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The decision to go to another country is full of uncertainty.

Nobody knows that better than yourself. This handbook has been put together to make it easier for you to get to terms with your new environment. We want to help you and your family to quickly find your feet in both private and public life in Germany.

This handbook will provide assistance and help you complete formalities more easily and with fewer complications. You will find much important information here to help you, especially in your first few months in Germany. Just as useful and important to know are the keywords and explanations of events in German society and politics that you may come across in newspapers, on the radio or television, or you may hear discussed at work.

What is the "Einwohnermeldeamt" and what does the "Ausländergesetz" mean for you? What about your "Krankenversicherung"? And how do you find out which "Steuerklasse" you are in? What about the "Kindergarten" for your children? And what about the "TÜV"? What does the "GEZ" stand for? How do you get electricity, a telephone line or an Internet connection in your new apartment? Who are "Deutsche Michel", "Max and Moritz" the "Tigerente" and "Willy Brandt"? And last but not least, what rights do you have to participate in German democracy? What does the "Zweitstimme" mean and what is the "kommunale Ausländerwahlrecht"?

You will soon see that it is not as complicated as it seems. The cabaret star Karl Valentin used a clever pun: "Foreigners only feel foreign in a foreign environment". This brochure is designed to help you integrate in Germany as quickly as possible. We hope the word "foreigner" will soon become a foreign word for you

and we wish you the best of luck.


Marieluise Beck,
German Government Representative for Migration, Refugees and Integration

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