The German healthcare system with its dense network of highly qualified doctors is considered one of the best in the world. As a student in Germany, you benefit from optimum medical care and affordable insurance coverage. Either with an inexpensive compulsory student insurance policy with a German health insurance fund. Or with existing health insurance coverage policy from your home country which is recognised in Germany. Whatever the case: you cannot register at a German university without health insurance.
Health insurance for students If you wish to study in Germany, you always need health insurance. All statutory health insurance funds in the country are obliged to insure students up to the age of 30 (or to the end of the 14th full study semester) at a favourable student rate. If you turn 30 (or study for longer than 14 semesters) in Germany, you can continue to be insured through a statutory health insurance fund by paying a higher premium. If you are already older than 29 when you start studying, you can only take out private health insurance.
Important: Find out before your departure whether your health insurance from your home country is also recognised in Germany! This is the case:
• if a social security agreement exists between your country and Germany. This applies, among others, to members of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Macedonia. An updated list of countries to which this applies is available on the website of the German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroa.
• with certain German or foreign health insurance companies.
You come from a country which has a social security agreement with Germany?
Find out from your university’s International Office in good time which papers you need to present as proof of your health insurance coverage. EU nationals usually require a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or an E 128/E 111 form.
Important: Foreign insurance companies do not always pay for all the costs of medical treatment in Germany. In such cases, you will be obliged to pay for additional expenses yourself.
Insured in your home country
Are you insured in your home country?
Find out from your health insurance company whether it is also recognised in Germany. If it is, you will require confirmation that you are exempt from statutory health insurance when you register at your German university. Such confirmation can be obtained from any of the many German health insurance funds.
Please note: If you have private health insurance, you may not switch to the statutory health insurance scheme during the course of your studies. Also: Those with private insurance must pay for all medical treatment and medication in Germany in advance and then claim for reimbursement from their health insurance company.
You do not have health insurance that is valid in Germany?
If the insurance coverage you have in your home country is not recognised in Germany, you must take out a health insurance policy in this country.
Most students in Germany are insured with a statutory health insurance fund. In some cases, however, it is also possible to take out private insurance.
Insurance premium rates for students with statutory insurance funds are currently around 80 euro a month. This amount applies until the 14th semester and up to the age of 30.
After this, rates increase to at least 160 euro a month.
Important to know: Spouses and children of the insured person are included in the insurance for free if they have no (or only a minimal) income of their own. Make sure you pay your health insurance premiums regularly, otherwise you will be struck off the university register.
Ask the „Studentenwerk“ at your university about the service package for international students. Alongside accommodation and canteen vouchers, this package usually also includes health insurance!
Six things you should know about German health insurance
- As a member of a health insurance fund, you will receive an insurance card which you are required to present whenever you go to the doctor’s.
- There are many statutory health insurance funds in Germany. All of these insurance funds have to take you on as a member if you are subject to compulsory insurance. Basic contributions are identical. However, some health insurance funds charge an additional premium. So make sure you ask!
- You can only obtain medication in Germany from pharmacies, and many are only available on prescription. Even if you have a prescription from your doctor, you have to contribute between 5 and 13 euro per medication yourself. Depending on your financial situation and in the case of chronic illnesses, patients may be exempted from having to make personal contributions. Inquire at your health insurance fund.
- If you become so ill that you have to be hospitalised, you don’t need to worry about the costs of treatment. These are paid for the most part by your health insurance fund (with a maximum of 10 euro personal contribution per day).
- For some kinds of therapy, medical checkups and in particular dental treatment, you may have to pay a significant amount yourself. All doctors are obliged to inform you explicitly in advance of any additional expenses you may incur for so-called „individual health services“, and it is up to you to decide whether or not you use these extra services. If in doubt, contact your health insurance fund.
- As a patient in Germany, you have a right to choose your own doctor. This means you can in general decide yourself which doctor to consult or which hospital you wish to be treated in. The only condition is that if you are a member of a statutory health insurance fund, your doctor must be registered on the German health insurance panel, in other words, he or she is entitled to settle payments with your health insurance fund.
You have more questions about your health insurance coverage?
Registration / Enrolment
To study at a German university, you have to register or enrol. Once you have done this, you are entitled to make use of all the services available at your university.
Once you have registered, you officially obtain the status of a student
Only when you have registered are you entitled to attend classes, take exams, receive an academic degree and make use of university services such as the library, computer rooms and sports facilities. As a registered student, you may apply for a student ID, a library card, an e-mail address and access to the university intranet. Your registration number is often your password for important internal university communications such as enrolment lists for seminars or examination results.
How to register?
Either download the application form for registration online or collect it personally from the Registrar’s Office and fill it in.
Then transfer the semester fee or contribution to the account indicated on the application form. The semester contribution ranges from 50 to 250 euro depending on university and federal state.
Important! Once you have registered at a university, you „re-register“ for subsequent semesters by transferring the semester fee.
Each university organises its registration procedure in a different way. In most cases, you are required to go to the Registrar’s Office in person. At some universities, you may also submit your completed application form online or by post. You will be informed of the procedure when you receive your letter of acceptance or if you contact the International Office.
Important! Registration deadlines are often short.
Documents needed for registration
You can find out which documents you need to take with you when you register in the letter of acceptance or by inquiring at the International Office.
You may be required to present the following papers when you register:
- the completed application form
- the letter of acceptance
- proof of health insurance
- proof of higher education entrance qualification, in other words all certificates, either original documents or officially certified copies and translations passport
- proof of knowledge of German
- proof that the semester contribution has been paid
- for some subjects, proof that the aptitude test has been passed (e.g. artistic courses, design, architecture or sport)
- for Masters‘ degrees or doctoral programmes: proof of university degree/the equivalency of foreign university degree; possibly a letter from the professor who supervised you
Please note: You have to present these documents even if you did so for the admissions procedure.
As soon as you have registered, you will receive a registration certificate. With this certificate, you can carry out all further steps, such as applying for a residence permit from the foreigners‘ authority. You should now also register at the student registration office in your faculty/institute and at your department library. It is also advisable to enrol promptly for especially popular classes, such as language courses, to ensure you get a place.
The registration certificate replaces your regular student ID which you will be able to collect or is sent to you by post at a later date. Your student ID entitles you to use all facilities at your university, and you will receive discounts on many public services, such as local transport, museums, theatres or public baths.
You’ve made it! Now that you are registered, you are officially a student at a German university. The next step is to organise your course of study.
Reporting to the authorities
Once you have found accommodation and registered at university, you have to fulfill a number of other formalities.
First stop: The registration authorities
As soon as you have found a room or an apartment, you are required to report to the registration authorities within the period of one week. Reporting to the registration authorities is a compulsory procedure for everyone who has a place of residence in Germany. You can find out the address of your registration authority from the International Office. To register, you must present
• your passport, if necessary with a visa,
• your rental agreement or confirmation from your landlord that you have moved into his/her accommodation,
• possibly other documents such as the registration certificate from your university. It’s best to inquire at your International Office beforehand to find out exactly what papers you need.
Important: The registration authorities will provide you with confirmation of registration. Make sure you keep this in a safe place.
Are you an EU national or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway?
If so, you will have already received confirmation of your right of residence from the registration authorities. Under certain circumstances, you may be required to prove you have sufficient financial resources and health insurance coverage. It’s best to inquire beforehand at your International Office.
Residence permit and foreigners‘ authorities
If you do not come from the above countries, you need a so-called residence permit for the purpose of studying from the foreigners‘ authorities. You must report to this office in person within three months of your arrival.
You can find out the address of the foreigners‘ authorities from the International Office. International Office staff will also tell you which documents you need to take with you.
As a rule, the following documents are required:
- confirmation of registration from the registration authorities (see above),
- proof of health insurance
- registration certificate from your German university,
- possibly proof of financial resources,
- your passport, possibly with visa
- possibly a health certificate. You can obtain more details about this from the German diplomatic agency in your country when you apply for your visa, or from the foreigners‘ authorities in your university town.
- possibly your rental agreement,
- sufficient cash to pay fees,
- biometric passport photos.
The first time you apply for a residence permit, you will be required to pay a fee of up to 110 euro, and up to 80 euro for an extension. You can find out the exact rates from your university’s International Office.
After four to six weeks, you can collect your residence permit personally from the foreigners‘ authorities. It is initially issued for a year but may be extended.
he residence permit has been issued in the form of an electronic residence permit. You receive a chip card which stores certain data, including a passport photo and fingerprints.
Do you have more questions about the residence permit?
More detailed information is contained in the DAAD leaflet „Information on the Statutory Frameworks Applicable to Entry and Residence of Foreign Students and Academics“.
More information also can be found on the website of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
You have successfully fulfilled all bureaucratic obligations at the registration authorities and foreigners‘ authorities? If so, now is the time to start organising your course of study.