Topics A-Z

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Accident insurance

The occupational accident insurance is part of the German social security system. As an employee of the University of Bonn, you are covered by statutory accident insurance. Insurance coverage includes accidents that occur at work and on the way there and back. Occupational diseases are also insured. It does not apply to private accidents. If you cannot have occupational accident insurance, the treatment costs after an accident are paid for by health insurance, but a difference only becomes clear after serious accidents. Especially when expensive rehabilitation measures are necessary, health insurance companies often completely refuse to take over high-cost treatments or at least partially. In contrast to health insurance companies, professional associations as carriers of accident insurance, normally pay for all necessary treatments and rehabilitation measures, provided they are medically necessary. In the event of disability or death, the occupational accident insurance pays a disability pension or survivor's pension. Employees are compulsorily insured in the relevant professional association, the full amount of the contributions is paid by the employer. Attention: Visiting researchers and scholarship holders without an employment contract should check in advance to what extent they are covered in the event of an accident at their workplace.

Accommodation search

The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you in finding accommodation. An International Guest House is available at the University of Bonn, for which you can quickly and easily make a reservation online. It is advisable to reserve an apartmet as early as possible. As far as possible, we also support you in finding accommodation on the free housing market in Bonn. However, we ask for your understanding that our capacities in this area are limited. Please note that it is very difficult to find suitable housing in Bonn and that rents are very high.

Further information:


Bank account

If you do not have a bank account in the SEPA area ("Single European Payment Area"), opening a current account with a German bank is advisable in any case in order to receive salary payments or scholarships. However, if you already have a SEPA bank account, this is not necessary as payments in the SEPA area are made in the same way.

As a rule, you will receive an EC card and / or a credit card when you open a current account in Germany. In Germany, cashless payment in shops is often done via EC card, whereas online transactions are usually carried out by credit card.

Please note: In order to open a bank account in Germany, you must have registered your place of residence beforehand. The bank must also be shown a tax identification number (tax ID) after 90 days at the latest. After registering your place of residence, you will automatically receive the tax ID by post. This can be submitted to the bank later on.

The following banks have branches in Bonn (list is not exhaustive):

The Welcome Center for International Researchers will be happy to help you open a bank account.

Broadcasting fee

In Germany there is a legal obligation to pay for public service broadcasting, since public service radio and television stations are largely financed by these broadcasting contributions. The ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service - (Rundfunk) Beitragsservice - collects the radio contributions for the public service broadcasters. The broadcasting fee is levied as a flat fee, regardless of the actual receivers. The monthly contribution per apartment is currently EUR 17.50 (as of April 2019).

You can easily register and change your personal data (e.g. after moving within Germany) online. If you do not register online, you will automatically receive a letter from the ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service prompting you to do so.

Important note: As a resident of the International Guesthouse at the University of Bonn, you do not have to pay a broadcasting fee!



The various canteens - Mensa - of the Studierendenwerk Bonn take care of your physical well-being on site. For payment you need a canteen card - Mensa Card - which you can get for a deposit of 5.00 EUR in all canteens and at the info.point at the canteen Nassestraße. Employees present their employment contract for this purpose. Upon request, visiting scientists and scholarship holders without an employment contract can obtain an ID for visiting scientists in the Welcome Center, with which they can receive a canteen card.


Documents and translations

  • You should bring the following documents with you for your research stay in Bonn:
  • Valid passport or ID document (valid for the entire duration of your stay in Germany)
  • If necessary, visa passport photos for ID cards and documents (ideally biometric passport photos)
  • Confirmation of your financing (scholarship, salary from your home country) in German or English
  • If necessary, proof of health insurance in German or English with confirmation of the monthly contributions.
  • If you are insured in Germany due to an employment contract: confirmation of your previous health insurance (if applicable, European Health Insurance Card from your previous insurance)
  • Certified copies of your academic degrees in German or English translation
  • Birth certificate and marriage certificate, if possible with German or English translation. Depending on the country of issue, certificates require an apostille or legalization. The Ausländeramt Bonn only accepts marriage or birth certificates that have an apostille or legalization by the German Embassy.
  • Copies and certified translations of your children's birth certificates (with apostille or legalization if necessary)
  • Credit card and / or debit card
  • If applicable, (international) vaccination certificate and documents on illnesses and/or needed medication
  • If you want to drive a car during your stay in Germany: international driving license or foreign driving license

Do you need a certified translation of your documents (marriage certificate, birth certificate, diplomas, etc.)? You can use the search engine to find suitable translators and interpreters in North Rhine-Westphalia and beyond on the website of the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators and on the website of the Justice Interpreters.

Driving license and car

Obtaining a German driving license

If you want to drive a car yourself during your stay in Germany, you need a valid driver's license. Driving licenses from EU or EEA countries are valid indefinitely in Germany. An international driver's license is also recognized in Germany. Driving licenses from non-European countries (with German translation) lose their validity after six months. You must then apply for a German driver's license from the driver's license office at the Citizens' Office in Bonn. Depending on the country of origin, you have to take another driving test (theoretical and / or practical). Whether you are allowed to drive a vehicle with a foreign driving license in Germany and under what conditions a transfer is possible must be clarified in each individual case based on the country of origin. You should apply for the transfer of the driver's license as early as possible, at least three months before the deadline.

Registration of a motor vehicle

Depending on your personal circumstances, it may be necessary to register your motor vehicle in Germany. To register, you must contact the motor vehicle registration office of the City of Bonn.



Are you accompanied by your family during your stay in Bonn? Maybe you are bringing your children as well? We want your relatives to feel comfortable in Bonn right from the beginning. The University of Bonn has its own family office, which is your first point of contact for all questions relating to family (e.g. school, kindergarten, parental allowance).


German courses

If you want to use your time in Germany to improve your German skills, a language course can be very helpful. Both the university and numerous language schools in the city offer German courses at all levels. The language tandems of the language learning center or the online courses of Deutsche Welle and the German Adult Education Association - Volkshochschule/VHS - are also popular.


Health insurance

Health insurance is part of the German social security system. In Germany, valid health insurance is compulsory and must be demonstrated, for example, when applying for a visa, when signing an employment contract or when being issued a residence permit. Insurance from abroad is only sufficient in a few exceptional cases; very often only health insurance from German insurance companies is recognized. In Germany there are both private and statutory health insurance schemes. Whether you can take out private or statutory insurance generally depends on whether you are employed in Germany or otherwise financed (e.g. through a scholarship, funding from your home university, your own funds).


IT support

The University Computing Center can help you with all IT issues at the University of Bonn. The IT help desk set up for this purpose is open from Monday to Friday, from 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.



The University and State Library Bonn - ULB is accessible for employees as well as for international guest researchers. You will need a library card to use the facility. Employees submit their employment contract for this purpose, guest researchers or scholarship holders without an employment contract can obtain an ID for guest researchers (see above) in the Welcome Center, with which you will be able to receive a library card.


Medical care

Medical care in Bonn is very good. There are around 20 hospitals, specialist outpatient clinics and day clinics in Bonn, as well as the University Hospital Bonn with 32 clinics and 23 institutes. More than 2,800 doctors, who represent over 40 specialist areas in Bonn's hospitals and medical practices, care for the residents of Bonn and also large parts of the neighboring districts.

Moving within Bonn

If you change apartments within the city of Bonn during your stay, you should notify various authorities. The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you. If this applies to you, you should inform the following offices:

  • Citizens service center - Bürgerbüro - at City Hall
  • HR department
  • State Office for Salaries and Pensions (LBV)
  • If applicable: grant provider
  • Bank
  • Health insurance
  • Other insurance providers (e.g. liability insurance)
  • Mobile phone operator
  • ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio contribution service (broadcasting fee)
  • Energy providers

It may be advisable to request a redirection service from Deutsche Post.


Pension insurance

Pension insurance is part of the German social security system. As an employee of the University of Bonn, you automatically pay contributions to the statutory pension insurance as well as to the company pension scheme VBL. On the other hand, guest researchers or scholars without a contract do not pay contributions to the German social security system.

In the following leaflet we have summarized the most important information for employees.

Planning your journey

Bonn is easily accessible from Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt airports. Trains with direct connections to major German and European cities, very good motorway access and numerous local transport connections offer an optimal transport infrastructure.

By train

The best way to get to the university by train is via Bonn Hbf or the Siegburg/Bonn ICE train station on the east side of the Rhine. Bonn Central Station is in the heart of the city, on the west side of the Rhine. From the Siegburg/Bonn train station, take the underground line no. 66 towards Bad Honnef (travel time to Bonn main station: 25 minutes).

By plane

The closest airport is Cologne/Bonn airport - CGN. From there you can take the express bus no. SB60 (from Terminal 2) to Bonn Hbf. From Düsseldorf Airport - DUS, we recommend arriving by train, which will take you to Bonn in about 1 hour (train line RE 5). From Frankfurt Airport - FRA, the ICE train connection to Cologne with a stop in Siegburg/Bonn is recommended, from there continue with the underground train lin no 66 in the direction of Bad Honnef. Total travel time is about 1.5 hours.

Public transport

Bonn and the region have a very well developed network of local public transport. Whether train, bus, tram, rental bike or e-scooter - everything is possible. You don't need a car for city traffic. And even better: As an employee of the University of Bonn, you can get a JobTicket if you want, which allows you to use local public transport at a discount.

Further information:


Registration at the Citizens Service Center 

If you move to Bonn, you have to register in person at the Citizens Service Center within two weeks of moving in. Registration is not required for stays of a maximum of 3 months. You can also get an appointment for registration at short notice via the Welcome Center for International Researchers.

Residence permit 

While the visa only permits entry and short-term stays, you need a residence permit for stays that exceed 90 days. An exception applies to nationals of EU / EEA countries: They do not need a residence permit, but simply register their place of residence with the citizens' office in Bonn.

If you need a residence permit and you are resident in Bonn, you can apply for the residence permit after making an appointment with the Immigration Office of the City of Bonn.

The team at the Welcome Center for International Researchers will be happy to make an appointment for you - just contact us.

Please make sure that you apply for a residence permit for Germany before your visa expires.



During your research stay in Bonn you can of course also participate in the university sports program of the University of Bonn. The offer includes more than 150 sports at all levels. The university also has its own gym and other great sports facilities and grounds.

University of Bonn employees (with a work contract)

1) Visit the website and find out about the general conditions of participation

2) Book a semester ticket at:

3) Choose a sport course at:

4) Book the desired sports course on the respective page and select the status "Beschäftigte Uni Bonn"  

Visiting researchers / scholarship holders (without a work contract)

1) Visit the website and find out about the general conditions of participation

2) Fill in the declaration of participation for external people, which you can find here:

3) Send an email to [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.] with the subject "Visiting Researcher Card" and state your name and contact details. Please attach a scan of your Visiting Researcher Card and the declaration of participation for external students to the email. You can request a Visiting Researcher Card from the Welcome Center.

4) You will receive the participant card by post, which entitles you to book your desired sports course.

5) Choose a sports offfer at:

6) Enrol in the desired sports activity on the respective page and select the "Inhaber Teilnehmerausweis" status.



Whether you have to pay taxes in Germany depends on whether you work here or are financed by a scholarship. The duration of your stay is also decisive. We have summarized the most important information for you in the following leaflets:


Unemployment insurance - Arbeitslosenversicherung

Unemployment insurance is part of the German social security system. It provides insurance protection for unemployed people so that they have a secure income while looking for work. If you have worked in Germany prior to unemployment and have been insured for 360 calendar days in the past three years and are available for job placement, you are generally entitled to German unemployment benefit. Employment times from EU Member States / EEA countries and Switzerland can also be taken into account.

Unemployment insurance is taken from the salary directly. The employee does not have to worry about it. As a rule, the employer pays one half of the contributions, the employee the other half. The employer registers his / her employee with a chosen health insurance company, which then automatically reports to all other social security institutions.

You will have to find out to what extent the contribution periods in Germany are recognized by unemployment insurance in other countries. If you return to a country that does not have a social security agreement with Germany, it is not possible to receive German unemployment benefit there. In this case, contributions will not be refunded. The Federal Employment Agency and its local employment agencies are responsible for the unemployment insurance.


Visa and entry

You usually need a visa to enter Germany. Citizens of EU and EEA countries are exempt from the visa requirement, as well as nationals of countries with which corresponding agreements exist.

Visa must be requested from the German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence before you enter the country. It takes at least 4 to 6 weeks to process a visa application, in some cases you can even expect a processing time of several months. We therefore recommend that you apply for a visa as early as possible. Please also ask the German diplomatic mission in your home or country of residence whether you need a visa at all.

You can apply for the following visa to enter Germany:  

National visa (D visa)

  • Must be applied for if the planned stay is longer than 90 days (regardless of whether employment is planned or not).
  • Must be applied for if employment is planned (also for stays of less than 90 days).
  • With this visa, you should expect a processing time of several months.
  • In Germany, this visa can be converted into a long-term residence permit.  

Schengen visa (C visa)

  • Is only valid for a maximum stay of 90 days.
  • Does not allow gainful employment and no (doctoral) studies.
  • Not renewable. You cannot apply for a residence permit whilst on this visa. After a Schengen visa has expired, you must leave Germany in any case.
  • This visa is rather not recommended for research stays, since it does not make it possible to change the purpose of the stay or to extend the length of stay. Only if it is clear beforehand that you are leaving again after max. 90 days and you are not gainfully employed, this visa is an option.  

Please note:

  • The entry and visa requirements for Germany change frequently. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you should in any case consult the German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence.
  • Visa and residence permit are different documents. A visa only entitles the holder to entry. If a longer stay (more than 90 days) is desired, you must apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office of the City of Bonn after your arrival. The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you in making an appointment.
  • A visa is applied for a specific purpose, e.g. for taking up work or for study purposes. You are bound to the approved purpose. If you will be working in Germany, you will usually need a visa that allows you to work.
  • Please inform the responsible diplomatic mission at which you apply for your visa that you as a scientist are free of consent in accordance with Section 34 (2) of the Residence Ordinance. The immigration office in Bonn does not have to be involved accordingly.
  • In the event that you apply for a visa with which you would like to sign an employment contract in Germany, you can point out to the diplomatic mission in your home country that you, as a researcher, are free of consent in accordance with Section 5 of the Employment Ordinance. The agency for work in Bonn does not have to be involved.
  • If you have any doubts or questions about entry requirements, please contact the team at the Welcome Center - we will be happy to help you.

Visiting Researcher Card

International researchers who do not have an employment contract at the University of Bonn can apply for a Visiting Researcher Card at the Welcome Center for International Researchers. The card serves as proof of authorization

  • for using the University and State Library - ULB
  • to use the canteens - Mensa - of the Studierendenwerk Bonn
  • and to participate in university sports.

To use the library and the canteens, please show your card at the information desk. If you would like to participate in university sports, please note the relevant information in the "Sports" section. The Visiting Researcher Card can be obtained at any time on request from [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.].

Questions? Feel free to contact us.


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