The Beginning of German University as a Foreign Student

Updated on
September 11, 2022

The Official Start of Your Studies in Germany

Students studying in Germany must have enrolled officially with their university prior to the start of term. A certificate known as a “Immatrikulationsbescheinigung” will be issued to officiate the enrolment. This process is usually fairly brief, ending with a student ID being presented, and is known as matriculation or enrolment. After this process is completed a student is allowed to attend lectures, use campus facilities, take examinations and ultimately receive a university degree. Enrolment is usually done in person at the university's Office of Student Affairs (“Studentensekretariat”).Students are allowed to enrol after receiving confirmation from their university of choice. A letter will be sent with this confirmation if a student is successful in their application, along with information regarding the exact nature of the matriculation.

Documents for Enrolment

While the time needed to enrol is usually fairly brief, numerous documents will be required. While staff at the university's offices can give a more definitive list, the general documents required are:

  • Personal identification card or passport
  • Letter of confirmation for admission
  • Original or certified copy of university entrance qualification
  • Passport photos
  • Proof of health insurance coverage, either via a domestic policy that includes German residence or a German provider
  • Certification of German language proficiency

Once this process is completed, students will receive an electronic payment slip and a certificate of enrolment which acts as a temporary student ID. This certificate needs to be taken to the Alien Registration Office in order to gain a residency permit. Once payment for semester contributions (and possibly tuition fees) has been received, the university will dispatch a postal dispatch containing a full student ID card, an account for the university's online services, student e-mail address and password. This information is used to gain access to course information, registration details and other online materials provided by university staff.

Student ID Card

Students are provided with a unique ID card which provides access to campus-wide facilities such as study areas, food halls and computer access. Student ID is also used as a local public transport ticket, as well as a means to prove student eligibility for discounts.Once enrolment has been completed, a student will then need to register with their chosen department. Students majoring in multiple subjects may need to registrar at each department's office of administration. Separate IDs for departments are sometimes issued, for which another passport photo may be required. This ID will allow access to any facilities the department has special access to.


Enrolment will only validate a student for one semester. Continual study in Germany will require the process to be repeated along with payment for semester contributions. Re-registration occurs at the end of the preceding semester, with details available via a university's website or International Office. Failure to re-registrar can mean an additional administration fee is applied or removal from the university.

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