Moving to Germany

The goal of this page is provide compact recommendations for people moving to Germany. We cover the most important bureaucratic and financial matters, such as registration, health insurance, bank accounts, retirement and taxes.

List of guides

The following guides provide an in-depth summary of relevant information on the respective topic.

  • Getting started in Germany. This guide gives recommendations on the first bureaucratic steps after arriving in German, starting from registering with the Einwohnermeldeamt to opening a bank account and choosing phone / internet plans.

  • Studienkosten absetzen. This guide is aimed at students who are tax residents of Germany and would like to learn about how they can declare the cost of their studies as losses, which will reduce their taxes when they start working in Germany. Note: This guide is written in German.

  • Steuererklärung für Auslandsdepots. This guide is aimed at German tax residents who have capital gains in an investment account that does not automatically deduct German taxes (such as foreign accounts, e.g., Interactive Brokers, Captrader, Lynz, Degiro, Banx, Robinhood, WeBull und TradeStation). Note: This guide is written in German.

Do not forget to check out Services & Accounts.

Wishlist of new guides

In the following, I provide a list of guides we are intending to write in the future. Let me know if you are particularly keen on one.

  • Taxes in Germany. This guide gives a brief summary how the income of most employees is taxed and how you can save on taxes with typical deductions (Werbungskosten). In particular, we explain under what conditions you qualify for having a double household (Doppelte Haushaltsführung), e.g., when you only live near your workplace during the week, but actually live with your family/spouse somewhere else (possibly even abroad). This can significantly reduce your taxes.

  • German taxes on capital gains. This guide gives a summary on how capital gains (interest, dividends, investment profits etc.) are taxed as German resident. As customer of German financial institutions, you often do not need to worry very much, because you only need to ensure that the first 801 EUR of such gains are tax-free (using the Steuerfreibetrag). However, if you have foreign investment accounts (such as Interactive Brokers), you are required to declare your taxes as explained in this guide.

  • German double taxation. This guide reviews what you should consider in terms of German taxes when moving to or from Germany during a tax year (= calendar year).

  • Registration. When you move to new accomodation in Germany, you are required to register within two weeks at your municipality to give notice where you live. This guide explains these rules and what you can do when you are late.

  • Health insurance. This guide provides a brief summary on how health insurance works in Germany and what new residents of Germany need to be aware. In particular, we discuss the issue of PhD fellowships being often included when health insurances determine the monthly insurance premium.

  • Bank accounts. This guide gives a summary on the most common bank accounts in Germany and their advantages/disadvantages.

  • Brokerage accounts. This guide discusses which brokerage accounts are offered to German residents and what to consider when investing into the stock market.

  • Retirement. This guide explains the German retirement system (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) and what options temporary residents of Germany have with respect to their retirement (such as withdrawing part of the money early).

Please send suggestions for the wishlist to contact@ExpatFinance.us.

Further resources

  • Finanztip.de (German). This impartial non-for-profit consumer website has a similar purpose as The International, namely to provide simple good advice for financial and bureaucratic matters, but focuses on Germans in Germany. If you live in Germany, you will find a huge amount of accurate and helpful information.

  • IamExpat.de (English). This website provides a lot of tips on general administrative matters when moving to Germany.

  • Frugalisten.de (German). This is a blog of a pretty smart software engineer who is planning to become financially independent by age 40. For this, he saves a large amount of his income (and invests it into the stock market). He lives relatively frugal (minimalist lifestyle) and explains his perspective on investing, consuming and living a happy life (including family). In particular, his perspective on the stuff cloud may be useful to people moving between countries who prefer a minimalist lifestyle.