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The nine things you need to do after having a baby in Germany

The birth of a child is one of the most important moments in any person's private life. But it also requires you to complete a substantial amount of paperwork - all at a time when you're operating on minimal sleep. Here's what you need to know.

The nine things you need to do after having a baby in Germany
A newborn baby in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: dpa | Fabian Strauch

The days and weeks after the birth of a child are a whirlwind of emotion, sleep deprivation, cooing, family visits, and nappy changes. Many nappy changes.

At the same time there is a huge amount of organisation that you have to get done.

The most important piece of advice that anyone can give is to get as much of the paperwork printed, filled out and ready to send off before your baby arrives.

You aren’t allowed to send any of it in until your child has been born, but you’ll find that you have precious little time or energy to cope with the mountain of admin coming your way afterwards.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to bring up a child in Germany?

Registering the birth 

The first thing that you need to do after the birth is make it official by registering it with your local Standesamt (registry office). You don’t have much time to do this: you’ll need to do this within the first week.

Luckily, during the pandemic, most registry offices have allowed for you to send the documentation in by post, so you won’t need to travel in person to drop it off.

There are a whole bunch of supporting documents that you need to provide, such as your own birth certificate. It is a very good idea to get all these together in advance.

Importantly, you will need to give them certified translations of any documentation that is not in German such as birth and marriage certificates. This translation needs to be done by a certified translator and will cost you upwards of €50 per document.

Inform your employer and health insurer

This is another one that you should do immediately after the birth but it only applies to the mother of the child.

German laws on Mutterschutz mean that you are not allowed to work for the first eight weeks after the birth. Both your employer and your health insurer need to be made aware of the birth as they both pay a part of your salary during this time.

Find a paediatrician

In some circumstances you should have found a paediatrician before the birth. For example, if you are planning on coming home on the same day as you give birth, you will need to provide the hospital with proof that you have found a doctor to do the second check up – your baby’s so-called U2 (Untersuchung Zwei). The U1 will be done by a midwife immediately after the birth.

Depending on where you live, you might have to call up quite a few Kinderärzte before you find one who has space. Your midwife can also help you with recommendations.

Going to the U2 will probably be the first time you leave the house with your child – a nervous experience for first-time parents!

An infant is examined with a stethoscope during a screening in Bielefeld. Photo: dpa | Friso Gentsch

Once you have the U2 behind you and you are safely back home you can take a deep breath. The immediate flurry of paper work and appointments is now behind you. You now need to wait for the birth certificate before the next round of bureaucracy can be dealt with.

Apply for health insurance

One of the next key steps once the birth certificate arrives is putting your baby on your health insurance scheme. If you and your partner are both on statutory health insurance either one of you can set up a Familien-Krankenversicherung that has your child on it.

You will then receive a health insurance card for your baby which you will need to present at subsequent doctor’s visits.

Register the baby’s address

This is an important one to try and get done as soon as you can once the brith certificate has arrived. It’s done at the Bürgeramt who will then inform the tax office and other authorities that there is a new little German in the world.

Soon after, your baby’s tax number will arrive in the post, while the health office will also get in touch to provide support on other administrative details.

During this meeting with the Bürgeramt you can also get a passport for your baby (see below).

READ ALSO: An American’s view of having a baby in Germany

Apply for Kindergeld

Another key bit of paperwork you will want to deal with is the application for Kindergeld (child benefits), which you receive from the state as help for the costs of raising a child. For each of your first three children you receive €204 a month and for the fourth onwards you receive €235.

You apply for this aid with the Agentur für Arbeit. The form you need to fill out can be downloaded from their website HERE. You will also need your child’s tax number to complete the form.

A mother breastfeeds in Berlin. dpa | Paul Zinken

Apply for Elterngeld

The other form of state subsidy you are entitled to as a new parent is parental allowance. This is money you receive from the state during the time you take off work to care for your child.

Elterngeld is a complicated business – there are companies that exist solely to advise you on what type of Eterngeld to apply for and when.

However you want to organise your parental leave, make sure you apply for this allowance within three months of the birth, otherwise it won’t be paid retrospectively back to the first month.

You should also keep in mind that you need to give your employer at least three weeks’ notice before you start your parental leave.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about parental leave in Germany

Apply for passports

Whether you are applying for a German passport, one from your country of origin or both, you’ll need to wait for the birth certificate to arrive before you can do this.

In terms of a German passport, make an appointment with your local Bürgeramt. If you bring along all the necessary documents, as well as biometric photos (and your real life baby), they’ll make a Kinderreisepass for your baby on the spot.

In terms of obtaining a foreign passport, you should consult your local consulate about the steps you need to take.

Kita spots

Last but not least, you might want to start thinking about securing a Kita spot for your child. In some major cities, spots in child care are more precious than gold, leading parents to start looking for a Kita spot before the child has been born.

Ultimately though, you can only apply for a Kita spot nine months before you plan to make use of it. Depending on your family plan you might not have to start thinking about this until a few months down the line.

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Six things to know about adopting a dog in Germany

Germany is a nation of dog lovers - many of whom choose to get their pooch from a shelter rather than a breeder. If you're dreaming of adopting a pup of your own, here are six things to bear in mind.

Six things to know about adopting a dog in Germany

1. You’ll have to prove yourself to the animal shelter

Don’t expect to simply window-shop for a dog and come home with it the next day. To really get to know your future animal-companion, the shelter may require several visits – especially with more nervous dogs that take a while to warm up to strangers.

You should also expect a house visit so that the rescue centre can assess whether your living space would be safe and spacious enough for the dog in question. Rescue centres often give details of the kind of environment they’re looking for in the description of the animal so potential owners can see if they can offer the pup the home it needs. 

Along with assessments of your house or flat, you may be asked questions about your working habits, living arrangements, plans for the future and experience with dogs or that particular breed of dog. This is to ensure that your lifestyle will be a good fit for your new pet and to minimise the chance of you having to give the animal back in the future. 

2. You may need permission from your landlord 

Tenancy laws can differ from place to place, but the general rule of thumb when getting a dog is that you’ll need to ask your landlord for permission first. 

They will have to give a good reason for saying no, but a lot may depend on the breed and size of the dog and the likelihood of noise complaints. For a full rundown of what renters should know about keeping pets, check out the below article:

Renting in Germany: What you need to know about keeping pets

3. It doesn’t have to cost the world…

You may feel like there are financial barriers to adopting a pet, but the biggest and most well-funded animal shelters in Germany try to make this less of an issue. Tierheim Berlin, for example, generally covers the cost of medication and medical treatment for elderly animals that are adopted, and you can also get free food for the dog if you pick it up yourself. However, there may be a small adoption fee to pay first.

Check with the animal shelter to see what ongoing costs they’re willing to cover – and how high their adoption fees are. 

READ ALSO: Furry friends help Germans ease pandemic blues

4. … but be prepared for additional taxes 

If you’re getting a dog, remember that you will need to register it at your local Bürgeramt and that it will also be subject to “dog tax” (Hundesteuer). The amount of this tax varies from state to state, and could be anywhere from €90 in Hamburg to €186 in Rhineland-Palatinate. The aim of this tax is to prevent people getting too many dogs, so the amount goes up for every additional dog you get. 

Some states provide relief from dog tax if you get your dog from a rescue home. In Berlin, for example, you won’t have to pay dog tax for the first five years. 

To see how high the current dog tax is across different states, check out this helpful chart.

Adorable mongrel Leo hangs out at an animal shelter in Hamburg

Adorable mongrel Leo hangs out at an animal shelter in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius


5. Insurance can be handy (and may be mandatory)

In Germany, you’re held legally accountable for any mischief your dog gets up to, so if you haven’t already, it may be advisable to get personal liability insurance. In states such as Lower Saxony, Hamburg, Thuringia and Berlin, this insurance is mandatory, while in North Rhine-Westphalia, it is mandatory for anyone with an animal larger than 40cm.

You may also want to take out pet insurance for any unforeseen costs such as hefty veterinary bills. 

6. You shouldn’t give up on the first go

It’s important to understand is that, even if it doesn’t look like it, there’s likely to be a suitable pup at the shelter for you. It can be easy to overlook an animal that may actually have the perfect personality traits and needs for your lifestyle and home environment, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there! 

The best way to find out is to build a relationship with the shelter and show that you’re a reliable and dedicated person. You could even volunteer as a dog walker – but since this is Germany, you may need a special dog walkers’ licence first.

Once they know your circumstances, they may recommend a dog they think would be happy to live with you – so don’t give up right away just because you don’t live in a sprawling ranch in the countryside or have a PhD in Dog Psychology.