Welcome to AWI

Will you join us at the Alfred Wegener Institute, with an employment contract, as a scholarship holder, or as a guest scientist? We look forward to seeing you, and we want you to feel comfortable here. Our International Office will be happy to give you help and advice regarding your stay in Germany and work at AWI.

FAQs - Some information that may be helpful to you


Please look at https://www.awi.de/en/work-study.html to see where to send your application. It might differ depending on the point in your career. I gladly help new colleagues come over and settle in, but I'm not involved in the recruiting process.

Visa: Who needs which documents?

Information on visa regulations and on Germany in general can be found at the Federal Foreign Office. The regulations can also be seen here. Or you may want to take a look at "Make it in Germany". Your contact person in AWI's personnel department will be able to inform you on the exact kind of visa you need.

Make an appointment with the German mission in your country of residence as soon as you know that you will come to Germany. In some cases the visa application may be processed relatively fast, but in other cases the earliest possible appointment is several weeks ahead, and then the process itself may take several weeks, too, depending on the circumstances.

Insurance: What is needed/recommended?

Health insurance is mandatory, while private liability insurance and private accident insurance are recommended. Some general information can be found here EURAXESS. For any questions, pls. contact our personnel dept.

Depending on your contract with AWI, the topic of pension insurance may come up. The state pension insurance is part of the social security system in Germany. Additional coverage might be provided through VBL, the occupational pension system for civil service institutions. To get some basic knowledge of the German system, you may watch the introductory video on www.findyourpension.eu.

More information on the statutory pension insurance scheme can be found here.

More information on the VBL pension scheme can be found here.

Accommodation: How to find a nice place to stay?

Ads can be found in local newspapers (e. g. Nordsee-Zeitung in Bremerhaven or Weserkurier in Bremen) or on websites like

Helpful general information

Useful vocabulary when searching for an apartment
...-Zi-Whg = ...-Zimmerwohnung = ...-room apartment
ab sof. frei = immediately free
Abstellraum/Abstellkammer = store room
Aufzug = elevator
Badewanne = bathtub
Badezimmer = bathroom
Balk./Blk. = Balkon = balcony
Betriebskosten = utility costs
DG = Dachgeschoss = attic
DU = Dusche = shower
EBK = Einbauküche = built-in kitchen
EFH = Einfamilienhaus = single family house
EG = Erdgeschoss = ground floor
Etg. = Etage = floor
Fahrstuhl = elevator
G-WC = Gäste-WC = separate toilet for guests
Garten = garden
Haustiere = pets (keine Haustiere = no pets)
HH = Hochhaus = skyscraper
HK = Heizkosten = costs for heating
Kaution = deposit
KM = Kaltmiete = rent excl. utilities like heating, waste removal, etc.
Keller = cellar
Küche = kitchen
Lam. = Laminat = laminate
Mansarde = flat in the attic
MM = Monatsmiete = monthly rent
möbliert = furnished
MS = Mietsicherheit = rental security deposit
neu = new
NB = Neubau = new building
NK/NBK = Nebenkosten = utilities (costs for heating, water, electricity etc.)
NR = Nichtraucher = non-smoker
OG = Obergeschoss = upper floor
Provision = commission
provisionsfrei = no commission has to be paid
RH = Reihenhaus = terraced house
ren. = renoviert = renovated
Stellpl. = Stellplatz = car-parking space
Wannenbad = bathtub
Wfl. = Wohnfläche = living area
WG = Wohngemeinschaft = shared accomodation
WK = Wohnküche = open-plan kitchen
ZKB = Zimmer-Küche-Bad = rooms + kitchen + bathroom
ZH = Zentralheizung = central heating


Registration: What authorities should be visited once you are here?

If you are not only in AWI for a brief visit but plan to live in Germany, please go to the registration office within the first two weeks after your arrival (this term applies to Bremerhaven; other cities may require you to register within one week). Further information on the procedure can be found on AWI's internal webpages.

Please note that everyone who is not only a visitor but lives in a German city for more than a few weeks has to register at Bürgerbüro/registration office. Whether you also have to register at Ausländerbehörde/foreigners' registration office depends on your country of origin, visa, etc.


Registration on Sylt
Bürgerbüro der Gemeinde List
Landwehrdeich 1
25992 List/Sylt
Tel: 04651- 95 10-0
Fax: 04651-95 10-95

The office responsible for issuing and extending visa and work permits is:

Ausländerbehörde des Landkreises Nordfriesland
Marktstr. 6
25813 Husum
Telefon: 04841 67-220
Fax: 04841 67-110
E-Mail: info@nordfriesland.de

Applications can be done by mail. The forms for the foreigners' registration office can be obtained from the administration of Sylt:

Gemeinde Sylt Inselverwaltung - Rathaus
Andreas-Nielsen-Str. 1
25980 Sylt/ Westerland
Tel.Nr.: +49 4651-851-0
Fax-Nr.: +49 4651-851-290
E-Mail: info@gemeinde-sylt.de

Language courses: Offers in and near AWI

To learn German or improve your knowledge of the German language, you are welcome to join one of the German courses with different levels that are offered in AWI. The International Office can also advise you on evening classes or intensive courses in language schools near the AWI sites.

Some students may apply for a German course through DAAD:

AWI also arranges English courses, and there is a Spanish conversation group.

Getting help and further information

Andrea Bleyer will gladly help you with any questions on the topics above or on other issues that might be of interest to you and your family - from rules and regulations to leisure activities, etc.

PhD students are recommended to also get in contact with DokTeam and POLMAR, even if they have no specific question at the moment.

Contact our Family Office for child care/work-life balance.

In Bremen or Potsdam, you might also want to contact:

for assistance and activities.

Useful links


More detailed information on many topics can be found on the intranet (accessible to AWI staff).