Welcome Center for international Researchers and Scholars

Welcome to Kiel University!

Our Services

The Welcome Center assists international scientists and scholars coming to Kiel University, either as an employee of the university or as a guest professor, visiting researcher, scholar, or fellowship/scholarship recipient. We can inform you on matters such as visas and residence permits, housing, health, liability and accident insurance, registering as a resident, how to open a bank account, the tax office and matters regarding accompanying family members.

We look forward to helping you! Please download, save and fill out the registration form and send it back to us so that we can give you the best possible support.

Before coming to Kiel

Before You Arrive

Please get in touch with the Welcome Center as soon as you know that you will be coming to Kiel. Good and early preparation for your stay will makes things easier once you have arrived, not only for you at your host institute but also for your family, should they accompany you to Kiel.

A checklist for preparing your arrival in Kiel can be downloaded  here.

Contacting Your Host Institute at Kiel University (CAU)

In the interest of preparing for your research, it is important to establish communication with your host institute at Kiel University early on. This will help in:

  • Clarifying any special conditions for your research (e.g. if you need to obtain permission to carry out experiments involving animals or observe rules governing the practice of medicine etc.);
  • Being informed of circumstances involving work space and the availability of technology such as a personal computer or a notebook;
  • Determining whether you intend to bring any samples or devices with you and if so, what import/export conditions may need to be met.


Important Documents to bring with you

Before departing for Germany, you must have the following pieces of identification and other documents:

  • A passport, or equivalent identification, valid for the entire duration of your stay in the Federal Republic of Germany;
  • A visa for yourself and any family members accompanying you. Citizens of these countries can enter Germany without a visa: all EU member states and EEA states, Australia, Andorra, Canada, Honduras, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and the USA. However, if you are not a citizen of the EU and you plan to start working soon after your arrival, it is advisable to apply for a visa.  Here you can find more information about visa regulations including visa fees. We strongly encourage you to apply for a visa as soon as possible. Applications for accompanying family members may take especially long. You can apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country;
  • Documentation of your fellowship/scholarship/job offer/work contract or other proof of financing (e.g. blocked bank account) covering your cost of living for the duration of your stay;
  • Several passport pictures for the various pieces of identification you will need during your stay in Germany;
  • Birth certificate(s) and marriage certificate, if applicable (best if officially translated into German);

These documents are also recommended:

  • If applicable, documentation of any special or prior medical conditions (possibly including recent X-ray images) and any medications you may presently require;
  • Your vaccination records, if possible in an internationally intelligible format.


Health Insurance

All people living in Germany - Germans and non-Germans alike- are required by law to have valid health insurance.

  • University employees choose and pay for their health insurance through the university. It is advisable, however, and may be a requirement for a visa, to buy travel health insurance for the time between when you arrive and when you sign your employment contract.
  • Fellowship/scholarship holders will need to buy health insurance unless their current health insurance policy covers them during their stay in Germany. If not, they must buy health insurance coverage for the entire length of their stay before travelling to Germany. There are many companies offering this insurance. Some offer packages with health insurance, accident insurance and liability insurance. Here is a sampling:
  • Hansa Merkur
  • Mawista
  • IHC-Company


  • If you have a fellowship from the DAAD, Humboldt Foundation or through some EU funding programs you can buy health insurance through the DAAD. You need to do this before you come to Germany.
  • If you have health insurance that is valid in Germany, you must have proof of its validity, for example notorized copies of your insurance documents - best if translated into German or English if in another language. You will need this documentation in order to get a residence permit.


Accompanying family members

If your family will be living with you in Germany please note the following:

  • The Family Service Office of Kiel University can help you with all matters regarding day care and schools.
  • Family visa: Apply early for a visa (if necessary) for yourself and your family. Visas for family members can often take longer than individual visas. 
  • Work permit for spouse: If your spouse wishes to work as a regular employee in Germany, he or she will need a work permit from the German government (unless he or she is a citizen of another EU country or of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway). Spouses of foreign academic visitors wishing to pursue gainful employment should indicate this before arrival so that they can apply for a corresponding residence permit (one with the designation Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet ‘employment allowed’) once in Germany.
  • Day Care: Children aged one to six are guaranteed a place in day care (Kindergarten) if needed. Once you know where you will be living in Germany it is a good idea to register your children for the Kindergarten as soon as possible to minimize wait time.
  • Schools: All children living in Germany from the age of six up to and including age 16 are required to attend school. The school year begins in August or September after the summer holidays. The exact starting date varies from year to year. As soon as you know where you will be living in Germany it is a good idea to register your children for school.
  • More information about schools and daycare can be found in the "During your stay" section.


Getting to Kiel

Kiel can be reached by air, rail, ship or automobile. You can find additional information here.


As soon as you know you when you will be coming to Kiel please contact the Welcome Center to assist you in finding accommodation.

  • As an international guest scientist you may be able to stay in one of our guest houses (depending on availability).
  • International PhD students may be able to stay in one of the dormitories (depending on availability).
  • A list of places to stay/places to search for an apartment can be found here.
  • Here is a list of common abbreviations used in housing advertisements.
  • The central University Welcome Service also has a  housing page.
  • For a list of hotels in Kiel contact: Touristinformation Kiel e. V.


On your arrival in Kiel

The formalities described below must be taken care of in the first few days after your arrival. This information is also available for download as a pdf-file here.

Registration with the residence registration office and the immigration office:

Regardless of whether they are international or German citizens, for stays longer than 90 days, all residents have to ask for an appointment to register their current address within the first two weeks of arrival. The Einwohnermeldeamt (resident registration office) for Kiel is located in the town hall (das Rathaus) Fleethorn 9, 24103 Kiel. If you are living in a town outside of Kiel you can find the location of the registration office on the homepage of your town. You will need to bring some identification (e.g. passport or identity card) and a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (a confirmation from your landlord/-lady, which says that you have moved into a room/an apartment). If you are living in a university guest house you should have gotten this with your rental agreement. If you are subletting an apartment, you can get it from the person from whom you are subletting. If you are living with friends, they can fill out the form for you. When you register, you will get a Meldeschein (confirmation of registration), which you will need to extend your visa/get a residence permit or open a bank account.

If you will be arriving between September 26 and October 18, 2019 you can complete the registration on campus in the Studiale, a branch of the Sparkasse at Westring 400. You can find more information about the Studiale here (in German).

If you will be working in Kiel you will need a Steueridentifikationsnummer (tax identification number) and a Führungszeugnis (police clearance certificate). Ask about these at the registration office when you register. The Registry Office will have your tax identification number sent to you at your registered address. The university personell department needs the tax id number in order to make payments to you.

If your spouse and/or child/ren are living with you in Germany, you must also register them. You will need to show their identification documents and your marriage certificate (best if translated into German or English) at the residence registration office. There is no fee to register.

You can make an appointment at the Kiel registration office by phone +49 (0)431 901-904 or online. Since it is often difficult to get an appointment within two weeks after arrival, as soon as you know the address of where you will be living, it is a good idea to try to make an appointment before you arrive. If this does not work, once you are in Kiel, you can call or go to the office very early (7:30) and see if there are any cancellations. You must say you need a "Notfalltermin" (emergency appointment).

Registration with the Immigration Office:

Every guest researcher from abroad (non-EU/EWR residents), who will be staying longer than 90 days in Germany, must register right away with the Immigration Office (die Ausländerbehörde) of the municipality in which he or she will be living.This also applies to visitors who have permission to enter Germany initially without a visa. In Kiel the address of the immigration office is Sophienblatt 12. The immigration office issues your temporary residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung). You must make an appointment at the immigration office, preferably by e-mail Zuwanderungsabteilung@kiel.de (be sure to include your family name and your given name(s), your nationality, your date of birth and the reason for the appointment - e.g. visa extension or residence permit) or by telephone: +49 (0)431 901 4299. You can make an appointment as soon you have registered your residence. It is absolutely necessary that you have documentation showing that you have valid health insurance and that you have registered your residence (Meldeschein see above)! 

There are many types of residence permits for international researchers. Depending on which type of permit you have will determine whether you are eligible for child benefits and whether you can extend your stay. Here is a summary of the types of residence permits for scientists and researchers.

The authorities may require a certificate of health, issued by a doctor licensed to practice in Germany. Whether a foreign health certificate can be accepted or not must be clarified on a case-by-case basis. Do not arrange to have a medical examination unless the university has explicitly required you to provide one. In many places there are health offices that can carry out the examination at relatively low cost.

Opening a bank/checking account:  

Most banks require that you present your proof of registration (Meldeschein) from the registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) and your temporary residency permit from the Ausländerbehörde when you open a bank account. Online banks may not require this, but will require you to go through an identity check (for example, the Post-Ident or a Video-Ident process).

You may wish to sign a direct wire transfer Einzugsermächtigung for regular payments, for example, to your landlord or your health/medical insurance company. This gives them permission to draw your monthly premium directly from your bank account for the entire duration of your stay and is a standard procedure.

Other things you need to do to work (and get paid)

In order to get paid, your employer will need two official numbers from you:

  • A tax identification number Steueridentifikationsnummer - This should be sent to you by mail automatically after you register your residence at the registraion office.
  • A social security number Sozialversicherungsnummber - This you get from your health insurance company or from the German pension insurance Deutsche  Rentenversicherung.

During your stay in Kiel

In Germany with Your Family

The following information can be downloaded as a pdf-file here.

Work Permit for Your Spouse

If your spouse wishes to work as a regular employee in Germany, s/he will need a work permit from the German government (unless s/he is a citizen of another EU country or of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway). Spouses of foreign academic visitors wishing to work in Germany must indicate this prior when applying for the visa so that they can apply for a corresponding residence permit in Germany (one with the designation Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet ‘employment allowed’). The work permit itself must be obtained from the Arbeitsamt (employment office) in Kiel. The process is time consuming – just processing the application can take several weeks – and applications are not always successful. Because of this, spouses of past foreign academic guests recommend that you consider well in advance of your arrival how best to use the time you will be spending in Germany. Spouses of visiting researchers can register as guest auditors for courses at the University. The Volkshochschule (VHS) – the local adult education center – also offers courses on various topics.

Child Care (Kindergarten)

If you are travelling with your children to Germany, please get in touch as soon as possible with the Family Service Office familienservice@gb.uni-kiel.de. They can assist you in all matters concerning schools for your child/ren.

In Germany, Kindergarten is day care for children one to six years of age. You are not required to send your children to Kindergarten in Germany; however, one to six year olds are legally entitled to a place in a Kindergarten. It may be difficult to get a Kindergarten place for stays of less than one year, however.

More information regarding child care can be found on the pages of the Family Service Office at Kiel University. They also offer a program for children of university employees during the school holidays.


The school year begins at the end of summer break in either August or September; the date varies from year to year. All children living in Germany 6 years of age up to and including age 16, regardless of nationality, are required to attend school.

More information regarding types of schools and school registration can be found on the pages of the Family Service Office at Kiel University.

If you are travelling with your children to Germany, please get in touch as soon as possible with the Family Service Office familienservice@gb.uni-kiel.de. They can assist you in locating a school for your school age children.

Mobility in Kiel

Biking in Kiel

Kiel is a great city for getting around by bicycle. It is relatively flat and there are good bike paths and routes. There are  two bike-lending companies in Kiel: Sprotten Flotte (nextbike) and Swapfiets. Sprotten Flotte is a bike rental service with bike stations around the city whereas Swapfiets is a bike leasing service where you keep your own bike. If you are going to be in Kiel for a longer period of time, you may want to consider buying a new or used bike.

Public Transit in Kiel

The Kieler Verkehrsgesellschaft (KVG) operates busses and ferries in Kiel and the surrounding area. You can find information about fares, routes and services here.

Driving license

This following information can also be downloaded as a pdf-file here

Citizens of the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland: Your driving license is valid in Germany, just as it is in your home country. There is no need to have it converted to a German license.

Citizens of other countries: You can drive for six months with your existing driving license, starting with the day you register your residence in Germany. At the end of that period, you will need a German license. Whether or not you will have to take a test depends on the country (or state) where you obtained your driving license.

Registering your car in Germany

All cars in Germany need to be registered, and you can do this at the nearest car registration office. You will need your vehicle title (proof that the car belongs to you) and your motor vehicle insurance policy.

If you are bringing a car with you from another country, read here what additional documents are required.


After they are registered, all cars in Germany need to pass a general inspection. This means that a mechanic must confirm that your car is safe and meets the official emission standards. A vehicle inspection sticker will then be affixed to your car’s number plate. The general inspection can be performed by an authorized workshop near you. Inspections need to be repeated at regular intervals. There is a charge for both the general inspection and for registering your vehicle.

Please note that in many German cities, low-emission zones have been created to reduce the quantities of particulates and nitrogen dioxide in the air.

To drive into one of these low-emission zones, you need a sticker (Umweltplakette) showing that your vehicle has sufficiently low emissions. This can be obtained for a fee from the licensing authority or other approved agencies.

Learning German

The following information can be downloaded as a pdf-file here.

Language is the key to a country's culture. Communication in English is no problem at research institutes, but knowledge of German will contribute significantly to integrating, especially your family, into everyday life and making your stay a richer experience. It is very helpful to get a basic knowledge of German before you come to Germany, if possible, to at least familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of the language (alphabet, basic vocabulary, grammar, etc.).

At Kiel University German language courses are available at different levels from the "Lektorat Deutsch als Fremdsprache” (DAF - German as a foreign language). You need to first  register at the DAF before you can sign up for courses.

The DAF also offers a conversational German class for visiting researchers and their spouses. Here the focus is more on speaking and pronunciation than on grammar. This class meets on Saturdays, 10:15 to 11:45 and 12:00 to 13:30 in the DAF, Leibnizstr. 2, Room 011/012. For more information and to sign up for the course, contact the tutor, John Tiede.

Additionally the International Center offers each two annual summer courses. Read more: Summer courses at Kiel University.

Meeting people

If you would like to meet some Germans here are some opportunities for that:

The International Café meets twice a month, once in the afternoon at the Guesthouse of the university in Dusternbrooker Weg and once in the evening at the IBZ Kiellinie 5 for snacks and conversation. Join us for Kaffeetrinken (coffee and cake) at 4 pm on the second Wednesday of every month and for evening snacks and converstation at 7 pm on the last Tuesday of the month. More information here.

The Welcome Center International Stammtisch meets once a month, usually on the first Wednesday of the month, usually in the restaurant Gutenberg (Gutenbergstr. 66). Check the events calendar for the date and location of the Stammtisch.

Preparing to leave Kiel

Before you leave Kiel, you will also need to take care of a few required formalities, like un-registering with the Residence Registration office or cancelling your insurance contracts. Our Welcome Center team supports you with organizing and coordinating these tasks before you leave.

We have compiled a checklist of the most important formalities to consider at the end of your stay in Kiel.

Staying in touch

Would you like to keep in touch with Kiel University? Then join our Alumni Network!

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions here.


Welcome Center for International Researchers and Scholars at Kiel University
Office hours: Tues. 1 - 3 pm, Thurs. 9 - 12 noon,
Westring 400, Raum 02.01


Dr. Nancy Smith
Tel. +49 431 880 2727
Fax +49 431 880 1666

Kiel University, Kiel and S-H

Research profil

International scientists

Further information