Living in Lower Saxony

"Order is a Must"?!

Whether the people in Germany are really as keen on order as their reputation says, you will have to find out for yourself once you are in Lower Saxony. However, there really are a few formalities that you should get out of way in the first weeks after your arrival, so that everything is "in order" with your documents and your resident status:

Once you have found accommodation, you have two weeks to register with the Residents' Registration Office ("Einwohnermeldeamt") of your place of residence. In some towns, these registration offices are called "Bürgeramt" or "Bürgerzentrum", or they may be part of the "Bürgerbüro" in your part of town. For the exact address, please check online or contact your International Office

For the registration you will need the following documents: 

  • valid passport, visa or ID
  • a lease agreement or a comparable written confirmation from your landlord/landlady, which proves that you have moved into your accommodation.

Sometimes you will also need the enrolment certificate from your university. For details, please ask your International Office. 

Once you have provided all the necessary documents, you will be given a registration certificate.

EU: If you are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will not need a residence permit. Instead, you will receive a certificate confirming your right of residence in Germany when you register at the Residents' Registration Office. At the Residents' Registration Office, you may be asked to provide a proof of financial resources and a proof that you have valid health insurance for the duration of your stay in Germany.

Non-EU: If you are not from one of the countries above, you will have to apply for a residence permit at the local Foreigners' Registration Office.  Please ask your International Office about the address. They will also tell you which documents will be required for the application. 

Your initial residence permit will be valid for at least one year and a maximum of two years, but can be extended on request and if you progress sufficiently with your studies. 

Last updated: October 2018

If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than a few weeks, and if your bank at home does not offer good terms for transactions abroad, it may be worth opening a checking account at a German bank. For students, this is usually free of charge and pretty simple. 

You can then arrange standing orders, e. g. for your rent or the fees for your internet connection. Also, you will receive an EC/debit card, which you can use to withdraw money free of charge at the cash machines belonging to your bank, as well as to pay cashless in many shops, bars and restaurants. While many shops accept credit cards (especially Visa, Master Card or American Express) as well, the EC card is much more common in Germany.

If you are not a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, a driving licence acquired in your home country is valid for a maximum of six months in Germany. If you can prove that you will not stay in Germany for more than 12 months,your foreign driving licence can - in exceptional cases and on request - be extended for another six months.

Should you wish to drive a car in Germany after this period, you need to have your driving licence transferred into a German driving licence. Depending on your country of origin, you may be required to take another driving test. Please contact the driving licence authority of your place of residence in Germany ahead of time.

Get more information here or at your local driving licence authority.

Video: Residents' Registration Office & Residence Permit

Video: © DAAD/Study in Germany – Land of Ideas