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Starting life in a new country is paved with visits to public offices, the search for accommodation and learning to navigate one’s way around everyday life. We will support you in creating a stable environment for yourself, your partner and your children as soon as possible.

The housing market in Potsdam and Berlin is not easy to navigate. We will support you in finding short- and long-term accommodation using our network of local partners as well as the usual real estate exchanges.


There are many different options for childcare in Germany. We will inform you of the different possibilities and assist you in determining which benefits (e.g. child benefit) you qualify for.

In addition to health insurance, we recommend household and liability insurance policies to protect you and your belongings during your stay in Germany. Sometimes these insurance policies are also required as part of a rental agreement. Together with our partners, we will support you in finding and establishing any required or desired insurance policies.

Falling ill in a foreign country can be frightening.

We can support you in finding suitable therapists and doctors— both for physical and psychological problems. To this end, we rely on a network of English-speaking or multilingual partners. If needed, we can also accompany you to appointments to translate the conversation.

We are happy to help you build up your own network, whether it is a midwife, doctor, dentist, specialist, or other service you need in Potsdam.

Starting life in a new country includes numerous visits to public offices. In consultation with the HR department at your institute, we will support you in finding your way through the jungle of forms and refer you to competent contacts to complete your registration process.

Would you like to find out about alternative paths to a scientific career or are you looking for a job? We can provide you an overview of where you can find the right information and networking opportunities to help you reach your goal.

You have found housing and would like to assemble your new furniture? At the Welcome Service office you can rent tools for a few days with a deposit of 100 €.

Request for Support


All events …


1. Is the Welcome Service free of charge?

All services are free of charge if you are an employee of our contractual partners, such as the MPI. For some events there is a small fee. Please check the calendar for further details.

2. What are the office hours of the Welcome Service?

The Welcome Service office is located in the GO:IN building on the 3rd floor, room 307. The opening hours are as follows:

Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
(The office is closed on public holidays.)

If you would like a personal consultation, please make an appointment.

3. I am only staying for a short time; can I still use the Welcome Service?

You may contact the Welcome Service at any time, whether you are planning a short-term or long-term stay.

4. What is the first thing I need to do after my arrival?

After arriving, the most important items on your To Do list are: 1) register at the Town Hall (“Bürgeramt”), 2) set up a bank account, and 3) request a SCHUFA report (credit report). It is only after these three steps have been completed that can we begin looking for an apartment. The Welcome Service can assist you with completing these tasks.

5. Do I need a German mobile phone contract?

In the long run it makes sense to get a German phone number. In some cases, a German number is required to complete contracts for utilities online (e.g. Internet service, energy etc.), because the systems do not accept foreign telephone numbers.

6. I would like to learn German.

Great! We provide language courses (German and English) for all levels. Excellent teachers and high-quality learning materials in a small group setting guarantee you a high standard of education and fast results.

Also: To obtain more practice speaking your new language, come and meet the community at one of our regular meetings (Stammtisch). Here you’ll find students from all levels and all nationalities to practice speaking with.

7. What additional insurance policies do I need here in Germany?

In addition to your health insurance you might want to take out other insurance policies here in Germany. We provide monthly appointments to learn about and enter into contracts for household or liability insurance. The Welcome Service can help you check what you already have and determine what you might need.

8. I would like to work but need to change my visa. Where can I do this?

To change your visa, it is highly recommended to first make an appointment at the Foreigners Registration Office (“Ausländerbehörde”). They will verify your request and issue the new visa or explain what is necessary to do so. For additional assistance you can contact your employer’s International Office or the Welcome Service.

9. Can I exchange my driver’s license for a German one? Where can I do this?

Depending on where your original driver’s license was issued, it may be possible to simply exchange it for a German one. Licenses from some countries may only be exchanged if additional driver’s training and testing is completed. You should contact the Driver Registration Office (“Fahrerlaubnisbehörde”) to schedule an appointment:

Here is the link:

Please be aware that the people working in the office speak little English or any languages other than German. If you need help, such as for translation, please contact us.

10. Where can I find English speaking doctors/ therapists?

We maintain a database with information on multilingual doctors and therapists. Just send us your request and we will send you some recommendations. We keep our database current through research, personal contact and feedback, so if you have a recommendation or if you have had a bad experience please send us a note. With your feedback, we can provide better assistance to you and the community.

In addition, we provide some general information on healthcare issues in our news section.

11. I need information on how to prepare my income tax declaration. Who can help me?

We can provide you some general advice, but if you need professional support, we can send you the contact details of a specialist who is familiar with your situation. Please send us a request.

In addition, we periodically organize events to provide information on this topic. Please check out the event calendar.

12. What happens I fall ill for more than six weeks in a row?

German employers are required to pay your normal salary for the first 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, about 70% of your salary is covered by the sickness benefit from your health insurance. Please contact your health insurance company immediately if a longer period of sick leave is needed. We will be happy to support you in communicating with your employer or insurance company. Please contact us.

13. Do you provide legal advice?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer legal advice. However, depending on the situation, we can provide you contact information for an appropriate lawyer or legal firm. Please get in touch with us.

Will you translate contracts or other legal documents for me?

We do not make official translations of documents. However, we can provide oral translations of some documents, such as rental agreements. Official documents must be translated by a certified translator for submittal to a government office. We will be happy to assist you in finding the appropriate translator. Send us your request.

For more specific FAQ please check out the pages accommodation, childcare, language school and social life

Contact Persons

Carolin Schneider leitet den Welcome Service im Potsdam Science Park

Carolin Schneider

Welcome Service & Language School

Opening Hours

General Information
Please note that the Welcome Service and the language school are currently working partly from the home office and partly from the office at GO:IN. All language courses will continue as online or, if feasible, face-to-face courses.
We are available for questions by phone and e-mail. We are happy to offer personal and online consultations by appointment.

If you would like to pay your guest house bill in cash or by EC/credit card, please also make an appointment with Eva Reis.


Guest House Administration 
Office in the GO:IN Building, 3rd floor, room 309
Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
*Cash, EC/debit or credit card.

Office in the Guest House, ground floor
Monday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
*Cash only, please

Welcome Service 
Office in the GO:IN Building, 3rd floor, room 307
Please make an appointment for a consultation.