As an international researcher or instructor at the University of Münster, there are some formalities that you need to take care of before and after you arrive.
In most cases formalities are taken care of in a particular order.
Visa / Entering the country
Citizens of certain countries require an entry visa when arriving in Germany. On the following pages, you will find information about whether you will have to apply for visa, and if so, when and which one.
In Germany, anyone who moves to a new place of residence is required to register with the local authorities. You and the members of your family will have to register at the local Resident Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) within one week of entering Germany or moving to a new address. For your registration you will need:
- an identity card or passport
- form entitled “Registering with the Authorities” ("Anmeldung bei der Meldebehörde")
At the Citizens Office in Münster (Bürgerbüro Mitte), you will receive a:
- certificate of registration which is required for extending your visa or opening a bank account
- police clearance certificate (polizeiliches Führungszeugnis) which the University requires for concluding your employment contract. Foreign employees should submit a corresponding certificate issued in their home country.
At your local tax office (in Münster: the Finanzamt Münster Innenstadt or Finanzamt Münster Außenstadt), you will receive:
- tax income deduction certificate if you have an employment contract with the University of Münster lasting more than 183 days. If you are staying in Germany for a shorter period, the University’s personnel department will apply to the Düsseldorf-Süd Tax Office for a certificate for persons with limited tax liability.
Change of address/Leaving the country:
If you change your address during your stay, you must re-register at the Residents Registration Office in your new district. When you leave Germany at the end of your research stay, you must de-register there as well.
If you are non-EU citizen and wish to stay in Germany for longer than three months, you will have to replace your visa with a residence permit after you arrive. In most cases, it is clear which residence permit applies to your situation – as stipulated by the relevant paragraph of the Immigration Act. To learn which documents you will have to present to the authorities, please consult our checklist. Additional documents may be requested depending on one's individual situation.
In some cases, you may be allowed to choose the paragraph named in the residence permit. Depending on your situation, this decision can entail advantages or disadvantages.
- Residence permit for the purpose of studying or earning a PhD (§ 16b): This paragraph applies to students and doctoral candidates who have enrolled in a course of study leading to a PhD.
- Settlement permit for highly qualified persons (§ 18c, Abs. 3): This paragraph is limted to highly qualified individuals – so-called academic professionals and executives in business, academia and research. Under very special conditions, which include recommendations by the research institute and other international institutions connected with the researcher, a permanent settlement permit can be issued through § 18c, Abs. 3.
- EU Blue Card (§ 18b, Abs. 3 and 18c, Abs. 3): The EU Blue Card promotes inner-European mobility of researchers, which means it applies to non-EU citizens who enter Germany from a third country, as well as anyone who already holds an EU Blue Card and is currently staying in another EU member country. It may also be issued to academics who are already in Germany. To be eligible for a Blue Card, applicants must have a degree from a German university, or one from a foreign university which is either recognised or comparable to a German degree, an employment contract and a minimum salary. (Blue Card to work in the EU)
- Residence permit for the purpose of research (§ 18d): This paragraph applies to academics with a specific research project, both employed and financed by a grant. For this purpose a hosting agreement must be signed with the research institute. Further information on the conditions and advantages of this type of visa can be found under “researcher visa”.
- Settlement permit (§ 9)
- Permanent EU residence permit (§ 9a)
The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has compiled a list of criteria for the various residence permits. Further information is available from the EURAXESS Germany website.
Work permit, employment contract, appointment and salary
Academic staff, visiting researchers and technical staff in research teams do not require any special approval from the German Federal Employment Agency. If you are a foreign national and wish to take up academic employment, the local Foreigners Registration Office can issue you the relevant permit and add it to your residence permit.
Foreigner's Registration Office of the City of Münster
Citizens of the European Union and nationals from the European Economic Area and Switzerland enjoy freedom of movement for workers. They do not need any approval to take up gainful employment.
Employment contracts / appointments
The conditions of employment for academic staff are provided in an employment contract with the University of Münster. Professors and academics with civil-servant status, on the other hand, receive an appointment, i.e. an official document confirming their appointment to the respective position.
Salaries for civil servants are defined by the German Civil Servants’ Remuneration Act and by the relevant state regulations. Professors’ salaries are defined by the Academics’ Remuneration scale.
Salaries for research assistants in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are determined by the applicable remuneration group laid down in the tariff agreement for public service employees (TV-L).
Freedom of Movement certificate
The Freedom of Movement certificate (Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung) for academics from the EU has been discontinued. Foreign nationals planning to stay in Germany longer than three months are required to register at the local Residents Registration Office.
Opening a bank account
If you stay in Germany for an extended period of time, receive a regular salary or scholarship payments, and have to pay rent and utilities, it makes sense to open a giro (checking) account, which you can do at any bank branch. To open an account, you will need a passport or identity card and the certificate of registration from the Citizens Office. Some banks also ask to see the residence permit issued by the Foreigners Registration Office.
Commercial and savings banks: There is hardly any difference between a commercial (merchant) bank and a savings bank in term of the services they provide. Bank charges can, however, vary. You should therefore inquire about these in advance. After opening your giro account, your bank will issue you a debit card (bank card, savings bank card, EC card) with which you can withdraw money from cash dispensers at your own bank (at no charge) or at other banks (for a fee).
Money transfers: Money transfers from countries outside Europe can be expensive. You should ask your home bank about its charges for such services, and then, if possible, select a bank in Germany with which it cooperates.
List of commercial and savings banks in Münster [de]
Social Insurance and health insurance
The social insurance system in Germany covers insurance for old age, unemployment, illness and nursing care. Both the employee and employer pay an equal share of the contributions into the scheme. Contributions to the statutory accident insurance scheme are paid only by the employer.
All employees are responsible for arranging their own health insurance. Therefore, it is important to note the following:
In Germany, health insurance is compulsory for researchers and any members of their family accompanying them. You will need proof of health insurance cover in order to obtain your residence permit and sign an employment contract. For short-term stays up to 3 months, your insurance policy must at least cover any medical treatment in the case of acute illness or accident. For longer periods, it must be on the level of a German statutory insurance, as explained below. In fact, Germany there are two types of health insurance: statutory and private.
Statutory health insurance
There is a uniform contribution rate of 14.6 percent (July 2021) for all statutory health insurance providers, of which the employer and the employee each pay 7.3%. Employees’ contributions are deducted at source from their gross salary. Furthermore, statutory health insurances can charge employees an additional individual contribution. Although their services are largely defined by German law, there are differences between the providers, e.g. in the areas of customer service, additional benefits and optional plans. Employees are free to choose their own statutory health insurance provider. If you do not make any choice yourself, the University of Münster will register you with the AOK fund.
Private health insurance
If you earn more than 66,360 euros a year (or 5,550 euros per month as of 2023), you can sign up for private health insurance and if you carry out research without a work contract, this is your only option. Unlike statutory health insurance, contributions into a private health insurance scheme do not depend on income but rather a variety of criteria, which define one’s risk profile (age, gender, profession, state of health) as well as by the insurance cover desired. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the premium. Private patients receive invoices made out to them personally. You will have to pay these yourself and the health insurance company will reimburse you later.
More information on health insurance from the EURAXESS network
If you are an EU citizen and have health insurance cover in your home country, you may receive medical treatment in other EU member states – as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and have the costs reimbursed by your insurance provider at home. However, this might be limited to emergencies or acute illness.
More information on health insurance for EU citizens
Liability and accident insurance
Anyone who causes damages is obliged to pay for their repair or replacement in full. For this reason, we recommend that you take out private liability insurance. Otherwise you will have to pay for these damages out of your own pocket.
If you happen to have a job-related accident, you are covered by accident insurance taken out and paid for by your employer. If you wish, you may also take out private accident insurance to cover any accidents outside your working time.
Staying in Germany on a scholarship/grant
If you come to Germany on a study or research scholarship, you may be exempt from paying taxes here in accordance with German income tax law. To find out whether and which tax exemptions apply, please contact the scholarship/grant provider. You should also look into whether you will have to pay taxes in your home country on the scholarship money you received in Germany.
Staying in Germany with an employment contract
If your research stay in Germany lasts longer than a half a year on the basis of an employment contract, you are liable to pay taxes in Germany on all the income you have earned worldwide.
Double taxation agreement
To prevent foreigners from having to pay taxes simultaneously in Germany and in their home countries, there exist so-called double taxation agreements with many countries which specify where foreign employees are obliged to pay taxes.
Application for a certificate for employees with limited tax liability [de]
At the end of every calendar year, you can (if you have been staying in Germany for more than 183 days) declare your taxes to the tax office in the town or city in which your reside. This declaration may possibly lead to a reimbursement of some of the taxes you have paid. The necessary forms can be obtained from your local tax office or at the town hall.
German tax law is unique in that it also levies a church tax. Under certain conditions, religious communities can have their church tax collected for them by the state. For the major churches (i.e. Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish), church tax (9% of income tax) is collected by the state, along with income tax, and is deducted from an employee’s monthly salary at source. For this reason you must indicate whether you belong to a religious community when you register at your local Resident Registration Office.
More information on taxes at Euraxess
You can receive a pension from the German statutory pension scheme when you reach retirement age, provided you have at least five qualifying years (years when contributions were paid; maternal/paternal leave)
If you have not paid into the system for a full five years and return abroad, you can, under certain conditions, apply to have the pension contributions reimbursed.