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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Germany

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: September 2013

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to another country, you are able to bring your partner and children with you at the same time. If this is not financially or otherwise possible, you may need to spend some time working in Germany, and possibly sending money to your home country to help support your family. Once you have started to familiarise yourself with Germany, and found some suitable family accommodation, and perhaps looked into schools and such things, you may find it easier to move the rest of your family into the country.

In Germany, it is obligatory to take out health insurance. It is possible that this will be included in your employment contract. Most Germans are in fact insured under the national health insurance programme. This programme gives cover for your dependants too, and includes provision for nursing care due to disability or old age.

If you are a family member of a Blue Card-holding highly skilled worker, you should find it easy to gain permission to work. In addition, you will be granted a residence permit more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

Similarly, if you are married to a German citizen, you gain the same rights as your spouse, meaning that you are allowed to work without a work permit. This also applies to same-sex couples in a civil partnership. Likewise, children under 16 can come to Germany if their parents have a residence permit. The right extends to over 16s as well, though, children of this age will be expected to speak German well and fit into German society adequately.

There are many excellent international schools in Germany. The schools are normally in modern buildings with advanced facilities and many extra-curricular activities taking place. The International Baccalaureate is offered in most of these establishments. International schools are expensive, at up to €16,000 per year, with additional activities and school trips a further expense. However, school fees may be part of your work benefit package. Note that there are many German children in the international schools, drawn by the opportunity to learn English.

Alternatively, there are German schools, which give children the opportunity to immerse themselves in German language learning and perhaps settle more quickly into German life. After primary school in most states, children are streamed into three different levels of school: Hauptschule, Realschule and the highest, Gymnasium. The latter is for more academically minded students, while the first two are more vocational. School days start early, at 8:15 at the latest, and finish by lunchtime. Extra-curricular activities are not so common in German schools.

Marriage

The minimum age you can marry without any restrictions in Germany is 18. To get married between 16 and 18, you need parental consent and, in some states, permission from a court. 

The documents you require will include:

  • passport
  • birth certificate, or a recent certified copy
  • certificate of no impediment, or the local equivalent.

Other documents needed vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to make an appointment at the registry office (Standesamt) near where you want to get married. All non-German documents you submit should be certified translations made no longer than 3 months previously. Your embassy should be able to help you find certified translators. Another requirement in some areas is a medical examination for bride, groom or both.

If either you or your partner is not German, these documents will be sent to the state capital for verification. If everything is deemed to be acceptable, the marriage may go ahead. There must be a ceremony in the local registry office for the marriage to be legally recognised, and the religious ceremony must be conducted afterwards. Note that if you are non-German, marrying a German citizen does not confer citizenship on you; the rules of naturalisation still apply.

 

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