New at BIGSSS? - Welcome!

We are happy to welcome the new cohort of PhD fellows to BIGSSS! For most of you, joining our Graduate School means moving to a new city, country or even continent. The following pieces of information are meant to help you prepare for your new working environment and home, and to ease the transition to Bremen. Please read them carefully and do not hesitate to contact us should you need additional help.

Although we are doing our best to keep the information on our website and in the documents updated, we cannot vouch for its contents being correct and/or up-to-date. Please consider them as guidelines and make sure to check whether the information given applies to your individual situation.

Below we have compiled an overview of the most important points you need to consider before, upon, and after your arrival in Bremen. You can find more detailed information in our document Information for Newcomers. Please also consider the information provided by Welcome Center of the U Bremen Research Alliance


On a glance

Also download our Newcomer Checklist!

Visa & Residency (for non-EU and EU citizens)

  • Non-EU citizens need a visa. It is your responsibility to get one to start your PhD fellowship at BIGSSS in time. Start applying for a visa immediately after acceptance to BIGSSS!
  • Check the information by the DAAD on visas
  • EU (plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland) citizens do not need a visa.


Registration of residency (everyone moving to or in Bremen) 

Residence Permit (for non-EU citzens)

Health Insurance

  • Get a health insurance! It is a prerequisite for acquiring a visa and everyone living in Germany is obliged to have a health insurance by law. 
  • If you have a working contract, you will have to pick a public health insurance company. If you do not do so, your employer will do it for you (you can change the insurance company later on).
  • If you receive a stipend, you can voluntarily become a member of the public health insurance (as an EU citizen) or opt in for the private health insurance.
  • If you are an EU citizen, you can also get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and keep your healthinsruance from your home country.
  • For more detailed information in health insruance and the difference between public and private health insurance, see our Newcomer Information document. 

German Bank Account

  • We highly recommend opening a German bank account, especially if you stay for several months or even longer.
  • If you have a German work contract or receive a stipend, you will need a German bank account so that your salary can be transferred.
  • For more information, see our Newcomer Information document. 

Licence Fee for Public Braodcasting “Rundfunkbeitrag” (every household in Germany)