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Moving to Germany - where to start?
Thread poster: Maaike van Vlijmen

Maaike van Vlijmen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2009)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
Sep 3, 2013

Dear colleagues,

I am Dutch and I am living in the UK at the moment. Within two months I'll be moving to Germany (Göttingen). I am very excited about it, but not looking forward to all the registration stuff... I simply don't know where to start. I just read a thread here on proz about health insurance and it freaked me out (so expensive!!).
My German reading skills are not bad, although I'm not familiar with legal or financial terminology.

My questions are:
- What are the first steps to take when I arrive in Germany? Where should I register, being self-employed?
- Which insurances should I think of, apart from health insurance?
- Should I get an accountant to do my taxes or is it easy enough to do it myself, like here in the UK? Where could I find an accountant?

I guess I would like to know if Germany is self-employed-friendly.. Here in the UK everything is so easy (once you get the NI number) and I'm afraid I'm in for an unpleasant surprise when I move.

I don't expect you to write me a manual, but a couple of useful links would be great

Thanks for all your help!!!


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
English to German
+ ...
A few hints Sep 3, 2013

You need to register at the "Einwohnermeldeamt":
http://www.meldebox.de/Umzug-Goettingen/Einwohnermeldeamt/anmelden.php

The link also shows the "Finanzamt", where you can get more information.

I do my taxes myself, but used to have a tax consultant during my first years.

Wish you a good start,
Gudrun


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Mailand  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
Italian to German
+ ...
Just to add a jokey note ... Sep 3, 2013

why don't you try moving to Italy first - then moving to Germany will feel really easy-peasy ....

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Indeed.. Sep 3, 2013

Mailand wrote:

why don't you try moving to Italy first - then moving to Germany will feel really easy-peasy ....


...much as I liked living in Italy for more than 20 years, in the end I was beaten by the bureacracy and moved all my affairs back to the UK. Now I only visit Italy as a tourist. Much better. By the time I left I was spending 2 working days per week (out of the 5 available) just making sure all the paperwork was in order - and spending a fortune on driving around from one office to another, standing in queues, paying bribes to office staff just to get the documents I needed, etc....



I imagine Germany is more efficient. After all, that's what Germans are good at. Being efficient. Or as an Italian friend once said "Let them get on with doing that whilst the rest of us do other, more interesting things".



[Edited at 2013-09-03 11:55 GMT]


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2G Trad  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:49
Member (2000)
English to Italian
+ ...
OT posts Sep 3, 2013

Tom in London wrote:
Mailand wrote:
why don't you try moving to Italy first - then moving to Germany will feel really easy-peasy ....

...much as I liked living in Italy for more than 20 years, in the end I was beaten by the bureacracy and moved all my affairs back to the UK. Now I only visit Italy as a tourist. Much better.


How do these 2 posts answer to the original post: Moving to Germany - where to start?


[Edited at 2013-09-03 12:31 GMT]


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Mailand  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
Italian to German
+ ...
Post starter sounded anxious, but Germany is easy to move to Sep 3, 2013

2G Trad wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
Mailand wrote:
why don't you try moving to Italy first - then moving to Germany will feel really easy-peasy ....

...much as I liked living in Italy for more than 20 years, in the end I was beaten by the bureacracy and moved all my affairs back to the UK. Now I only visit Italy as a tourist. Much better.


How these 2 posts answer to the original post: Moving to Germany - where to start?


You are right, my post and Tom's do not give any technical help, but they may help Maaike to lighten up! Department officials in Germany are usually very efficient and helpful and most information material is available at least in English. I'd say that while in the UK this stuff is quite easy and in Italy its hell, Germany is at least somewhere in the middle and probably even much higher up, so I wouldn't worry too much, but collecting information beforehand is always a good thing.

But sorry for drifting away from the original question - will try not to do it again ... shame on me!


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
English to German
+ ...
Maaike Sep 3, 2013

http://www.toytowngermany.com/wiki/German_insurances

http://www.howtogermany.com/pages/insurance.html

http://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/living/guide-to-living-in-germany/insurance/

Health insurance and "(private)Haftpflichtversicherung"/ third-party private liability insurance are probably the most important ones. Theres is also a "Berufshaftpflichtversicherung" covering risks encountered while translating/working.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
German to English
Nothing to worry about Sep 3, 2013

You shouldn't worry: Germany is one of the friendliest of the western economies when it comes to setting up in business as a freelance translator.

There are few formalities: all you need to do is notify your local tax office and they'll tell you which form to fill out. One of the reasons why it's worth using a tax adviser (Steuerberater) is that you can then file your tax returns considerably later than if you don't use a tax adviser.

There are no other formalities or requirements as far as being a freelance translator is concerned. However, if you are living in rented accommodation, check with your landlord that the terms of the tenancy agreement don't rule out self-employed activities in the house or flat (though as a rule, nobody is likely to object to freelance translating).

Health insurance is now compulsory (as is LTC insurance), but you have a wide choice of providers. As a freelance translator, you can also opt for private health insurance (Krankenversicherung), rather than joining one of the statutory schemes (Krankenkasse).

You should also search for other threads here in ProZ, as the topic has been discussed often enough.

One thing you will notice is that the overall cost of living in Germany is considerably lower than the UK.

Robin


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Except for.... Sep 3, 2013

RobinB wrote:

One thing you will notice is that the overall cost of living in Germany is considerably lower than the UK.

Robin


..except for the fact that instead of having a National Health Service as in the UK, which is free at the point of delivery (and you don't have to do anything apart from registering with a doctor's practice), in Germany you have to take out your own health insurance (which seems to be expensive, require lots of work and time to find the best deal, and discriminate against women instead of supporting them).

[Edited at 2013-09-04 10:01 GMT]


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Martina Fink  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 15:49
Member
German to English
Insurance Sep 3, 2013

I wrote a long forum reply but then I misclicked and lost it all... arrgghh. Regarding insurance: I know an independent broker who can advise you for free. I used him myself and he was very helpful, plus he's an expat who speaks English.

http://www.gunn-partner.com (don't let the photo put you off!)

You may find that private health insurance is more expensive than the statutory one because you're a woman. Unfortunately, the ability to pop out babies makes us terribly expensive to insure The statutory insurance does not charge according to gender or age, only income, although there is a "minimum fee" set by the government which is around 300 euros a month.

Good luck with your move and don't worry - being a freelancer (Freiberufler) is not too complicated in Germany. It's when you start employing people or selling goods that you're in trouble!


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Yorkshireman
Germany
Local time: 03:49
German to English
+ ...
Tax Sep 3, 2013

Hi,

I've been here in Hannover since '74, so I can't remember the precise details of most of the things I had to do to get registered here, but an accountant - Steuerberater - may be a good idea if you are going to be paying VAT.

The complexity and terminology of VAT is excruciating, and it all gets even more complicated if you take on a job from a client outside Germany in a country that has a different rate or buy software products from abroad.

Doing your tax returns yourself is reasonably straightforward, but it certainly is much better to have an accountant when the "taxman" starts asking where your money is coming from - we recently had a tax audit for the last five years, I assure you it is not a pleasant experience. Particularly as my wife and I work in a total of 6 different professions - architect, geophysical consultant, photographer, insurance broker, author & publisher - and translator. All of which are taxed differently.

Or can you account for (or have the receipts, documents, bank statements for) everything you bought, earned, saved, invested etc. for the last 5 years?

Even if you can, you'll have a couple of months of worries if and when they audit you - and they usually do it for no apparent reason. The big advantage of a Steuerberater is that you can reference every cent any time you like - the downside is, they are not cheap.

As there are fixed costs for everything they do, there is no such thing as a less expensive Steuerberater, so always go for the best.

It's also a very good idea to open separate business and private bank accounts - a good Steuerberater will probably advise that you do it anyway.

Cheers
Douglas


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Maaike van Vlijmen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2009)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks!!! Sep 4, 2013

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your replies! Even the OT ones (and yes, I know Italy is hell..), they made me laugh

Also, Martina, thank you for the link (indeed, not sure about the photo)!

I am still astounded at the €300 I'm going to have to cough up every month, especially since I now enjoy the free NHS. I'm not sure the overall cost of living will be considerably lower, as I'm living in Belfast, where everything is quite cheap (compared to the rest of the UK). I guess I'll have to be careful and adjust my budget.

Does anyone have an idea of how much the services of a Steuerberater would cost? I think it would be smart to use one in the first year.

Many thanks again!! Vielen Dank!


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
French to German
+ ...
Only € 300? Sep 4, 2013

Maaike van Vlijmen wrote:

I am still astounded at the €300 I'm going to have to cough up every month, especially since I now enjoy the free NHS.


Only € 300? Count yourself lucky.

Are you planning to stay longer in Germany? If so, you might want to opt for statutory health insurance since private health insurance premiums tend to rise the older you get. There is a considerable number of freelancers and self-employed people who get to a point where they simply can't pay them anymore. The advantage with statutory health insurance is that you pay a certain percentage of your income, not a premium which is in no way adjusted to your income. However, if you are only going to stay for a limited time, you might as well go for a cheap private offer.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:49
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Agree: statutory vs. private health insurance Sep 4, 2013

inkweaver wrote:

Maaike van Vlijmen wrote:

I am still astounded at the €300 I'm going to have to cough up every month, especially since I now enjoy the free NHS.


Only € 300? Count yourself lucky.

Are you planning to stay longer in Germany? If so, you might want to opt for statutory health insurance since private health insurance premiums tend to rise the older you get.


A 100% agree, exactly what I was about to write (both points: amount of the premium and statutory vs. private insurance).


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
Italian to English
A strong reason Sep 4, 2013

Maaike van Vlijmen wrote:

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your replies! Even the OT ones (and yes, I know Italy is hell..), they made me laugh

Also, Martina, thank you for the link (indeed, not sure about the photo)!

I am still astounded at the €300 I'm going to have to cough up every month, especially since I now enjoy the free NHS. I'm not sure the overall cost of living will be considerably lower, as I'm living in Belfast, where everything is quite cheap (compared to the rest of the UK). I guess I'll have to be careful and adjust my budget.

Does anyone have an idea of how much the services of a Steuerberater would cost? I think it would be smart to use one in the first year.

Many thanks again!! Vielen Dank!


You must have a very strong reason for wanting to move to Germany !


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