First Steps in Mainz

Once you have arrived in Mainz, you will need to take care of some first steps. Below and on the other pages of this section, we will gladly give you an overview on what needs to be done as soon as you arrive in Mainz and want to start working at JGU.



Sign Your Contract

Very Important: Before you start to work, it is absolutely mandatory to sign your working contract first. Thus, this should be the first thing you do, when having arrived to Mainz.

You will have received a list of documents which are necessary for you to bring. Please make sure to have those documents with you and find your responsible person at the Human Resources Department (make an appointment in beforehand in any case) on the second floor of the following building on campus:

Human Resources (Dezernat Personal)
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Forum universitatis 3
55128 Mainz
Email | Website

Map where to find the Personnel Department (red arrow points to the building Forum 3)

Please note: At the time you will have signed your working contract, you will probably not have all the documents that are needed yet. You will still be able to sign it, but will have to make sure to hand them in as soon as possible.


Meet with the Welcome Center

When signing your contract you might receive documents or forms from the Human Resources Department, like information on the additional pension provision “VBL”, which raise questions. Or maybe you have questions concerning the upcoming bureaucratic processes. Therefore, the Welcome Center invites you to personally get some orientation and talk about your next steps in order to facilitate your start at JGU and in Mainz smoothly.

Feel free to get in touch via email, in order to arrange an appointment.

Welcome Center
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Forum universitatis 2, Room 00-216
55122 Mainz
Tel.: +49 6131 39-28339
Fax: +49 6131 39-27018
Email | Website


Accomodation

Finding a long-term accommodation in Mainz is not so easy, as the Rhine-Main area is economically strong and has several cities close to each other. There are a lot of students and professionals moving towards the area and especially to Mainz and Frankfurt, which makes the area very attractive and dynamic, but of course brings some pressure into the housing market. Moreover, the living standards are higher than in other parts of Germany, which leads to a higher-than-average pricing level in housing.

Nevertheless, there are several options you have and should follow:

Maybe, you have already reserved an apartment at JGUs guest house, which allows you to have an apartment during your first weeks in Mainz and gives you some time to personally start looking for accommodation after your arrival. Please find more information about JGU guest house here.

Furthermore, there is a number of different housing websites that could be helpful for you. If you find an apartment that interests you, please feel free to get in touch with the landlords directly. Often, appointments to visit apartments are made on a first-come-first-served base, therefore it can be helpful to act fast.

General

  • www.immobilienscout24.de
  • www.immowelt.de
  • www.studenten-wg.de
  • www.wg-gesucht.de

Please note that most flats are not furnished unless it is mentioned in the description.

Temporary Housing

  • www.airbnb.de
  • www.zwischenmiete.de
  • privatanbieter.info-mainz.de/
  • www.city-home.de
  • www.hc24.de/de/möblierter-wohnraum-in-mainz.htm
  • www.city-residence.de
  • www.myhomeagency.de
  • www.cnb-mainz.de
  • www.bed-and-breakfast.de/regional_e/mainz

For professional support by an estate agent you can contact for example these companies:

  • www.lichtenberg-mainz.de
  • www.lehrmann-mainz.de/
  • ap-immo.biz
  • www.kueppers-immobilien.de

In case of further questions, please feel free to get in touch with the housing coordinator of the International Office via email. She will also be able to tell you if possible apartment offers sent by private landlords are available.


Register at the Bürgeramt/Bürgerservice (citizens' office) / Apply for your conduct record

In general, every citizen that lives in Germany for longer than two months is required to be registered at all times with a current address. This registration is proceeded at your local Bürgeramt/ Bürgerservice (every city has its own citizens' office) and is a precondition for several further bureaucratic tasks (e.g. opening a bank account, receiving a tax identification number or making an appointment at the foreign office).

If you live in Mainz, it will be possible for you to make an online appointment for your registration, in order to avoid waiting time. Further information can be found at the website of the city of Mainz (available only in German). The Welcome Center will of course also support you and can gladly assist you in making an appointment at the registration office.

Please note: As the registration relies on your current address, you will need to provide a “landlord confirmation”, a document that is filled out directly by your landlord, downloadable at the website of city of Mainz (available only in German) or available at the Welcome Center.

Since you might not have your own accommodation by the time of your arrival, it is possible to register with the address of your temporary accommodation if your temporary landlord agrees to provide you a landlord confirmation.

If you stay in the JGU guest house during the first weeks, it is possible to register with that address, as the International Office can gladly provide you a landlord confirmation. As soon as you move again, you will have to register again with your new address.

In case your spouse accompanies you, you will have to provide your marriage certificate and a certified German translation. For each child, a birth certificate as well as a certified translation is necessary.

The address of the Bürgeramt/ Bürgerservice is:

Bürgeramt
Stadthaus Kaiserstraße
Kaiserstraße 3-5
55116 Mainz

Citizens of other cities need to register at their city's office. After registration you should receive a Anmeldebestätigung (confirmation of registration).

Important: Mainz-Amöneburg, Mainz-Kastel and Mainz-Kostheim belong to Wiesbaden, not Mainz. Furthermore, don't be mislead by their train station's names, Bischofsheim and Ginsheim-Gustavsburg also do not belong to Mainz.

You can register easily and for free but you need to bring the following documents:

  • Passport (eAT is not sufficient)
  • Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung (landlord confirmation)
  • Residence Permit/Visa (if applicable)
  • Marriage Certificate (if married, the original document and a certified translation into German)
  • Birth certificate (if you have children, the original document and a certified translation into German)
  • Visas and passports of spouse and children (if applicable)

You can either make an appointment in advance or just go there and take a number and wait. The last numbers are usually given out 30 minutes before the end of business day. The Welcome Center is happy to assist you with the requirements for your registration.

  1. Go to the appointment homepage of the Mainz Citizens' Office. Unfortunately it is only available in German. Therefore, you'll get instructions in English in the following on how to make an appointment online.
  2. Choose "Bürgerservice".
  3. Choose "Anmeldung (Zuzug aus dem Ausland)". Tick „+“ for the number of people that will be registered with you.
  4. Click on the button in the end which says "Weiter".
  5. Then you click "OK" in order to confirm your choice. The information box tells you to not forget the confirmation of your landlord.
  6. Then you choose an appointment (date and time).
  7. Then you enter your personal data (female, male; first name; family name; email address; repetition of your email address; telephone number; birth date; address (not mandatory) and than there is room for any comments ("Bemerkungen") from your side), you answer the security question and tick the first box and - if you like - also the second one in the end of the page.
  8. Then you click on the button "Termin reservieren.
  9. Next you will get an email with a confirmation link which you have to click before your request can be processed.
  10. Usually within a few minutes, you get the appointment confirmation with more details.
  11. Don't forget to note your appointment in your daily schedule.

 

Conduct Record

When working at JGU, you will be asked to hand in a so called “Führungszeugnis” (conduct record) after your contract started, which is a police document confirming that you have not committed any crimes in Germany, and thus are allowed to work in civil service. As this is also dealt with at the Bürgeramt/Bürgerservice we recommend you to tick both, the registration and the request for your conduct record, off the list with one visit.

In order to apply for your conduct record, you will need to provide the responsible person at the Bürgeramt/Bürgerservice the address of your employer (here: Your responsible person in the Human Resources Department). So please make sure to have the name or your contact person in the HR and JGUs address ready to show. This service will cost approximately 15€.


Visa Affairs and Residence Permit

Depending on your citizenship, there will be different visa regulations you will have to deal with. Most EU citizens do not have to wonder about a visa at all and therefore will not have to take any actions. Citizens from other certain countries may travel into Germany without a visa but will then have to apply for a residence permit in order to be allowed to live and work in Germany. Other citizens can in turn only travel into Germany with a valid visa. As the visa regulations change from time to time, please feel free to take a look at the pages of the German Federal Foreign Office, in order to learn more about your visa regulations.

A “Visa” allows you to travel into Germany. A “Residence Permit” is what replaces a visa after it has expired once you are in Germany and allows you to live here for a longer time for a certain purpose. You will have to apply for it at your local foreign office.

If you need to apply for a residence permit after your arrival the Welcome Center will gladly assist you during that process. JGU cooperates with the foreign office in Mainz, you will therefore benefit from a fast-track-procedure that aims to provide you with your residence permit soon. You will have to fill out a short form with your personal information and send it to the Welcome Center, which will then contact the foreign office and coordinate an appointment. Please feel free to get in touch with the Welcome Center, which will gladly explain you the procedure in further detail.

In case you do not live in Mainz, there will be another foreign office responsible for dealing with your visa and residence permit affairs at your place of residence. The Welcome Center will of course still gladly explain you how to proceed.


Health Insurance and Social Security

All residents in Germany have to provide sufficient health insurance coverage. Employees with an annual salary below the insurance threshold (2020: 62.550€) are normally required to contract a statutory health insurance. The contributions are automatically deducted from your salary (contribution rate 2020: 14,6%). You will need to choose a health insurance company that contracts you. Please find a list of all statutory health insurance providers here (available only in German).

Please be aware: In case you plan to travel to Germany before your employment starts, we recommend you to make sure to take a private or travel insurance to make sure to be covered by a health insurance from your first day on. Also in your visa application, health insurance coverage might be required. The Welcome Center will gladly assist you and send you a link with different providers.

Your family members can normally be insured through you for free, in case they are not employed as well.

For more information please also consult the pages of Euraxess and the DAAD.

In case your stay is funded by a scholarship or by yourself, you will need to take a private health insurance. In this case, you will also need to take care of any family member individually. The Welcome Center will gladly assist you in your search of a suitable private health insurance.

You will also find valuable information about the health insurance system in Germany at the website of Euraxess Germany.

Civil servants and employees with an annual salary above the insurance threshold can choose whether they want to be insured privately or by a public health insurance. Due to the high number of providers and as individual conditions are considered (age, gender, health status, required coverage), we recommend comparing the different rates.

Social security in Germany covers health insurance, pension schemes, unemployment benefit, accident insurance (at work) and nursing care insurance (German: "Pflegeversicherung").

In Germany, social insurance (German: "Sozialversicherung") is mandatory for all employees who enter into a contract beyond the limit of marginal employment (€ 450 per month). Therefore, also researchers who are employed in Germany based on an employment contract (not on a fellowship) take part in the German social security system and contribute to it. The employer and the employee each pay approx. half of the contributions while your half amounts to a total of around 20% of your gross salary.

Our Human Resources Department will need you to provide them with your “social security number”. As the health insurances form part of the statutory social security contributions, your health insurance provider can gladly apply for your social security card which contains the required number. Please feel free to ask your health insurance provider to take care of this step.

In order to get more background information about the social security system in Germany, please feel free to visit the website of our network coordinator EURAXESS.


Pension Insurance

The pension insurance as one of the social insurances in Germany protects you and your family if your employment ends due to age, but also in case your ability to earn income is endangered or reduced. Your contributions will automatically be deducted from your salary and your employer will add another half of your contributions.

Besides the statutory pension insurance scheme, there is another additional one through the “Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder” (VBL). Basically, it gives you the opportunity to do some further monthly payments. After a certain period and with the time, your claims will rise and you will benefit from a further pension insurance once you retire. If you do not wish to contribute to this additional scheme, you can be exempted from this pension plan. You will receive an exemption form amongst your employment documents. Please keep in mind that the application for exemption must be made to the Human Resources Department of JGU within two months after the starting date of employment. You can find further information for employees with a short-term scientific position in academia or research in the western Länder of Germany in this edition of VBLspezial.

Please let us recommend you to visit the website of the EU initiative “Findyourpension” in order to get more detailed information on the German pension landscape, such as information and backgrounds about pension insurances in general, options to be excluded from the compulsory insurance or how to benefit from your insurance claims once your research stay in Germany should come to an end.


Further Insurances

In addition to your health insurance, there are several insurances which we highly recommend you to take, which are mostly the Haftpflichtversicherung (liability insurance) and Unfallversicherung (accident insurance).

 

The Welcome Center will gladly advise you regarding where to find a suitable insurance.

The Third-party Private Haftpflichtversicherung (Liability Insurance) covers physical injury or material damage to others caused by you (or your children). Therefore, it is customary to get insured for occasions in which any claims could arise from unintentionally caused damages. When taking out a liability insurance make sure that it at least covers all private liability claims and if possible also business-related liability claims. However, most insurances only cover the former, thus, there are also providers for workplace liability insurances for people who work with expensive equipment, e.g. in a lab. If you are a motor vehicle owner you are required by law to have a motor vehicle liability insurance. Additionally, there are also liability insurance policies especially for animal owners.

If you are employed in Germany and, therefore, pay for social security (see above) you are already insured against accidents on the way to and from, and at, your workplace. A Private Unfallversicherung (private accident insurance) can be taken out to be insured against income losses to you or your family caused by permanent physical damage due to an accident in private circumstances, e.g. private sports acivities. It should not be confused with health insurance which covers medical treatment. Permanent physical damage is normally defined as a condition which lasts longer than three years. It takes effect when e.g. your loss in salary caused by the accident or costs for household help and therapies, which are not covered by your health insurance, cannot be covered by yourself.

The Hausratversicherung (household contents insurance/ home insurance) covers your furniture, clothing, work and household equipment against burglary, fire and weather damages. If the event occurs in which the insurance has to take action it will assume the costs of the repairs or the replacement of your household goods and, in case that the event prevents you from staying at home, often pays for a hotel room or similar. Since the insurance will most likely ask for prove that you owned the damaged or stolen goods, it is advisable to keep receipts or photographs of objects of high value in a different location than your home. Make sure to examine the policies of the household insurance closely before taking one out.

Occupational disability can happen either through illness or an accident. In case that you can no longer work, e.g. due to health problems like chronical back pain, psychological conditions like burnout or severe illness which permanently limits employment, an Occupational Disability Insurance protects you from facing the threat of not receiving income anymore.


Taxes and Tax identification number

Your tax identification number refers to your individual taxation and is valid for life. It must be sent to the Human Resources Department of JGU in order to establish an appropriate taxation of your salary. After you have registered at the "Bürgeramt/ Bürgerservice" you will receive your Steueridentifikationsnummer (tax identification number) by mail within two to four weeks. If you wish to receive your tax identification number earlier, you can go personally to the Finance Office of the city of Mainz (approximately one week after your registration at the “Bürgeramt/ Bürgerservice”) in case you live in Mainz, take your passport/ID with you and ask for the number at the service desk.

The address of the Finance Office is:

Finanzamt Mainz Service-Center
Schillerstraße 13
55116 Mainz
Website

Please keep in mind that your first payment might be delayed or proceeded with more tax deductions than necessary, in case you don’t hand in your tax identification number at the Human Resources Department in time. This taxation will be adjusted once you do your tax declaration. But still we highly recommend you to:

  1. Register at the "Bürgeramt" as soon as possible after your arrival and then
  2. Visit the service desk at the Finance Office one week later, in order to receive your tax identification number and to hand it over to HR.

Please feel free to find some general information on taxation in Germany at the website of EURAXESS Germany.

In general, you are subject to taxation rules where the center of your life is located. In order to avoid situations in which you are taxed in both Germany and your home country, there exist double taxation agreements with several countries, which specify exactly where you will have to pay your taxes. In order to find out about specific agreements between Germany and your home country, please visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance to get further details.

In order to receive professional advice on taxation issues, there are a number of local tax consultants that can advise you individually. There also exist tax support associations which can help you on these matters.

The Welcome Center has a list with English-speaking tax consultants in Mainz and can also gladly give you information about tax associations in case you are interested.

In Germany there are six Steuerklassen (tax categories) which apply to people depending on their marital status and/ or if they have children. In the following you can find an overview on the categories and whom they apply to:

Tax category I: Applies to those who are single or seperated who are not single parents, and those who are divorced.

Tax category II: Applies to those who are single or seperated, with a child, and therefore, are entitled to child's allowance.

Tax category III: Can be chosen by married people if one partner/spouse is not employed or earns significantly less money than the other partner/spouse. The other partner then falls into tax category V. You must explicitly apply for this combination (see below: "Changing Your Tax Category").

Tax category IV: Applies to married people if both of them earn about the same amount. Both partners/spouses are automatically assigned to this tax category if not chosen differently.

Tax category V: Applies to married people who would normally fall into tax category IV but whose spouses or partners have selected tax category III.

Tax category VI: Applies whenever a person has more than one employment relationship and, therefore, receives income from other or several different tax cards (German: "Lohnsteuerkarte").

It can happen that you get assigned the wrong tax category, e.g. you got assigned to tax category VI but according to your status you should be in category I. Then you should contact the tax office as soon as possible to make sure they allocate you to the correct one, otherwise you may have to pay too much tax deducted from your salary.

As you can see in the section above on "Tax categories" there are two options for married couples, too:

  1. Both partners or spouses are in tax category IV.
  2. One partner or spouse is in tax category III and the other one in tax category V.

Usually, as a married couple, you will both be automatically assigned to tax category IV.

If your status changes, e.g. you get married, you have a baby or you get divorced, you can request a change of your tax category at your responsible tax office.

In Germany it is possible to get a part of your income tax back if you have paid too much beforehand. Therefore, you can apply for a tax refund at your responsible tax office. If the evaluation of your Steuererklärung (income tax declaration) by the tax office leads to the conclusion that you have overpaid, the surplus will be refunded to you.

Who is required to hand in an income tax declaration?

  • People with an additional income (not from salary) superior to 410€, e.g. from rental income
  • People who had more than one employer in the year
  • People with more than one salary e.g. a full-time job and a minijob with the Tax Category VI
  • People who are married with the tax categories III and V, or both IV "mit Faktor" (i.e. additional agreement within tax class IV)
  • People who got divorced and re-married the same year

Who could possibly profit from voluntarily handing in an income tax declaration?

  • People who have only been employed for part of a fiscal year
  • People whose tax category changed during the year, to their advantage
  • People who had special expenditures or extraordinary liabilities in a year, e.g. commuting costs to the office which are not financed by the employer

How to file a tax return?

The easiest way to submit your tax return is to do it online at the ELSTER Portal (only available in German) which communicates directly to your local tax office. Depending on the software you are using you will additionally have to send your supplementary supporting documentation by mail. When your filed tax return has been proven by the tax office you will receive your Steuerbescheid (tax statement) which will inform you about how much you owe or how much you will get refunded. How long the process in between will take depends on your tax office and cannot be generalized.

Depending on the level of complexity of your own tax situation you might want to consult a tax advisor who helps you to file your tax return.

Deadlines

The deadline for submitting your tax return is the 31st July every year (since 2019). Please make sure to check on this deadline at your local tax office.


Banking

If you need to open a bank account in Germany or not depends on various factors, e.g. the payment method your landlord allows. We generally recommend you to open one in Mainz during the time of your employment, since your monthly salary will be transferred to your bank account, Especially if you are a non-EU citizen, money transfers would be combined with fees and therefore couldn’t be proceeded.

 

There are two main types of bank accounts in Germany:

  • Girokonto - current account / checking account
  • Sparkonto - savings account

If you stay in Germany only for a limited time, the savings account might not be very interesting for you since interest rates tend to be low. A Girokonto, however, can be used for money transfers and includes a girocard which is the German version of a debit card. Depending on the bank you might be charged a monthly fee for the service.

Most banks will require a confirmation of registration from the “Bürgeramt/Bürgerservice” before giving you the opportunity to open an account. Besides, you should take the account management fees of various banks into consideration. The Welcome Center will gladly provide you with a list of different banks in Mainz including their contact information.

In most cases it is possible to open a bank account online, too. For the verification of your identity you would then have to use a webcam, a verifying code sent by email or POSTIDENT by Deutsche Post Germany.

Your bank card and documents will be sent to the registered address you gave to the bank once the account is opened. This may take up to two weeks.

You might want to check if your home bank has a partner bank in Germany which could simplify money transfers.

In general, one can say that Bargeld (cash) is still the main type of payment in Germany. Thus, on the arrival in Mainz, visitors should have enough money at their disposal, either in cash or they should possess an ATM card which is valid in Germany. As a general rule, ATM card holders can only withdraw a limited sum of cash from an ATM each day using credit cards or other accepted bank cards. Fees may apply for the use of ATM cards. However, because of the high relevance of cash in Germany you find plenty of ATMs in the city center. Most of them can be operated in several languages, such as English, German, French and others.

Generally, all common credit cards can be used for payment of purchases above 10 Euro but this strongly depends on the shop/ restaurant/ etc. and is up to the owner of the location. Smaller stores and restaurants might not accept credit cards.


Public Transportation

As a rule, public transportation within the city of Mainz is covered by the bus and tram systems. For more information, please have a look at the following websites, which also offer mobile app versions:

www.mainzer-mobilitaet.de (the Mainz Mobility Services website, only available in English)
www.rmv.de (the Rhein-Main-Verbund, short: RMV, website which also includes regional busses and trains)
www.bahn.de (the Deutsche Bahn website which has information on nationwide train connections)

As a JGU employee, the Job Ticket for public transportation is available to you and is less expensive than the regular monthly ticket. For more information concerning the JobTicket refer to: Family, Work-Life-Balance & Employee Benefits.

If you want to know how to access the campus by bus or car, refer to: Good to Know.


Medical Check

In case you need to do a medical check at JGU Medical Center, you can make an appointment with the Betriebsärztliche Dienststelle (employer-medical department), in order to do this routine-check. You will have the contact amongst your employment documents and will just need to make a call there to schedule an appointment.