First Steps

Visa, health insurance, registration - first steps / Pixabay

First Steps

New to Hamburg? Arrange your visa, learn German, register at the city authorities, get health insurance and open a bank account. 

First Steps


Start the application process for an entry visa, residency permit or working permit early, as it may take several months to complete. Typically, visa application has to be done in person at the German diplomatic mission closest to your home country. If you’re a citizen from an EU or EEA country, you have the right to live, work and study in Germany without any visa or permits.

It’s advisable to have some knowledge of the German language before moving to Hamburg. A basic understanding and the ability to introduce yourself in German not only makes daily life easier, it also helps with practical matters such as filling out official forms and setting up a bank account.

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone taking up residence in Germany. Making sure you’re adequately covered before you arrive in Hamburg is your own responsibility. If you’re an employee or student, you’ll most likely take part in the German statutory social insurance system.

After arrival

Registering your current residency at the city authorities should be one of the first things you do. You’ll immediately receive a proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung), a social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer) and tax identity number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) will be automatically sent to your registered address.

Setting up a bank account (Girokonto) isn’t difficult, but does take some planning. It’s easiest to walk in at a bank office and schedule for a later appointment. Be sure to bring your passport, residency permit, proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung) and documents stating you’re a student or employee.

Keep your German language skills in shape by attending a language course. Hamburg boasts a variety of language schools that teach German as a foreign language for all levels. You can also consider finding a tandem language buddy or joining an informal language club to practice your conversational skills.

More information about the visa process and other newcomer's topics can be found at the Hamburg Welcome Portal.

First Steps