What to bring when moving to Germany and what to leave

Updated on
September 20, 2022

Tips on Moving to Germany

Moving to Germany is an exciting time, but there are a number of important elements to consider beforehand. Here are some things that you should bare in mind.

You can usually bring all your own household items without any issue including your car. This can be done without paying a duty, but non-EU cars need to be brought up to German specifications. Cars should be fully in line with German law including regulations regarding emission standards, headlight operation, brakes and general condition.

Germany's climate is fairly temperate, similar to that of North America. The clothing that you bring should therefore be appropriate for your new country, a wide range for most conditions being preferable. Those immigrating with a permanent place in mind can bring as much as is possible, with additional speciality items and equipment useful for those wishing to use Germany's famous winter resorts for skiing or holidaying.


Germany has a robust healthcare system which can accommodate for all residents. Medication and health-related equipment is available for those who require them. However, it may take a short time to get acquainted with a new doctor and healthcare style, so bring appropriate medication for around a month.

Electrical equipment requirements will generally be similar in Germany to those found in Europe, Southern America and most of Asia. North American equipment is different however, so televisions and cell phones may not operate. Check your individual items for confirmation.

Experts on long-distance immigration agree that large home appliances, such as ovens and washing machines, are best left behind or sold. This is as the cost of shipping and the potential difficulties with adapting to a new electrical system are often more expensive than simply purchasing new items. Smaller, personal items such as music players or portable computers are usually fine to bring, as long as they are usable in Germany.


Electricity in Germany is supplied at 220-240 volts, twice that of the United States and Canada. Devices built for a lower voltage can be irrevocably damaged when plugged into a higher voltage system. This is a difficult mistake to make, as appliances from these countries come with a flat style of plug making it impossible to insert into the German round style of socket. While adaptor plugs are cheaply available, they do not transform the voltage. Some modern appliances are made to accept multiple varieties of voltage supply safely, although this must be checked. Transformers are available for appliances without this ability. Cheap low wattage transformers are used with smaller items such as CD players or shaving equipment, while items needing more current require a larger and more expensive transformer. The current in German also operates on a 50 cycle format instead of the more common 60 cycle system. Generally this doesn’t make too much of a difference although clocks may be inaccurate.

TV in Germany offer a unique set of challenges. Germany, along with most of Western Europe and South America, uses the PAL system. This will mean televisions built for NTSC (America, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines) and SECAM areas (Russia, Eastern Europe and Russia) will not work. Some systems are built for multi-area use and can play PAL alongside other area's DVDs or videos.

North American mobile phones are also incompatible with telephone services in Germany. This is as few American phones can use the GSM system used by Germany and other countries or connect to the German frequency. It is best to buy or rent a separate German phone.

Finally, American and Canadian immigrants should be aware that Germany uses the metric system for all measurements so be sure to pack a measuring cup alongside your favourite recipe books. We also offer a complete step by step guide when relocating to Germany.

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