The war in Ukraine made many people leave their homes and leave behind what they have built their entire life. Journey to a safer area can be very difficult, exhausting, and hard to handle. Ukraine’s neighboring country Poland is accepting millions of displaced people and some continue their journey to Germany. We wrote this guide on how to move to Germany from Ukraine to make our small contribution to help people from Ukraine, and present all the available pieces of information and resources in a structured way. Here, we will shortly talk about every aspect of the journey including reaching the western borders of Ukraine, traveling to Germany, getting your paperwork done, finding an apartment, and getting a job or continuing your studies.
How to reach the western borders of Ukraine?
The western borders of Ukraine you can reach by car or by train. The train is considered a better option. On car roads, there are many checkpoints, a curfew from 20:00, limit of 20 liters of gasoline per car. By car, you should be ready to spend several days on the road and consider options where to spend the night. In List 2 at the end of the article, you can find telegram channels for finding either a place for the night or a free/paid car ride inside Ukraine to western borders and cities.
How to get to western borders on the train?
If you can access the train in your area, you can check the evacuation trains one day in advance on this Facebook page – Ukrzaliznytsia. When you arrive in Lviv, you can take one of 14 suburban trains going to Poland. Schedule of these lines you also can find in the Facebook group above one day in advance.
In Lviv, you also can take buses, microbuses, or cars to the border checkpoint. They depart from the train station and more info you can ask from volunteers there. You can check how loaded each checkpoint is on this Facebook page – Zahidnuy Kordon. All names of currently working checkpoints you can see in List 3 at the end of the article.
How to get to Germany when you have already crossed the EU border?
Deutsche Bahn – German railway company is offering free of charge long-distance rides to Germany for Ukrainian refugees. Currently, 8 lines operate departing from cities such as Warsaw, Gdańsk, Przemyśl, Kraków, Vienna, and Wrocław. You can travel to Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, or Munich having your Ukrainian passport, ID, or proof of residence. Check out their dedicated web page for up-to-date information on departures – Helpukraine . Upon arrival to one of those cities, you can continue your travel inside Germany for free on DB trains with a Helpukraine ticket that you can get at service points.
If you need a car or bus ride to Germany, you can find information on volunteers helping with that and find other people taking the same route in telegram channels in List 4 at the end of this article.
You arrived in Germany. What is next?
For medical care, psychological help, or help with translation, see List 5 at the end of the article for contacts.
Stay in Germany
Register at the local authority.
You need to register at the local authority within 90 days since you entered German territory. When you make an appointment, in big cities you can be asked to move to other parts of the country and continue your registration process there. Not much discretion is given to applicants with choosing the destination. Therefore, if you know some friends and relatives in some cities and want to live there, go there directly using the DB free Helpukraine ticket and apply for the registration there.
When the EU introduced its decree on temporary protection, Germany extended it to two types of groups as well. Including that, all the groups of people who can enjoy the temporary protection are:
- People with Ukrainian citizenship who fled Ukraine as of 24.02.2022
- Third-country nationals and stateless people under the protection of Ukraine as refugees who fled Ukraine as of 24.02.2022. Ukrainian travel documents in this case should be sufficient for application in Germany.
- Family members of the above groups. Citizenship is irrelevant in this case, however, you need a document proving your relationship as an immediate family member.
- Third-country nationals and stateless people with a permanent residence permit in Ukraine and who are unable to safely travel to their country of origin. Examples are not having a passport, health reasons, or not having a flight route back to home country.
- Third-country nationals and stateless people with a temporary residence permit in Ukraine and who are unable to safely travel to their country of origin. Stay in Ukraine should have been at least 90 days, so tourists or business travelers do not enjoy this protection. This point can be more relevant to international students or workers in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian citizens who were in Germany before 24.02.2022 with different residence permits and if it cannot be extended. For example, if your student, job seeking, or specialist residence permit in Germany expires soon, you cannot extend it, then you are eligible for temporary protection. It also applies to holders of tourist visas who were in Germany before 24.02.2022.
If you belong to underprivileged groups such as LGBTQ+, People with Disabilities, People of Color, or Non-Ukrainian citizenship holders including stateless persons, there can be additional challenges during the process of coming to Germany and dealing with the German state organs. In order to elevate accessibility to the needs of underprivileged groups, there are organizations offering their help exclusively for them. Take a look at them in List 12 if it is relevant to you.
For registration, you will need to bring your Ukrainian identity document, residence permit and a negative corona test result not older than 24 hours. More local information is in List 6.
Where to apply and what documents do I need for a residence permit?
Depending on where you are registered, you should apply to the local migration office. It is normally called Ausländerbehörde or sometimes Landesamt für Einwanderung (LEA). On their website, you will find an application form, fill it out and submit all the necessary documents together. Upon submission, you will receive a confirmation, keep that document as it is now a basis that gives you the right to start working in Germany and be eligible for social and financial benefits.
Documents you have to submit depend on your individual case. You definitely will need your Ukrainian passport or residence permit if you are not a citizen of Ukraine, proof of accommodation, registration certificate, 1 recent biometric photo, and when applicable also a marriage certificate and birth certificate.
When you have already applied for a residence permit assuming you belong to one of the protected groups you can start working in any job and stay legally in Germany for 2 years.
Where to find initial free accommodation?
When you first come to Germany and you don’t have any friends or relatives, you can stay at the initial reception facilities or emergency shelters. Contact your local police or immigration office to find out the address and details. Here you can find your local police, and here your local immigration office. You can stay there as long as you need and they have to provide you with everything you need.
Important warning! Some suspicious individuals want to take advantage of the situation and they offer at train stations or other places to stay at their place for free or by paying you. If you feel unwell, uncomfortable or concerned about your safety call the 24/7 hotline 08000 – 116 016. They provide assistance in Russian as well. When you are at a train station and have questions about accommodation you should approach volunteers who are wearing special-colored vests. Make sure to approach official helpers only.
How to search for private accommodations?
If you decide after staying at the reception center to move out to private accommodation or to directly look for accommodation before coming to Germany, there are many services available that offer either their properties or third-party individual properties. Currently, you can use this website unterkunft-ukraine.de to find accommodation. It is created by local NGOs and they cooperate with the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
As the biggest online housing platform, we, fortunately, have several listing partners who offer their help with accommodation to displaced people from Ukraine. You can check out the dedicated web page of our partners Wunderfalts and Housinganywhere. You can leave your contacts for them and they will assist you with finding accommodation they currently can offer. Besides that, there are other non-official platforms you can use to find an apartment. Check out List 7 for that.
When you want to independently find a long-term apartment, you can use the platform of Immobilien Scout. That is the biggest platform in Germany for buying, selling, and renting real estate for the long term. However, note that in this case, you will need to collect a list of documents to be a candidate for renting. What all of them will require is the SCHUFA certificate and income certificate. SCHUFA is a German credit score system and you can get it only after registering your place of stay at the town hall. Therefore, we advise you to first find a place for the short-term, get your documents done, and then look for long-term rentals. For income, landlords will require a salary or any other income that is three times higher than the price of one month’s rent. When you will be moving in and signing a lease contract, landlords can request a deposit for an apartment that can be up to three monthly cold rents. This is called caution and if you don’t have enough funds you can get a bank guarantee for small payment but not all landlords can accept it.
Work in Germany
Can I work in Germany?
Assuming you already have confirmation of your application for a Residence Permit under Para 24, you have a right to work.
Where to search for jobs?
You can search for jobs through an employment agency or on the internet. Check out this website to find an employment agency in your area. On the Internet, there are many services that you can use to find your suitable or your desired job. Take a look at them in List 8.
As a specially protected person, you can also access services for refugees. There are several websites dedicated to finding a job for refugees only. Take a look at them in List 9.
And finally, there are new platforms dedicated to finding a job for people coming from Ukraine. Check List 10 for that.
Can I continue the career I had in Ukraine?
If you want to continue your career in specialized fields of a profession that are regulated by the state, for example, a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or engineer, you have a right to professional recognition. However, note that you need an advanced level of German proficiency to be able to have professional recognition. More on that you can read on websites in List 11. Unfortunately, they are available in German only except for this which is available in English, Russian, etc.
When you find a job and start to work you enjoy labor rights as much as German citizens. The current minimum wage per hour in Germany is €9.82 which is raising to €10.45 on July 1 this year, and to €12 on October 1. More on what rights you have as an employee you can read here.
Studying in Germany
What is the tuition fee of German universities?
When you receive confirmation of application to Residence Permit you can start enjoying your right to study in Germany. Education, in general, is free in Germany. For most of them, you have to pay a semester fee that covers the administrative cost of the student body and local public transport. It can vary between 100 to 400 euros. The exception is the federal land Baden-Württemberg where tuition for international students starts from 1.5 thousand euros. Private universities and programs in state universities that are not funded by the state are usually not free. You have to pay starting from 3 thousand euros per year.
What are the requirements for admission?
If you are considering a bachelor’s degree, it depends on your previous academic experience. You can directly apply to a university when you have studied at least one year in university in your home country. According to certain regulations, a Ukrainian high school education certificate is not sufficient to directly apply to a university. You can do a one-year preparatory course called Feststellungsprüfung and then freely apply to any university in Germany. However, for that foundation preparatory course, you need at least a B1 level of German knowledge. Most of the universities for bachelor’s studies admission require German level of B2 or C1 except for programs that are entirely in English. Later however most of the time is not free or state-funded so you have to pay for yourself.
Where to search and where to apply?
Most of the universities’ admission processes are partially if not entirely outsourced to a special service for an online application called Uni-assist. You can search for your desired degrees and check the requirements, collect your documents, attach and apply directly from that service.
Are there any funding opportunities available for students and researchers displaced from Ukraine?
Yes, there are. Check out this web page where DAAD collects all the possible opportunities for studies and funding provided locally and internationally.
Also, there is a group of professors helping students displaced from Ukraine to continue their studies and transfer their credits. You can leave your contact on this page and they will get back to you.
We wish there wouldn’t be any reasons to write this article. We hope that this guide could contribute a little bit of information and value to the difficult journey you didn’t choose. If you see any outdated information or want to add more information to this guide, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to any of our social media accounts. Last but not least, we hope that this war will end soon and people can resume their peaceful lives.
List 1. Free legal aid. Hotlines for refugees traveling inside Ukraine:
- Vinnitsa region – 067 773 45 38;
- Volyn region – 0332 77 82 11, 066 657 09 15;
- Dnipropetrovsk region – 097 881 78 66, 050 322 34 00;
- Donetsk region – 050 347 90 70, 095 406 27 29;
- Transcarpathian region – 096 284 33 68, 0312 42 80 29, 0312 42 80 30 (Uzhhorod);
- Ivano-Frankivsk region – 0342 55 18 68, 068 376 77 62;
- Kirovograd region – 0522 30 50 39, 0800 50 02 38 (regional state administration);
- Lviv region – 032 254 60 15, 032 297 59 11 (Lviv), 032 259 60 31 (regional state administration);
- Odessa region – 094 945 45 02, 067 992 66 21, 048 793 46 03, 093 392 96 15, 098 615 57 01;
- Poltava region – 0800 50 22 30 (regional state administration), 066 846 47 59, 050 692 74 31;
- Rivne region – 0800 50 00 78 (regional state administration), 0362 40 01 00 (Rivne), 098 505 83 25;
- Ternopil region – 096 337 38 70, 067 720 65 56;
- Khmelnitsky region – 067 380 17 21, 067 380 15 57, 067 380 28 08, 0382 76 45 79, 0382 76 47 00 (regional state administration);
- Cherkasy region – 068 621 80 29, 050 420 13 56, 0800 50 88 76 (regional state administration);
- Chernivtsi region – 095 153 62 98, 098 508 84 84.
List 2. Accommodation and transportation inside Ukraine:
- Telegram channels:
SafeHomeUA, Добрі сусіди, Закарпаття допомагає, WinWin. Realty, ДОПОМОГА Закарпаття, Помогаем уехать, Вінниця. Прихисток біженців, UAhelpinfo.
- Bot: shelter_for_ukrainians_bot
- Telegram channels:
List 3. Western border checkpoints:
- Poland: Yagodyn, Ustilug, Ugryniv, Rava Ruska, Grushiv, Smilnytsya, Krakivets, Shehyni
- Romania: Dyakove (no crossing by foot), Solotvino and Porubne
- Slovakia: Maly Berezny, Uzhgorod, M. Selmentsi
- Hungary: Tysa, Dzvinkove, Kosyno, Luzhanka, Vilok
- Moldova: Mamaliga, Kelmentsy, Rososhany, Sokiryany
List 4. Contacts and services for traveling to Germany by bus or car:
List 5. Special services for refugees in Germany:
- Medical support: handbookgermany.de, Berlin Network for Especially Vulnerable Refugees , Xenion e.V.,, Centre for Survival
- Help with translation: t.me/translators_team_ua
- Legal help: rlc-berlin.org
- Help with animals: tiertafel.org
- Psychological support: medflex.de , google forms
- Consultation for LGBTQ+ refugees: berlin.de/ukraine
List 6. Local information for registration:
List 7. Accommodation search platforms:
List 8. Job search platforms:
List 9. Job search planforms dedicated to refugees only:
List 10. Job search platforms dedicated to displaced people from Ukraine:
List 11. Resources for professional recognition:
List 12. Help and resources for displaced people from Ukraine belonging to Underprivileged Groups:
- portal.tubman.network a coalition of Black organizations and individuals, supported by BIPOC and white allies. Teams working in Germany, Poland, Ukraine
- migrationsrat.berlin an umbrella organization for migrant organizations in Berlin
- quarteera.de Russian speaking LGBTQ community in Germany
- perspektivforum-behinderung.ead.de help for people with disabilities
(Photo by Vladyslav Melnyk)