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Opening of accounts

Every person has the right of access to a bank account with such basic functions like cash withdrawals, payment by card and transfers. To open an account, EU citizens and nationals from third countries holding residence permits have to present their ID card or passport. For asylum seekers and persons not holding any passport documents, it is sufficient to present their proof of the new arrival, the permission of stay or the residence toleration paper. You can apply for a basic account at the bank of your choice by submitting the completed application form. Account service fees and possibly a one-off fee for setting up the account have to be paid for the basic account. The basic account is a credit account, i.e. that you cannot run into debt by withdrawing or transfer more money than the available credit on the account. When you intend to open a giro account with credit facilities, please inform yourselves about it at a bank of your choice. Please consider that high costs may incur when you withdraw money in excess of the credit on the account.

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Contracts and debts

Contracts and debts

Do not sign any contracts that you have not properly understood. Inform yourselves before any purchase whether and how you can withdraw from a contract. In most cases, you have only 14 days to declare your withdrawal. Before you conclude a contract (e.g. a mobile phone contract), clarify for how long you want to be bound to the contract, how much you have to pay per month, and whether the contract is appropriate for the intended purpose.

Bank often offer loans for large purchases. The bank will request very high interests on the borrowed money. Think over very carefully before you conclude a loan agreement.  Consider that you may have to repay the loan over many years. Do not hesitate and ask for assistance by a Schuldnerberatung (Debtors' Advisory Agency), when you realize that you are no longer able to repay a loan.

Social benefits

Social benefits

Germany is a welfare state and responsible for the social security of its citizens. In case of need, the government provides social benefit payments. The social benefits shall guarantee all citizens a minimum level of their quality of life. Social benefits are provided for subsistence, housing and social integration.

Benefits as per Asylum Seekers Benefit Law

Benefits as per Asylum Seekers Benefit Law

Asylum seekers and persons holding a residence toleration are granted a basic financial subsistence allowance. This allowance is paid by the Amt für Soziales und Integration (Welfare and Integration Office) on the basis of the Asylum Seekers Benefit Law and the German Social Code XII.  The basic condition is that you do not receive any money from other sources and that do not own any money of your own. For registration with the Welfare and Integration Office, you have to present your ID card and the registration certificate. You have to file an application for these allowances. The allowances shall be used for the financing of your accommodation and to ensure your subsistence.

In special situations of life, the Welfare and Integration Office also grants one-off payments. They are made as support for the first furnishing of the flat, for the first purchase of clothing and for the first equipment for pregnancy and birth. To be granted such allowances, you have to file an application and give evidence of the need.

As soon as you are granted a secure residence status by the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees, you have to register with the Jobcenter, which is the competent authority for you from then on.

 

Benefits as per Second Social Code (SGB II)

Benefits as per Second Social Code (SGB II)

When you have been granted a secure residence status with residence permit in Germany and you do not work, you are paid a basic subsistence allowance. This is paid by the Jobcenter as per German Social Code II. Basic condition is that you do not have any money of your own and that you are not able to care for yourself. For registration with the Jobcenter, you need your ID card and the registration certificate. To be granted the allowance you have to file an application. Allowance is meant for the financing of your accommodation and the securing of your subsistence.
In special situations of life, the Jobcenter also grants one-off payments. They are made as support for the first furnishing of the flat, for clothing and for the first equipment for pregnancy and birth. The money can also be used for the purchase and repair of orthopaedic shoes, for the repair of therapeutic devices and equipment as well as for the lease of therapeutic devices. To be granted such allowances, you have to prove the need and file an application.

 

Housing allowance

Housing allowance

Being a tenant, you may be entitled to receive a housing allowance. The housing allowance is paid as a contribution of the government to the housing expenses. The right to receive a housing allowance depends on the following factors.

  1. on the number of persons living in the Household
  2. on the height of your total income
  3. on the height of the rent.

Further information and application forms can be obtained from the Wohngeldbehörde (Housing Allowance Office).

 

Child and parental allowance

Child and parental allowance

Citizens of the European Union (EU) member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are entitled to receive child allowance and parental allowance in the same way as the citizens of Germany, provided that they work or live in Germany. People holding a settlement permit can be granted the child allowance and parental allowance.

Persons holding a residence permit are entitled to receive child allowance and parental allowance when they have the right to work in Germany or have worked here already.

Persons holding a residence permit in hardship cases, for temporary protection, in the case of the postponement of deportation, or in the event of departure obstructions, may be granted parental allowance after a stay of three years only. Advice and application forms for child allowance can be obtained from the Familienkasse der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Family Benefits Office of the Federal Labour Agency). Applications for parental allowance are filed with the Elterngeldstelle (Parental Allowance Office).

 

Allowances for the education and participation of children and adolescents

Allowances for the education and participation of children and adolescents

The benefits of the "Education and Participation Package" are used to support children and adolescents of low-income families. Your children under the age of 18, attending a kindergarten, a pupils day home or a school in Germany are entitled to receive additional benefits for education and participation.

 For example, the benefits from the Education and Participation Package can be used for:

  • the participation in school excursions
  • the utilization of sports, leisure and music facilities
  • tutoring in school subjects
  • the participation in the joint lunch at the school or the kindergarten
  • school materials.

The precondition is that you are already entitled to receive social benefits. Benefits of the Education and Participation Package have to be applied for at the authority already granting benefits for you (Jobcenter or Welfare and Integration Office).

Funeral cost after the death of a relative

Funeral cost after the death of a relative

Often the death of a family members occurs very sudden and requires immediate action of the relatives. Burials are obligatory in Germany. The period between the death and the burial ranges from four to 14 days according to the kind of burial (interment, fire, sea). The burial has to be made on a cemetery. For interments in Germany, the use of a coffin is obligatory. Should you be interested in a Muslim burial, please contact the Multikulturelles Zentrum (Multi-Cultural Centre).

When the death occurs in hospital, the death record is issued directly on the spot. When a family member dies at home, a physician has to be called who confirms the death and issues the death record. Afterwards you contact an undertakers establishment, which will take the corpse to the mortuary within 36 hours and arrange all necessary measures. Together with you, the undertakers fixes a date for the burial and makes further arrangements.

The Standesamt  (Registry) has to be informed about the death to issue the death certificate. The ID card, birth certificate and, if applicable, the marriage certificate have to be presented. When the deceased was entitled to the payment of benefits, the death certificate has to be submitted to the Amt für Soziales und Integration (Welfare and Integration Office) or to the Jobcenter.

When a relative dies, allowances for the financing of his/her funeral can be granted. The cost of a funeral are paid when the deceased has not left sufficient legacy, or when the applicant is not able to bear the funeral cost. The payment of the funeral cost has to applied for at the Welfare and Integration Agency.