Information for International Scholars

Wegweiser vor Sonnenuntergang

Would you like to come to HSBI from abroad and teach and conduct research? We at the Welcome Center look forward to welcoming you here and will be pleased to advise you on all questions regarding the organisation of your stay!

You can use the following information as a checklist to plan your stay. If you wish to receive personal support, please register via this registration form or contact us by e-mail at



Before you arrive

Good reasons to come to HSBI

Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSBI) is a modern university with more than 10,000 students in East Westphalia Lippe, one of the strongest business locations in Germany.

Our profile

  • Interdisciplinary research at six faculties: Design and Art, Minden Campus, Engineering and Mathematics, Social Sciences, Bielefeld School of Business, Health
  • Practical approach: successful cooperation with industrial, business, social, and cultural communities
  • International network: more than 150 partner universities in about 50 countries
  • Green campusses: many options for outdoor activities around all our campusses
  • Family-friendly: certified as a family-friendly university

Imagevideo HSBI

Find funding and a host

To come to HSBI as a lecturer or researcher, you can either apply for one of the job postings or finance your stay at the university through a scholarship. You can find suitable funding programmes here:


If you wish to come to HSBI without having a regular job here, you will need an invitation letter from a host. If you do not have a host yet, you can find out about our faculties and research institutes to find a suitable person. If you need support with that, please send us a description of your teaching or research focus at and we will help you.

Apply for a visa

In the overview of visa requirements or exemptions, you can check whether you need a visa to enter Germany. For stays up to 90 days, apply for a Schengen visa; for longer stays, apply for a national visa.

On the Federal Foreign Office’s website, you will find information on applying for a visa and a visa navigator for determining the national visa that is suitable for you. We, too, will be happy to advise you and provide the necessary documents for the visa.

The visa must be issued before entering the country at the German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence. Processing of the visa may take up to three months. Therefore, you should apply for a visa as early as possible.

If your family members intend to come to Germany with you, they might also need a visa and should apply at the same time as you. It is possible for them to travel to Germany later, but the process may take a long time. It is important to make sure that all family members are covered by health insurance (see below), that sufficient living space is available (12 square meters per person that is 2 years or older; short-term accommodation is also sufficient for the beginning) and that the livelihood of all family members is secured (e.g. through a scholarship or employment contract).

Have adequate health insurance

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany for you and all family members who accompany you to Germany. You must have health insurance as soon as you arrive in Germany and must usually already provide proof of it when applying for a visa. Thus, you should take care of insurance early on. We recommend travel health insurance for your entry into Germany, covering the period of arrival. Which insurance is suitable for you afterwards, depends on which of the following groups you belong to. We will also be happy to advise you personally on which health insurance is suitable for you.


You do not have to take out German health insurance if you do not have an employment contract with HSBI and your health insurance from your home country is recognised in Germany.

  • This is possible if you come from an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and hold/apply for a European Health Insurance Card.
  • This is also possible if you come from a country with which Germany has a social insurance agreement for health insurance (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Morocco, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia).
  • In these two cases, please contact your health insurance provider. They will explain how you can have your health insurance recognised in Germany.


If the health insurance from your home country is not recognized in Germany, you will need one of the following three types of health insurance:

  • If you stay in Germany for a maximum of 90 days with a Schengen visa, you only need travel health insurance. It has to be valid throughout the Schengen area and needs a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros.
  • If you have an employment contract with HSBI or if you have a visa or residence permit for the purpose of research here, you need to take out statutory health insurance. Statutory health insurances have uniform benefits. The contributions depend on how much you earn and are automatically deducted from your income. Family members (partners and children) who come to Germany with you and do not have their own income can be insured free of charge. You can choose freely from all statutory health insurance providers. On Bielefeld Campus, for example, there is a branch of the Techniker Krankenkasse.
  • In all other cases, you will need substitutive health insurance from a private provider. Such insurance is offered by the German Academic Exchange Service and various companies.
Have liability insurance

In Germany, you can be held liable for accidental damage, for example, if you accidentally scratch someone else’s car. In such cases, private liability insurance applies. As insurance claims like these occur frequently, you should definitely take out private liability insurance.

You have to take out the insurance yourself because you will not be insured by the university. Many insurance providers offer affordable liability insurance either for you alone or for your entire family (approx. €50 per year).

Find accommodation

Due to housing shortage, it has become quite difficult to find accommodation in Germany. Therefore, you should start looking for accommodation as early as possible.

In our Housing Guide, you find detailled information and advice on finding accommodation in Germany and formalities that go along with housing. If you have questions or need additional support, please contact us.

If you move house during your stay in Germany, remember that you will have to register your new address within 14 days at the registration office. In addition, you should also communicate the new address anywhere else that your address is stored, e.g. at HSBI, at your insurance providers, etc. Communicate with your Internet, electricity and gas providers as early as possible, so that you can terminate the contracts or switch it to your new address.

Bring important documents

Remember to bring the following important documents to Germany with you:

  • Passport or identity card valid for throughout your entire stay in Germany
  • If necessary: Visa
  • Multiple biometric passport photos
  • Proof of funding, e.g. of a scholarship, salary from your home country, recruitment confirmation from the personnel department (in German or English)
  • Signed CV as well as proof of jobs you have had after your studies (in German or English if you conclude an employment contract at HSBI)
  • Proof of health insurance with confirmation of monthly contributions (in German or English)
  • Original certificates/certified copies of your academic degrees as well as lists of subjects and grades (in German or English)
  • If applicable, certified German translation of the marriage certificate or divorce certificate or decease certificate of your partner (the ladder in case you are a widow/widower)
  • If necessary, international vaccination certificate and documents with regard to any diseases, disabilities or important medicines
  • If necessary, international or foreign driver’s license


If your family comes with you:

    • Passport or identification document for each family member, valid throughout your entire stay in Germany
    • If necessary: Visa
    • Proof of health insurance with confirmation of monthly contributions (in German or English)
    • If necessary, international vaccination certificate and documents with regard to any diseases, disabilities or important medicines
    • Certified German translations of your childrens’ birth certificates, if necessary with apostille or legalisation (please contact the German diplomatic mission in your home country for more information)
    • If necessary, the last school report of each child
    • If necessary, certified German translation of declaration of parental custody for unmarried parents
    • If necessary, written consent if the other parent is not in Germany

Some documents require translations from sworn translators. You can find suitable translators in the database of the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ). Official English documents of your home university are generally recognised in Germany.

Travel to Germany

By plane
The nearest major international airport of HSBI's campuses in Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh is Hanover Airport (HAJ). Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) and Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) also have good train connections to Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh. 


By train
Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh are easily accessible by train. The stations are called “Bielefeld Hauptbahnhof” or “Bielefeld Hbf” for short, "Minden (Westf)" and "Gütersloh Hbf". The best way to find train connections is on the Deutsche Bahn website.


Pick-up service
Upon request, we can pick you up at the train station upon your arrival and take you to your accommodation.


Upon your arrival

Getting to HSBI's campuses by public transport

Bielefeld Campus: Bielefeld campus map; Map of the main building; Barrier-free entrances

Minden Campus: Minden campus map

Gütersloh Campus: Gütersloh campus map


Tram in Bielefeld
The tram stop at the main building of HSBI is called “Wellensiek” and can be reached by taking tram line 4 (red) in the direction of Lohmannshof (see Bielefeld campus map). For example, you can board the tram in the city centre of Bielefeld at the stops Rathaus, Jahnplatz or Hauptbahnhof. The current departure times can be found on the websites of mobiel or Deutsche Bahn.


Bus in Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh
It may be easier to reach HSBI by bus from where you live. On the websites of mobiel and Deutsche Bahn, you can search for the fastest connection from your current location.


There are several kinds of tickets for buses and trams. If you are staying at HSBI for only a few days, one-way tickets, day tickets or weekly tickets are usually the cheapest option. For longer stays, the 49€ ticket is worthwhile, with which you can use public transport (buses, trams, trains) throughout Germany for a month. Please note that the 49€ ticket is not valid in ICE and IC/EC trains.

Registration as a resident

If you stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you must register at the registration office of your city within 14 days of your arrival. For this, your address and other personal and family information is collected. If you come to Germany with your family, all family members must come to this appointment. Registration is free of charge.

We will be happy to help you with the documents, arrange an appointment for you and accompany you to the appointment if desired.


Documents you need to bring

  • All available identification documents for accompanying family members
  • Landlord’s confirmation of residence, filled out by the landlord in Germany
  • If you are married, divorced or widowed: certified German translation of the marriage certificate or divorce certificate or death certificate of deceased partner(s)
  • If you come to Germany with children: if necessary, certified German translations of underage childrens’ birth certificates; if necessary, certified German translation of declaration of parental custody for unmarried parents; if necessary, written consent if the other parent is not in Germany


Appointment must be arranged in advance

Residence permit

If you are not a citizen of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you will need a so-called “residence permit” for a stay of more than 3 months. The application is submitted to the Foreigners’ Registration Office and costs €100 per adult and €50 per child. 

We will be happy to assist you in compiling the necessary documents and making an appointment. On request, we will also be happy to accompany you to the appointment.


Documents you need to bring
Depending on the residence title you, and if applicable your family members, would like to apply for, you need to bring different documents.


Appointment must be arranged in advance

Bank account

If you work in Germany or receive a scholarship from a German institution, you usually need a bank account in the SEPA area. SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) comprises the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Monaco and Switzerland and facilitates payment transactions in and between these countries. Bank accounts from these countries are thus easily accepted in Germany.

If you want to open an account with a German bank, you usually already need a residence in Germany. Some online banks offer the possibility to use a SEPA account even if you are not an EU resident. This means that you can take care of a SEPA bank account before you arrive in Germany.

Bank accounts in the SEPA area have a so-called IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which you can use when making payments. The first two digits are a country abbreviation, for example DE for Germany. Some payments also require you to provide the BIC (Business Identifier Code).

TV and radio licence fees

In Germany, the public service radio and television stations are financed by the licence fees paid by all citizens. The licence fee of €18.36 (as of January 2022) is levied on a flat-rate basis per household, regardless of whether the services are used or not. You can register for the licence fee on the licence fee website (in German only). If you need help with the registration, please contact us.

Children and school

Parents in Germany can receive child benefit, a financial support of usually €250 per child per month. We will be happy to help you check whether you are entitled to child benefit and apply for it.


In Germany, there are often long waiting lists for childcare facilities. Therefore, if you need childcare, please let us know as soon as possible. We are happy to assist you in finding a suitable facility:

  • Kindertagesstätte (Kita): day care for children aged 1 to 6 years
  • Kindertagespflege or Tagesmutter/Tagesvater: childminder for children under 3 years
  • Offene Ganztagsgrundschule (OGS): after-school care for elementary school children
  • Inclusive institutions: specialised in care for children with disabilities and/or learning and developmental disorders


We are also happy to assist you in finding a suitable school. In Germany, the following types of schools are common:

  • Grundschule (elementary school): grades 1 to 4; children learn basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic; at the end of primary school, parents will be advised on which secondary school they should choose for their child
  • Hauptschule: grades 5 to 10, lays the foundations for further vocational education and training; graduation does not qualify for university studies
  • Realschule: grades 5 to 10; lays the foundations for further vocational or school education; graduation does not qualify for university studies
  • Gymnasium: grades 5 to 12/13; lays the foundations for further vocational or university education; graduation qualifies for university studies
  • Gesamtschule (comprehensive school): grades 5 to 10 (graduation does not qualify for university studies) or 5 to 13 (graduation qualifies for university studies); lays the foundations for further vocational or university education; the last three years of school are only completed by pupils who intend to go on to university
  • Förderschule: grades 1 to 10; specialised in teaching children with learning and developmental disorders and/or disabilities
  • Berufskolleg (vocational college): grades 11 to 13; students acquire a vocational qualification here and can qualify for studies at a university of applied sciences


For nursing or expectant mothers as well as caring fathers, the following child-care and nursing rooms are available at the different HSBI campuses:

  • HSBI Main Building: Parent-child room in A102a and baby-care room in E002 (key available at the information desk at the main entrance)
  • Lampingstraße: Room 027 (key available at the administration)
  • Campus Minden: Main building A, room A32 (key available in room A131 and A212)


During your stay


Stay at HSBI based on a scholarship
If you finance your stay at HSBI through a scholarship, you are usually not subject to German income tax and social insurance contributions. However, please check with your scholarship provider whether there is tax liability in the respective donor or in your home country.


Stay at HSBI based on a contract of employment
If you have an employment contract with HSBI, you will pay regular tax and social insurance contributions. The income tax and social insurance contributions are automatically deducted from your gross salary and transferred to the tax authorities. If you indicated that you are a member of a Protestant or Catholic religious community when you registered your residence, church tax will also be deducted automatically. You will find a detailed list of all taxes on your payslip.


Double taxation
In order to foreigners simultaneously paying tax in both Germany and their home country, Germany has double taxation agreements with many countries, which regulate in which country you have to pay taxes. Therefore, please inform yourself about the regulations concerning your home country. In case of questions, your tax office can provide support.


Tax identification number
After registering your residence, you will receive a lifetime tax identification number by mail within approximately two weeks. If you have an employment contract with HSBI, forward the number to the LBV (Landesamt für Besoldung und Versorgung) when you receive it.


Tax classes
The amount of taxes you pay depends, among other things, on which tax class you are in. The following tax classes exist in Germany:

  • Tax class I: Singles who are not single parents, as well as permanently separated spouses/partners and divorced persons.
  • Tax class II: Single parents entitled to parent allowance.
  • Tax class III: Married or partnered persons whose partners are not employed or earn significantly less and are therefore in tax class V. The tax combination III and V must be applied for at the tax office.
  • Tax class IV: Married or partnered persons living in Germany are automatically assigned the tax class combination IV and IV, which is advantageous if both earn approximately the same amount of money.
  • Tax class V: For married or partnered persons whose partners earn significantly more and have chosen tax class III. The tax combination III and V must be applied for at the tax office.
  • Tax class VI: For persons on multiple wages from more than one employer


Income tax declaration
After the end of a calendar year, you can submit an income tax declaration to the tax authorities, that will then check whether you have paid too much tax and are entitled to a refund. For some people (for example, people in tax class VI), the tax declaration is mandatory. The German tax return is very complicated and forms are usually only available in German. Therefore, it makes sense to use the services of tax consultants or software to fill out the tax declaration.

Social Insurance

If you have an employment contract with HSBI, you will have social insurance and have to pay social insurance contributions, which are automatically deducted from your salary. Your social insurance consists of the following components:


Health insurance
In Germany, employees are subject to mandatory health insurance. Detailed information about health insurance can be found in the above section “Before you arrive.”


Pension insurance
Half of the contributions to pension insurance are paid by HSBI and half by you. The contributions made are taken into account in subsequent pension calculations not only in Germany, but in every EU and EEA country as well as in countries with social insurance agreements


Unemployment insurance
Half of the unemployment insurance contributions are paid by HSBI and half by you. You are entitled to unemployment benefit if you have worked in Germany and paid unemployment insurance contributions for at least twelve months within the last three years before you have become unemployed. Under certain conditions, you will be entitled to unemployment benefit for up to three months when looking for a job in another EU country. For this, you must have registered as unemployed in Germany at least four weeks before your departure.


Long-term care insurance
The long-term care insurance is linked to the health insurance and serves to protect against the consequences of the need for long-term care. Half of the contributions are paid by HSBI and half by you. You can be exempted from long-term care insurance if you bring a health insurance from your home country.


Accident insurance
The contribution to the accident insurance is paid for you by HSBI. The insurance covers damage you suffer from an accident at work or on your way to work.

Vacation and Business Trips

If you have an employment contract at HSBI, you must officially request and obtain approval for vacation and business trips from HSBI. For a full-time position, the vacation entitlement is 30 days per calendar year. In most cases, you will first discuss with your supervisor when you would like to go on vacation or business trips, and then submit the request through the ESS system. If you need help with this, feel free to contact the Welcome Center.

If you have a contract as a visiting scholar at HSBI, you do not need to request approval for vacation and business trips through HSBI. However, you should inform your colleagues about vacations and business trips and make sure that these are compatible with your scholarship conditions.

Public Holidays and Academic Calendar

In Germany, there is a number of public holidays on which most employees have the day off and stores and institutions remain closed. Some of these holidays are flexible, so they fall on a different day each year. Here you can find the holidays of the current year.

The academic year at HSBI is divided into a winter semester (Septeber to February) and a summer semester (March to August). Each semester consists of a lecture period and a lecture-free period. The last three weeks of a semester are usually used for examinations. Please note that HSBI remains closed between Christmas and New Year.

Leisure: culture, nature, sports

Discover East Westphalia-Lippe! The region offers lots of opportunities to enjoy culture and nature. Here are some examples:


Members of HSBI can also benefit from the university sports programme. Together with Bielefeld University, HSBI offers a variety of sports courses. On the website of Bielefeld University, you find the program and the terms and conditions of participation.

University Library

At HSBI's university library, you can use the freely available PCs and read or borrow books. In addition, the library has acquired access to numerous digital texts. If you have any questions, the library team will be happy to help you and also to offer you advice on literature processing programs such as Citavi. Here is a video introducing the library.

HSBI's library has three locations: at Bielefeld Campus, Minden Campus and Lampingstraße. In Gütersloh, you can order books from the other locations via the Gütersloh's municipal library.


Help with IT questions and ILIAS

If you have any technical questions or problems, the team of the Data Processing Centre (Datenverarbeitungszentrale, DVZ) will help you. It is best to contact the IT Service Desk, which offers support by telephone or on site in Bielefeld and Minden.


If you teach during your stay at HSBI, you will have access to our learning management system ILIAS. ILIAS is a learning management system that allows you to connect with your students and share documents. To help you get started, we have created a brief introduction to ILIAS. If you have any questions, please contact the ILIAS service team at

Going to the doctor

Of course, we hope that you are healthy at all times. However, should you ever need medical help, you will find information in our handouts on how to visit a doctor in Germany and which clinics there are in Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh.

Learning German

Do you want to improve your German skills? HSBI offers a beginner and an intermediate German course for international employees. Contact if you are interested in participating.

On this website, you find a variety of options for learning German in Bielefeld outside HSBI: German for work, German for parents, informal get-togethers or apps – there is something for everybody. Bielefeld’s community college (Volkshochschule or VHS for short) also offers courses.

If you want to study a foreign language online and at your own pace, you can also benefit from self-study courses for German, English, Spanish, French, and Italian that you can find in HSBI’s ILIAS (log in first, then click on the link again).

For technical terms in the field of higher education, HSBI's university glossary can be helpful.

Help with discrimination, harassment, violence and other problems

In emergencies, you can reach the police by calling 110.

In case you experience discrimination, harassment or violence, you will receive support from the Gender and Diversity Office of HSBI and can report discriminatory behaviour either through an anonymous online form, in person or by e-mail. Our Welcome Center team, too, are always ready to lend an ear and will gladly support you within our possibilities.

External counselling centers for different target groups can also support you with difficult situtations. In addition, employees of HSBI can make use of psychosocial counselling in a timely and confidential manner. 

If you experience conflicts or attacks as a result of your research, you can contact the Scicomm-Support.



Before you depart

Terminate your rental and other contracts

Terminate your accommodation contract in writing and at least three months before you move out. Arrange an appointment for handing over the flat with your landlord; if necessary, ask a person who speaks German to be with you during this appointment to avoid misunderstandings. Clean the apartment thoroughly for the handover date, otherwise a part of your deposit may be retained. Most landlords expect the flat to be handed over in the state it was in when you moved in as a minimum. For example, if you painted a white wall in another colour, the wall must be painted white again for handover. Also talk to your landlord about how the deposit should be returned to you. The landlord is allowed to withhold the deposit for up to 12 months after departure.

Read your electricity and gas meters and terminate your contracts within the notice period. With the termination, please communicate the meter readings and your future address to the provider.

Also terminate your contracts for insurance (health insurance, liability insurance, accident insurance, etc.), Internet, telephone and television, and other subscriptions that you may have taken out (e.g. gym).

Find out about pension opportunities

This is only relevant if you had an employment contract at HSBI and do not want to continue working in Germany: Make an appointment with Deutsche Rentenversicherung and VBL; both can inform you about how you can use the pension contributions paid for your pension in future.

Apply for deregistration

If you are enrolled as a doctoral student at HSBI, inform the Welcome Center that you would like to deregister. We will then assist you with the necessary steps.

7 days before departure

Check off the list to complete the final necessary tasks:

  • Return borrowed books to the library.
  • Withdraw the credit from your CampusCard by contacting the Studierendenwerk’s service point on the ground floor of Building X (the building where the canteen is located).
  • Close your German bank account.
  • Deregister your address with the city administration; for this, an appointment at the registration office is necessary, which we will gladly arrange for you and to which we will gladly accompany you on request.
  • Terminate your TV and radio licence: to do this, upload the deregistration certificate you have received from the registration office on the licence fee website (in German only; please contact us if you need support).
  • Say goodbye to your colleagues at HSBI and please do stay in touch with us!


Please find further information on the website of the German EURAXESS network.