GUIDE book


B4 arriving germany*

 First Things first - your Visa

Apply for it as soon as possible at a German Embassy or Consulate. Indians require to have a visa[Citizens of the European Union or Australia, Japan, Canada, Isreal, New Zealand, USA, Switzerland, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino don't need a visa].

Don't forget, family members also might need visas. It's also wise to remember, government offices often have their own unique sense of scheduling or timeframes. So make sure to apply for the visa in plenty of time. The German consolutes in India can tell you what documents you will need for a visa application.

What kind of Documents do you need? - a short Checklist
(may vary time to time and place to place)

  • a passport or equivalent identity document valid for the whole duration of your stay in Germany;
  • a visa for you and family members accompanying you. You should apply for visas as soon as possible - in contrast to documents for you yourself, which are often issued quickly, there may be delays in the issue of residence permits for accompanying family members. Some countries (e.g. member-countries of the EU and the USA) are exempt from this requirement;
  • If applicable, confirmation from the funding agency viz. DAAD/Humboldt or from your Institution/Supervisor that you have been awarded a research fellowship/position;
  • several passport-size photographs for the various documents you will require during your stay;
  • birth certificate(s), marriage certificate, if applicable, with German translation if possible;
  • officially-certified copies of your degree, and of insurance documents with German or English translations, if possible;
  • if appropriate, confirmation from your health insurance that you are also covered in Germany (Please remember that, in order to get a residence permit, you have to have valid health insurance cover for yourself and your family from the first day you arrive in Germany. If your health insurance at home is not valid abroad you will have to take out a health insurance policy before you travel which is valid in Germany for the entire duration of your stay!);
  • if applicable, a statement detailing particular or previous diseases (possibly recent X-ray photographs) and medication currently needed;
  • your vaccination certificate, if possible, an international one.

To avoid difficulties communicating with German physicians and problems involving health insurance, you should undergo any necessary prophylactic check-ups and have special medication prescribed in your home country prior to your departure.

  Sprechen Sie Deutsch? - Nobody will deny that being able to speak German will make life easier for you in Germany. You can attend language courses at the Goethe Institut in India or better still attend a summer course in Germany.


Booking Tips for Students

1. After getting the visa the next thing to do is booking tickets.

2. Days before the flight, call the airline to confirm your reservation and to cross-check everything the travel agent may have told you.

3. Indicate whether you want Asian Vegetarian Meal (AVM), non-smoking section, etc. This can be done at the time of booking the tickets with the travel agent.

4. Some airlines offer Frequent Flier programs (e.g. Lufthansa, Gulf Air, Air France, TWA, United Airlines) implying that after a certain number of miles of flying with that airline you get a free ticket. Enroll in such programs.

5. Avoid transit of airline at airports A direct flight is the best especially when you are traveling abroad first time. If change of airline can't be avoided, make sure that there is at least 4-6 hours gap between the scheduled arrival of one flight and the scheduled departure of the connecting flight.

6. Baggage is usually safe with a single airline while change of airline sometimes leads to misplaced luggage. Some airlines don't take care about baggage transfer. You may have to personally carry it (check this while booking)

7. Arrive at the airport
at least 2 hours before the check-in time.

8. Drink lot of fluids on the flight. This will help you recover the jetlag very fast.

9. Many airlines are fussy about the weight of your cabin baggage. It is always better to check with your travel agent regarding this.

10. Always keep a photocopy of your passport, tickets, contact info of your school in every baggage including your cabin baggage.

11. Always keep original copies of your CA certificate, bank statements, sponsor's affidavit, passport, admission letters in your cabin baggage. Sometimes, the immigration officials may ask you to present them at the airport.

12. Ideally, a student can bring euro 500/- in cash, euro 1000/- in travelers cheques and a personal draft of the amount equal to one semester's expenses.


Emigration Clearance

1. Every person leaving India should have
ECNR stamped on one of the rear pages of your passport. For detailed information, it is advisable to contact your travel agent.

2. For questions on whether one needs Income Tax clearance certificate or sometimes, a Police Clearance certificate, it is advisable to contact your travel agent.


Things to be done in advance before departure

1. Learn typing.

2. Learn driving.

3. You guys & gals : get into adventure world of cooking ?!! May god bless you!

4. Make your passport valid for 6 months more than your stay indicated in your pass.

6. Make outstation purchases (sweater, thermal underwear, cassettes etc).

7. Have a complete medical checkup done.

8. Get prescriptions & medicines for all common ailments

9. Get your eye-sight checked - get a new prescription. Buy at least one extra pair of glasses, lenses.

10. Get requisite immunization done (especially MMR).

Things to be kept in the boxes

Miscellaneous Items

1. Copy of all certificates/documents (originals in hand baggage).

2. Necessary books/notebooks (some suggested books are - Clark's Tables, a good dictionary/thesaurus, a booklet for units conversion) [note: there should be no legal hassles taking photocopies of books - but don't flaunt them to around campus.

3. Copy of address book/telephone book/diary.

4. Some stationery and related items suggested (not absolutely necessary - just for the first few weeks) are : Rubber stamp with house address, airmail covers, few Indian razor blades for cutting work, screw driver, Indian postal stamps for sending letters through someone coming to India

5. Medical history file.

6. At least one pair leather chappals, two hawai chappals (extra straps).

7. Soap (bath), toothbrushes

8. You may want to bring audio cassettes, CDs of your favorite music.

9. You may want to enquire with the travel agent regarding valuable items on which custom duty may be levied.

All Indian groceries, pickles and other food stuff MUST be sealed completely; if u r a sambar of garam masala guy/gal- dont worry, every variety is available here.

Things to be left at home

1. List of addresses/phone numbers at which info about you can be obtained.

2. One copy of all your important documents.

3. A copy of all relevant parts of Medical History files.

4. Arrange to collect/redirect mail from your room/hostel.

5. Arrange to apply/collect/mail your transcripts (about 10 in number preferable)

6. Your tailoring measurements.

7. Few blank signed papers - so that your parents can be authorized to look after anything on your behalf.

Things to be done in the last week before the flight

1. Call up & find if there is any delay or change of schedule of the plane (inform the people coming to pick you up of any such change).

2. Rest well - ready to face the long journey / jet lag and bid bye to all concerned.

On the day of the flight, in-flight and later

1. As it is going to be a long flight wear something comfortable preferably cotton full hand shirt and trousers (for gals ?!!...No idea).

2. Be at the airport at least TWO hours before take off.

3. Relax during flight, sleep as much as possible.

4. For vegetarians, watch out before you eat for you may get non-vegetarian food even if you had asked for vegetarian. Veg. food is generally bland - fruits/juice are good choices.

5. Never hesitate to ask questions.

6. Once out of India be very careful (from sheer experience of seniors). If required don't hesitate to spend money.

7. Don't hesitate to talk to people to ask questions. Usually people will answer all your queries satisfactorily.

8. Drink lot of fluids to get over with the jet lag as soon as possible upon arrival.


Port of entry procedures

1. Sometime before landing the flight attendant will distribute customs declaration forms & immigration forms as mentioned below. Fill these out on the plane (you will submit them to the appropriate authorities when you land). Do not hesitate to take the flight attendant's help.

2. You can indicate that you have nothing to declare & total value of all goods you carry is less than 100 Euro on the customs form.

3. Just before you land the correct local time will be announced set your watch [dual time watch will come in handy here]

4. Once you are out of the plane go straight to the immigration counter rush for them to beat the queue. It might take half to one hour here.

5. Keep your Ipassport, admission & aid letters ready. They might ask few questions like - is this your first time in the Germany ? -Are you a student ? -Which University are you joining ?

6. Be very relaxed and answer all the questions that the officer will ask. Sometimes the officer may ask you to present financial documents or letters from your sponsors. Thus it is advisable to carry these along with you in your cabin baggage.

7. Then go to the conveyor belts to fetch your luggage. Pick up a cart to carry the bags. Then pick up your bags as they come out on the conveyor (suitable eye-catching labels help here). If you don't get your baggage inform the enquiry section.

8. Cart your baggage to nearby Customs. If asked, tell the officer that you are a student, department and coming to Germany for the first time. If asked to open the baggage do so slowly but do not mess up the place. Note : In most cases you will NOT be asked to open your boxes at all & will be simply waved through.

9. Then go & wait at the nearest exit for the volunteers, friends or relatives  who are supposed to receive you.

10. Never leave your baggage unattended. Don't go out of the airport until somebody comes to receive you. If you have doubt the person who has come to receive you, don't hesitate to ask for his/her identification paper.

11. Once you reach your house (or other destination) call home & inform them of your safe reach.



What To Do and What Not To Do

As in all countries there are certain norms of behaviour and politeness in Germany which you should observe if you do not want to put your foot in it. Students are more informal so it is advisable to take note of both behavioural codes.

Greeting People

Students usually greet each other without shaking hands saying "Hallo", "Grüß Dich" or "Servus" (in Bavaria) and leave saying "Tschüs", "Bis bald" (see you soon) "Adé" (in Swabia) etc.

To shake hands or not to shake hands?

The rule of thumb is: Do not shake hands with fellow students or in public offices. If you attend an interview or go to a professor's office hour, always shake hands. Just wait until the senior person (i.e. the professor or prospective boss) offers you his/her hand to shake.

"Sie" (formal) or "Du" (informal)?

Adults generally address each other in the formal "Sie"-form and with "Herr" or "Frau" plus surname and possibly even a title: "Guten Tag, Frau Dr. Meier". Colleagues often still use the formal Sie, even after working together for years.

Formal and Informal Address

Germans only abandon their formal attitude and use the informal Du-form with their friends, and even this is only possible after it has been formally offered. However, students usually use the Du-form all the time amongst themselves, so when you address a fellow-student feel free to say Du.


Titles are very important in Germany. If someone has a doctorate it is usual to address them as Herr Doktor Meier or Frau Doktor Müller. Professors are usually addressed as Professor plus surname. There are doctors and professors who prefer their titles not to be used; they will soon let you know if this is the case.


It cannot be denied that Germans place a lot of emphasis on punctuality. If you have an appointment with your professor there is one thing you should certainly not do - keep him or her waiting! However, amongst students punctuality is taken less seriously.


Germans are often rather reticent with invitations to begin with. Only good friends can just drop in on each other unannounced. When you are invited somewhere with a more official character, like to your professor's or boss's for example, you should take a bunch of flowers with you for the hostess. When you are invited to share a pan of spaghetti with other students in their "WG" you do not need to take flowers with you, but a bottle of wine or a home-made dessert will certainly be welcome.

Please! Thank You! Excuse Me!

"Bitte", "Bitte sehr" is what you say when you give something to somebody, when you hold the door open for somebody, when you ask for something or make a request. If you have done someone a favour and he or she thanks you, you then say, "Bitte, gern geschehen" (roughly: "You're welcome" or "Don't mention it"). If you accept something offered to you at table you answer with "Bitte": "Möchten Sie noch etwas trinken?" ("Would you like anything else to drink?") - "Ja, bitte" ("Yes, please").

for prospective students 

How to reach Heidelberg

Heidelberg is located approximately 80KM to the south of Frankfurt and is sometimes described as being at the heart of Europe. Given that European borders are in a constant state of flux this is probably no longer true!

Heidelberg's limousine, airport transfer and guided tour service provides a great value service that can make your stay that much more relaxed and enjoyable.

Getting to and from Heidelberg is simple by either plane, train or road.

By Plane

Heidelberg is placed roughly equidistant between Frankfurt and Stuttgart airports. Most people that arrive by plane will come through Frankfurt airport (which is the major hub for Lufthansa airlines). Frankfurt airport is a large and busy airport, but extremely well thought out and easy to find your way around. All signs are in German, English and graphics where possible. Frankfurt airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is used by Lufthansa and its partners. Terminal 2 is used by all other airlines (including the charter airlines). Terminal 2 is the more modern of the two having been designed by Sir Norman Foster not too long ago. Use the skyline to travel between the terminals.


If you are arriving with checked luggage, you will first have to pass through passport control before collecting your luggage from the "Baggage reclaim" area. Once your baggage has been collected and you have passed through customs you have a number of options available to you:

Take the train directly from the airport to Heidelberg main station (Hauptbahnhof). This will take between 45 and 80 minutes depending upon the type of train you take and expect to pay between € 13 and 20 per person (2nd class).

Take the Lufthansa airport bus directly to Heidelberg (sometimes stopping in Mannheim on the way). This is a luxury coach located in front of the meeting point in Terminal 1. This is really the easiest and most convenient way to get to Heidelberg from Frankfurt airport and we would recommend you choose this option.

  • Depart Frankfurt Airport Arrive Heidelberg
    08:00 09:15
    09:00 10:15
    10:00 11:15
    11:00 12:15
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    15:00 16:15
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    17:00 18:15
    18:00 19:15
    19:00 10:15
    21:00 22:15
    23:00 00:15
    Depart Heidelberg Arrive Frankfurt Airport
    06:00 07:15
    07:00 08:15
    08:00 09:15
    09:00 10:15
    10:00 11:15
    11:00 12:15
    13:00 14:15
    14:00 15:15
    15:00 16:15
    16:00 17:15
    17:00 18:15
    20:00 21:15

    Take a taxi from the airport to Heidelberg. The is the most expensive option, expect to pay upwards of € 120. The journey should take around 60 minutes.

    By Train

    Germany has an excellent, very punctual rail infrastructure. Most of the major train routes will drop you off at Mannheim where you will jump onto a regional train (RB) that takes around 15 minutes to reach Heidelberg. The Heidelberg main station (Hauptbahnhof) is located a 10 minute tram ride from the centre of town.

    By Road

    Heidelberg is well served by the German autobahn (motorway/highway) infrastructure. The closest autobahns to Heidelberg are the A5 and A6. Exit off these motor ways onto the A656 which will take you directly into the centre of Heidelberg.

    The currency is Germany is the Euro (€). Notes and coins: 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. Money can be changed at all the banks (and on Sunday at the train station). If you are the holder of an EC card or major credit card then you will be able to withdraw money from the many ATM machines dotted around Heidelberg.

  • Language

    Learning a bit of German before you arrive will almost certainly make your stay more enjoyable. At the very least learn to say hello, please, thank you and goodbye - it will be appreciated by the local people.

    Having said that, the majority of the population in Heidelberg will speak some English, so you will be able to make yourself understood without having to speak German. .

    Getting around

    Heidelberg is relatively small, with a large pedestrian only zone and plentiful public transport. You will probably get around Heidelberg mostly by walking or on the odd occasion by taking a reasonably priced tram or a bus.                                      ...................................

    Heidelberg - General Facts

  • Business Hours
    Most banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 1 pm and 2:30 to 4 pm (on Thursday until 5:30 pm). Store hours can vary from town to town, but shops are generally open Monday to Friday from 9 or 10 am to 7 or 8 pm. Saturday hours are generally from 9 am to 4 pm. Stores are closed on Sundays except in train stations, petrol stations and airports.

    The Euro (€) is the official currency.

    Currency Converter

    In most places: 220 volts AC (50 cycles). A transformer (in German: "Steckdosenadapter") and a plug that fits the German socket may be needed for your appliances. Indian electrics most propably work for german systems. 

    EMERGENCY phone numbers:

    Police:   110

    Fire department: 112

    Emergency service: (06221) 1 92 22

    Medical stand-by-for emergency duties

    panel doctors: (06221) 1 92 92

    private doctors: (01805) 30 45 05

    Dental stand-by for emergency duties (06221) 1 92 92

    Emergancy center for toxications

    Children and adults: (0761) 1 92 40

    Crisis line: (0800) 1 11 01 11


    The main post office business hours at Sophienstraße are:
    Monday - Friday: 8 am to 6 pm,
    Saturday: 8 am to 1 pm.
    The post office business hours at University Square are:
    Monday - Friday: 10 am to 6 pm,
    Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm.

    Germany operates on Central European time (CET), which means that the country is 6 hours ahead of eastern standard time (EST) in the United States and 1 hour ahead of Greenwich mean time (GMT). Daylight saving time begins in April and ends in September - there's a slight difference in the dates from year to year - in August there'll be a 6-hour difference between U.S. EST and CET.

    If a restaurant bill has "Bedienung" listed, then it means a service charge has already been added, and it is customary to round up at least to the nearest Euro. If not, add 10 to 15%.

    Rest Rooms
    Women's toilets are usually marked with "D" for Damen,
    and men's toilets with "H" for Herren.

              * mentioned guidelines are intend to, but not necessarily, provide               exact information & the rules and procedures are subject to change

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