Settling in Berlin

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Settling in Berlin

You can find detailed guidelines and checklists from HU’s International Scholar Services

Non-EU/EEA citizens are strongly advised to check the webpages and contact the international scholar services for support.

  • Finding accommodation in Berlin is famously challenging, and unfortunately, for good reason. Thus, we advise to start checking for accommodation before arrival, and it may be that you will have to settle for temporary accommodation at first. There are many websites to look for rooms or apartments, we suggest checking the international students website they have a comprehensive list of websites. Important to consider if the place you are looking allows you to register the address (Anmeldung). An anmeldung is important as it will allow you to have a tax ID, open a bank account, register in the university and so on. Also watch out for SCAMS, very common in Berlin. Some useful pages / links are:,,,,, There are also dorms at Adlershof: ( be sure to mention you are joining as a PhD student, as there is entire building meant specifically for PhD students). Please also note that getting accommodation here is usually difficult and for PhD students they offer accommodation only for six months. It is therefore advisable to reach out to the management 1-3 months prior to your arrival.

Public Transportation

Getting a bike
  • While the public transportation system in Berlin is quiet good, getting a bike will make you more mobile. In case you didn't bring your bike, you can get a good and solid bike for comparatively little money. On you can search for second hand bikes in Berlin. Alternatively, ask around in the lab for help in case you are unsure. I also really recommend to get a helmet. Traffic regulations are pretty strict, and in addition not all car drivers are paying sufficient attention to bike riders. Get yourself comfortable with the main rules, such as when to use the bike lane? What is the Vorfahrtsregel? etc. under here, you find enough information to get you safely through the traffic. A nice add-on: if you are a student and you have the student ticket, you can take your bike into the S-Bahn and U-Bahn for free.

Registration in City Hall (Anmeldung)
  • Once you move to a new place you will have to register the new address within 14 days of moving (although no one seems to be checking). You can make an appointment online. The ones in Neukölln and in Spandau accept registration without an appointment.  Tip: It is usually very difficult to get an appointment here as the slots fill up fast. It is a good idea to try to book an appointment a month prior to your arrival in Berlin. For example, if you need an appointment for March 1st, you should start looking for slots during the last week of January .

Medical insurance
  • With HU funding: Technical Krankenkase (suggestion) - HU manages your suggestion. For non-HU funding people: IHCP, MAWISTA. For EU/EEA students with a scholarship you may be able to use your EHIC card, as long as you are a student.

Open a bank account (Optional)
  • Some new FinTech/online banks (e.g. N26, Revolut) allow you to open an account without Anmeldung. In Sparkasse Bank you can get a bank account with only passport and registration (Anmeldung), other banks require more docs. DKB and .comdirect are online banks which offer the possibility of withdrawing money around the world/Europe without extra charge. Getting a bank account in DKB is difficult if you have not worked in Germany before, comdirect is easier. Tip: Be sure to check the documents required by the bank first according to your nationality, as it varies with each person.

Personal Insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) (Optional)
  • A personal liability insurance is recommended. You can use Check24 to compare different insurance policies and find the right one for you.

Get a residence permit (for non-EU citizens)

German classes (Optional)
  • If you choose to learn German (recommended!!), there are many options. HU language center offers courses and for PhD students at a good price. Or you can go for other options as: Goethe Institute, Volkhochschule , speak easy school, Kapitel zwei, Duolingo, DW.

Canteens and Libraries (Optional)
  • Your student card / international scholar card can be used for Mensa and Library access.

Pension Fund 
  • If you have a work contract with HU, and you do not plan to stay in Germany for more than 5 years, make sure you check your pension options (traditional vs. flexible). Again, the International Scholar Services can explain the options and let you know how to request changes. However, any changes need to be made within 60 days of signing your contract.