Upon your arrival in Heidelberg
Whoever comes to live in a German city needs to register as a resident. Depending on your nationality, you will also need to apply for a residence permit.
If you stay more than 2 months in Heidelberg, you should register within one week after arrival with the Resident's Registration Office. Please contact the Office corresponding to your residential district. A valid passport/ID (and, if applicable, visa) as well as a housing confirmation from the landlord or guest house administrator, the so-called Wohnungsgeberbestätigung is required. Please inform the office of any change in address, and also when you leave Germany at the end of your stay.
Apply for a Residence permit
Depending on your citizenship, you may have to apply for a resident permit.
- Citizens from the Member States of the European Union (EU), Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein do not require an entry visa nor a residence permit.
- Nationals from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the USA: Stipend holders do not require an entry visa but have to apply for a residence permit within 90 days. Staff with work contract have to apply for an entry visa.
A residence permit is a permit issued by the local Immigration Office to stay in Germany for a specific purpose. You have to apply for it within 90 days. It is advisable to get in touch with the local office for an appointment asap. Contact the International Officer to make sure to apply for the proper type of visa. There are different types: student visa (§ 16), work visa (§ 18), blue card EU (§19a), research visa (§ 18d, previously § 20). Required documents: 1 biometric passport size photo, proof of sufficient financial resources, certification from the host institute, proof you health insurance coverage, passport, application form.
Please email the corresponding officer according to your family name a few days after having registered in Heidelberg since it takes several weeks to get an appointment:
Opening a bank account
If you stay in Germany for a longer period, you will need to open a bank account. This is true in particular if you receive a regular salary, and if you need to pay rent. In Germany, those financial transactions that do not involve cash are routinely handled via bank transfers. Personal cheques are virtually unknown. In addition to regular banks, Germany features savings banks ("Sparkasse") and Post Office Banks ("Postbank"). Their levels of service are roughly the same, but there are differences in customer service, and also in the fee structure. Your best bet is to ask your colleagues about their experiences.
In order to open an account, you will need to bring both your passport and a certificate of residence from the Residents' Registration Office (Bürgeramt); you will get such a certificate automatically as soon as you register.
Among MPIA scientists, the standard language of communication is English. But both for everyday communication needs, and also to generally widen your horizons, you should consider learning German. MPIA offers German classes free of charge, which take place at the institute. This offer is extended not only to you, but also to your family members. If you're interested, you should contact the International Office (contact information on the right). Other options for learning German in Heidelberg include:
Driving in Germany
Are you allowed to drive in Germany?
If your driver's license was issued by a European Union country, it is valid in Germany.
If your driver's license 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.
If you are a non-EU citizen, and will be living in Germany for longer than a year, you 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, you will need to take a written exam, a driving test, or both.
You can simply exchange your license if you come from Canada or the U.S. states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
If you come from Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee or Washington D.C. you will need to take the written test, but not the driving test. Detailed and updated information can be found here: Leben in Deutschland or on the MPG Webseite.