This is a “must have,” if you travel abroad. It can be bought at the STA travel shop on Taku Street near the university campus and is valid for 15 months. On presentation of the card, you benefit from discounts in museums, theaters, and some hotels. The fee for the card also includes an international travel insurance for the duration of the trip.
If you travel abroad, you should make sure that your health insurance covers the medical costs in case of illness in the respective country.
For members of a statutory (public) health insurance company, the European Social Security Agreement (Europäisches Sozialversicherungsabkommen) provides basic health care to the extent regularly covered by the respective national health system in the entire EU and some neighbouring countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Montenegro, Tunisia, and Turkey. As a rule, return transport in cases of severe illness is not included.
More information on the countries included in this scheme can be found here.
Starting 2008 insurance cards issued by insurance companies already include this European protection (European Health Insurance Card) and you do not have to take further action when travelling. Holders of older cards must either apply for a new card or contact their insurer for the E 111 form prior to departure.
For members of private health insurances, protection for trips abroad is sometimes – but not necessarily – included, depending on the company and the rate chosen. Please read your contract carefully before travelling abroad.
Depending on the country to be visited and the extent of protection provided by your regular health insurance, it might be advisable to take out an additional health insurance for travelling abroad. An international health insurance is generally valid for all foreign countries except your home country. Most banks provide this type of insurance, and also e.g. the Automobile Club of Germany (ADAC):
The contract is normally concluded for one year, however, single trips abroad must not exceed 45 days respectively. Rates vary between € 12 and € 40 a year.
If you plan to stay abroad for more than 45 days, e.g. as part of your research project, you require a special type of health insurance for long term stays abroad. Most private insurance companies offer this type of health insurance, but also ADAC.
When you are travelling to countries that have joined the so called Schengen Agreement, you do not have to apply for a special visa – provided you have a valid residence permit for Germany. Currently, these countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
For all other countries, you require a travel visa which you should apply for well in advance before your trip. Check the visa requirements at the respective consulate.
If you invite a family member or a friend to Germany, you should take out a health insurance for the guest. In some cases, this is even required by the Embassy or the foreigners’ registration office issuing a visa. Insurances are offered by private insurance companies or automobile clubs.
Tourists who live in a non-member state of the EU can be refunded the value added tax (currently 19%) when leaving Germany. The amount of VAT has to be specified on the receipt. The amount in question is paid back at the airport. A student has a residency status and will therefore not be considered a tourist, so do not waste time standing in line to get back the VAT.