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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Day of German Bureaucracy

After finally receiving confirmation that I can pick up my student visa this past Saturday, I knew I would have a full day of dealing with German bureaucracy on Monday. So, I decided to document my morning in photos to give you all a peek behind the curtain of expat life in Germany.

7:30 a.m.

My alarm goes off, and I start getting ready. Okay, I may have actually laid in bed until 7:38 and then started getting ready.

9:00 a.m.

I leave the apartment to head to the Bürgeramt, where my visa should be waiting for me. Marco kindly offers to drive me (otherwise I would have walked, which takes about 30 minutes).

9:15 a.m.

I take a ticket and notice that my number is next to be called, which makes sense since there was only one person in the waiting room. So, after waiting about three minutes, my number comes up, and the woman stamps my student application visa ungültig (invalid) and gives me my new student visa.

9:30 a.m.

Excuse my chipped nail polish.

I go back to the car where Marco is waiting for me, and we drive back home with my new visa in hand.

10:00 a.m.

Now I walk to the university to show student services my new visa. Right now, I only have a temporary student ID that expires on October 14th. They said I should receive my new ID in the mail.

Trying to kill two birds with one stone, I also asked if they could sign my paperwork for deferring my student loans. They said I have to come back on a Thursday between 10 and 12 to be able to speak to the correct person (you see what I am dealing with?!).

10:20 a.m.

After receiving a job offer from the university last week, I am also in the middle of trying to sort out all of the paperwork so that my work contract can start on October 1st. So, I have to head to the personnel service next to talk to the people there.

I hand over five different signed documents, but of course I was still missing a few. Don't worry, though, they say that they will start writing the contract with what they already have. I also give them a copy of my college transcripts, student visa, student ID (remember I only have the temporary one, so I have to come back with my new one as soon as I get it), and proof of health insurance. Whew! They also said I need a Sozialversicherungsausweis, which is kind of like a social security card. We will see how many hoops I have to jump through to get that...

10:45 a.m.

I head to my place of (future) employment to tell them that everything is looking good with my new contract. Germans are sometimes weary about hiring foreigners due to all the headaches associated with it, but I am lucky to have found a great new place to work as I get my Master's degree.

11:00 a.m.

I finally get home after a very long two hours. Here is my bag (from my awesome cousin Jannette) that I carried around all day filled with my paperwork and some snacks.

So, here is a run down of what happened today and what is still left to do.

What I accomplished:
  • Got my student visa
  • Requested my non-temporary student ID
  • Got the ball rolling for my new work contract

What I still have to do:
  • Get non-temporary student ID
  • Sign work contract
  • Defer student loans
  • Get a Sozialversicherungsausweis

Anyone else dealing with crazy bureaucracy like me, I wish you the best of luck!


  1. Tell you what, even for us Germans dealing with our bureaucracy is most often confusing, tiring, annoying etc. and we're happy when all's settled and done with.

    Best of luck and steady nerves for what's still left on your list.

  2. When I moved to Norway, I honestly thought that I would have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy too but the worst part was back in Germany when I applied for student loans. Since I'm in Norway, everything is so easy and uncomplicated and getting my residence card took me 10mins! I love that :D

  3. What an experience! I hope everything works out for you :)

  4. Thanks! It is a hassle, but everything is slowly working out... :)


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