Getting a German residence permit

Germany’s love of forms and admin is renowned the world over. The process of getting a residence permit is a perfect example. The system is strict: If you move to Germany on a work visa, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit on arrival. The requirements differ for each permit type – but they all require you to have health insurance in place.

Which type of residence permit?

Let’s take a look at a basic overview.

Temporary residence

This permit – known as an "Aufenthaltserlaubnis" – is suitable if you’re moving to Germany to work, study or be with your spouse. It lasts for one year and can be extended subject to certain requirements.

EU Blue Card

Similar to temporary residence, this option is open to highly skilled non-EU citizens holding a job offer (especially in IT or STEM) with a salary of €50,800 or over.

Permanent residence

Also known as a settlement permit or Niederlassungserlaubnis allows the holder to work and travel internationally and is usually only granted following a temporary residence permit. With a permanent residence permit, your family members may be eligible for residency cards.

What are the requirements for health insurance?

In addition to the obvious criteria, like a clean criminal record and a decent level of German, permit applicants need to hold health insurance. This requirement is set down in German law.

The choice between public and private health insurance will depend on several factors. Check out our guide here to learn more about which is best for you. 

In general, private health insurance is more extensive. It is also far more affordable than in other countries. International health insurance very rarely meets the conditions for residency permits. However, policies from German providers are more likely to make the grade; ottonova’s specially designed expat cover is a perfect example.


To get your social security number you need to contact Deutsche Rentenversicherung. They also provide English support.

ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.

The payment is different than in the public system. With private health insurance you pay the full tariff to us at the beginning of the month. If you are employed your employer will contribute their part to your health insurance through your salary.

ottonova for Expats.

You have so much to do when moving to Germany, don’t let your health insurance slow you down. Let ottonova make your life easier.

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