Despite the skyrocketing numbers of Ukrainian refugees in Germany, their basic needs are covered in all spheres, especially in the spheres of secondary and higher education and pet care – both at governmental and public initiatives level. Finding permanent accommodation or a job may require more time and effort as the country is trying to help hundreds of thousands of refugees. Same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, but marriage in Germany for foreigners will require much time and complicated paperwork.
According to the EU Temporary Protection Directive Germany is granting temporary protection to those displaced from Ukraine following Russian military aggression. Detailed information is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/stronger-europe-world/eu-solidarity-ukraine/eu-assistance-ukraine/information-people-fleeing-war-ukraine_en
In addition, Germany grants protection to the following groups:
- Ukrainian nationals who are already residing in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany with a residence title that is likely to expire, irrespective of when they entered the country.
- Persons who fled Ukraine not long before 24 February 2022 or who were in the EU shortly before that date (for example, on holiday or for work) and who cannot return to Ukraine as a result of the armed conflict.
Once you’ve arrived to Germany after fleeing the war in Ukraine, you can take one of the two following courses of action in order to apply for temporary protection.
If you don’t know where to stay
If you are in need of assistance and require support, the first thing you should do is register as a war refugee at one of the initial Arrival Centers (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung). At the Arrival Center you will be tested for coronavirus and then admitted. You will then be taken to your accommodation. You will receive hygiene products, emergency care, a room and three meals a day. After registration, you will be issued a so-called Arrival Certificate (Ankunftsnachweis). You can use this to apply for benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG) at the local authority responsible for benefits. Over the following few days, you will receive information about the procedure for being granted a residence permit (temporary protection).
If you know where to stay
You also have the option of staying with private individuals or families who either own or officially rent their accommodation (see more in “Housing”).
If you have found permanent accommodation you don’t need to register and you can apply for temporary protection directly.
(Vorübergehnder Schutz) - in Germany it's a residence permit under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) - You can apply in one of two ways:
- in some regions (like in Berlin) - online. You can access the online application here.
- anywhere in Germany at a Foreigners Authority Office (Ausländerbehörde). The address for your location can be found here: bamf.navi.
If a residence permit cannot be issued immediately under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act, you will first be issued a provisional residence document (a so-called Fiktionsbescheinigung). With this, you can already receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act. This certificate allows you to work and to apply for further benefits – for instance a health card or social benefits. You apply for these at the Social Services Office (Sozialamt) responsible for you, in the district you are living in.
The residence permit provided in accordance with Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act is valid for 2 years and can be extended for 3 years.
More information on rights and responsibilities under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act: https://handbookgermany.de/de/ukraine-info/ua/aufenthalt.html
In social emergencies (e.g. you need help to pay for your basic needs) you can receive benefits from the Social Services Office (Sozialamt) before your registration.
If you are initially granted a temporary so-called "fictitious certificate" (Fiktionsbescheinigung) and / or a subsequent residence permit according to § 24 Act of Residence (AufenthG), you shall also be entitled to benefits according to the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act.
The benefits would cover the need for food, accommodation, heating, clothing, health care, and durable and non-durable household goods. Further support is provided to cover people’s day-to-day needs (e.g. mobility and communication). In special individual cases, other benefits may also be granted if necessary.
To receive benefits, contact your local Social Services Office (Sozialamt) https://www.meldebox.de/sozialamt/
In medical emergencies you can get necessary medical help before your registration.
If you are in pain or require urgent medical attention, contact emergency services or healthcare services directly. Here’s the link to some telephone numbers to call in case you can't go to the hospital on your own, or if you need urgent medical attention during weekends or holidays: https://www.aponet.de/englisch/medical-information-for-refugees/in-case-of-emergency-overview-of-important-phone-numbers
Otherwise go to the nearest hospital where you will be provided with necessary care.
Health benefits are included under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (AsylbLG). You can receive basic benefits: you will get the medical and dental care required for the treatment of acute illness or pain. This includes the provision of medicine and materials (like bandages), as well as other benefits required for the recovery, improvement or alleviation of your illness or its consequences.
Officially recommended vaccinations and medically necessary examinations for the prevention and early detection of diseases (or their consequences) are also covered. Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth are entitled to medical and nursing assistance and care, midwife support, medicine, dressings and remedies.
Refugees entitled to benefits in line with Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) having special needs, whether psychological or physical, may have additional entitlement to necessary medical assistance and other kinds of assistance.
Regular medical care
Depending on the federal state, you will receive either treatment certificate (a paper) at the Social Services Office (Sozialamt), or an electronic health card from the state agency or from the health insurance company. With the certificate or the electronic card, you can make an appointment with a doctor. Either ask for advice in your Sozialamt office or find a doctor and make an appointment online using, for example, one of the following websites: https://www.jameda.de/, https://www.doctolib.de/
If you don't have anywhere to stay
You may be housed at an immigration reception (arrival) center or at an emergency accommodation provided by the individual federal states. Please ask your local immigration authority or the police for an address. You do not need to apply for asylum to receive housing. If you have been issued with a residence permit in accordance with Section 24 of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) and need somewhere to stay, the social security authorities will cover the costs of appropriate accommodation. Sozialamt will determine whether the accommodation is appropriate. You should inquire about this before renting an accommodation.
You also have the option of staying with private individuals or families who either own or officially rent their accommodation.
EL*C has created a lesbian hosting network of individuals who have made their appartements and spare rooms available for Ukrainian refugees. Please notice that EL*C can provide you with a temporary solution (up to a few months). Contact the relocation team at: +48 571 944 400 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Germany, all children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven. Every child who lives in Germany must go to school at this age and study for at least nine years.
Compulsory schooling and access to the educational system for refugee children and adolescents are regulated differently in each federal state. Inquire with your local education authority to find out which regulations apply to you.
This general rule also applies to refugee children and teens who are six years old or older: they often have to attend school soon after their arrival in Germany.
Children and teens who speak little or no German should initially attend special courses in which they learn the language and get familiarized with German culture. These classes are often called "Willkommensklassen", "Vorbereitungsklassen" or "Übergangsklassen" (Ü-Klassen), and they prepare children to enter regular schools. In many schools, children with special needs or disabilities can learn alongside other children. But there are also specialized schools exclusively for children with specific educational needs.
In Germany children study at school for 12-13 years. Therefore, in order to apply to a German higher education institution, Ukrainians need at least one more additional year of studies (that is, they should have done at least one year of studies at a Ukrainian higher education institution). Germany simplified the rules of entrance to higher education institutions for Ukrainians fleeing the war. Now you don't need a general education certificate or any proof that you did one year of higher education. You can apply to a German higher education institution directly. The only requirement is knowledge of German (or English for courses taught in English). There are no entrance exams.
Those who just finished school and haven’t done one year of studies in a higher education institution in Ukraine, should apply to Studienkolleg (colleges preparing students for higher education). Education in most of the colleges is free, but knowledge of German is required. The list of the colleges can be found here: https://www.studienkollegs.de/Kontaktdaten.html
Young people between 12 and 27 can contact Youth Migration Services, also called Jugendmigrationsdienste (JMD) for advice and help: https://www.jugendmigrationsdienste.de/en/
Until further notice, you won't need a ticket to enter Germany by train; a Ukrainian passport or corresponding Ukrainian ID document is sufficient. For onward journeys on long-distance transport, you can get a "helpukraine" ticket in DB travel centers (located in train stations) free of charge. Ukrainians do not need a ticket to travel on local German public transport.
The basic work permit is issued together with your residence permit, even if you do not have a specific job offer yet. When you submit your online application for your residence permit you will receive a PDF document (known as a "Fiktionsbescheinigung" or initial permit) as confirmation. This certificate immediately allows you to work. The residence permit for temporary protection in Germany is issued for an initial period of two years. It allows you to access the guidance and referral services provided by employment agencies (Agenturen für Arbeit). By using the office finder, you can locate a nearby employment agency: https://web.arbeitsagentur.de/portal/metasuche/suche/dienststellen?in=arbeitsagenturen
Once you have obtained a working permit, your local employment agency will support you free of charge in your search for suitable employment or training. There is also a wide range of support measures, for example coaching or assistance for people with disabilities. Ask your employment agency for so-called rehabilitation counselors who specialize in integrating people with disabilities into the labor market.
Ukrainian diplomas are not recognized in Germany yet, but negotiations are in progress.
Same-gender marriage is legal in Germany. Therefore, the country generally recognizes same-sex partnerships registered in other countries.
In Germany, two foreigners can also marry regardless of their gender. You do not need a German citizenship or a temporary or permanent residence in Germany, and can therefore enter into marriage during your stay in Germany.
In order to change gender, the applicant is not required to undergo any medical procedures for gender affirmation nor does he/she need to be infertile. While this is still a requirement in the legislative text, the Federal Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional, and therefore these requirements are no longer valid. An application must be filed with the competent local court. The court commissions two independent experts. On the basis of the two expert opinions and a personal meeting with the judge, the court takes a decision on whether the gender can be changed.
In November 2017, the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled that civil status law must allow a third gender option.
Lesbian organizations in Germany
Lesbenring (based in Berlin)
Cologne Counseling (based in Cologne)
LGBTI refugee organizations
LGBT refugees can find counseling and advice services here: https://www.berlin.de/ukraine/en/arrive/contact-points-for-lgbti-refugees-1183415.en.php
Information and contact details of organizations based in different cities and regions of Germany which offer support to LGBTI refugees can be found on this page: https://www.queer-refugees.de/organizations/
LSVD is the German federation of LGBTI organizations.
TGEU - support for Ukrainian trans people: https://tgeu.org/support-ukraine/
Trans people may contact TGEU to get the contact details of the hospital where they will be provided with any necessary medical support free of charge.
Germany temporarily eased the conditions for bringing pets into its territory. Thus, owners are, until further notice, allowed to enter Germany from Ukraine together with their pets without having to apply for a permit in advance. Migrants are requested to get in touch with the local veterinary authority to determine the animal's health status with regard to rabies, and to take relevant measures - where appropriate (e.g. isolation, antibody titer test, anti-rabies vaccination, microchipping, issuing of an identification document for the pet animal).
Owners are provided with dog/cat food, leashes and medicine for their pets free of charge.