Basic information on studying in Germany is available from the Deutsches Studentenwerk, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) and – specially for Hamburg – the Studierendenwerk Hamburg.
The Hamburg universities, the Hamburg Student Union, the student services, municipal offices and local counselling centres offer current and prospective students a wide range of attractive services and counsel. To ensure you find the right establishment to answer your queries, the BeSI – Counselling Centre for Social & International Affairs will gladly tell you who to contact.
Language schools providing preparation for the TestDaF exam offer German language classes prior to study.
If they meet the requirements in their home country, international students from the European Union and countries with which social security agreements exist can remain insured and use their European health insurance card in Germany. If they are not insured in their home country, the legal health insurance funds in Germany will assess their situation and explain the options for taking out insurance in Germany. For more information, contact the Deutsches Studentenwerk or the European Commission.
International students under 30 or who have completed 14 semesters or less, and who have no European health insurance card, can take out the legal mandatory student insurance or insure themselves privately at the start of their course. This decision should be made with care, because once they have been exempted from the mandatory insurance by choosing to take out private health insurance, it is generally not possible to revert to the legal health insurance for the entire duration of their studies. The BeSI (Counselling Centre for Social & International Affairs) will provide further advice on this. Our "Health insurance" leaflet will give you an initial overview.
International participants of preparatory language courses or foundation courses, and students aged over 30 when commencing their studies in Germany, are generally unable to be covered by the legal health insurance in Germany, and can only insure themselves privately. In that case, only private health insurance can be taken out, e. g. the one offered by Deutsches Studentenwerk in cooperation with UNION Versicherungsdienst and Hanse Merkur Reiseversicherung AG. There are other private health insurance providers with different tariffs available. We recommend to compare premiums and benefits. The Counselling Centre for Social & International Affairs will provide further advice on this.
International students who have paid pension insurance contributions while working during their studies can receive refunds for these, insofar as they no longer live in Germany and have upheld the set waiting period. For more information, visit the Deutsche Rentenversicherung website.
International students who are not European Union citizens must apply for the electronic residence permit (eAT) from the Bureau for Foreigners. The eAT replaces the previous sticky labels in travel documents. Students whose temporary residence permit in the form of the sticky label expires and requires renewal should promptly order an extension application form from the Bureau for Foreigners, as it takes longer to issue the eAT. See the Residence work and permits for international students section for more information
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provides “Information on the Statutory Frameworks applicable to Entry and Residence by Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists” and “Information on the Statutory Frameworks applicable to the Pursuit of Gainful Employment by Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists” (see paragraph “Information on enty/residence and employment”).
The Counselling Centre for Social & International Affairs (BeSI) will also advise you on this.
Non-German citizens can receive a BAföG grant under certain conditions; see info sheet. Contact the staff from the BAföG office for counsel.
Students from the European Union who are entitled to free movement can apply for a residence allowance as a rent subsidy if other general requirements for receiving the residence allowance have been met.
International students from non-EU countries and holding study permits according to § 16 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) are generally not entitled to residence allowances or other social services.
The BeSI also offers counsel on this.
The BeSI offers counsel and guidance to students from Hamburg universities who find themselves in difficult life situations (e.g. crises and conflicts in their studies, sustaining themselves financially, pregnancy, raising a child on their own, chronic illness, disability, conflicts with the family, partners etc.), and provides information on specific services offered by the universities, municipal establishments and counselling centres in Hamburg.