We receive all kinds of questions concerning research stays at the University of Bonn. In this section, we have compiled some of the most frequent questions and, of course, the answers.

Do I need a visa to enter Germany?

As a general rule, foreigners require a visa to enter the country. A visa can usually be obtained at a German mission abroad and we recommend applying for a visa as early as possible. The process of applying for a visa usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks, but could take up to several months.

Depending on the duration and purpose of your stay, you either need a Schengen or National Visa.

Citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) neither require an entry visa nor a residence permit for stays of longer duration.

Do I need a work permit for Germany?

Academic staff at universities and research institutes, and guest researchers or technical staff working in a guest researcher’s research team, do not require approval from the Federal Employment Agency to pursue their occupation.

The Immigration Office can grant authorization to pursue the academic activity in question and this will be stated on the residence permit.

How do I find accommodation in Bonn?

Accommodation is one of the most pressing - and challenging - issues at the beginning of a research stay in Bonn. Affordable and centrally located housing options are very limited. Therefore, we strongly recommend starting the search for accommodation in your home or residence country before travelling to Germany.

To a certain extent, the International Office can help you searching for accommodation. We keep a list of apartments offered by private landlords. If this is of interest, please contact our Accommodation Support Services.

Do I need health insurance in Germany?

Yes, health insurance is compulsory for everyone in Germany. You will need to present proof of sufficient health insurance when you apply for a visa. This also includes coverage of all accompanying family members.

There are different conditions for employees, fellows and public servants. Therefore, please carefully read the respective sections of this website.

Can my children go to school in Bonn?

Yes, your children can go to school in Germany. In fact, they are obliged to go to school up to the age of 15. 

You usually decide which school to choose after a visit and an interview with the headteacher. Depending on the Federal State, the school year normally begins after the summer holidays between July and September.

Can I obtain a monthly pass for public transportation?

Yes, monthly passes for regional public transportation are available from the Transport Authority "Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (VRS)". In addition, employees at the University of Bonn are eligible to subscribe to a so-called "Job-Ticket". This ticket is available at a very reasonable price and has many benefits.

Unfortunately, fellows who conduct research at the University of Bonn are not eligible to sign up for the "Job-Ticket".

Does the University of Bonn offer German courses for international researchers?

Yes, the Welcome Center in cooperation with Pro-Integration e.V. offers German courses from beginner's to advanced levels to international researchers and their spouses. The courses start in April and September of each year.

If you are interested in partcipating in one of the courses, you are required to register at the Welcome Center first. You will then receive all relevant information concerning the application to the courses.

Do I earn pension rights during my research stay in Germany?

This question is rather complex and cannot simply be answered with a "yes".

As an employee at the University of Bonn, your monthly contributions to the statutory social insurance and occupational pension scheme are automatically deducted from your salary. Therefore, you generally earn pension rights. Please note that there are some particularities that need to be considered. If in doubt, please consult the Welcome Centre.

As a fellow you are generally not liable for statutory social insurance payments. In order to avoid gaps in your pension contributions during the fellowship period you can pay voluntary contributions to the “Deutsche Rentenversicherung” (statutory pension scheme). 

As a public servant you generally do earn pension rights. Please note that you will have to wait for at least 5 years in order to be eligible to claim those rights. Otherwise, your rights will lapse without substitution.

My spouse would like to join me and is planning to take up employment in Germany. Is he/she allowed to do so?

If your spouse is not an academic, but would like to work in Germany, he/she will usually require approval from the Federal Employment Agency.

He/she needs to apply to the Immigration Office for a residence permit which allows him/her to pursue gainful employment, and also present proof that he/she has already received a job offer. The Immigration Office will then forward the application to the Federal Employment Agency which will check whether there are German or EU citizens who should be given priority. This can take up to several weeks or even months.

Do I have to pay taxes in Germany?

If you have a work contract for your research stay in Germany and will be staying for longer than six months, you will effectively be liable to taxation in Germany on your globally-earned income and assets.

If your research stay will be funded by a fellowship you may, under certain circumstances, be exempt from taxation under the German Income Tax Act (Einkommenssteuergesetz). However, it is definitely worth consulting the organization that has awarded the fellowship on this point. Furthermore, you should find out whether the fellowship paid in Germany is subject to taxation in your home or residence country.

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