommodation in the first two years. For example, you can put forward expenses for journeys from your host institute to your family once a week by car (currently 0,36 - 0,40 � per kilometre between host institute and the residence of your family) or the charges for plane or train tickets (you have to retain the original tickets or receipts!).
Together with the income tax the German government collects church tax (Kirchensteuer) for the major churches in Germany (which is about 9% of the income tax). You have to indicate your affiliation to a church when you ask for your tax registration card. Church tax is paid by those affiliated to the Roman-Catholic Church, the Lutheran or Reformed Protestant Church, the Jewish Parish or some free Protestant churches. You do not have to pay if you belong, for example, to the Anglican Church or Orthodox Church. In case of doubt, you can ask the residents' registration office which issues the tax card.
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If you have a work contract you have to pay social security contributions in Germany. If you have a Stipendium, you are exempted from that. But you should at least take out a (private) health insurance.
The European Commission has issued the "Community Regulation on Social Security" which states the claims and transferability of social benefits within the European Union. These rules are also relevant for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The Community Rules state two basic rules:
Furthermore, Germany has concluded social security agreements with similar conditions with the European countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria (only pension scheme), Croatia, Hungary, Jugoslavia, Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey. Similar agreements have been concluded with Israel, Morocco and Tunisia and, for pension alone, with Chile, Japan, Canada and the USA.
You can receive further advice from the following institutions:
Table 2: Addresses of the insurance institutions
Insurance Contact office
|Health Insurance||Deutsche Verbindungsstelle
Postfach 20 03 44
|Accident Insurance||Hauptverband der gewerblichen
Postfach 20 52
53754 St. Augustin
|Unemployment insurance and Child allowance||Bundesanstalt für Arbeit
Regensburger Str. 104
|Pension scheme||Bundesversicherungsanstalt für
If you have a work contract it depends on your salary whether you can choose between a statutory or a private insurance. With a Stipendium you can only take out a private insurance.
In Germany, every employee is obliged to have a health insurance. Up to a gross salary of currently 3375 � per month you have to take out a statutory insurance (e.g. Barmer Ersatzkasse BEK, Techniker Krankenkasse TK, Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse AOK, etc.). The contributions to the statutory insurances are legally bound to a certain percentage of the gross salary (at the moment between 12 and 15%, depending on the company). You have the free choice between the statutory health insurances and it is worthwhile to compare the services and benefits of different agencies.
If you have a gross salary of more than 3375 �, you have the free choice between a statutory and a private health insurance. You may even chose to continue your former insurance from home.
EU-citizens who will stay in Germany for 3 to 60 months may take out a special private insurance for foreigners with very low contributions. It only costs about 75 � per month for men and about 100 � for women (depending on the insurance company). The contributions do, however, rise with the age of the insured. In comparison, you would have to pay the maximum contribution of about 400 � per month with a statutory insurance. On the other hand, children and non-working spouses are included in the statutory insurance, whereas you have to pay extra for them in a private insurance. You should check which solution is the most reasonable for you.
Please note that you may not be allowed to join a statutory health insurance in Germany again, once you have joined a German private insurance. If you still earn more than 3375 � per month after the fellowship, you have to remain in a private insurance. But a regular private insurance might be more expensive than the special one for foreigners. You should keep this in mind if you think about staying in Germany after your fellowship. This rule is of no relevance if you remain insured in your home country.
As mentioned above, as a Stipendiat you have to choose a private insurance or continue to be insured with an agency in your home country.
The statutory health insurance covers medical and dental treatment,
granting free choice among the approved medical doctors, as well as drugs,
bandages, remedies, glasses, hearing aid, etc. In addition, you are
entitled to all necessary hospital treatments. The patient has to pay an
excess of 4-5 � for prescription drugs, 9 � per day (max. 14
days per year) for stays in hospital and a certain part of the expenses
for dentures, crowns, etc.
The statutory health insurance is a family insurance which covers non-working spouses (up to a salary of 6325 � per month) and children without additional contributions.
In case of sickness, you have the right to full continuation of wages ("Lohnfortzahlung") for up to 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks you get sickness benefit, amounting to 70% of the gross salary, from your health insurance.
If you are ill, you have to see a doctor by the third day of your illness at the latest. He will examine you and will certify your unfitness for work and the expected length of absence. You have to send one part of the attestation to your health insurance and the other part to your host institute.
Within the EU and in some other countries (see above) the insurance is also valid during short stays outside Germany (e.g. vacation). This does not apply to all countries, e.g. not to Israel, Liechtenstein, USA and Canada.
In contrast to the statutory health insurance, the contributions to and coverage of the private insurances are not legally bound. The amount of the contributions does not depend on the salary, but on age, sex and risk of illness. In addition, the coverage of the insurance is fixed individually and contributions depend on the choice of services you wish to incorporate. Normally, the minimum standard corresponds to the coverage of the statutory health insurance. Often the coverage of private health insurances is even better and there is no need to make any excess payments.
Please note that some of the insurance companies demand a health
certificate from a German doctor. Without this certificate you will have
to wait for some months until all or some parts of the coverage, e.g.
artificial teeth/denture or birth come into effect.
The following insurance companies offer a special tariff for foreigners: COLONIA Krankenversicherung, Deutsche Krankenversicherung (DKV), Central Krankenversicherung and Vereinte Krankenversicherung.
The long-term care insurance takes effect when you need regular care at home (because of age or handicap). It is a compulsory insurance which is concluded in combination with the health insurance. The contribution is about 1.7% of the gross salary. Even if you have a private German health insurance you are obliged to conclude a long-term care insurance. You may be exempt from that if you keep your health insurance from your home country.
As an employee you have to pay contributions to the pension scheme ("Rentenversicherung") in Germany. The contributions amount to 19% of the gross salary.
Your payments to the pension scheme are recognised in each EU and EEA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) as well as in the countries with social security agreements (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Jugoslavia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunesia, Turkey and the USA) and your claims will be preserved. This means that at the age of retirement you may apply for part of your pension in each of the countries where you have paid into the pension scheme. Therefore, if you have paid contributions to, for example, the pension schemes in Germany, France and Greece, you will get a part of your pension from each of these countries. Thus, the pension payments will not be transferred to another national pension scheme but you will get your money from each pension scheme separately depending on the laws of each country. When you apply for pension payments at home, you have to indicate that you have paid pension contributions in other countries. This is necessary to ensure that your home insurance organisation can in-form the other pension organisations in order for you to receive your payments from the other country. Since payments for a certain num-ber of years are required by the pension organisation in your home country, any time spent abroad is taken into consideration.
When, after your stay in Germany, you return to a country without a social security agreement you may claim reimbursement of your contributions. After a waiting time of two years you can apply for the reimbursement at the Bundesversicherungsanstalt für Angestellte (Address see chapter 5). The question whether you are entitled to pension payments or whe-ther you get refunds does not depend on your nationality but on the country you are staying in (principle of territory). For example, if you are a Polish citizen and you return to Poland you are entitled to pensi-on payments from Germany. But if you are a Polish citizen but a resident of Russia, you are entitled to a reimbursement of your contributions.
The unemployment insurance is a compulsory insurance as well. The contributions amount to about 6.5% of the gross salary.
You may claim unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) if you have been employed and paid contributions in Germany for at least 12 months within the last three years. If you are unemployed and want to claim unemployment benefit in Germany you have to register with the local job centre (Arbeitsamt) and be at its disposal for arranging employment, which means that you should be willing to take up any reasonable job and that you have to report to the office regularly. In case these requirements are fulfilled, you will receive 60% of your last net salary if you do not have children and 67% if you have children (children living abroad are taken into account).
You will receive earnings-related unemployment benefit for 6-12 months.
After that you can apply for unemployment assistance (Arbeitslosenhilfe)
the amount of which is related to your needs, which means that your
savings and the income of your spouse will be taken into account. For 312
days you get up to 53% of your last net salary if you do not have children
and 57% if you have children. You receive unemployment assistance as well
if you have worked in Germany for 6 to 12 months.
Of course, you can only apply for unemployment benefit in Germany, if you have a valid residence and work permit. But after the end of the fellowship this usually only applies to EU- and EEA-citizens.
Under certain circumstances you can transfer your claims for
unemployment benefit to another EU or EEA member state (or a country with
social security agreement): For that you must have been registered with
the German job centre for at least 4 weeks prior to your departure. After
your arrival in the country of your destination, you have to register with
the local job centre within 7 days. After fulfilling these requirements
you will get German unemployment benefit for another three months (ask for
form number E 303 at the German job centre).
Depending on the respective country, the contributions you made in Germany may be taken into account by the country's unemployment insurance. If you return to a country which does not have a social security agreement with Germany, it is not possible to receive German unemployment payments there. The contributions cannot be refunded either.
The accident insurance is paid by the employer and covers accidents which occur at work or on your way from and to work. Any such accident has to be reported to your host institute immediately. Your children are automatically insured at school or kindergarten as well as on the way from and to it.
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The German system of
science and research is determined by federalism, i.e. there is a
division of competencies between the Federal Government on the one hand
and the Länder (e.g. Bayern, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Hamburg, Sachsen)
on the other hand:
The Länder have independence in matters of education and culture (Kulturhoheit): legislation and administration regarding education and science are implemented by the individual Länder themselves. Consequently, schools and universities are within their responsibilities. In the area of education, the federal government is responsible for general outlines of laws for the university system. In the field of science, the promotion of research, technological development and young scientists is part of the competencies of the federal government, represented by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung - BMBF).
One of the common tasks of the federal government and the Länder is to establish and promote research institutions and projects of national importance, such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the Herrmann von Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, the Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wihlem Leibniz and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Another common task is the expansion and establishment of universities. The Wissenschaftsrat (Scientific Council) has been set up by the federal government and the Länder as an advisory board. It does not offer direct research promotion, but gives recommendations concerning the contents and structure of science and research, as well as the development of universities, research and the establishment of universities.
In Germany, there are 90 universities and comparable institutions (technical universities, Gesamthochschulen). Universities are not only places of education but also places of independent basic and applied research. With regard to the education the emphasis is on pure sciences. In general, the first obtainable degree is the master of arts or science ("Magister Artium"/M.A., "Diplom"/Dipl.). In order to receive this degree, it is necessary to study at least 8 semesters (4 years), but generally it takes 10-12 semesters or more. Meanwhile, some German universities offer a first bachelor-degree after three years, like it is common in many other countries (such as "B.A."/"B.Sc." in Great Britain or "Licence" in France). But only with a masters-degree it is possible to obtain a doctorate (Doktor, typically 3-5 years) and, in a second step, to qualify for a professorship (Habilitation or Junior Professor, typically 3-8 years).
Universities generally offer a wide range of subjects covering medicine, natural sciences, engineering sciences, human sciences, law, theology, economics, social sciences and agricultural and forestry sciences. In contrast to that, the technical universities initially only offered engineering and natural sciences, but today the spectrum has been extended to human and other sciences. Nevertheless, the main focus is still on technical subjects. Comprehensive universities (Gesamthochschulen) combine universities and Fachhochschulen (see ch. 13.2.2) in one place. Both university and Fachhochschul-degrees may be achieved there. In addition, there are some special universities offering only one scientific area, such as the university for sports in Cologne (Sporthochschule Köln) or the university for medicine in Lübeck (Medizinische Universität).
Each university is divided into different sections. Older universities have faculties (Fakultäten), which comprise several subjects (e.g. Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät- faculty of natural sciences). Newer universities often have schools (Fachbereich), which only consist of one subject area (Wirtschaftswissenschaftlicher Fachbereich - school of economics). These faculties and schools are further divided into seminars or institutes where the single subjects are located (e.g. Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Historisches Seminar). Here, you find the lecturers' offices and the administration for each subject. In addition, there are the laboratories and the equipment for research.
The university is headed by the rector (Rektor) or president (Präsident), elected for several years, typically, but not necessarily out of the body of professors. Besides the Rector, there is the administrative director of the university, the chancellor (Kanzler). The German universities are self-governing institutions, i.e. general questions of research and teaching, course and examination contents, appointment of professors and other questions of staff as well as the equipment of the institutes are decided by the academic Senat. This body is composed of representatives of professors, staff and students. In addition to that, once a year the students elect self-governing bodies within each institute (Fachschaft) and for the whole university (Allgemeiner Studentenausschuß - AStA). These bodies represent the students at meetings with the university administration and deal with social and cultural matters, such as organising events and other activities.
The Fachhochschule (FH) is a German peculiarity. It is a kind of polytechnic school which mainly offers courses in the area of engineering, business administration, design and social welfare. Typically, the course of studies are short, strictly organised and vocationally oriented. The students are educated in small groups and curricula are job-oriented rather than research-oriented. Because of this, the final degree of the FH (Diplom) generally does not allow students to embark on a doctorate at a German university. Nevertheless, this is possible in some other countries, e.g. in the United Kingdom. Although the emphasis at the FH is on teaching, research is also done there. Special attention is, however, given to applied research and technological development.
Besides the universities there are several research institutions engaged in basic and applied research.
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) is the central self-governing organisation of science and the humanities in the Federal Republic of Germany. Since the DFG was founded in 1920, its statutes have assigned it to the continuing responsibility of promoting "science in all its branches". The DFG supports research projects in every discipline, especially within basic and applied research as pursued in the universities. Particular attention is given to promoting oncoming generations of researchers. In addition, it advises parliaments and public authorities on scientific matters. On an international level, the DFG has taken over the responsibility of representing German science in international organisations.
The overall budget of the DFG in 2001 is about 1,200 million �. The general support of research, which is financed jointly by the Federal Government and the Länder, amounted to 700 million �. About 281 special research areas are funded with 338 mill. � of which 75% are paid by the Federal Government 25% by the Länder. For the support of 292 PhD training centres 71 mill. � was spent by the Federal Government (65%) and the Länder (35%).
Contact address:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V.
The Max-Planck-Society is a supporting organisation for about 100 research institutes, laboratories, branch offices and work groups of varying size, structure and tasks. The society promotes basic research in selected areas of natural, human and social sciences. It promotes new research fields, complementing the universities' research. Furthermore, it cooperates with universities and puts its large-scale facilities at their disposal. The MPG has an overall annual budget of about 1,200 mill. � (2001). It is the special concern of the MPG to promote young scientists. Currently, 6900 post-graduates and post-doctorates are employed by the MPG. Additionally, in 1999 the Max-Planck-Institutes welcomed 3155 foreign visiting researchers.
Contact address:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaft e.V.
The 48 institutes of the Fraunhofer Society carry out applied contract research in nearly all engineering disciplines. They take on contract research for industry, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises without any research facilities. They also carry out their own strategic research projects in order to keep up scientific quality and competitiveness and to develop new research areas. Finally, the FhG offers several services, e.g. patent support for German inventors. The overall annual budget of the FhG is about 660 mill. �; one third of the contract research is funded jointly by the Federal and Länder governments.
Contact address:Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
The 15 national research centres within the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft (e.g. Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK)) are engaged in high-tech basic research especially with large-scale equipment. They have a high-quality scientific-technical infrastructure and considerable financial and staff resources. The main focus is on complex scientific-technical questions and cross-programme basic research, as well as the operating of scientific large-scale equipment, technology development, national long-term programmes and national preventive research in the field of environment and health. The research centres co-operate closely with universities, research institutions and industrial research centres in Germany and abroad.
The national research centres are self-governing and have a business-like management. They are financed by the Federal Government with 90% and by the respective Land with 10%, with an annual budget of altogether about 1,600 mill. � per year (2001). In 2001 they have formed an association: the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft (HGF).
Tel: 0228/308 18-0
Fax: 0228/308 18-30
In March 1995, 76 institutes have joined to the Association Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Blaue Liste (WBL), which changed its name into „Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (WGL)" at the end of 1997. Presently, 77 research institutes and research service institutions of national importance and interest are being funded jointly by the Federal Government and the respective Land with an input of 50% each.
The institutional funding is ca. 600 mill. DM (1999). About 11,000 members of staff, 4,200 of which are scientists, are supported by these funds. Several very different institutions belong to the WGL, such as the Institut für deutsche Sprache (IdS) in Mannheim, the Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) in Kiel, the Institut für Neurobilogie (IfN) in Magdeburg, the Fachinformationszentrum Chemie (FIZ Chemie) in Berlin, the Forschungszentrum Rossendorf e.V. (FZR) near Dresden or the Deutsches Museum Munich.
Postfach 12 01 69
In addition to the research centres, there are several institutions of the Federal Government which mainly perform governmental tasks and are also concerned with research. This research is mainly focused on collecting scientific knowledge relevant for the tasks of the office, but contributes to the general knowledge as well. These institutions are exclusively financed by the Federal Government. Examples are: the Physikalisch-Technische-Bundesanstalt (PTB), Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung- und Prüfung (BAM) and the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI).
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) fosters academic relations with other countries, especially by promoting the exchange of students and researchers. The DAAD offers grants to German and foreign students, trainees, young researchers and lecturers. In addition, it arranges long-term and short-term lectureships for German scientific lecturers at foreign universities. The exchange of university lecturers and researchers is promoted as well. Yet another task of the DAAD is to inform interested persons and institutions about the possibilities of studying and doing research in Germany and abroad, as well as keeping in contact with former fellows.
The DAAD is a joint institution of the German universities with an annual budget of 215 mill. �. In 1999 more than 60,000 researchers and students were supported by the DAAD (including grants of the European educational programme Erasmus).
Each year, the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation offers 500 research grants to highly qualified foreign researchers who are holding a doctorate degree and are under the age of 40, enabling them to carry out research projects in Germany. Furthermore, 150 research awards are given annually to German researchers for the collaboration with supported foreign scientists.
The Humboldt Foundation has an annual budget of about 43 Mill. � and supports about 2200 scientists per year.
Contact addressAlexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
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We have developed a model contract for the employment of Marie Curie Fellows in cooperation with the European Commission and the relevant German authorities. In addition, we have compiled model calculations for the income of Marie Curie fellows on the basis of the financial figures given by the European Commission. We have calculated several examples (e.g. married or unmarried). You can get more information by contacting us or by visiting our Internet-site.
Information about the German social system
->Publikationen -> Soziale Sicherung
Information about the alien law
->Publikationen -> Ausländer/Asyl
Information on research in Germany:
Information about the EU-research funding
Information on the Marie Curie Research Fellowships
Marie Curie Fellowship Association (MCFA)
German group of the MCFA
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Ratschläge für den Deutschlandaufenthalt/Practical hints for your stay in Germany. Zusammengestellt von der Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. Bonn 1994.
Bundesbericht Forschung 1996. Hg. v. Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. Bonn 1996. (The German and the abridged English version "Report of the Federal Government on Research" is obtainable from: Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie, 53175 Bonn, Fax: 0228/573917).
Studium in Deutschland. Informationen über das Studium an deutschen Universitäten für Ausländer. Hg. v. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: DAAD, Kennedyallee 50, 53175 Bonn).
Studium in Deutschland. Informationen über das Studium an deutschen Fachhochschulen für Ausländer. Hg. v. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: DAAD, Kennedyallee 50, 53175 Bonn).
Die Gemeinschaftsbestimmungen über die soziale Sicherheit. Ihre Rechte bei Aufenthalten in anderen Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union. Hg. v. Generaldirektion V der Europäischen Kommission, Luxembourg 1995. (Obtainable also in other European languages from: Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, L-2985 Luxembourg.)
Ihre soziale Sicherheit bei Aufenthalt in anderen Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union. Ein Leitfaden. Hg. v. Europäischen Kommission. Luxembourg 1995. (Obtainable also in other European languages from: Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, L-2985 Luxembourg.)
Soziale Sicherung im Überblick. Hg. v. Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Referat Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, PF 140280, 53107 Bonn, 0228/5271111.)
Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen. Textsammlungen. Beck'sche Textausgaben. München 1996.
Einkommen- und Lohnsteuer. Hg. v. Bundesministerium der Finanzen. Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: Bundesministerium der Finanzen, Referat Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, 53105 Bonn.)
Wichtige Steuergesetze mit Durchführungsverordnungen. Herne/Berlin
1996 (43. revised edition).
The German Income Tax Law (Einkommenssteuergesetz) §3 Abs. 44 says:
"Steuerfrei sind Stipendien, die unmittelbar aus öffentlichen Mitteln oder von zwischenstaatlichen oder überstaatlichen Einrichtungen, denen die Bundesrepublik Deutschland als Mitglied angehört, zur Förderung der Forschung oder zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen oder künstlerischen Ausbildung oder Fortbildung gewährt werden." Voraussetzung für die Steuerfreiheit ist unter anderem, daß "die Stipendien einen für die Erfüllung der Forschungsaufgaben oder für die Bestreitung des Lebensunterhaltes und die Deckung des Ausbildungsbedarfes erforderlichen Betrag nicht übersteigen und nach dem von dem Geber erlassenen Richtlinien vergeben werden."
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Update: February 2002Questions and comments please to: Monika Schuler, email@example.com