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  • Before arrival

    Organisation of the stay  

    Campus Bielefeld University
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You have not yet been admitted to the programme or have been accepted for a research stay? Then please inform yourself here first:

Before arrival

If you are planning a study or research stay at Bielefeld University, you will need to deal with some topics before you arrive. You also have the opportunity to take part in information events before How to Find Us.

Facilitating the start - in presence and zoom

The International Office offers you a variety of orientation events to flank the offers in the subjects.

Overview of support services

Orientation days before the first semester

Find out as early as possible what you need to organise administratively and professionally before your arrival. You can also make social contacts in advance:

Starting your studies


The International Mentoring Programme aims to support international students by providing them with mentors from all subjects who offer support in everyday life and studying.


Preparation in the home country

Visa and and residence permit

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Further sources of information

  • Federal Foreign Office
  • Work in Germany
  • Make it in Germany


General information on visa and residence permit

A visa entitles you to enter Germany. It is applied for in the respective country of current residence before entering Germany. The first port of call are the representations of the Federal Republic of Germany. In most cases, a visa is issued for a project duration of 90 days. This entitles you to enter Germany directly and to enter Germany via the Schengen countries. Information for visas can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

A residence permit entitles you to stay in Germany. You apply for it after your arrival in Germany. The foreigners authorities of the respective place of residence are responsible. When first issued, a residence permit is limited in time according to its purpose.

Non-EU citizens require a visa to enter Germany.

This does not apply to passport holders of countries with which Germany has concluded a separate entry agreement, including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA.

An overview of the list of countries with visa requirements and exemptions can be found at the Federal Foreign Office.

Staff, people who have a current residence title in another country of the Schengen area can enter Germany visa-free for tourist or visiting purposes for up to 90 days (within 180 days).

There are two types of visa:

  1. Short-term Schengen visa - Category C (stay up to 90 days)
    Please note, the visa cannot be extended in Germany! (For exceptional cases, please consult the Foreigners' Registration Office)
  2. Long-term National Visa - Category D (stay longer than 90 days)
  1. Study application (aptitude test)
  2. Preparatory language course
  3. Study/Phd studies
  4. Gainful employment/academic specialist
  5. Research stay
  6. Business trip (conference, network meeting, delegation)
  7. Family reunion

When applying for a visa or residence permit, you must always be able to prove that you have sufficient means of subsistence. This means that you have enough income each month to cover all living expenses in Germany (rent, health insurance, semester fee, transport, etc.).

For single persons, you must prove that you have at least the current BAföG rate: As of 2023 -> at least 934€ per month.

If you are entering with more than one staff, people (your family), you must also be able to prove that you have sufficient financial means for all fellow travellers. The financial need is calculated according to the current standard rate (Social Assistance Act).

The financing of your stay can be proven as follows:

Step 1:

Check the requirements for the application on the pages of the German embassy or consulate general in your place of residence. Overview of the missions abroad.

Step 2:

Book an appointment to apply for your visa immediately! Due to high demand, some consulates have a long lead time to make an appointment. If you are travelling with family (spouse, children), an individual appointment must be booked for each family member!

Step 3:

Have the required certificates and documents (academic degrees, marriage certificate, birth certificate of the children, etc.) for you and your family certified/legalised and translated into German by recognised translators (recognised certification offices and sworn translators can usually be found on the website of the visa department or on the website of the German Foreign Office). Vaccination certificates/medical reports do not have to be translated, but help in medical emergencies in Germany for a quicker understanding.

Step 4:

Check that all documents are available and request any missing documents.

Step 5:

Take out travel health insurance for entry into Germany (as a rule). Include coverage of a total of 30,000 EUR to cover all costs (medical costs in case of illness on an outpatient and inpatient basis, repatriation in case of illness and in case of death).

Step 6:

If you do not have private accommodation for How to Find Us, book a room in a hostel/hotel/holiday apartment/Airbnb. You will need the booking receipt for your visa application.

Step 7:

Submit your visa application by the deadline.

Step 8:

Once the visa has been granted, you can enter Germany and/or the other Schengen countries within the granted period.

  • If you are unable to arrive in time for the start of your studies or research because the issuing of your visa is delayed, please contact your persons to contact in the Faculties (supervisors, coordinators, etc.).
  • If your visa application has been rejected, you have the right to remonstrate (appeal) against this decision in person or with a lawyer. Information on the remonstration procedure can be found on the website of the relevant consulate. Please note the deadlines after receipt of the decision!
  • Due to the increased demand, some missions abroad have outsourced the visa application to external private providers.
  • Please note that if your spouse is travelling with you, you may have to provide proof of German language skills for the application (exception: academic specialists, researchers).
  • Please note that the flat for you and your accompanying family members must have a minimum size. As a rule, the bedroom for each staff, over 6 years of age, must be at least 12 sqm. For children under 6 years of age, at least 10 sqm must be provided.
  • -Please note that a temporary residence permit from another Schengen country does not allow you to move to Germany, register in Germany or apply for a residence title! If you are unsure, please ask the Foreigners' Registration Office of your future place of residence in advance.


Health insurance

Health insurance is a compulsory insurance in Germany. Please ensure that you have sufficient insurance cover from the date of entry and during your stay. A distinction is made between travel health insurance (for entry and up to 90 days stay), statutory compulsory insurance, statutory voluntary insurance and private insurance.

Bielefeld University does not have its own health insurance or a doctor for students and staff. In case of emergency, there is a company doctor who is responsible for first aid on campus.

If you decide to take out private insurance at the start date and sign a contract, you cannot switch from private insurance to statutory insurance in the event of an acute illness. You can only do this if you become subject to compulsory insurance (e.g. if you start working or become unemployed).

In addition, private insurance companies often exclude pre-existing conditions and/or pregnancy and childbirth. It is therefore advisable to ensure in advance that the insurance meets your medical needs.

If you are currently covered by statutory health insurance in the member states of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, you can generally claim health services in Germany for the duration of your stay and have the costs reimbursed by your health insurance fund. Please bring your European Health Insurance Card(EHIC) with you. If your university/employer is sending you to Germany for a longer period of time, you should also bring the S1 document with you.

You must also bring your statutory insurance with you to countries with which Germany has completed a social security agreement in the field of health insurance (e.g. Turkey). In this case, you must request the documents E-111, AT 11, ATN 11 or BH6I, among others, from your home health insurance company. Your health insurance company in your home country can advise you on this.

Staff, people who are not insured under any statutory insurance scheme or in countries with which Germany has not completed a social security agreement can take out insurance for their stay with a private insurance company. See Private insurance

If you are coming to Germany on a long-term basis (e.g. studies with a degree) and have your main place of residence in Germany, you must apply for membership of a German statutory health insurance scheme. The following staff, people must take out statutory health insurance:

  • Bachelor/Master students up to the age of 30 and max. 14th subject related semester
  • Employees of Bielefeld University who are subject to social insurance contributions.

If you do not belong to the above-mentioned groups of people and are not entitled to statutory compulsory insurance, you can have it checked whether you can be insured voluntarily in the German Health Insurance Fund. To do this, you apply to the KV for voluntary insurance.

Some groups of people cannot be insured under the statutory health insurance scheme, but it is possible to take out private health insurance. These include:

  • Staff, people with civil servant status (e.g. professors)
  • Employers who earn more than 66,600 euros gross per year
  • Third-country nationals with a scholarship who are older than 30 years of age cannot, as a rule, take out voluntary health insurance unless they have been insured in the EU's statutory health insurance scheme in the last few months.

In addition, there are private insurances that offer packages for international students and researchers* staying in Germany for a limited period of time.

Please note that these insurances are designed for a limited stay in Germany and can be completed for a maximum of 5 years. After this period, the monthly premiums increase sharply.

If you injure someone or damage their property, you are obliged to compensate for the damage caused. Therefore, it is common to take out liability insurance for any accidental damage or accident caused by you or a family member, including children, pets, and even the loss of your office key. Although this insurance is not compulsory in Germany, it is carried by a large part of the German population. It is easily affordable and ranges from about 6-10 euros per month.

University employees and students are covered by statutory accident insurance under certain conditions:

In addition, there are private accident insurance policies that bridge the gap between health insurance and statutory accident insurance if you have an accident and incur healthcare costs while covered for many years.


When you bring your car to Germany, you must take out car insurance. It protects your car in the event of an accident or other damage. This insurance is compulsory when you arrive with a vehicle.

Costs and funding

Study financing

Even before you apply for a study place, you should plan your study financing.


The following scholarship programmes are available for international students:

  • End-of-study scholarships for students in the phase shortly before the BA, MA degree or state exam(ination) (application 2x/year, next deadline for applications: 15.01.2023) Here you can find further information.
  • Scholarshipsfor students in English-language Master's programmes in the 1st or 2nd semester (together with the Bielefeld University Society), next call for applications in 2023
  • Scholarshipsfor international students with a refugee background, for which you can find information here.

The academic achievements for the scholar, stipendiaries are mainly financial, but the students also receive non-material support. You can find an insight into the first scholar, stipendiary celebration of the International Office here.

In addition, there are a number of other scholarships that are financed by various sponsors, such as the scholarship programmes of the Studienfonds OWL (OWL Study Fund), which are aimed at all students at Bielefeld University. In the future, you will find an overview of other scholarships in the Learning Room Plus of the ISSC. In addition, you can research here:

There are also support services for financial emergencies . The ISSC can pay international students emergency aid from funds of the Association for International Students in Bielefeld (ViSiB) in case of financial bottlenecks. Please contact for further information. Alternatively, both the Protestant Student Community (ESG) and the Catholic University Community (KHG) can help with small amounts to bridge financial emergency situations. There is also the possibility of applying for a social loan from the General Student Committee (AStA).

Further information and support in finding and applying for a scholarship can be obtained at our events and student consulting hours on student financing. There you can also find out about support in financial emergencies. You can find the current office hours here.


Accommodation in Bielefeld is scarce. Please try to secure accommodation in Bielefeld as early as possible.

Offers of accommodation can be found online by following the links below:


Language skills

German is the common language of communication in everyday life and leisure. The levels of German courses and examinations are divided according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) from A1 to C2.

Depending on which degree programme you would like to study or do your doctorate at the university, you will have to prove the required language level in German or English for the application. You can find an overview of the required language certificates here.

To prepare for the language, you can, for example, take a German course at the Goethe Institute or other providers in your home country. Or you can take an online course at Deutsche Welle. Here you can also listen to music or news in German. If you would like to intensify your language skills on location in Germany, register for a German course. You can find an overview of language courses at universities on the DAAD[German Academic Exchange Service] website.

If you already have a language level of at least A2 and would like to improve your language skills, take part in the annual summer school at Bielefeld University.

See also: Learn German at the university after your arrival

How to Find Us

Here you will find all the information you need on how to get to Bielefeld University.

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