After you arrive


Once you've arrived in Germany... first of all, let us say “Welcome and make yourself at home!“

Your next steps depend on the arrangements you made before coming here. If you need to look for accommodation, this will surely keep you occupied over the next days. Here are some tips how to find yourself a place to stay.

REGISTRATION

Once you have found long-term accomodations, you have to register with the local "Resident Registration Office" (Einwohnermeldeamt), most likely located in the "Citizens Office" (Bürgerbüro or Bürgeramt). In fact, registration is mandatory for both Germans and foreigners: failing to register within a week after changing residence is a minor infraction in Germany.

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On the website of your municipality (normally www.nameofthetown.de), you should be able to find the address of the nearest Resident Registration Office, as well as detailed information on the registration process and any fees, if applicable (usually modest). Generally, you need to present your passport along with your visa, and a proof of residence such as your rental lease (in some communities, your landlord might be asked to sign a separate confirmation). You will receive a confirmation of your registration (Anmeldebestätigung). This is your proof that you are a legal resident of your community it might be needed for all sorts of services and paperwork, including opening a bank account.

Don't hesitate to call the Citizens Office with any questions – they are, after all, there to help you! Your landlord should also be able to answer general questions.

Important note: Don't forget to cancel your registration when moving back to Canada!

YMA VISA

In order to find and start a job, you only need to present your passport and YMA visa, which should indicate in German ”Jede Beschäftigung gestattet,“ meaning that no further residence or work permit from the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) is required.

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BANK ACCOUNT 

If you intend to stay in Germany for a longer time, it will be important for you to open a bank account. Once you're working, your employer will most likely pay you via direct deposit, and your landlord will expect his rent the same way! While cheques still exist in Germany, they are no longer in common use. Payments are made either by bank transfer, for larger amounts, or by cash or Eurocheque Card (EC-Karte) – which resembles a Canadian Interac card – for day-to-day payments. You will hardly be able to get by without a German bank account.

Most traditional German banks with physical branches charge account fees, except for students with no or minimal income. Online banks, however, often charge low or no fees. Almost all bank accounts come with an EC-Card, which is accepted in most stores. Just shop around and compare several banks and their terms and fees!

GETTING AROUND: LOCAL TRANSPORT

German cities have excellent public transportation systems, especially when compared with North American cities of equal size. Even small towns usually have at minimum a bus system. Transport options increase considerably with the size of the city and can include trolleys, urban commuter rail, subways, elevated trains, ferries – and even cable-cars!

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As is the case in Canada, monthly passes can be a significantly cheaper option than paying individual fares. Do beware: Depending on the city, you may be required to validate your ticket just before you use it (indicated by the words "Entwerten" or "Entwerter" and an arrow on the ticket). For detailed information on local and urban public transport in Germany, we recommend visiting Brian's Guide to Getting around Germany.

Biking might be another excellent transport option: Germany boasts an extensive network of well-marked local and long-distance cycle paths – 50,000 km by some estimates! In Berlin alone, there are 600 km of dedicated bike paths and lanes, which are used by an average of half a million people per day! There's only one caveat: In Germany, the law says not only ”don't drink and drive“ but also ”don't drink and bike.“ So after a long night out on the town, play it safe and walk or take public transit!

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Working in Germany has been a truly rewarding experience. Teaching English to young students has helped me to develop many skills that will serve me well in the future. Also, living in Germany has made me appreciate the different cultural aspects and has given me the confidence to explore other cultures. Plus being based so centrally in Europe has been great (and affordable) for travelling to other countries.
Aanchal from Ontario – working with a theatre class.