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Germany

Expat Women Living in Germany

 
If you are (or plan to be) an expat living in Germany, please find below a list of expat clubs, schools, general links for women living in Germany, country information and more...
 
Expat Clubs... General Links...
International Schools... Citizens...
Local News in English... Looking for Work...
Country Information... Top 5 Tips...
Settling In Tips...  
 
 
Berlin International Women's Club
http://www.biwc.de/
The Berlin International Women's Club e.V. (BIWC) is a young and lively yet well-established organization founded in 1992. We are the city's first and only international women's club in which all nationalities are equally recognized. Characterized by rapid growth from its beginnings, the BIWC continues to expand, along with Germany's new capital. Our current membership of over 300 represents 55 nationalities and over 70 professions.
 
Frankfurt-n-Motion
http://www.frankfurt-n-motion.com
The Frankfurt-n-Motion Sports and Social group is about building an outstanding integral International and Expat community, including Frankfurt expats and locals from the Rhein Main international community. Our goal is to inspire one another to have fun and keep fit with a variety of sports, and social events. Sports – running, yoga, triathlons, biking, mountain biking, basketball, pilates, martial arts, tennis, beach volleyball, rock climbing, hiking and more. Also community events like - arts, theater, dancing (salsa, disco, creative dance) concerts, plays, operas, trips, dinners, movies, meditation retreats, personal growth events, festivals, wine tastings, parties, jam sessions, BBQs and more. All ages are welcome - Families and Kids too. We currently have over 5000 members from over 30 countries! There is something for everyone so get involved and be proactive in building our international community. We have weekly events that are Free and Fun! Join Us!
 
Friendship International, Cologne
http://www.beepworld.de/members/multikulti-frauentreff/english
This English-speaking group offers weekly meetings for women of different ages, origins and professions. A mix of gym or dancing and talking (sometimes about a certain topic, sometimes just small talk.) In addition, we occasionally meet for picnics, join guided tours of the city, go to the movies, and/or go on a weekend excursion together.
 
International Women's Association Hannover (IWAH)
http://www.iwah.de/
We aim to help newcomers to the area during the initial adjustment period. At the same time, we strive to create a friendly environment for our members so that each person feels a little bit closer to their native home while living in Hannover and learning about Germany.
 
International Women's Club of Frankfurt e.V.
http://www.iwc-frankfurt.de/
In the International Women's Club - IWC - more than 520 women from over 50 nations have united to promote friendship and help amongst women of varying origins. The IWC is a non-profit organisation and has no political or religious allegiance.
 
International Women's Club of Hamburg
http://www.iwchh.com/execute.php
The International Women's Club was founded in 1991 to bring together women of all nationalities who reside either temporarily or permanently in Hamburg. It promotes a spirit of friendship, acceptance and understanding amongst women of different nationalities under the motto.
 
International Women's Club of Munich
http://www.internationalwomensclub.org/ClubPortal/
A social club offering opportunities for 'camaraderie, culture and contacts' to English-speaking women of all ages and nationalities living in Munich and the surrounding region.
 
International Womens Group -- Nuremberg / Erlangen /
Herzogenaurach area
http://www.womensgroup.de
The IWG is more than 100 members strong, representing more than 36 countries.
 
Ladies International Association of Munich (LIA)
http://www.lia-munich.de/
LIA's aim is to provide opportunities for members of various nationalities to meet and to participate in social, cultural, linguistic and philanthropic activities.
 
 
The American Women's Club of Cologne
http://www.awccologne.org/
The AIWC Cologne serves English-speaking women and their families, giving them a chance to get involved in their community, explore the Rhineland, find out where to buy those hard-to-find items, network with each other and learn about German and European culture.
 
The American Women's Club of Duesseldorf
http://www.awcduesseldorf.org/start/index.html
One of the major goals of the AWCD is to provide charitable support for various groups in the Düsseldorf area. Our primary focus is on facilities which aid women and children.
The American Women's Club in Düsseldorf works together with and towards benefiting several charities and organizations.
 
The American Women's Club of Hamburg
http://www.awchamburg.org
The AWC Hamburg is a non-profit organization serving the American and English-speaking community in the Hamburg area. We offer a variety of activities geared to fostering understanding between cultures as well as integrating the English-speaking community into the Hamburg social fabric. We are a member of the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) and the Landesfrauenrat (Council of Women's Associations) of Hamburg.
 
The American Women's Club of the Taunus
http://www.awctaunus.org/
Founded more than 30 years ago, the AWCT is a registered non-profit, non-political organization with nearly 500 members of all ages from more than 35 countries. We have extensive resources as well as a wide range of activities for today's international women. The AWCT is a proud and active member of the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, FAWCO.
 
The Berlin-American Club
http://www.berlin-american-club.de/
The Berlin-American Club e.V. was founded in 1990 as a non-profit organization. The goal of the Club is to further friendship, tolerance and understanding among women from the US, Germany and other countries by undertaking projects that benefit people in need.
 
The British Club of the Taunus e.V.
http://www.british-club.de/
On this site you will find an outline of the activities offered by the British Club of the Taunus, together with details of how to become a member of the club. We also provide you with information and advice concerning life in the Frankfurt area.
 
Women of the World
http://www.wow-net.org
The portal for expatriate women living and working in the Frankfurt region. On these pages, you will find information and tips about educational services, lists of English-speaking doctors and dentists, health, beauty care and sports facilities, local events as well as fun and interesting things to see and places to go.
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Basel Expats
http://www.baselexpats.com/pn/html/index.php
A local website for expats
 
Children's English Library, Stuttgart
http://www.celstuttgart.de
Provides an English language children's library and other related activities for families in the Stuttgart area. CEL is financed by membership fees and run by volunteers. All activities are led by native English speakers, but anyone is welcome to join us, providing they are willing to speak English whilst in the Library. This means they are a great place to meet English-speaking locals as well as other expats.
 
DW World.de /Deutsche Welle
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,2142,266,00.html
German site with a choice of over 30 languages. Promotes info on life and news in Germany as well as free German language courses in two formats. The link I've provided is for English readers, look in header for other choices. A great all-around site for expats living in Germany.
 
European Professional Women's Network (EPWN)
Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt
http://www.europeanpwn.net/index.php?article_id=114
A vibrant growing pan-European federation whose common objective is to provide women with the tools, networks and support they need to assume leadership. We aim to share knowledge across Europe, and are participating in several Europe-wide initiatives. We combine a sophisticated online networking platform, linking several thousand business women across Europe, with regular, offline events in many cities across Europe.
 
Exberliner
http://www.exberliner.com
is the English-language paper for Berlin. EXBERLINER provides intelligent journalism and up to date listings of events in the capital city. Find out what's on and where in English!
 
Expatica Germany
http://www.expatica.com/de/main.html
The international community's home away from home on the web. It is a must-read for English-speaking expatriates and internationals across Europe, providing a tailored local news service and essential information on living in, working in or moving to your country of choice.
 
Hamburg International Women
http://www.hamburginternationalwomen.com/index.html
We are Hamburg's first port of call for international women living in HH. We have a strong, lively community and exist purely to create fun, diverse events, opportunities and forums to meet, connect and network with other internationally minded women.
 
How to Germany
http://www.howtogermany.com
The web site of How to Germany magazine, contains articles on housing, employment, and many other topics about living in Germany as an expatriate; also includes a resource database with comprehensive listings.
 
The German Way
http://www.german-way.com
These German Way pages are intended to make it easier for anyone to have a better experience in German-speaking Europe. Knowing what to expect can be a big help, and that’s what you’ll find here: information and resources for Americans and other English-speaking expats in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland.
 
New Berlin Magazine
www.newberlinmagazine.com
Berlin’s own English-language guide. All that you need to make the most of your time.
 
Toytown German
http://www.toytowngermany.com/
English language news and chat
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Bavarian International School
http://www.bis-school.com
 
Bonn International School
http://www.bis.bonn.org
 
Dresden International School
http://www.dresden-is.de
 
Frankfurt International School
http://www.fis.edu
 
International School Hamburg
http://www.international-school-hamburg.de
 
International School Villa Amalienhof
www.is-va.com
 
John F. Kennedy School
http://www.jfks.de
 
Leipzig International School
http://www.intschool-leipzig.com
 
Munich International School
http://www.mis-munich.de
 
The International School am Rhein (Neuss)
http://www.internationale-schule.de/
ISR is a private, full-day school serving students from kindergarten through grade 12 using English as the language of instruction. As a member of the SABIS® School Network, ISR offers its students a rigorous, internationally-oriented, college-preparatory curriculum, emphasizing the core subjects of English, mathematics, German and the sciences.
 
The International School of Duesseldorf
http://www.isdedu.eu/
ISD is an IB world school since 1976 and was one of the first schools in the world to be authorized to offer the diploma programme (grades 11 and 12). It is now certified to offer all three IB programs (the IB Primary Years Programme for Reception to grade 5, the IB Middle Years Programme for grades 6 to 10 and the IB Diploma Programme for grades 11 and 12).
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German News English Edition
http://www.germnews.de/dn/

GermanNews.com
http://www.germannews.com/index_e.asp

Spiegel Online
http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,archiv,00.html
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Recruiting in Germany - 'Grundlich und Punktlich'

The Germans address each other in a formal manner, which is a latent cause for dispute with many other nationalities, who use less formal ways to address one another.

 
Click to Download
Supplied by Expertise in Labour Mobility
 
 
Looking for work in another country requires more than just the obvious CV translation. You will be confronted with issues that probably didn't even cross your mind when you decided to go for an international career, but don't underestimate the big impact they can have on the outcome of your adventure! Think for example about the different rules and habits regarding immigration, job application procedures, the selection procedures and the management culture.
 
Click to Download
Supplied by Expertise in Labour Mobility
 
 
English Language Jobs
http://www.englishlanguagejobs.com
An online recruitment agency which focuses on finding and recruiting native, fluent and multilingual speakers of English in Europe.
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Germany Map
Central Intelligence Agency, 2005
Location:
Europe
Capital City:
Berlin
Other Important Cities:
Cologne, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Munich, Stuttgart
Currency:
Euro €
Language:
German
Calling Code:
49
Internet TLD:
.de
Electricity:
230V 50Hz
Emergency Numbers:
 
Country Information
http://en.wikipedia.org

Country Study
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd

Embassy Information
http://www.embassyworld.com/Germany.html
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These tips were kindly provided by volunteer Expat Women Mentors in 2007. ExpatWomen.com shares these tips in an effort to help but takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information.
 
Provided by Melissa A, Filipino-American, in Frankfort am Main, Germany
   
1.
Learn the German language as soon as you arrive – you'll feel less like a fish out of water if you can communicate with the locals; plus you'd meet lots of new friends in class who are going through the almost same experience as you.
   
2.
Read about the German Culture. The more you know, the better you'll understand why people act the way they do. It would save you the pain of misunderstanding the general public. It would also spare you from thinking, "what is wrong with me...and these people."
   
3.
Learn how to communicate even if you have access to a car. It's easy to figure out and, imo, commuting speeds up the getting-to-know-the-city stage.
   
4.
If you have children, research all the school possibilities in advance. Germany's educational system is different and can be confusing.
   
5.
Look for Starbucks, Hugendubel (biggest book store with the largest selection on English books) and the American Woman's Club of Taunus, should you feel homesick and/or want to talk to someone from home that is physically with you.
 
   
Provided by Sarah F, American, in Heidleburg, Germany
   
1.
If you want to work, start looking for jobs through the Internet beforehand, and figure out what paperwork you might need for a residency permit before you leave.
   
2.
Be prepared to take several language classes (intensive) at the Volkshochschule (sort of like adult ed) right at the beginning, before you lose motivation, otherwise you might lose motivation.
   
3.
Buy a code-free DVD player when you get there to get your fix of movies in English (or whatever your native language is).
   
4.
Germans are not as openly friendly as English speakers in general; it may take a while to make friends, but once you do, they are friends for life.
   
5.
Relax and get to know the public transportation system. You can get anywhere from here on a train or bus! Go and see the rest of Europe while you are here – you are in the center of it all.
 
 
Provided by Lisa S, American, in Aachen, Germany
   
1.
If you're a licensed driver and plan on driving in Germany, exchange your American driver's license for a German license as soon as possible after you arrive. If you exchange your license within three years after your arrival it's cost-free. If you wait longer than three years (to the day), it is required that you go to a German driving school for both lessons and testing. This can take quite a bit of time and be costly as well as frustrating, because the driving school and license test in Germany is more involved than what is given in the States.
   
2.
If possible begin learning the language and try to have a good grasp of it before you come. If that isn't a possibility, enrol in a language school or your local VHS (Volkshochschule Adult Education Center) as soon as possible after you arrive. The longer you put off learning to speak the language, the harder it will be for you to integrate into German society and the more isolated you will become.
   
3.
As much as is possible try to keep in touch with your friends and family back home - be it via internet, phone, letters, etc., and plan to visit whenever you can. This helps to combat home-sickness, which is a definite problem for many at first, although not indefinitely.
   
4.
Actively contact and network with other expats! They're a goldmine of support, friendship and advice.
   
5.
Don't expect your new home to look or act anything like your old one. Keep an open mind and be prepared to experience new things. Living in a foreign country you'll find much to discover around every corner and each day can be an adventure. The experience will change you in ways you'd never imagine.
 
 
Provided by Kim G, American, in Magdeburg, Germany
   
1. Become at least conversational in German.
   
2. Learn local customs and history.
   
3. To find friends, join a group of those who share a common interest or hobby.
   
4. Attend public events.
   
5. Don't be afraid to speak German even if you're not very good with it yet.
 
 
Provided by Michelle S, American, in Munich, Germany
   
1. Learn German.
   
2. Check out Toytown website for an extensive expat network and local activities (http://www.toytowngermany.com/munich/).
   
3. Clearly define what you need to have in order to be happy (career, friends, relationship, hobbies, etc) and make sure you take steps to meet your priorities.
   
4. Know who you can go to for help if the situation becomes overwhelming - friends, family, therapist, etc.
   
5. Find doctors you are comfortable with while there are no major issues.
 
 
Provided by Christina M, Canadian, in Ronnenburg, Germany
   
1. Learn as much of the language as you can before you move.
   
2. Start a blog to get in touch with other expats in your target country/area.
   
3. Research local customs in detail.
   
4. Don't cut all ties to your home country.
   
5.
Stock up on your favourite non-perishable food items and cosmetic/hygiene articles before you leave.
 
 
Provided by Brigit, American, Dresden, Germany
   
1.
Don't count on a lot of English–speaking locals. Remember, until 1989 Russian was the primary language spoken in Dresden. Anything 'western world' was shunned. Pick up a language CD and books (email me for recommendations) and learn as much as possible prior to your relocation.
   
2.
If you have children, in addition to packing their special things, you might want to also make room in your luggage for a few of their favorite foods. The culture shock is enormous during the first few weeks and having a stock of comfort foods and/or favorite snack along with the toys, DVDs & books will help your child(ren) cope with the changes ahead.
   
3.
Don't be a Pollyanna. Acknowledge the things you find different, difficult, or simply don't like about your new home. It's all part of the adjustment process and if you don't deal with it in the beginning, it's almost certain to rear its ugly head eventually. It's ok (perfectly normal actually) to have moments of doubt or to question your decision. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
   
4.
Likewise, don't expect your family members to adjust to their new surroundings at the same rate you are. My teenage daughter's response when asked if she liked living in Dresden was "No! It sucks!" for the first 6 or 7 months we were here. While it was tempting to point out all the ways she was fortunate (Europe at your doorstep, a city with over three times the age & history of the United States, an opportunity to experience a way of life outside of the country you were born in) it's best to let each member of the family find their own way to acceptance.
   
5.
Embrace the old adage "there's no such thing as a stupid question". When we first moved to Dresden I couldn't figure out how to operate the can opener... or washing machine... and don't even get me started on the complex (read: impossible) recycling rules. What helped more than anything was asking my peers. There's a huge ex–pat community in Germany that's willing to lend a hand and, in my honest opinion, contrary to popular belief... Germans are extremely friendly and willing to offer helpful advice as well. Starting a blog is a great way to plug into endless sources of information. My blog and the connections I've made through it have been invaluable to me.
 
 
Provided by Martina R, American German, Darmstadt, Germany
   
1.
Bring along a few months' supply of your preferred sanitary products. While Germany is a modern country, this is an area where most women just don't want to experiment, at least not under duress.
   
2.
Ditto for prescription and over–the–counter medication. Especially if you have small children, and have found out through trial and error that their cough (or whatever ailment) responds best to brand xy cough syrup. The same really goes for deodorant, make–up, and all other drug store products.
   
3.
Learn as much of the language as you can before moving. While most Germans have a basic understanding knowledge of English, they tend to be better at hearing and understanding English than at speaking it.
   
4. Pack any baking and cooking products that you feel you won't be able to live without, or you may just find yourself...living without them!
   
5.
Don't worry too much. Things will be fine. Millions of German women live in Germany happily, so you'll be able to, too.
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Germany
ExpatWomen thanks How to Germany for supplying the following Settling In Tips for Germany. This is only a small summary to help you get acquainted to your new country. You can find much more detailed information, including local websites (that we have not included here) at their website http://www.howtogermany.com/
 
 
 
Expand/ContractImmigration/Visas and Permits

Residents of the European Union (EU) are free to live and work within the union (except New EU member states since May 2004). Citizens of New EU member states have still to apply for a work permit.

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the US are allowed to stay in Germany for three months, but are required to apply for a residence permit during this time.

Citizens of all other countries are obliged to apply for a visa prior to entering Germany.

Please contact the German Embassy in your country to ensure you have the correct paperwork to enter and live in the country.

There are only two kinds of visas in Germany: the tourist visa and the working visa.

All persons remaining in Germany for longer than three months must have a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), of which there are now two types. You can apply for one of them at the local Ausländerbehörde.

The rules for what you need to get a residence permit vary somewhat from place to place and according to your status. You'll certainly need a valid passport, proof that you have a place to live and proof that you can support yourself. Other things you may need include proof that you have a critical skill, proof that you are married, proof that you have independent means or a pension, and proof of health insurance.

One person can handle the work on a residence permit for an entire family. Once the permit has been approved an appropriate stamp is placed in the individual's passport.

If you decide that you are going to stay in Germany for a longer period you must have a registration certificate (Meldeschein). You get it at the Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) that is responsible for your community or your city neighborhood. It's often located at a precinct police station. Registering is a simple matter of going there and filling out a form. They may want to see your passport and lease, so have them with you. There is no charge for this registration.

Every time you change your residence within Germany, whether you move next door or across the country, you must report this to the registry offices at both the old and new place of residence. This isn't an action directed at foreigners. Germans, too, must keep the police posted when they move.

A citizen of one of the following countries does not need a visa to enter Germany and can apply for a working visa and residence permit once in Germany - provided the transferee has a signed working contract or a letter of intent: Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, USA.

If you want to enter Germany in order to work - and are not from one of the countries mentioned above - you must apply for a working visa (Visum zur Arbeitsaufnahme) at the German embassy in your country of residence.

Please note that even EU and Swiss citizens working in Germany will have to apply for a residence permit (EU notification/Freizuegigkeitsbescheinigung).

Citizens of the New EU member state (since May 2004) are obliged in addition to apply for a work permit at a employment center (Agentur fuer Arbeit).

 
Expand/ContractCost of Living and Utilities
Living costs on average in Germany are not that much different from the United States and Canada and are considerably less than the UK and a number of other European countries.
 
Expand/ContractTelephone Service

Germany is very well connected to the rest of the world, and a large selection of telephone and Internet services are available. Choosing the right services is critical. Deutsche Telekom is the largest provider but others have joined the marketplace. You can sign up for telephone services with TKS (Telepost Kabel-Service). They specialize in providing telephone and internet solutions to the English-speaking community in Germany.

 
Expand/ContractTV and Radio

People in Germany can get their television and radio three ways: terrestrially, via cable and via satellite.

You won't find much, if any, television in English without cable or satellite reception, though some radio in English may be available terrestrially, especially at night. Things get a little better if you want to pay for cable service, better still if you invest in satellite reception, and vastly better if you acquire decoders and/or a digital receiver.

Televisions and videos run on the PAL standard. DVD players are organized by region codes: Europe is Region 2. Make sure you buy the right DVDs for the right DVD player or, alternatively, a multi-system player.

If you have a TV or radio at home or have a car with a built in radio, you are asked to register with the GEZ.

Some people don't get registered, however if you are using either one of the mentioned electronic devices and are found to not to be registered you might occur a steep fine.

Registration can be done online or by post with a form provided free of charge at many locations - including post offices and banks.

 
Expand/ContractInternet Access

There are many packages available from dial up services to high speed DSL.

 
Expand/ContractPostal Service

The German post office "Deutsche Post World Net" has a reputation for speedy delivery: 95% of letters are delivered within one day, and 99% within two days. Most packages can be delivered within a 400-kilometer radius in one day and nationwide within two days.

 
Expand/ContractUtilities

Utilities (NK = Nebenkosten) are generally not included in the original list price of rent when looking for an apartment. The tenant is expected to pay utility fees as a fixed sum on a monthly basis with any rental fees. Generally, utilities covered in this lump sum payment are listed in the rental contract and may include heating, water, general electricity, stair hall cleaning, general repairs, various taxes, building insurance and gardening fees. At the end of the year, the landlord issues an invoice which lists any costs from utility usage. Should this amount be more than what has already been paid, the landlord will charge you for additional usage. Should this amount be less than what has already been paid, you will receive a refund.

Important words to know when looking at housing in Germany are Kaltmiete (rental price without utilities) and Warmmiete (rental price which includes utilities).

 
Expand/ContractAccommodation

The majority of expatriates choose to rent their homes. Generally one can say that it makes no sense to buy a home if you are not sure that you will stay in Germany for more than 10 years. Reason for this is, that the side costs (notary costs, taxes, realtor fee) for buying a house are about 10% of the purchase price.

It's important to know German practices and terminology when you set out to find a house or apartment here. If you want two bedrooms with a living room and dining room, you will actually be looking for a four-zimmer (room) home in Germany. Bathrooms, WCs, kitchens and halls aren't included in the number of rooms. Furnished apartments are rare, and will cost a great deal more than an unfurnished place.

Unfurnished apartments here are just that: completely unfurnished. They don't have built-in cabinets, closets or even lighting fixtures. You'll often have to buy everything, perhaps even the proverbial kitchen sink! Stoves, refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, bookshelves, tables, beds, chairs, curtains, curtain rods, lights and everything else are your problem.

It's advisable to employ the services of a lawyer or legal advisor before signing a lease. Even if you speak excellent German, the lease may be too long and too couched in legalese for a layman to comprehend. It might even contain a pitfall like an annual rent increase.

There are several approaches to finding a place to live in Germany. The first and probably quickest is through an Immobilienhändler, a real estate agent. The drawback to this method is the high cost: these firms usually charge between two and three months' rent for the place they find you. Another method of finding a place is through the newspaper or through word of mouth.

See http://www.howtoGermany.com for more details.

 
Expand/ContractLanguage

The official language is German.

English German
German Deutsch
Yes Ja
No Nein
Hello Hallo
Good bye Auf Wiedersehen
Good morning Guten Morgen
Good night Gute Nacht
Thank you Danke
Please Bitte
You're Welcome Bitte
My name is... Mein Name ist
I am... Ich heiße...
How much? Wie viel?
Do you speak English? Sprechen Sie Englisch?
I do not know Ich weiß nicht
How do I get to.....?  
 
Expand/ContractMoney and Banks

The currency used in Germany is the Euro.

  • Notes (euros): 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500
  • Coins (euros): 1 and 2
  • Coins (cents): 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50

The best way to exchange money is at a foreign exchange office or at any bank. It is important to carry some cash with you as some places do not accept credit cards. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are available at all major banks. When making an ATM withdrawal, pay attention to the bank that owns that particular ATM. A small fee up to 5 Euros is typically charged if you are not withdrawing from a bank within that particular network of your house bank.

Common forms of payment:

•  Cash
•  Debit card (EC card)
•  Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club, American Express)

The most common card in Germany is the EC-Card/Maestro-Card, a type of debit card, linked to your current bank account and is accepted at department stores, supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants and many other places all over Germany.

To obtain a credit card you do not need a credit history (as the credit card functions much in the same way as a debit card, with the VISA/Mastercard advantages). However, you may be required to produce proof of income. Credit cards may not allow for extended credit to be kept. Some banks will clear the credit in the middle of the following month the credit was put on and payments were made. But there are different options and banks will happily provide you with all required information.

Expatriates staying in Germany for an extended period will probably need a German bank connection. Setting up an account is a fairly straightforward operation, much the same as at home. All you need are your passport and money for the initial deposit.

If you bring cash, your account is opened immediately. If you are transferring funds from your home bank, it can take a couple of weeks for the amount to be credited to your account.

 
Expand/ContractMajor Banks available

Deutsche Bank

  • Citibank
  • Dresdner Bank
  • HSBC
  • ING/BHF
  •  
    Expand/ContractPayment of bills

    Standing order (Dauerauftrag) is an efficient way of paying rent and all regular fix payments to be paid. By this method you are authorizing your bank to transfer the money at a certain date to the recipient. Some payments can also be processed via direct debit. With this form of payment you are authorising the recipient to claim their money from your bank.

    Alternatively, a bank transfer/payment slip is found at the bottom of almost all German bills. This should be filled in, signed and handed in at your bank before the due date of the bill.

    Payments can take around 3 working days to clear in the recipient's bank account.

    Rent usually has to be paid within the first 3 days of the month.

     
    Expand/ContractHealth care

    The German health care system is on par with the majority of modern western nations and as such provides top-notch care, which prevents the need for vaccinations.

    If you are planning to spend more than six months in Germany, or have moved here in a job-related capacity, there are some things you need to know about insurance, which is in some cases mandatory.

    Germans call health insurance, Krankenversicherung, and it is mandatory. If you found work after arriving here or if your company has transferred you to Germany, it is most likely that health insurance is already included in your job contract. In many cases it is necessary to show proof of health insurance coverage to get a residence permit.

    For health insurance, which is tax deductible, you have a choice among several private insurance companies and a national health insurance program. The government subsidizes the latter and employers pay half of the premiums. Your company is responsible for completing the necessary formalities, and once this is done a social insurance card is issued. Every time you apply for benefits or seek reimbursement, you must have this card, with which you can visit general practitioners and specialists without paying any fee.

    A pharmacy is called an Apotheke (like the English word apothecary). There is generally a large red letter "A" in each pharmacy window.

    See http://www.howtoGermany.com for more details.

     
    Expand/ContractEducation

    There are many international schools where English is the main language for learning (from preschool to University level).

    Many English-speaking expatriates are educating their children at Germany's international schools, and an education at such a school has numerous advantages.

    There is, of course, instruction in the native language. And, since the student body is usually quite international, they expose the young people to a variety of cultures. They also do a better job than most German schools of introducing the students to computers, and the program of sports and extracurricular activities is more like what they are accustomed to at home.

    See http://www.howtoGermany.com or below for a list of schools. (List not exhaustive).

     
    Expand/ContractTransport
    Expand/ContractCars and Drivers Licenses

    Your own driver's license is valid in Germany, at least at the outset. If it was issued by a European Union country, you will never need to exchange it for a German one. If it was issued by a country outside the EU, you can only use it for six months from your date of arrival. If you will be residing in Germany for longer than six months but less than one year, you can obtain a six-month extension to use your existing license.

    A national of a non-EU country who will be living in Germany longer than a year will need a German driver's license (Führerschein). In many cases this is a simple matter of exchanging the license for a German one. In other cases it will be necessary to take a written exam, a driving test, or both.

    It's true: there are no speed limits on the German autobahns. But there are plenty of other regulations you should be aware of.

    Please check http://www.howtoGermany.com for more details.

    The best place to get prices on auto insurance is at the local ADAC office. The ADAC is the largest German Automobile Club.

     
    Expand/ContractPublic Transportation

    German public transportation is safe, reliable and relatively inexpensive. All major German cities offer both subways and suburban trains as well as buses and trams. Smaller German towns are generally serviced by buses and sometimes trams.

     
    Expand/ContractAirports

    About 120 international scheduled airlines serve Germany, carrying more than 100 million passengers a year. Of these airlines some 100 serve Frankfurt, the nation's biggest airport. The relatively new airport at Munich has become a second hub, and other major airports are located at Düsseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg.

     
    Expand/ContractShopping

    Shopping is a national pastime in Germany. Every conceivable item for person and household, home and garden is available in bewildering quantity and quality. The mall is not nearly as well developed as in the States. The good stores are still downtown.

    Historically, German businesses have had some of the strictest operating hours in all of Europe. Stores (including grocery stores) are typically open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 8pm, and are all closed on Sunday.

    Expats shop at the same stores as Germans. Local corner grocery stores provide a wide variety of goods. These include such stores as HL, Minimal and Tengelmann. In addition, neighborhoods often have discount grocery stores such as Edeka, PennyMarkt and Aldi. In more suburban areas, larger stores have started moving in, including real and Wal-Mart.

    Specialization is particularly noticeable in food stores. The Metzgerei (butcher), Backerei (bakery) and Konditorei (pastry shop) are run by masters of their profession.

     
    Expand/ContractDress Code

    There are no particular dress codes anymore. Although older Germans dress very conservatively.

     
    Expand/ContractHousehold Help

    Although employing household staff is quite common in Germany, finding such help is another matter altogether. There are no official "Domestic Services" companies or reference networks available. Finding someone is simply a matter of word of mouth or setting out to find someone yourself.

    The best way to find household cleaning staff is by way of an advertisement in your local neighborhood newspaper or on the community notice boards at supermarkets. Your ad will have to be in German.

    Payment is done at an hourly rate, and depending on which area you live in and can range in price.

     
    Expand/ContractEmployment

    If you have a critical skill, are a member of the family of a person with a critical skill or come from another European Union country, the chances are you can seek work in Germany. If you are none of the above, you may have problems.

    Because of high unemployment in Germany, it is usually very difficult for the spouse to obtain a work permit. Generally, trailing spouses are not allowed to work in Germany for the first two years after application for a residence permit.

     
    Expand/ContractEntertainment

    There are many expatriate women clubs available in Germany.

    Physical activity and keeping active and fit is no problem in Germany. Getting involved in team sports, group activities, and competition is a wonderful ice-breaker and a great way to integrate yourself in your new home and surroundings. Amateurism in the finest sense of the word also implies being a member of a Verein or Club so that you can indulge in kayaking and canoeing, playing tennis, golf, gymnastics, or team sports like soccer, basketball, German "Handball," ice and field hockey, or even American football and baseball. Basically, one pays an annual fee and a one time initiation fee after being proposed by a member, and then seconded, and the next thing you know., you are a member.

     
    Expand/ContractWeather

    Local weather can be rainy or sunny, but it is typically mild in either direction. Winter rarely produces massive amounts of snow (and the one or two times a year when it does snow can make driving throughout the region treacherous) nor does summer provide too many hot days.

    Air conditioning is not prevalent in Germany, so wearing layers is a key for daily life.

    It rains quite a bit in the winter as well, so a small umbrella for the briefcase or purse is highly recommended to avoid getting wet in drizzly weather.

    It is seldom too cold or too hot. The average temperature is between 0 to 6 degrees Celsius (32 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and 13 to 21 degrees Celsius (54 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) during the summer.


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