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Coming with your Family

International researchers coming with their families or accompanied by their partners who may want to study, earn their doctorate, or work during their stay in Germany should find the information in this section useful when preparing to come and upon arrival in Berlin.

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Entry to Germany

International researchers may bring their spouses and children with them to Germany in order to establish and preserve the long term relationship of the family.


Non-EU/EEA nationals must provide proof of sufficient financial means and adequate accommodation for the family. As a general rule, a family (e.g. 2 adults, 1 child) needs at least 50 m2 of living space. All family members must have sufficient health insurance.

Applying for a visa for your family

Make sure to apply for the right visa for your family. The visa application for family members differs from the application for researchers. Depending on the circumstances, the issue of a visa may take up to 12 weeks. If your spouse is a citizen of a non-European country and would like to study or work in Germany, he/she must apply for the appropriate visa in your home country. The visa cannot be changed afterwards. All visa regulations for your family members can be found on the website of the German mission in your home country.

More Information: Work and Research

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The demand for an education from one of Berlin's universities remains just as high as ever: Around 160,000 students chose to attend a university in Berlin in Winter Semester 2012/2013. About 16 percent of students in Berlin come from abroad. Berlin has four universities: Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, Technische Universität, Universität der Künste. Application procedures vary among the universities. Study programs, admissions requirements and advice offered at Freie Universität can be found here. Most doctoral degree programs offer scholarships which have to be applied for in due time. Various public and private foundations also offer research grants for doctoral candidates pursuing a doctorate. Read more...


Those intending to engage in regular employment need a work permit (exceptions: EU/EEA and Swiss nationals). When applying for a visa at the German consulate in your home country or country of residence make sure to indicate that you plan to work in order to be issued the right visa with “employment permitted”  After arriving in Berlin you must apply for a work permit at the local employment office (Arbeitsagentur) before you apply for a residence permit authorizing employment. The procedure is time-consuming and may take several weeks and is not always successful. Read more...

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Working Parents and Researchers with Children

Increasingly, both women and men want to participate equally in both work and family life. Bringing about this kind of balance requires that a number of necessary preconditions be met. Freie Universität Berlin has taken on this challenge in its role as an employer. It fosters a workplace culture that features improved compatibility between a person’s career and family life. This is a fundamental requirement when it comes to competing for outstanding scholars and scientists as well as staff members. Read more...

Fellows and Recipients of Scholarships and Grants

Child Care at Freie Universität Berlin

Day care center at Freie Universität Berlin

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Kindergarten  (Children age 3 to 6)

Berlin provides sufficient child care facilities for children between the age of 8 weeks and 6 years. Child care facilities (in German called Kindertagesstätte, short Kita) are usually open non-stop from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (sometimes even 6:00 p.m.). The fees depend on the income of the parents and on how many hours per week your child is to receive child care. Child care is free of charge during the last year of kindergarten before your child is to attend school; only a contribution for the meals of approx. 23 € per month has to be paid.

In order to enroll your child in a kindergarten, you need a voucher (Betreuungsgutschein) which is issued by the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) of your local residents’ registration office. Then you contact the administration of the kindergarten of your choice and hand in the voucher. Please be aware that this has to be done within 2 months after having received the voucher.

Please note: Kindergarten places are allocated as early as spring of the respective kindergarten year (beginning in August or September). Many kindergartens also admit children during the year, if there are vacancies, so you may be able to enroll your child at a later date.

More information about children and education here.

Kindergarten at Freie Universität

Freie Universität Berlin has its own kindergarten which provides places for up to 165 children from the age of 8 weeks up to 6 years. Information can be found here.

Bilingual Kindergarten

There are a number of international and bilingual day care centers in Berlin.

Nannies (Tagesmütter)

Nannies usually look after several children in their own homes during the day. They care for young children (usually between 8 weeks and 3 years) on a flexible time-basis. Nannies can be found through newspaper ads or the local youth welfare office. If you contact a nanny through the youth welfare office the monthly fee will be estimated on the same basis as for kindergarten (i.e. income, number of children, hours per day). You also need to apply for a Kita-voucher if you want to place your child with a nanny via the youth welfare office.


Babysitters care for your child for a few hours during the day or in the evening. They can best be found by word of mouth or through ads on notice boards in supermarkets and kindergartens. You should also ask both your neighbors and colleagues for recommendations.

Family Support Center at Freie Universität Berlin

The Family Support Center (Familienbüro) provides short-term child care services such as KidsMobil (in case of an emergency, e.g. in case of illness of your babysitter or when a parent goes on a business trip).We recommend you to contact the Family Support Center in order to join the mailing list for current information about short and long-term child care facilities and services such as KidsMobil finding a child-care facilities in emergency situations and contacting and exchanging information with other parents with similar needs, etc.

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Family Support Center at Freie Universität Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin fosters a workplace culture that features improved compatibility between a person’s career and family life. The Family Support Center is responsible for expanding childcare options at Freie Universität, providing aid to junior researchers with family obligations, and supporting employees and students who care for family members. 

Financial Support

Parental Benefits (Elterngeld)

Parental Benefits are an income subsidy limited to the first 14 months after the child’s birth.The amount is based on the after-tax income of the parent dedicated to caring for the newborn. Applications are made to the Youth Office (Jugendamt) of your local district. Both the amount of the Elterngeld as well as the specifications for eligibility are subject to (political) change. For further information refer to the following websites :

Euraxess - Researchers' Mobility Portal

Federal Office for Migration

Child Benefits (Kindergeld)

International researchers or their accompanying spouses can apply for a child benefit once they are issued a residence permit (or a settlement permit) by the Foreigners' office.  EU and EFTA nationals only have to provide proof of residency in Germany to receive child benefits.

Child benefits are currently valued at 184 € each for the first and second child, 190 € for the third, and 215 € for each additional child (2012). If you are employed by Freie Universität Berlin, you must apply for child benefit through your employer. Please download the information sheet and the application form here. In general applications for child benefits are filed with the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit - BA).

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Maternity Benefits (Mutterschaftsgeld)

Maternity benefits are a financial service paid by the German State Health Insurance. This financial support is provided to pregnant women, 6 weeks prior and 8 weeks following delivery, a time span referred to as mandatory maternity leave (Mutterschutzfrist).

The earliest application date is 7 weeks before the expected delivery date, which is officially documented by your doctor in what is called Certificate of Expected Date of Delivery (Bescheinigung über den mutmaßlichen Tag der Entbindung). This form is then submitted to your health insurance provider.

Being based on existing employment pay the amount will vary. The maximum daily payment issued by the State Health Insurance is capped at 13 € per day. If the net amount of salary is higher than this, the employer is obligated by federal law to pay the difference, which is known as the Arbeitgeberzuschuss.

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All children aged 6 to 15 have to attend school in Germany. First they are enrolled at the Grundschule (elementary school, grades 1 to 6). After completing elementary school, pupils choose one of the following secondary schools:

  • Hauptschule (Intermediate school, grades 5-9): Intermediate school provides general education and orientation for occupational choice. Pupils attain the Intermediate School Certificate.
  • Realschule (Secondary school, grades 5-10): Secondary school provides general education as well as the basics of vocational education. Pupils attain a Secondary School Certificate after grade 10 which qualifies for upper secondary education.
  • Gymnasium (High School): Gymnasium generally starts with grade 7, but high schools with special profiles start with grade 5. During the last two school years, each student selects basic core and elective courses from a structured program. Passing the final exams (Abitur) students attain a General Higher Education Certificate that provides access to university or college.

In some federal states the Gesamtschule (Comprehensive secondary school) is organized not according to subject preference, but to individual ability and combines the various types of schools. For subjects like German, foreign languages, and mathematics, there are courses offered at different levels. The kind of certificate attained mainly depends on the levels of these courses.

Note: In Germany, school classes are only held in the morning between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. In elementary school the time spent at school is usually even shorter and classes are more irregular. Exception: all-day schools (Ganztagsschule) which in addition to timetabled lessons in the morning offer an all-day program comprising at least seven hours per day on at least three days per week. They provide afternoon activities that have a conceptual relationship with the lessons in the morning and a midday meal.

Pre- and after-school care centers affiliated to schools (Hort) look after children during specific hours prior to and after school, e.g. from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. These facilities include lunch and supervision of homework, and allow time for play. Costs amount to approx. 80 to 120 € per month. Application has to be made at the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) of your local district.

Attending state-run schools is free of charge. If you have a child to enroll, contact the administration of the school of your choice. There you will receive information about the class to which your child will be assigned and whether additional German lessons are offered for children from foreign countries.

Information about schools can be obtained at the School Administration Berlin (only in German), at the school office of your city district or here.

European and International Schools

Berlin has several European schools with bilingual programs. Within the network of the Berlin State Europe School (Staatliche Europa Schule Berlin,SESB) there are 18 elementary and 12 secondary schools. Beginning with grade 1, 50 percent of lessons are taught in German, 50 percent in the partner language. To be admitted, the partner language must be the student’s native language or the student must speak the language as well as a native speaker. All standard German school-leaving qualifications can be attained.

A number of public and private international schools also offer bilingual classes or instruction in English or French only. Public international schools are, like state-run schools, free of charge. Private international schools are quite expensive and some of them are inconveniently situated on the outskirts of Berlin. A list of these schools can be found here.

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Berlin for Kids

Berlin offers a great variety of activities for families. Family friendly child care hours, day care for all and diverse opportunities for recreation - Berlin is child and family friendly. Read more...

Explore Berlin's playgrounds. Besides the information further below, more suggestions about family-friendly places to visit can be found here.

Kindermuseum Labyrinth „Learning by Doing“ is the slogan of this museum that is part of the project Fabrik Osloer Straße. This museum cooperates with the Berlin Senate Administration for Education, Science and Research and is one of the leading children museums of Germany. Information in German can be found on their website.

MACHmit!-Museum für Kinder „Find out, try out, examine“ – this museum allows children to experiment, be creative and learn through active exploration as well as encourages individual expression. Information in German can be found on their website.

FEZ-Berlinis Europe’s biggest non-profit children, youth and family center in one of Berlin’s largest forest parks, Wuhlheide. It offers creative courses, fun and recreation while combining education, exploration and culture. FEZ addresses a variety of topics such as global learning, sustainable development, ways of living, ecology, technology, air travel as well as international encounters. Moreover, there are several events that take place every year, like the United Nations Weeks, the puppet theater festival, the Harry Potter events and many more. Information in German can be found on their website.

Domäne Dahlem / KinderDomäne There are many things to discover and to do on Domäne Dahlem for children of all ages. Most of the young visitors enjoy the farm animals – be it cows, pigs, sheep and goats, horses or chicken. But there are many more things to discover: Kids can watch the tractor doing farm work. Special events take place on weekends and during holidays, e.g. the Christmas market. And last but not least, Domäne Dahlem offers delicious treats for young and old in their farm store. Information in German can be found on their website.

Children Cirus Cabuwazi is a youth culture organization engaged in creative art education. It offers room for ideas and their realization to young people living in areas of social conflict. Cabawazi strives to promote social competences like a sense of responsibility, team spirit and fairness. Training at Cabuwazi is free of charge for all children from the age of nine upwards. More than 650 children and youngsters come every week to work out in the circus tent. Cabuwazi tents will be found at five different locations in Berlin. Information in German can be found on their website.

Grips Theater was founded in 1969 in West Berlin as part of the student movement. Today it is one of the Europe’s leading children’s theaters. Grips Theater performs sensitive and lively plays „for people of 5 and over“ and aims to address the needs, problems and desires of its audience. Here, the renowned musical Linie 1 was first performed in 1986 and has been a success ever since with performances in over 15 countries so far – and it is still being performed. Information in German can be found on their website.

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