1. Important documents

It is essential to double-check all of your papers before you take off. Pack a folder, which you have easy access to, that contains these documents:

  • your passport (make sure it is in date for the duration of your stay), your ID (optional)
  • a valid visa
  • evidence of travel insurance
  • birth certificate
  • if you are studying: university admission letter, proof of language proficiency, TestAS/APS certificate(s), proof of school graduation

It’s good practice to make several translated and notarized copies of those above-mentioned documents. Keep some spares with you and also leave some spares at home. On top of that keep photos of these documents on your phone, so you can pull them out quickly.

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2. Money

2.1. Cash

You need to convert your native currency to € to spend in Germany. It’s best to find a local foreign cash exchange business in your home country before you travel. Alternatively, you can try a local bank, but be wary of fees. Avoid doing this at the airport if you can as the rates are extortionate rates and all transfers are charged. When entering from a non-European Union state, you must notify the customs office in writing of any cash to the value of €10,000 or more that you bring along. You must also inform a customs official orally when asked whether you bring along other means of payment deemed equivalent to cash if their total amount is €10,000 or more.

2.2. Card

Check online and with your bank to see if you have a credit card or MasterCard that works for overseas payments. Alternatively, you can try using your card at foreign ATMs to withdraw cash if it is an international MasterCard. Be aware that in most cases there is a fee attached to these foreign ATM withdrawals.

3. Plug adapters

Sockets type F is used in Germany. The mains voltage is 230V at a frequency of 50Hz. Info about types of sockets here: https://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/

4. Medicine

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Medicines are almost certainly be available in Germany, but you have to find a doctor first, so it is simpler just to bring along what you can.

When packing, include your medicine with your hygiene products.

When entering Germany as a traveler you are allowed to carry up to a 3-month supply of your own medication.

There are medicinal products that may not be imported into Germany like counterfeit medication that are particularly harmful and frequently used for doping and are listed in the Annex to Section 6a of the Medicinal Products Act (for example testosterone, nandrolone, clenbuterol).

5. Food (in case you cannot adjust to German food)

The import of food for private consumption is permitted in principle. This also applies to food sent by one individual to another. The import of certain foods into Germany can be restricted or even generally prohibited as a result of specific rules, as is the case for:

  • Wild mushrooms: up to two kilograms of edible mushrooms for private consumption may be imported without any restrictions.
  • Potatoes: prohibited due to the danger of spreading potato ring rot.
  • Sturgeon caviar: prohibited because all species of sturgeon are endangered.
  • Food supplements: certain food supplements or vitamin preparations may be considered to be medicinal products.
  • Food and feed of animal origin: There are additional restrictions for some of these products, e.g. meat and meat preparations, game, milk and dairy products, and eggs, mainly for animal health reasons.

Products such as the following are exempted from these regulations, so travelers can import them within the regulation quantity thresholds without any hesitation:

  • up to two kilograms of infant food and special foods required for medical reasons, in unbroken packages,
  • foods e.g. cream toffees, chocolate, or biscuits with only small quantities of dairy.
  • other animal products than meat or milk and/or meat or milk products up to a weight of two kilograms (e.g. honey)
  • fishery products (e.g. fresh, cooked, or smoked fish, or certain crustaceans such as prawns or lobsters) which do not exceed 20 kilograms

Should the products not meet the import requirements the consignments will be rejected by the customs. In such cases, they must be disposed of on the spot.

6. Clothes

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Remember to pack suitable clothes for social events and or interviews you may attend, and of course casual. Essential clothing items include:

  • Underwear
  • Socks, gloves
  • A belt
  • Shoes
  • Long- and short-sleeved shirts
  • Trousers and Jeans
  • Rain boots, raincoat
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Dress, skirt

If you’re having trouble fitting everything in your suitcase - a vacuum bag can help save a ton of space. All you have to do is put your clothes in the bag, then attach a vacuum that will suck all the excess air out and shrink the entire contents down to micro-size.

Also, consider the season you will be arriving in Germany.

Lastly, be aware of counterfeit laws in Europe. Customs officers strictly protect legislation and when infringements are detected they will seize any pirated items and perhaps engage in criminal proceedings.

7. Phone and German SIM cards

Your sim card may not be available in Germany. In case you haven’t checked with your service provider at home about the international roaming services or you don’t want to use them, you can buy a travel sim card for temporary use in Germany.

Upon arrival in Germany, you can continue to use it for a few more days until you can have a sim card contract in Germany. Stay tuned for our article

and take a look how to choose one in Germany!

8. Electronics

Laptop - If you study in German language, buying a laptop in Germany with German keyboard can be considered.

Chargers - Especially during travel, make sure you have chargers for all of your devices. It can be useful to invest in a battery pack that stores additional charge for your phone or tablet in case of an emergency.

Adapters - Wall sockets are the same as those found almost all over mainland Europe. They have two holes, for two metal prongs. Make sure your devices can plug into these sockets, either through power packs or adapters.

Power banks up to 100Wh are allowed on each flight - but only in limited numbers and only in hand luggage. Per passenger two chargers may be carried. However, be careful to keep several power banks separate from each other. Cover it with a bag or store it in its original packaging. So nothing should go wrong with the next flight.

9. Hygiene

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It’s important to consider weight when packing toiletries for travel. Following are the top things to remember for good personal hygiene:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste (travel size)
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Shampoo/hair conditioner
  • Small towel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Make-up, moisturizer
  • Shaving cream

You have to fit all your toiletries into one standard-issue clear bag, and make sure not only they fit into the bag but also all liquids are below 100ml.

Besides, remember it is best to have easy access to all your hygiene products – in case of some facewash or toothbrush for long flights.

10. Luggage

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10.1. Checked in

Depending on your tickets, some airlines allow you to have one 23-32kg piece of luggage for stowing away under the plane (more information here: https://www.skyscanner.net/news/tips/check-in-luggage-size-and-weight-restrictions). Additionally, you can buy more weight at the check-in desk.

Also, remember to weigh your luggage before you leave. Your bags will get weighed at the airport, and you will have to pay a premium to take on any excess weight.

10.2. Carry-on

Try and get this to one bag. Many airlines either have a one or two carry-on luggage policy, so it’s best to play it safe and pack light (more information here: https://travel-made-simple.com/carry-on-size-chart/)

In conclusion

If you have to double-check something from this list: make sure that you have your passport, visa, phone, and cash.

Start packing up to a week before your flight and pay special attention to the things around the house that you use every day - you’ll want to pack these things last, but they are also the most important. Be entirely packed at least a day before your flight so you can scan for anything that should be in your bag.