Visa and immigration


You are required to register with the German authorities at the city customers' center (Kundenzentrum Innenstadt) or at a local registration office (Meldehalle) of your choice within the first week of arrival in Germany. Please see the documentation checklist for the documents you will need to bring for registration. After registration, you can open your bank account and then apply for health insurance.

Non-EU members:

Follow the same three procedures as the EU members when you first arrive. You then need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) at the Foreign Office Köln-Kalk. If you are a fellowship holder or a student, you are allowed to apply for the residence permit at the district town hall near you. The International Office has the required forms and can help you fill them out if needed.

If you are applying for a residence permit for the first time, please fill out the form: "Antrag auf Erteilung einer Aufenthaltserlaubnis"

For an extension of your residence permit, please fill out the form: "Antrag auf Verlängerung einer Aufenthaltserlaubnis"

The residence permit can take about 1 ½ - 3 months to process. If your visa ends during this period, you need to request for a temporary residence permit or a transfer document "Fiktionsbescheinigung" so there are no laps in between. This document has to be returned to the Foreign Office once you receive the official residence permit.

Important: if you move to a new apartment, you have to register your new address with the authorities at the local town hall.

Visa application

Anyone coming from outside of EU has to apply for a visa before they arrive in Germany. Exceptions are citizens of Australia, Israel, Japans, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America. They can apply for a visa directly after their arrival.

To apply for a visa, you need an official invitation letter from your employer and a rental contract. You can find the details and the necessary documents under "Visum" on the German Embassy website. If you need further assistance, please contact the IO.


As an employee of the MPI, you are obliged to pay taxes to the German government and therefore you need to apply for a tax ID. Once you register yourself with the city hall, the information of your registration is automatically sent to the tax office, "Bundesamt für Steuern". Within 1-2 weeks, you will receive a letter with your tax ID number. Please make sure that you name is on the mailbox of your temporary residence so you can receive this letter promptly.

With this tax ID number, a tax form (Bescheinigung für den Lohnsteuerabzug) is filled out and delivered personally to the tax office (the form is available in the IO). The tax office then takes the information and gives you a tax confirmation on the spot. Please take this tax confirmation letter and give it to the HR Department at the institute.

Having an accurate and updated legal status is important. Please contact the IO for further assistance with any issues concerning your immigration procedure.


We have collected a list of useful websites where you can find furnished and unfurnished apartments as well as various real estate agencies in the area.

As in all big cities, housing is very tight in Cologne. It is a good idea to look through the following websites for some options.

Also the Newcomers Guide has some useful information about how to find housing and neighborhoods, guide to real estate terms and websites. The IO can also assist in finding an apartment and making the first contact with the agents or landlords.

Möblierte / furnished apartments:

Unmöblierte / unfurnished apartments:

Agenturen / agencies:

General Information

The Max Planck Society offers various information about the first steps you will have to take upon your arrival in Germany:

Important steps to take if your application is successful