Guide for new scientists

Dear Colleague,

We would like to welcome you to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin Buch.


Living abroad, far away from home is an important and interesting experience for everybody. Such a sabbatical leave and life in another cultural sphere is also, however, accompanied by some challenging experiences. We want you to feel welcome in Germany and at the MDC in Berlin Buch and we wish your stay to be happy and pleasant.

Since the foundation of the MDC in 1992, the institute has in a short time gained an excellent reputation in the international biomedical research community. A parallel and very positive development has been the increasing number of foreign nationals that have been attracted to work at the Buch campus. From the total staff of more than 1100 people now employed, nearly 300 come from outside of Germany.

In order to be able to better represent and help this large international group within the MDC we want to help you wherever we can and we try to represent the interests of foreign scientists and staff. In specific, we would like to know of any problems you have encountered in order to take appropriate steps to improve the situation. We are therefore encouraging you to contact us at any time.

Please, find below the most important information about our institute, Berlin and life in Germany in general. The information has been collected on the basis of the current law codes and information leaflets of the responsible authorities, ministries and the EU. As the laws are subject to change we will regularly revise the data. We cannot, however, accept liability for the correctness of the contents, although the data has, of course, been collected with due care. We would be grateful if you could inform us about your practical experiences as well as help us with suggestions, comments and corrections. Your help enables us to update the Internet version on a regular basis.

Additionally, we would like to draw your attention to an interesting handbook for foreign guests in Germany published by the Berlin Commissioner for Integration and Migration and to www.bamf.de published by the German Federal Government. MDC collaborates with Berlin Partner For Business and Technology and would like to recommend their Welcome App. Helpful hints for international scientists and mobility are provided at EURAXESS Germany.

If you have suggestions or comments, we would be happy to discuss them with you. Let us assure that we will do our best to help you settle down at the MDC and in Berlin as easily as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Welcome & Family Office

Ms Tanja Butzek, Room 1004, MDH, building 84, phone 3347                                              
Ms Andrea Salerno, Room 1004, HvH, building 84, phone 2439

Berlin, October 2022

Living in Germany

Preperations at home

Contact a German embassy or consulate in your home country regarding any current entry and residence requirements. You can also contact the German Embassy in the country you are working at the moment. As a rule, it takes several weeks for a visa to be issued, and therefore should be applied for in a timely manner.

Foreign scientists require a multiple entry visa for the Federal Republic of Germany. Exceptions are citizens from EU countries and EWR countries Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. People from Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Canada and the USA do not require a visa to enter Germany, but they must apply for a residence permit from the Immigration Office after arriving in Berlin (see chapter 3) and register with the local authorities. It is important not to apply for a tourist visa but for a multiple entry visa, which enables you and, if necessary, your family to stay for a longer period of time. A visa for Germany normally also includes free travelling to the other EU-countries.

Your scientific host will help you with all internal MDC procedures. You should check with the staff administration of the MDC in a good time in advance to find out whether they need any specific documents from you so that you may bring these papers along with you. These can include the obvious documents such as your residence permit or income tax card, but also include other ones such as your university diplomas. The administrative offices usually ask for German translations of your university diploma, birth and marriage certificates. Therefore, it is best to bring a certified translated copy of these documents with you rather than have translations done on the spot.

We advise you to contact the Welcome and Family Office welcome@mdc-berlin.de to help and assist you and answer all the questions you might have before departing.

What to do first in Germany

Here is a checklist for the most important things you should do after arrival:

  1. Go to the MDC administration e.g. HR Department or Welcome & Family Office
  2. Go to the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt/Bürgeramt) to receive a Berlin registration
  3. Open a bank account
  4. Organize a health insurance
  5. Go to the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) to receive a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) or have this organized by our contact person in the Welcome & Family Office.


Accommodation on the MDC Campus

Accommodation on the MDC Campus

The MDC has a guesthouse which is equipped with washing machines and dryers. The price per room depends on the size of the room, and if you use it as a single or a double room. 

For details and reservations, please contact Mrs. Eileen Demmler gaestehaus@mdc-berlin.de.

The following details are needed for a reservation request:

- your full name

- move in and likely move out date

- your home address

- your private e-mail address

- contact details of your MDC working group, secretariat, contact person

Looking for accommodation in Berlin

Looking for inexpensive accommodation in Germany can be difficult and time-consuming, especially in big cities and university towns. If you do not have the opportunity to look for accommodation before you start your fellowship or employment, you should consider staying in one of the MDC-guesthouses for the first few weeks or try one of the B&B nearby. The research group you are going to join will help you to arrange this. There are different ways to find accommodation if you want to stay in Berlin for a longer period:

You can try to contact agencies directly via Internet to see their offer, e.g. if you intend to look for a room or a flat in Berlin-Buch you should contact

or for a flat in Karow contact allod.de

The company HOWOGE has redeveloped a building in Röbellweg 26 next close to S-Bahn station Buch. There are 49 one room apartments and six 2 room apartments of 22 to 33 square meters, which are fully furnished and suitable for newcomers. Included are bathroom, well equipped kitchen, costs for TV and internet. Rent will be between 370 € and 565 € (2 rooms) monthly. You will have to pay for telephone and electricity extra. Contracts will be unlimited, but 6 months’ minimum. If you are interested you can refer to the HOWOGE office, Walter-Friedrich-Str.10, ph: 5464 4800 during their opening hours Mo/We/Thu from 08:00 am – 05:00 pm, Tue from 08:00 am – 07:00 pm or Fri between 08:00 am – 01:00 pm.

MDC employees will also have the opportunity to contact the Lodging Agency of the Federal Government. Please, look at the webpage of our Work and Family Guidelines at the MDC Intranet and click at Housing Assistance.

You can also go through the ads for apartments in the local newspapers where you will find an extensive advertisement section, usually on Saturdays and Sundays or use the following links:



About 9,500 rooms all over Berlin are offered by the Association for Student Affairs (Studentenwerk). Prices range from 150 € to 420 €. The standard of rooms may differ widely and you will not be able to choose the location, as it will be assigned to you by the Studentenwerk. Click at www.studentenwerk-berlin.de/wohnen or contact the infoCenter IC studio@home, Hardenbergstr. 34 in 10623 Berlin, phone +49 30 93939-8990, wohnen@stw.berlin.

The suburbs and districts in close vicinity to Berlin-Buch (belonging to PANKOW) are Karow (belonging to WEISSENSEE), PANKOW, BUCHHOLZ and PRENZLAUER BERG.

Please, contact the Welcome & Family Office to get more information. Unfortunately, we cannot look for an apartment, nor can we conclude a rental contract for you. However, we sometimes receive private rental offers, which we collect and gladly pass on to you. If you need helpful information or advice on search options, please feel free to contact us at any time.

We would like to warn against impostors. Some people may try to rent you flats that do not exist. You are asked to transfer an installment of the rent in exchange for being sent the key. This is fraud! Avoid this and never transfer any money before visiting the property or establishing personal contact with the landlord and have a signed lease contract. 

Housing expenses

In Berlin, the price per square meter amounts to about € 4.30 to € 10.50 (or even more). The information about the level of rent charged mostly refers to the basic rent (Kaltmiete), which means that you have to pay extra for electricity, water, heating and waste disposal. In contrast, these additional costs (Nebenkosten) are normally included in the rent for furnished flats (Warmmiete). When you read descriptions of apartments, pay attention to the addition Warmmiete/warm (including additional costs) or Kaltmiete/kalt (excluding additional costs) respectively.

In Germany, you can rent furnished, partly furnished or empty flats. Flats are rarely offered with furniture. To learn more about the price level in Berlin, click at: rentindex.

Accommodation advertisements

Advertisements for accommodations are often difficult to understand, because they are full of abbreviations. Here are the most important ones:

  • 5ZKDB: (5 Zimmer Küche, Diele, Bad) 5 rooms, kitchen, corridor, bathroom
  • ZH: (Zentralheizung) central heating
  • EBK: (Einbauküche) Complete kitchen
  • 400,- + NK: (€ 400 Kaltmiete plus Nebenkosten) € 400 basic rent plus additional costs
  • KM or k: (Kaltmiete) basic rent
  • WM or w: (Warmmiete) all-inclusive rent
  • Wfl.: (Wohnfläche) size of flat in square metres
  • G-WC: (Gästetoilette) separate toilet
  • OG: (Obergeschoß) upper floor
  • TG: (Tiefgarage) underground car park
  • OH: (Ofenheizung) heating by oven / coal, i.e. no central heating
  • GEH: (Gasetagenheizung) heating by gas, mostly additional costs

The letters IMM or RDM signify "Immobilienmakler" (real estate agent) and "Ring Deutscher Makler" (Association of German real estate agents). This means that you must pay a fee of up to two months' rent upon signing the lease.

If a phone number is indicated, you can call the landlord or estate agent directly. In case of language difficulties ask a colleague of your rese


When you rent a flat, you generally have to make a deposit of about 2 to 3 months’ rent. Put this security for rent on a blocked deposit account (Mietkautionskonto) to make sure that it will be returned to you with interest when you move out, provided that you leave the flat without damages. The lease should specify the exact terms regarding the deposit. The tenancy has officially begun when both you and the landlord have signed the lease. Your signature legally binds you to the terms of lease. Therefore, it is essential to read the document very carefully before signing, including the small print. (Let your German friends help you!!!)

The lease specifies, in particular, the amount of rent and additional costs payable, the period of notice to be given upon termination of the lease (usually 3 months), payment for any necessary repairs, responsibility for renovation, length of lease and terms of rent increase.

Furthermore, the lease may contain additional arrangements (e.g. use of the garden, car parking facilities etc.). Should you intend to keep domestic animals, you must obtain the permission of the landlord beforehand.

The lease also lays down the general house rules, which, among other things, stipulate that before 7 a.m., between 1 and 3 p.m. and after 10 p.m. all unnecessary noise must be avoided. They also regulate which jointly used areas (staircase, entrance area, basement) have to be cleaned by each tenant and in which intervals the cleaning has to take place. However, a third party usually does cleaning today.

If you do not understand parts of the lease or if you feel that unusual conditions are imposed, you should ask your German colleagues for assistance and advice. In case of doubt you may also contact the German Tenants' Association (Deutscher Mieterbund - DMB), which can give you information on legality. You can also obtain information on leases from the DMB

Deutscher Mieterbund: http://www.mieterbund.de

Berliner Mieterverein e. V. Landesverband im Deutschen Mieterbund
Spichernstraße 1
10777 Berlin
Tel: 0 30/2 26 26-0
Fax: 0 30/2 26 26-161/162

Before you move into the rented accommodation, you should make an appointment with the landlord to check the apartment with him for any defects (scratches, stains, wear and tear, damage etc.). All this should be put down in writing, even if damages appear to be very slight. Otherwise you may be charged for repairs or your deposit will not be repaid to you in full when you move out because it is assumed that the respective damage has been caused by you. The landlord must sign the list of defects and damages and both parties keep a copy.

We recommend taking out a household insurance and a private liability insurance (absolutely necessary) once you have moved into your new apartment. You will also have to pay radio and TV license and register at:


Money / Bank account

In Germany, it is still common to pay in cash for food or minor items.

In department stores, clothes shops and restaurants or for larger amounts payment by credit card or cash card is generally accepted.

You need to open a bank account with a local bank as soon as possible to receive your income or the installments of your grant and to carry out regular payments, such as rent, electricity, etc. The different banks offer more or less the same service, but as the fees vary considerably, a comparison is worthwhile. Meanwhile, most of the banks offer internet banking, which is cheaper and allows you to handle your bank transactions by computer or smartphone. You find a couple of banks on the internet under “Money / Bank account “

If you expect frequent remittances from or to your account in your home country, it is worth asking your home bank whether it cooperates with a specific bank in Germany. This could shorten and cheapen the transfer of money to the bank abroad. When you open a bank account, you have to present your passport or identification card and the Berlin registration. Sometimes they might ask you for your employment contract. Usually, online banking is included and offers you the possibility to:

  • arrange a standing order ("Dauerauftrag") for regular payments at a fixed amount (e.g. rent), effecting that a specified sum is transferred regularly at certain dates
  • transfer money to another account (also possible at the ATM)
  • authorize someone to withdraw money from your account ("Einzugsermächtigung"); this is relevant for regular payments of differing amounts, such as electricity bills or telephone invoices

Generally, you will receive an EC Card to withdraw money from all multifunctional cash dispensers of your bank. Moreover, you can use this card to withdraw money from all cash dispensers in Germany (possibly chargeable). Most of the shops offer direct payment by cash card. EC cards can be used to withdraw money at ATMs in most European countries for a small fee.

Kindergarten / School

All children who live in Germany must attend school for at least 9 years. Attending school is for free. There are just a few fee-charging private or foreign schools, some of which are very expensive. 

For further information about the school system in Berlin see the links below:



Children and Adolescents with disabilities:


Children from 3 to 6 years of age may voluntarily attend kindergarten. Fees depend on the income of the parents. Searching and finding a Kita place can be a long and difficult task. For this reason, we recommend that you start your search early and the Berlin "Kita-Navigator" can help you with this.

So that you can get awarded a Kita place for your child it is necessary to get first the Kita voucher. Further general information regarding kindergartens and Kita voucher: https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/324879/

The Kita voucher will be obtained by the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) at the local administrative authority of the residential district. For Berlin-Pankow it is Bezirksamt Pankow:

Youth welfare office:

Fröbelstraße 17, Fachdienst 5
10405 Berlin
phone: 0 30/90295-5863 or for the voucher 90295-5128

while information about schools can be obtained from the general school office Berlin at: http://www.berlin.de/sen/bildung/ or from the school office of your city district, for Pankow:

Amt für Schule und Sport Pankow
Fröbelstraße 17, Haus 9
10405 Berlin
phone: 030/90295-5295
or at: http://www.berlin.de/ba-pankow/verwaltung/schule/index.html

Campus-Kita in Buch 

BBB-Management GmbH has established a Campus-Kita in collaboration with SEHstern e.V. in House 61 at the campus. Please contact Ms. Fischer, phone: 94 06 35 46, or campussterne@sehstern-ev.de to get more information, or click at http://www.sehstern-ev.de.

For the enrolment of your children at a school or kindergarten you have to contact the administration of the chosen school or kindergarten. There you can also find out about to which class your child will be assigned and whether additional German lessons are offered for children from foreign countries. For additional information concerning the school education of your children (Europe Schools with classes in different languages, recognition of certificates etc.) please contact Andrea Salerno-Schwarz or Tatjana Butzek.

All kitas and schools in Buch are listed at: www.berlin-buch.com/en/leben/leben.php/

You can also connect with other parents on Facebook "Berlin Kids":
https://www.facebook.com/groups/844609522248598/ You have to be invited, but we were told that moderators always respond very quickly.

MDC offers special support for child care e.g. Parent-Child-Room, reimbursement of extra costs for child care during training courses, supplementary child day care with MoKis, and advice on child care services and agencies. Please, contact Andrea Salerno-Schwarz or Tatjana Butzek for further information and assistance.

phone +49-30-94 06-2439 / e-mail: welcome@mdc-berlin.de

Child benefit

Parents are entitled to child benefit until their child turns 18:



Local Authorities

Registration Offices

The first thing you should do at the MDC is to be registered in the personnel department. This will either be done by contract or by guest registration. You should ask your research group if you would work as a guest or as an MDC employee. They or our Welcome & Family Office should also help you with filling in the guest registration form or making an appointment for signing the respective contract.

As soon as you have found accommodation in Germany you have to register with the residents' registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt/Bürgeramt). The German registration regulations require registration for everyone who changes residence within Germany. You have to inform the registration office whenever you change your address and, as well, when you leave Germany (all visits require online appointments).

Presenting your passport at the residents' registration office you will receive a Berlin registration (Anmeldebescheinigung – please pick up the necessary form in the Welcome and Family Office), which you have to hand over to the MDC administration (personnel department) in case you get a work contract. The registration office is situated in the town hall (Rathaus or Stadthaus) or special Service Offices (Bürgeramt) of the district you live in:

http://www.berlin.de/buergeramt/. If you live near the MDC you may go to the Bürgeramt Buch, which is within walking distance:

Bezirksamt Pankow von Berlin

Bürgeramt Karow/Buch

Franz-Schmidt-Str 8-10

13125 Berlin


The mobile citizen's office is onsite every 5 weeks on the campus in Buch. For the next dates and information on how to book appointments please get in touch with welcome@mdc-berlin.de

All citizens of other than EU countries have to apply for a residence permit after entering Germany. All regulations (Verfahrenshinweise) are published by the Immigration Office at their website.

The forms (Antrag auf Erteilung einer Aufenthaltsgenehmigung - Application for a Residence Permit) can be obtained either from the MDC or the Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung) at their website.

The residence permit is based on the multiple entry visa in the passport. Scientists who are allowed to enter Germany without a visa must also apply for a residence permit. The Foreigners’ Registration Office limits the length of the residence permit in order to see, after a period of time, if reasons still exist to extend the permit.

You have to provide:

  • your passport
  • 1 passport photograph (biometric)
  • proof of income
  • a confirmation of your host institute (i.e., MDC), that you are a fellow there
  • proof of health insurance
  • application for a Residence Permit

The Immigration Office in Berlin has the following address:

Landesamt für Einwanderung Berlin

Friedrich-Krause-Ufer 24, 13353 Berlin or

Keplerstraße 2, 10589 Berlin (students and scientists)

Mondays and Tuesdays 07:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m.

Thursdays 10.00 a.m. to 06.00 p.m.

Closed on other days

We recommend arriving early at the Immigration Office, as crowds are the norm and waiting numbers are required to process applications (Waiting numbers are available at 7:00 a.m.), or make an appointment online, or contact the Welcome and Family Office welcome@mdc-berlin.de.

You can organize this process with the Welcome Office and Family Office welcome@mdc-berlin.de.

For those who are accompanied by their families it is necessary to do the same procedure for their spouses and children. Parents and single parents must apply for residence permits for all their children living in Germany. Children from citizens of the EU and the EEA countries Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein are exempt from these rules. When applying for a residence permit for your spouse, you will have to present your marriage certificate. Parents are asked to bring their passports and marriage certificate as well as the passports, birth certificates and one passport picture of every child requiring a residence permit. Please note that an official translator must translate the certificates into German or English. Every child applying for a residence permit requires a waiting number at the Foreigners’ Registration Office.

After at least 60 months of employment in Germany or earlier for EU-Blue Card-holders you are entitled to apply for an unlimited settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis). For detailed information check the website of the Immigration Office.


Recognition of Degrees and Achievements

A degree, which has been acquired abroad, is not automatically recognized in Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany has concluded of bilateral “Agreements on Equivalences in the Field of Higher Education” with a number of foreign countries. These agreements regulate the recognition of studies, examinations and degrees and the public use of foreign academic degrees and titles.



to learn more about the details. In principle, you can keep your degree after you have finished your study at a University that is officially recognized according to the law in the country of origin. Your host institute has already accepted your qualification as part of the hiring process. For further information visit the Internet at:


https://www.kmk.org/kmk/information-in-english.html or

Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

You may get assistance in Berlin at:

Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Wissenschaft Berlin
Bernhard-Weiß-Straße 6
10178 Berlin-Mitte
ph: 030/90227-5050


Driving licenses from other EU- or EEA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) -countries are accepted throughout Germany. It is your decision if you have it replaced by a German document or not. If you come from another than the above-mentioned 


You have to convert the national driving license into a German driving license after six months at latest at the local driving license office (Führerscheinstelle), which can usually be found in the town hall or district hall (Kreisverwaltung), or at the Inhabitants’ Registration Office (Bürgeramt).

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Führerscheinbüro

Puttkamerstr.16 – 18, 10958 Berlin

ph: (030) 90269 – 0; Service 90269-2300

You should apply for the German driving license in good time (at least 3 months before expiry of the set term of six months), because processing takes time. Otherwise you will violate German law for driving without a valid license. 

Depending on the country your driving license was issued it might be that you have to pass the German driving test with a practical and a theoretical part (traffic rules). It can be done in other languages as well. Costs may add up to approximately € 100.00 for the theoretical examination (including teaching materials in English) and € 24.00 for every driving lesson of 45 minutes. You can contact a driving school to determine whether your knowledge is sufficient. If not, you will be required to take some driving lessons.

If your stay in Germany is not temporary - a stay of more than one year will certainly be considered as such - your car must be registered in Germany. For this you have to go to the local motor vehicle registration office (Kraftfahrzeugzulassungsstelle), where you can also obtain the necessary forms. Details are listed at:


Following documents are necessary:

  • your passport
  • your driving license
  • the car registration papers from your own country and your car's old license plates
  • a cover-note from the car insurance company of your home country ("Deckungskarte der Versicherung")
  • a statement from the Federal Motor Vehicle Office (Kraftfahrtbundesamt) that your car has not been registered in Germany before

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Referat Kraftfahrzeugzulassung

Jüterboger Straße 3,10965 Berlin (Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg)


After that you are required to do the following:

  • go to the Technical Control Board (TÜV) where they check if your car is road proof
  • have an exhaust emission test ("Abgassonderuntersuchung - ASU") made at the TÜV or at a garage

The fees for registering your car, including the costs for obtaining the number plates will amount to app. € 50,00. The costs for TÜV and ASU total about € 80,00. When you register your car in Germany, you will be charged with a motor vehicle tax; the amount charged depends on the type of car. If you intend to take out a German car liability insurance you should request proof of the period of your accident-free driving from your insurance agency in your home country.

At the MDC

What to organize first

After registering at the MDC, you will get your MDC e-mail account and be guided to our special website for newcomers: “Welcome to MDC”. This shall give you an overview of MDC organization, intranet structure, facilities, meetings, seminars and internal forms to help you organizing your work and life.

The MDC Homepage

The MDC homepage contains a lot of useful information for your work at the MDC and for your daily life. At https://www.mdc-berlin.info/de/home you may get important information concerning:

  • Administration / Internal Information
  • Research Areas and Research Groups
  • Library
  • Language Courses at the MDC, news, First steps for newcomers, events, job announcements
  • Meetings and Seminars
  • Guided tours
  • Internal forms
Information about Berlin-Buch

The Buch you encounter today began as a little village in the region Barnim more than 600 years ago and was owned by the dukes of Röbell and Voss. They had their castle right in the center of Buch of which the church, the park and the farmhouse still exist. The turn of the 20th century brought decisive changes. The Berlin Magistrate as the new owner built the biggest hospital complex with more than 5000 beds. The city's head of town planning, Ludwig Hoffmann, was responsible for Buch's unique architectural features.

To provide living room to the steadily increasing population the so-called "Kolonie Buch" was constructed at the same time. Now you can find the "Röbellweg" there. After the incorporation in 1920 Berliners tired of the city center moved to the idyllic surroundings. In 1967 the construction of bigger living colonies started. Today, Buch has almost 14,000 inhabitants – almost twice as many as in 1945 and four times as many as at the turn of the century.

The district may be well known mainly for its good medical care, but Buch has more to offer: from the reconstructed castle church to the Bucher Forest. You find some hints for shopping, medical care, education, restaurants, culture and sports etc. that may be interesting and useful for you at http://berlin-buch.com/.


You will find more information on the MDC sports pages

Enjoying life in Berlin

Important papers and web-links for Berlin

Here you find English language web-links from various Berlin organizations and individuals:

  • Berlin's official home page has an extensive English section. The site includes a virtual tour of Berlin, some information about administration, political structures or culture scene and a hotel database: https://www.berlin.de/en/
  • Based in London the TimeOutNet web site offers events and general information on Berlin together with similar information covering a number of other major cities. Registration is necessary, but the site is free of charge: www.timeout.com/berlin
  • Visitberlinis a multilingual site for tourists planning to visit Berlin. It includes hints for sightseeing, information about events, a hotel database and a lot of links
  • One of the early online starters from Berlin was the German Historical Museum. This site not only has an English section but also contains extensive museum links for your surfing pleasure: www.dhm.de
  • Also very interesting to know is the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). It is an internationally renowned cultural institution and an important player in the humanities and the social sciences. It includes museums, libraries, archives, and research institutes https://www.preussischer-kulturbesitz.de/en.html 
  • Berlin's three universities the Technical University, The Free University and the Humboldt University are all online with most of the faculties represented. The Berlin University of the Arts UdK (Universität der Künste) is also online with an English part
  • For courses in almost all fields you can enrol at adult education centers (Volkshochschulen, VHS): e.g., you can take German language courses. Fees are relatively low: https://www.berlin.de/vhs/
  • For new Berliners it might be interesting to sign in for a Welcome Tour or Introductory Tour offered by Berlin Partner.

         Papers with broad advertisement and information sections are:

Public transport

Berlin and the surrounding areas are divided into three tariff zones (A, B and C).

Train tickets are available for two tariff zones (AB or AC) or the entire tariff zone (ABC).

  • AB (valid within the Berlin city limits)
  • BC (valid in the areas outside of the S-Bahn ring and in the surrounding areas)
  • ABC (Valid in the entire tariff zones)

Guests who stay longer than a month in Berlin are advised to purchase a Monatskarte (monthly ticket for Zone A, B), because it is cheaper than buying single tickets. With this ticket, you can use all of the public transportation options without limitations.

For online ticket information (Bus, U-Bahn, S-Bahn) click


a) Standard fare

With this ticket, you can use the trains and buses 2 hours after cancellation. You can transfer as often as you wish as long as the direction of your travel remains the same.

If you want to take a bike with you, you have to buy an additional ticket for it.

Single ticket

€ 3.00 (AB) – bike € 2.10
€ 3.50 (BC) – bike € 2.40
€ 3.80 (ABC) – bike € 2.70

b) Short Distance Trip

As short distances in the entire VBB network the following designations are recognized:

3 stations with the U- and S-Bahn, the RB-trains or 6 stations with bus or tram.

Only train-to-train transfers are allowed. If you want to take a bike with you, you have to buy a concessionary ticket for it.

Short distance € 2.00 – bike € 1.40

c) Day Ticket

If you move around in Berlin a whole day by all possible means of public transport, you can buy a day ticket which allows you to travel around by bus, tram, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and regional trains in the area of Berlin until 03:00 a.m. the day after cancellation.

Single ticket

€ 8.80 (AB) – bike € 5.00
€ 9.20 (BC) – bike € 5.40
€ 10.00 (ABC) – bike € 5.60

d) Monatskarte (normal month pass)

It is advisable to buy a month pass, because this is much more effective and less expensive than buying single tickets if you often use public transport.

You can purchase this month pass either monthly or subscribe for a year. A subscription entitles you to pay for 12 months for the price of 10. If you pay the amount for a whole year at once, you can enjoy another reduction. You can apply for a subscription at the main stations (like Alexanderplatz, Bahnhof Zoo, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof).


Standard - price per month 

(in 12 instalments per year)

86.00 €89.00 €107.00 €

e) Ausbildungsticket (student month card)

If you are a student you can buy the cheaper ticket, which is available at all BVG ticket booths and in the train stations. To apply for a Ausbildungsticket you need a:

  • passport
  • passport photo
  • student ID-card
  • Registration of a university (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung)
Trainee/ student ticket (per month)58.00 €63.80 €77.50 €

f) Job – ticket (Firmenticket)

All employees of MDC have the possibility to order a job ticket (Firmenticket). Please refer to your personnel officer for more information or directly apply on the website. You may choose the tariff zones as necessary. Children up to 6 years and luggage are uncluded.


Standard - price per month


55.42 €60.50 €76.00 €
Reduced price if you pay only once for a whole year632.00 €711.00 €882.00 €

The monthly price for a bike is around € 11.50 (AB)

For online timetable-information (Bus, U-Bahn, S-Bahn) click:

https://www.bvg.de/en or http://fahrinfo.vbb.de or www.s-bahn-berlin.de

For train information (within Germany) click: www.bahn.de
For bus information (within Germany) click: www.berlinlinienbus.deor www.meinfernbus.de or www.flixbus.de


Shopping in Berlin

Berlin is a shopping paradise, as there is nearly nothing that one cannot buy. Most of the shops in the city are open from Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to at least 4:00 p.m., or even to 6.00 p.m. or 8.00 p.m. Several shops outside of the city center have shorter shopping times. 

Click at web-sites like http://www.berlin.de/special/shopping/ or https://www.berlintipps.net/einkaufsstrassen-berlin/

or rumble through Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte or Friedrichshain to find the best shopping facilities for you.

Libraries in Berlin

You can find a comfortable overview in German and English, read or borrow many daily newspapers and magazines and a wide variety of books in many languages, as well as interlibrary loan facilities at www.voebb.de. MDC library shall be glad to show how it works. 

Here you get more information about the MDC library.

Common online bookshops are:

Post office

Post office locations near the MDC:

  • Wiltbergstraße 23 (Buch)
  • Achillesstraße 55, 13125 Berlin (Neu-Karow)

Another location can be found at:


Postage rates:

In Germany and Europe

  • standard letter (up to 20 grams) € 0.85
  • compact letter (up to 50 grams) € 1.00
  • big letter (up to 500 g) € 1.60
  • post card € 0.70

Outside of Germany and Europe

  • standard letter (up to 20 grams) € 1.10
  • compact letter (up to 50 grams) € 1.70
  • postcard € 0.95

Look for more at: http://www.portokalkulator.de/portokalkulator/std



There are numerous companies in Germany, which offer telephone services.

Major companies are:

Check online for latest offers and prices. Most providers nowadays offer packages including flat rate deals for DSL (high-speed internet access), mobile and regular phones including extra packages for calling abroad. Check for best prices to the country you are calling on a regular basis.

You will hardly find public telephones any more. However, some of them take coins, but most phones take telephone cards. Telephone cards are available for € 5,00 and € 10,00. If you plan on using public telephones often we recommend buying the € 10,00 telephone cards, as they offer better calling rates than the € 5,00 cards. Telephone cards can be obtained from the post office, gas stations and selected locations.

Calling cards can be an alternative for calling abroad. If you have a calling card, you can call worldwide from any telephone. The resulting fees are deducted from your bank account.

Different companies, such as callingcards.com, phonecardsmile, Verivox or pinsonsale offer calling cards. You ought to select the provider whose offer serves your purposes and intentions best.

The different companies can tell you how much international calls cost. We advise to compare different companies and to look for any "hidden costs". It’s pretty much the same with Mobile Phone Companies. Please, compare the “discounters” like simyo or easymobile and full service of providers like Vodafone or O2.



 If your research stay is based on an employment contract in Germany and will last more than 6 months you will basically be liable to taxation in Germany on your globally earned income and assets. If you stay for less than 6 months, your income will be taxed in your own country provided that you work for a foreign employer and the double taxation agreement assigns the right of taxation in such cases to the home country. If one of these conditions does not hold, your salary will be taxed in Germany. Agreements exist with some countries stating that higher education teachers and researchers who come to Germany for a maximum of two years to work on research in a public research institution may pay their taxes in their own country. Details can be found in the double taxation agreements, which exist in relation to the Member States of the EU and certain other countries (Overview of countries with existing double taxation agreements or other regulations). The income tax you incur will be deducted from your salary at source.

At the end of each calendar year you may apply to the tax office in your place of residence to have your income tax adjusted ("Lohnsteuerausgleich"). This may entitle you to a partial reimbursement of tax paid. The necessary documents can be obtained from the local tax office ("Finanzamt") or town hall ("Rathaus"). Often, it is worth paying a tax accountant to help you complete your tax return.

Income tax classes

When you register at the residents' registration office the Federal Central Tax Office of Germany will allocate a Tax-ID for you. It usually will be sent to your private address by regular mail and should be given to the MDC personnel department as early as possible. It will guarantee the communication with the tax office, to save and transmit tax data, such as an employee’s tax-free child allowance, tax class etc. electronically. The host institution will pay the tax according to the classification. At the end of the year the data are transmitted electronically to the tax office. Employees will receive a separate printout of the electronic income tax certificate from the personnel administration for their own documentation by February of the next calendar year. The Personnel Administration will be obliged to register you under the unfavorable tax class VI, as long as your correct Tax-ID is not available.

The amount of taxes charged is determined by your income and family status. A basic amount of € 9,000 is exempt from taxation. Depending on your marital status and number of children, you will be assigned to a tax bracket (Steuerklasse):

  • unmarried without children: tax bracket 1
  • unmarried/divorced with children: tax bracket 2
  • married couples, of which
    • only one has an income: tax bracket 3
    • both have roughly the same income: tax bracket 4 for both
    • one earns more money than the other: tax bracket 3 for the one with higher income, tax bracket 5 for the one with lower income

Singles pay the highest tax-rates; families with only one income pay the lowest tax-rate. The income of married couples will be assessed jointly in the tax declaration, which means that you pay considerably less tax if only one has an income.

However, your spouse will only be taken into consideration if she/he has accompanied you to Germany or if she/he is living in your home country of European Community without an income of her/his own.

Children will also be noted down on the tax card. You may either receive an allowance (Kindergeld) for your children or you are granted a certain sum, which is exempt from taxes (Kinderfreibetrag). The tax office will check which solution is more profiting for you when you hand in your tax declaration at the end of the year.

The sum exempt from tax is € 7,428.00 per year per child for single parents and € 3,714.00 for married couples (each). The amount of child allowance is € 194.00 per child per month for families with up to two children. For larger families, the amount of child allowance will be up to € 225.00, starting with the fourth child. Foreigners living in Germany with their children and with a “Niederlassungserlaubnis” or “Aufenthaltserlaubnis” according to §§ 7, 17, 18, 19 or 20 of the Aufenthaltsgesetz and EU, EWR and Swiss citizens are entitled to this allowance as well. You have to apply for the child allowance at the family pay-office (Familienkasse) of the local job center (Arbeitsamt)

Familienkasse Berlin/Brandenburg

14465 Potsdam

Tel. 0800 45555 30



 Please, ask Kornelia Dokup from HR, Andrea Salerno, or Sylvia Sibilak for advice and assistance.

Annual adjustment of income tax

The German tax laws are fairly complicated and difficult to understand. It might therefore be a good idea to buy a guide for tax regulations or (in special cases) to consult an accountant (Steuerberater) whose fee can amount to € 200,00 or more. Search for at: http://www.dstv.de/en/dstv-en

Another, much cheaper, possibility is to ask for help at the following address:

Lohnsteuerhilfeverein Quadriga e.V.
Berliner Str. 3
13187 Berlin
phone: 030 / 485 39 83
Fax: 030 / 486 377 43

The following part of this brochure can only cover the basics regarding this issue.

After the close of a calendar year you have to fill in a tax declaration for the annual adjustment of income tax (“Einkommenssteuererklärung”) and forward it to the local tax authority (Finanzamt), which also issues the necessary forms. It is advisable to take the time to submit a tax declaration since some part of your tax payments is usually reimbursed. You may also send in your tax declaration after your return to your home country. It should reach the tax authority two years later by December 31, at the latest, preferably as early as possible because the refunding will be sooner. After the tax authority has checked it, you will receive a tax notification (Steuerbescheid) stating the amount of money, which will be returned to you. In very special cases it may occur that you have to pay additional tax. A tax declaration is particularly worthwhile if you did not work for a whole calendar year here or at home because your lower annual income is taken into account. If your spouse did not have an income (of more than € 450,00 per month) your income will be divided among the both of you so that you pay considerably less tax. (For married couples there is the regulation of the so-called Ehegattensplitting: the income of both spouses is assessed jointly in the tax declaration.)

In the tax declaration you can declare special costs, which will reduce the tax burden (von der Steuer absetzen). Particularly important in this respect are the so-called Werbungskosten, like driving to and from work, keeping two households (doppelte Haushaltsführung), a private health insurance, liability insurance, a private third-party insurance for a car registered in Germany, books or other equipment privately purchased for your work or a business or job search. With your tax declaration a lump sum of € 1000.00/year of these Werbungskosten will automatically be exempt of tax, even if your expenses were lower. If your expenses were higher you have to prove all costs (e.g. with receipts, train tickets, etc.).

That means that you have to collect receipts during the year.

If your family remains in your home country or you still have a flat there you can declare costs for keeping two households: deductible from tax are additional living expenses in the first three months (Verpflegungsmehraufwendungen) and costs for journeys home and accommodation in the first two years. For example, you can put forward expenses for journeys from your host institute to your family once a week by car (currently € 0.309 per kilometer between host institute and the residence of your family) or the charges for plane or train tickets (you have to retain the original tickets or receipts!). Costs for flat-hunting, moving to and from Germany, telephone calls home, language courses as well as translation services and notarizations can be taken into consideration.

Church tax

Together with the income tax the German government collects church tax (Kirchensteuer) for the major churches in Germany (which is about 9% of the income tax). You have to indicate your affiliation to a church when you register in Germany for the first time.

Church tax is paid by those affiliated to the Roman-Catholic Church, the Lutheran or Reformed Protestant Church, the Jewish Parish or some free Protestant churches. You do not have to pay if you belong, for example, to the Anglican Church or Orthodox Church or if you have no affiliation with a church. In case of doubt, you can ask the residents' registration office.

Social security and accident insurance

Social security and accident insurance

Information about the German social system are available e.g. at: www.bma.de or Sozialversicherung

If you have a work contract, you have to pay social security contributions in Germany. If you have a fellowship/Stipendium, you are exempted from that. But you at least have to take out a (private) health insurance.

The European Commission has issued the "Community Regulation on Social Security" which states the claims and transferability of social benefits within the European Union. These rules are also relevant for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The Community Rules state two basic rules:

1. Principally, you are insured in the country in which you are working.

2. Principally, you are subject to the laws of one single member state only.

Furthermore, Germany has signed social security agreements with similar conditions with the European countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Hungary, Japan (without health insurance) and Norway as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia/Montenegro, Slovenia and Switzerland. Similar agreements have been signed with Israel, Marocco and Tunisia and, for pension alone, with Chile, Canada and the USA.

In Germany, there are legally fixed contributions to the social insurances (health insurance, care insurance, pension scheme and unemployment insurance). The employer and the employee each approximately pay half of the contributions which amount to about 40% of the gross income.

As soon as your contract has begun, the MDC will take the steps necessary for your enrolling in the insurances. After joining, you will chose a health insurance and be given a social security card, a copy of which you have to hand over to the personnel officer at MDC.

You can receive further advice from the following institutions:

Health Insurance




Care InsurancePflegeversicherung
Unemployment insurance and Child allowancewww.arbeitsagentur.de
Pension schemewww.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de

Information about the social security systems throughout Europe can be found at www.findyourpension.eu

Statutory or private insurance?

If you have a work contract your salary determines whether you can choose between a statutory and a private insurance. With a Fellowship/Stipendium you can take out a private insurance with basic service, comparable with travel insurance, a private insurance that covers full costs of illness or you become member of a statutory insurance company voluntarily. This might be worthwile when you need insurance for your family, too.

If you have a gross salary of more than € 62,550 per year, you have the free choice between a statutory and a private health insurance (Versicherungspflichtgrenze). Attention should be paid to the fact that changing to a private insurance may rise your income tax. The basic contribution (Basisbeitrag) to the statutory health insurance is higher than the basic contribution of your current private health insurance.

In general, the basic contribution influences the non-taxable allowance on benefits (Versorgungsfreibetrag), which is deducted from taxes. This deduction is made after the gross tax amount has been determined. This means that with statutory health care, a higher non-taxable allowance could be taken into account, which reduced the tax burden. After switching to private health insurance, your contribution decreased due to the lower basic contributions of private health insurance.

Please note that you may under certain conditions not be allowed to join a statutory health insurance in Germany, once you have joined a German private insurance. But a regular private insurance might be more expensive than the special one for foreigners. You should keep this in mind if you think about staying in Germany after your fellowship. This rule is of no relevance if you remain insured in your home country or earn less. All statutory unsurance companies get 14,6 % of your monthly gross income. 7,3% is paid by the employer; 7,3% plus additional charges that vary from company to company will be deducted from your gross salary (e.g. HKK 0,38%, TK 0.7%, debeka 0,8%, or DAK, KKH 1,5%) .

Coverage of the statutory health insurance

The statutory health insurance covers medical and dental treatment, granting free choice among the approved medical doctors, as well as medicines, bandages, remedies, hearing aid, etc. In addition, you are entitled to all necessary hospital treatments.

The patient has to make a co-payment of € 5.00 – 10.00 for prescription drugs, € 10.00 per day (max. 28 days per year) for stays in hospital and a certain part of the expenses for dentures, crowns, etc.

The statutory health insurance is a family insurance, which covers non-working spouses (up to a salary of € 450.00 per month) and children without additional contributions.

In case of sickness, you have the right to full continuation of wages ("Lohnfortzahlung") for up to 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks you get a sickness benefit, amounting to 70% of your gross salary, but maximum of 90% of the net income, from your health insurance.

If you are ill, you have to see a doctor by the third day of your illness to qualify for the sickness benefit and inform the MDC immediately (first day of sickness). Please, do not miss to send the doctor’s certificate to MDC HR department and the health insurance company in the event of illness to avoid loosing money.

Do not forget your health insurance card, which is absolutely necessary for any examination and treatment in Germany.

The doctor will examine you and will certify that you are unfit for work and the expected length of absence. You have to send one part of the attestation to your health insurance and the other part to your host institute. In case you become ill during your holidays, please inform the personnel service because this must receive special consideration.

Within the EU and in some other countries (see above) the insurance is also valid during short stays outside Germany (e.g.vacation). This does not apply to all countries, e.g. not to Israel, Liechtenstein, USA and Canada.

Coverage by the private health insurance

In contrast to the statutory health insurance, the contributions to and coverage by the private insurances are not legally bound. The amount of the contributions does not depend on the salary, but on age and risk of illness. In addition, the coverage of the insurance is fixed individually and contributions depend on the choice of services you wish to incorporate. Normally, the minimum standard corresponds to the coverage of the statutory health insurance. Often the coverage of private health insurances is more comprehensive than that of statutory insurances and there is no need to make any co-payments.

Please note that some of the insurance companies demand a health certificate from a German doctor. Without this certificate you will have to wait for some months until all or some parts of the coverage, e.g. artificial teeth/denture or birth come into effect.

The following insurance companies offer a special tariff for foreigners: Mawista, Care Concept, Hanse Merkur, ottonova, COLONIA Krankenversicherung, Deutsche Krankenversicherung (DKV), Continentale. You can find more information at Schengen Visa or DeGiS. (The personnel officer or the welcome and family office shall be glad to answer questions and give assistance.)

Care insurance

The long-term care insurance takes effect when you need regular care at home (because of age or handicap). It is a compulsory insurance, which is concluded in combination with the health insurance. The contribution is 3.05 % of the gross salary (plus 0.25% for assured without children). Even if you have a private German health insurance you are obliged to carry long-term care insurance coverage.

Get more information at:



Pension scheme

As an employee you have to pay contributions to the pension scheme ("Rentenversicherung") in Germany. The contributions amount to 18,6 % of the gross salary.

Your payments to the pension scheme are recognised in each EU and EEA country as well as in the countries with social security agreements and your claims will be preserved. This means that at the age of retirement you may apply for part of your pension in each of the countries where you have paid into the pension scheme. Therefore, if you have paid contributions to, for example, the pension schemes in Germany, France and Greece, you will get a part of your pension from each of these countries. Thus, the pension payments will not be transferred to another national pension scheme but you will get your money from each pension scheme separately depending on the laws of each country.

When you apply for pension payments at home, you have to indicate that you have paid pension contributions in other countries. This is necessary to ensure that your home insurance organisation can inform the other pension organisations in order for you to receive your payments from the other country. Since payments for a certain number of years are required by the pension organisation in your home country, any time spent abroad is taken into consideration.

When, after your stay in Germany, you return to a country without a social security agreement you may claim reimbursement of your contributions. After a waiting time of 24 monthes you can apply for the reimbursement at the Deutsche Rentenversicherung. You will have to complete form “V901”, available at: www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de

Unemployment insurance

The unemployment insurance is a compulsory insurance as well. The contributions amount to about 2.5 % of the gross salary.

You may claim unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) if you have been employed and paid contributions in Germany for at least 12 months within the last three years. Employments before within other EC-contries may possibly be considered. You will have to prove this by completing a form (Nr. E301.) If you are unemployed and want to claim unemployment benefit in Germany you have to register with the local job center (Arbeitsamt) three months before your contract ends and be at its disposal for arranging employment, which means that you should be willing to take up any reasonable job and that you have to report to the office regularly. In case these requirements are fulfilled, you will receive 60% of your last net salary if you do not have children and 67% if you have children (Arbeitslosengeld I).

Under certain circumstances you can transfer your claims for unemployment benefit to another EU or EEA member state (or a country with social security agreement): For that you must have been registered with the German job center for at least 4 weeks prior to your departure. After your arrival in the country of your destination, you have to register with the local job center within 7 days. After fulfilling these requirements you will get German unemployment benefit for another three months (ask for form number E 303 at the German job center).

Depending on the respective country, the contributions you made in Germany may be taken into account by the country's unemployment insurance. If you return to a country that does not have a social security agreement with Germany, it is not possible to receive German unemployment payments there. The contributions cannot be refunded either.


VBL (Versorungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder) provides a supplementary occupational pension for public sector employees in Germany. Currently the employer pays 2% of contributions and the employee pays 4,25% of the gross salary. Basicly, VBLklassik is compulsory for all employees of the Federal Government and Länder, a large number of municipal and church employers, and also for MDC staff. Alternatively, employees working in scientific positions in academia or research can be exempted from the compulsory VBLklassik insurance if they are expected to work less then 60 months in German public service sector. If this applies to you and you have declared the exemption form VBLklassik (forms will be handed out by the personnel service) you will be automatically enrolled in the voluntary VBLextra instead. At present the monthly contributions are 2.0% for VBLextra. It will count from the first month, but attract less interest.

Contact: www.vbl.de and/or www.findyourpension.eu or get information for guest scientists here.

Accident insurance

Accident insurance is paid by the employer and covers accidents that occur at work or on your way from and to work. Even if you have no contract with the MDC and are just registered as a guest you are covered by the accident insurance of the MDC during your work.

Any such accident has to be reported to MDC safety office immediately.

Your children are automatically insured at school or kindergarten as well as on the way from and to it. Contact: www.dguv.de

Science and Research in Germany

Competencies of the federal government and the "Länder"

The German system of science and research is determined by federalism, i.e. there is a division of competencies between the Federal Government on the one hand and the Länder (e.g. Bayern, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Sachsen, Berlin) on the other hand:

The Länder have independence in matters of education and culture: legislation and administration regarding education and science are implemented by the individual Länder themselves. Consequently, schools and universities are within their responsibilities. In the area of education, the federal government is responsible for general outlines of laws for the university system. In the field of science, the promotion of research, technological development and the new generation of scientists is part of the competencies of the federal government, represented by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF- http://www.bmbf.de).

One of the common tasks of the Federal government and the Länder is to establish and promote research institutions and projects of national importance, such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the Herrmann von Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers (18 centers, one of which is the MDC), the Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz to which the Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) on the Campus belongs and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Another common task is the expansion and establishment of universities. The Wissenschaftsrat (Scientific Council) has been set up by the Federal government and the Länder as an advisory board. It does not offer direct research promotion, but gives recommendations concerning the contents and structure of science and research, as well as the development of universities, research and the establishment of universities.

Additional information at:


In Germany, there are 248 universities and comparable institutions (technical universities, colleges). Universities are not only places of education but also places of independent basic and applied research. With regard to the education the emphasis is on pure sciences.

Customary, the first obtainable degree is the Master of Arts or science ("Magister Artium"/M.A., "Diplom"/Dipl.). In order to receive this degree, it is necessary to study at least 8 semesters (4 years), but generally it takes 10-12 semesters or more. Meanwhile, most of the German universities offer a first bachelor-degree after three years, as is common in many other countries (such as "B.A."/"B.Sc." in Great Britain or "Licence" in France). But only with a masters-degree it is possible to obtain a doctorate (Doktor, typically 3-5 years) and, in a second step, to qualify for a professorship (Habilitation, typically 5-8 years).

Each university is divided into different sections. Older universities have faculties (Fakultäten), which comprise several subjects (e.g. Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - faculty of natural sciences). Newer universities often have schools (Fachbereich), which only consist of one subject area (Wirtschaftswissenschaftlicher Fachbereich - school of economics). These faculties and schools are further divided into seminars or institutes where the single subjects are located (e.g. Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Historisches Seminar).

Here, you find the lecturers' offices and the administration for each subject. In addition, there are the laboratories and the equipment for research.

The university is headed by the rector (Rektor) or president (Präsident), elected for several years, typically, but not necessarily out of the body of professors. Besides the Rector, there is the administrative director of the university, the chancellor (Kanzler).

The German universities are self-governing institutions, i.e. general questions of research and teaching, course and examination contents, appointment of professors and other questions of staff as well as the equipment of the institutes are decided by the academic Senat. This body is composed of representatives of professors, staff and students. In addition, once a year the students elect self-governing bodies within each institute (Fachschaft) and for the whole university (Allgemeiner Studentenausschuß - AStA). These bodies represent the students at meetings with the university administration and deal with social and cultural matters, such as organising events and other activities.

German universities and further information at:


The Fachhochschule (FH) is particular to Germany. It is a kind of polytechnic school, which mainly offers courses in the area of engineering, business administration, design and social welfare. Typically, the courses of studies are short, strictly organised and vocationally oriented. The students are educated in small groups and curricula are job-oriented rather than research-oriented.

Because of this, the final degree of the FH (Diplom) generally does not allow students to embark on a doctorate at a German university. Nevertheless, this is possible in some other countries, e.g. in the United Kingdom. Although the emphasis at the FH is on teaching, research is also done there. Special attention is, however, given to applied research and technological development.

You may find a list of German Fachhochschulen:


Research institutions

Besides the universities there are hundreds of non-university research institutions engaged in basic and applied research. They belong to organizations like Max-Planck-Society, the Helmholtz-Association, the Leibnitz Association, or the Fraunhofer Society. The MDC is one of 18 research institutes of the Helmholtz-Association. All Helmholtz-Centers employ a staff of about 36,000 and have an annual budget of around 3.8 billion Euros. The research centers cooperate closely with universities, research institutions and industrial research centers in Germany and abroad. The Helmholtz-Association has offices in Bonn, Berlin, Brüssel, Peking and Moscow.

Get more information at:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is the central self-governing organisation of science and the humanities in the Federal Republic of Germany. Since the DFG was founded in 1920, its statutes have assigned it to the continuing responsibility of promoting "science in all its branches". The DFG supports research projects in every discipline, especially within basic and applied research as pursued in the universities and technical academies. Particular attention is given to promoting oncoming generations of researchers. In addition, it advises parliaments and public authorities on scientific matters. On an international level, the DFG has taken over the responsibility of representing German science in international organisations.

The DFG has centers and offices in Peking, Washington, Moscow and Dehli

The overall budget of the DFG for 2012 was about € 2.526 billion. The general support of research is mainly financed by the Federal Government (€ 1.69 billion) and the Länder

(€ 823 million).

Contact: www.dfg.de

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) fosters academic relations with other countries, especially by promoting the exchange of students and researchers. The DAAD offers grants to German and foreign students, trainees, young researchers and lecturers. In addition, it arranges long-term and short-term lectureships for German scientific lecturers at foreign universities.

The exchange of university lecturers and researchers is promoted as well. Yet another task of the DAAD is to inform interested persons and institutions about the possibilities of studying and doing research in Germany and abroad, as well as keeping in contact with former fellows.

The DAAD is a joint institution of the German universities with an annual budget of almost

€ 383.6 million (2011).

Contact: www.daad.de

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (AvH)

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes international cooperation between scholars from abroad and specialist colleagues in Germany. The Foundation has built up an international network currently numbering nearly 24,000 individuals in more than 130 countries who maintain intensive academic, cultural, political and economic contacts with Germany.

In 2009, once again, the Foundation was able to grant 699 research fellowships, 87 research awards and 8 AvH Professorships. There has been a stunning increase in the number of applications to the Georg Forster Program, which is tailored to the needs of developing countries.

The Humboldt Foundation again offered its foreign research fellows and award winners a wide range of opportunities to continue academic work in their home countries and to maintain contact with German partners in cooperation

Contact: www.avh.de

Telephone numbers, contacts and further information

Telephone numbers, contacts and further information

Emergency numbers for the MDC

  • In case of fire and medical help 112 or 110
  • In case of emergency concerning electricity, water, gas 3339 (6:30 am to 5:30 pm)
  • In case of emergency for dangerous chemicals
    • 2378 (8:00 am to 4:00 pm)
    • 0176 10027044 (off-time)
  • In case of poisoning (0-) 3068-6788
  • In case of radiation accidents
    • (0-) 8445-2171
    • (0-) 8445-3992 (after 4 p.m.)

Give precise information: what has happened, where did it happen, who is hurt!!!

General emergency numbers in germany

  • Police 110
  • Fire, accidents 112
  • Doctor on Emergency call 31 00 31

Other important telephone numbers at the MDC

  • Safety Officer and Radiation Protection Officer Mr. Kirsch (9406-) 2563
  • Biological Hazards Officer Dr. Klein (9406-) 3797
  • Reception of MDC (9406-) 3339
  • Post Office of MDC (9406-) 3828
  • Library of MDC (9406-) 3372
  • Contact person in the Welcome & Family Office Sylvia Sibilak (9406-) 3349 and Andrea Salerno (9406-) 2439

TELEPHONE SERVICES (Telekom) www.telefonbuch.de


  • National 11833 (expensive)
  • International 11834 (expensive)
  • Information in English 11837 (expensive)

Other important telephone numbers

  • Police Station Berlin-Pankow
    • phone: 4 66 4–113 97 00
    • Fax: 4 66 4–113 97 99
  • BVG-Customer Service
    • www.bvg.de - S-Bahn, Underground, Bus, Tram - (6:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.) 030/19 449
  • Deutsche Bahn AG: Travel Information http://www.bahn.de - Prices, Reservations, Ordering - 0180/6 99 66 33
  • Airport Hotline (www.berlin-airport.de)
    • Tegel (TXL), Schönefeld (SXF) 030/60911150
  • Telefon: Telekom Trouble Report 0800 33 0 2000
  • Lost & Found Offices



Ratschläge für den Deutschlandaufenthalt/Practical hints for your stay in Germany. Zusammengestellt von der Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. Bonn 1994.

Wegweiser durch Buch. Zusammengestellt von der GESOBAU Wohnbau Pankow

Wegweiser für ausländische Studierende. Akademisches Auslandsamt der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Internetversion:


Living in Germany. Guide for Visiting Scientists. Marie Curie Fellowship Association (MCFA)

Scientific System

Bundesbericht Forschung 1996. Hg. v. Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. Bonn 1996. (The German and the abridged English version "Report of the Federal Government on Research" is obtainable from: Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie, 53175 Bonn, Fax: 0228/573917): www.bmbf.de

Studium in Deutschland. Informationen über das Studium an deutschen Universitäten für Ausländer. Hg. v. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: DAAD, Kennedyallee 50, 53175 Bonn): www.daad.de

Studium in Deutschland. Informationen über das Studium an deutschen Fachhochschulen für Ausländer. Hg. v. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: DAAD, Kennedyallee 50, 53175 Bonn): www.daad.de

Social security

Die Gemeinschaftsbestimmungen über die soziale Sicherheit. Ihre Rechte bei Aufenthalten in anderen Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union. Hg. v. Generaldirektion V der Europäischen Kommission, Luxembourg 1995. (Obtainable also in other European languages from: Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, L-2985 Luxembourg.)

Ihre soziale Sicherheit bei Aufenthalt in anderen Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union. Ein Leitfaden. Hg. v. Europäischen Kommission. Luxembourg 1995. (Obtainable also in other European languages from: Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaften, L-2985 Luxembourg.)

Soziale Sicherung im Überblick. Hg. v. Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung, Referat Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, PF 140280, 53107 Bonn, 0228/5271111.)


Doppelbesteuerungsabkommen. Textsammlungen. Beck'sche Textausgaben. München 1996.

Einkommen- und Lohnsteuer. Hg. v. Bundesministerium der Finanzen. Bonn 1995. (Obtainable from: Bundesministerium der Finanzen, Referat Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, 53105 Bonn.)

Wichtige Steuergesetze mit Durchführungsverordnungen. Herne/Berlin 1996 (43. revised edition).

Annexe: German Tax Law for fellowships

The German Income Tax Law (Einkommenssteuergesetz) §3 Abs. 44 says:

"Steuerfrei sind Stipendien, die unmittelbar aus öffentlichen Mitteln oder von zwischenstaatlichen oder überstaatlichen Einrichtungen, denen die Bundesrepublik Deutschland als Mitglied angehört, zur Förderung der Forschung oder zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen oder künstlerischen Ausbildung oder Fortbildung gewährt werden." Voraussetzung für die Steuerfreiheit ist unter anderem, daß "die Stipendien einen für die Erfüllung der Forschungsaufgaben oder für die Bestreitung des Lebensunterhaltes und die Deckung des Ausbildungsbedarfes erforderlichen Betrag nicht übersteigen und nach dem von dem Geber erlassenen Richtlinien vergeben werden."

Last Update: October 2022

Questions and comments please to welcome@mdc-berlin.de