International Office

View of Rostock´s old town from the tower of St. Peter´s Church. ©

The International Office (IO) aims to provide support for our new colleagues, visitors, guests and international students for a smooth and fast start in Rostock.

If you are moving to Rostock from outside of Germany to work at the MPI for Demographic Research, you will need to organize a few things prior to your arrival.

The IO assists in bureaucratic processes related to your arrival in Germany and settling in Rostock. Please contact Christine Röpke and Mandy Passehl here if you have any questions.

A good start for non-Germans is the guide Living and working in Germany (PDF File, 5 MB) of the Max Planck Society, which is intended to help with getting settled and feeling at home in Germany, and with handling the everyday life here. Also, a lot of information can be found here.

Table of Contents

Visa for Research

Non-EU nationals taking up employment—including doing research—in Germany, require a visa. You should apply for this visa at a German embassy or consulate in your country of origin or current country of residence. Depending on the type of visa and country, different documents may be required for the application. Detailed information on the necessary documents can be found on the website of the embassy through which you will need to apply.

Please note: The processing time for a visa application can take at least 4 to 6 weeks and up to 3 months depending on the embassy responsible for it. Therefore, make sure to apply for your visa as soon as possible before you plan to arrive.

Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA require a work visa if they wish to pursue gainful employment in Germany. Therefore, despite other visa exemptions, they must apply for a work visa at the respective German embassy in their home country. This is the only way to ensure the possibility of paid employment from the moment of entry into Germany.

For nationals of the above countries who are already resident in Germany or the European Union and/or who hold the EU Blue Card there are different rules. Please contact the International Office if this applies to you.

You may find further official information on the homepage of the Federal Republic of Germany. "Make it in Germany"


If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than 3 months, you must register your residence within two weeks after moving into your accommodation according to the Registration Act (Meldegesetz).

Registration takes place at the Ortsamt Mitte, Reutershagen, Lütten Klein (citizens' office) of the Hanseatic City of Rostock. You need to book an appointment online with the citizens’ office and show up there in person. If it is possible, we will book the appointment for you and accompany you to the first appointment.

When you go to your appointment, make sure to bring the following documents with you:

  1. Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (PDF File, 82 kB) (“Certificate of residence”) filled in and signed by your landlord. If you stay in one of the Institute's guest apartments our guest house manager can provide you with this document. 
  2. Your passport
  3. If applicable, you need to bring your marriage certificate (German and English are accepted, otherwise with translation) and if your partner is accompanying you their passport.
  4. If your children are accompanying you, you should bring their birth certificates (German and English are accepted, otherwise with translation) and their passport(s).

Registration is free of charge.

At the citizens’ office you will receive your residence registration (Meldebescheinigung), which you will need in order to apply for your residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) or to open a bank account. At the same time, information is sent to the tax office and your tax identification number is sent to your address. Without this number you cannot open a German bank account.

If you change your address during your time in Germany, you must register the new address (ummelden) at the citizens’ office (Ortsamt). When you leave Germany, you must deregister your residence (abmelden) at the citizens’ office. All these steps require making an appointment online in advance.

Please also take note of the information on the homepage of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community.

Bank Account

To open a bank account you will need the following:

  1. Residence registration (Meldebescheinigung), the certificate you will receive upon registering your domicile
  2. Employment contract
  3. Passport
  4. Document with the Tax Identification Number
  5. Initial deposit (the minimum deposit depends on the bank you choose, sometimes an initial deposit is not required)

To open an account, you need to make an appointment with the bank of your choice.

Health Insurance

Every person residing in Germany is required to have health insurance. This is a prerequisite for being able to work at all. As an international resident, you will be asked to provide proof of sufficient health insurance coverage to the immigration authorities before they will issue you with a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung).

There are two kinds of German health insurance, public (statutory) and private. For information on the differences between them, see Overview of substitutive health insurances options for international scholarship holders from outside the EU/EEA.


Finding an apartment in Rostock can be a challenge, but the IO can give basic support in the process. For the first six months the MPIDR can offer accommodation in our guest apartments, depending on availability.

In Germany, it is common practice for the landlord or real estate agent to request a tenant self-assessment (Mieterselbstauskunft) from prospective tenants. In addition to personal details, such a form also contains information about the job and the approximate monthly income. This enables the landlord to check whether the prospective tenant can afford the rent at all.

Often a so-called Schufa credit report is required. You can order your Schufa credit rating here.

Please note that in Germany you need to provide a completed certificate of residence Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (PDF File, 82 kB) signed by your landlord in order to receive your residence registration (Meldebescheinigung) at the citizens’ office (Ortsamt).

List of abbreviations for the accommodation search (PDF File, 79 kB)

Warning: There are scammers in the real estate market! It is not advisable to sign a lease before having seen the apartment/room. In cases where this is not possible (e.g., if you wish to organize accommodation before arriving), make sure to carefully review your lease before signing and do some research on the real estate agent. If you are unsure about a particular situation or a lease, you should contact us before proceeding. Please be particularly cautious when asked to transfer money.

Broadcasting Fee

The broadcasting agency is notified automatically of new registrations at an address so you will receive bills for the broadcasting fee. This covers TV, radio, broadcasting services via the internet irrespective of how many gadgets you own. The broadcasting fee (Rundfunkbeitrag) covers public television devices and radio programming in Germany and is legally prescribed for payment by residents, companies, and other institutions. The current fee (in 2022) for private households is 18.36€ per month.

Please note: If you receive such a bill while you are still living in a guest apartment at the MPI for Demographic Research, please hand it to our guest house manager in the administration. This fee is already included in your rental payments so you do not need to pay extra.

Please see the following website for more information:

Broadcasting Licence Fee 

Driving License

Depending on where you obtained your driving license, you may need to supply additional documents to the relevant authority, if you plan to drive in Germany during your stay. Please see the following website for detailed information:

Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport

Driving Permits from abroad may be used in Germany for up to six months. For some countries, you will also need to carry with you an official translation of your license. If you have an International Driving Permit, you do not need to have it translated.

If your license was issued outside of the EU or EEA and you plan to stay in Germany for longer than six months, you will need to get a German driving license in order to continue driving here. Different rules apply for converting your current license to a German one. In some cases, you may need to take a driving test; in other cases, you may need to take driving classes; or your license may be accepted and converted as it is. Details about converting (umschreiben) a driving license (Führerschein) can be provided by the Driving License Office (Stadtamt Führerscheinstelle) of the Hanseatic City of Rostock. It is a good idea to inform yourself about these requirements well in advance as they can take time.

To have a driving license converted, you need to book an appointment online with the Driving License Office and show up in person to submit the application.

Schools and Childcare Facilities

There are many advantages to having a place in a daycare center for children aged about 1 to 6 years.

For younger children from 1 (and younger) to 3 years there are so-called créches, some also offer a baby service for children under one year old. Child-minders also look after this age group, caring for children up to 3 years old in their own homes. Three- to six-year-olds are cared for in kindergarten and prepared for their entry into school.

Despite the fact that, in theory, every child in Germany has the right to a kindergarten place or child-minder as of the age of 1, the waiting lists for these can sometimes be long. Childcare places are also in high demand in Rostock and correspondingly hard to come by. Therefore, our Institute works with local childcare providers to ensure spaces for the children of our employees. Please contact the IO in time if you have a need. 

In the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, kindergarten attendance is free for children who reside here; parents pay only for meals. The city administration of Rostock has compiled a list of kindergartens as well as a list of child-minders on its homepage.

School attendance is compulsory in Germany: children have to go to school for nine years (ten in some federal states). Kids start primary school at the age of 6 (1st to 4th grade or higher in some federal states or school types). After that there are three different types of school to choose between: the Hauptschule up to the 9th or 10th grade (which ends with Hauptschulabschluss or school leaving certificate), the Realschule up to the 10th grade (which ends with the Mittlere Reife, which is roughly comparable with the British GCSE) and the Gymnasium up to the 12th or 13th grade. The Gymnasium ends with the Abitur, which is a prerequisite for university studies and can be compared to A levels, the Matura or the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Attending state-funded schools is free of charge. Fees will only be charged for private and international schools. There are a few private schools that offer large portions of their classes in English.

Please have a look at the guide "Living and working in Germany" of the Max Planck Society for more information on the school system and childcare. A look at our Equal Opportunity page is also recommended.

Employment for Spouses/Spousal Hire

As the largest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rostock offers a wide range of professional opportunities. Whether research and teaching at the University of Rostock or in one of the various institutes of the German Research Foundation, such as Fraunhofer Institutes or Leibniz Institutes, there is a wide range of job opportunities in the scientific field. In addition, there are job opportunities in the maritime industry or in the many start-ups in the digital sector.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Hanseatic City of Rostock jointly operate a Welcome Center, where newcomers who want to settle in Rostock can get information and support. The advisors are very experienced and support domestic and foreign information seekers mainly in the areas of finding housing and employment, school and kindergarten, leisure activities and applying for benefits for children and family.

A look at our Equal Opportunity page is also recommended.


Get in Touch

International Office
Christine Röpke und Mandy Passehl
+49 381 2081-167


The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.