Important information on entry and residence for people fleeing Ukraine
The Russian invasion of Ukraine forces many people to flee Ukraine. Here you will find information on the situation at the borders and on entering/staying in Germany for Ukrainian citizens and people of other nationalities who have lived in Ukraine. Ukrainians already in Germany can also find reliable and up-to-date information here.
We are striving to provide answers to all questions. As soon as we have news, we will inform you immediately here and on Facebook.
Looking for counselling by phone? Then call the Particip.ai hotline. The staff speak Ukrainian, Russian and English and will provide you with all the essential information free of charge. You can reach the hotline Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on 0800 5052400. The call is free.
What do I need to know?
Authorities, schools, universities, or employers may ask you for a certified translation of your documents. On the website justiz-dolmetscher.de you will find a list of sworn interpreters and translators in your area. Here you must select the language from which you want to be translated. You must also specify your federal state. Then you could view the contact details of the interpreters and translators in your area.
Important: You will have to pay for a certified translation of your documents. The amount depends on the type of documents (e.g. qualifications, marriage certificate, birth certificate) and the number of characters that need to be translated. Therefore, ask beforehand how much the translation will cost.
Please note: If Jobcenter is responsible for you, they may also bear the costs of the certified translation in certain cases. You could ask it to your clerk in Jobcenter whether this possibility exists in your case
Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone provide free SIM cards for refugees from Ukraine. The cards are apparently mainly distributed directly on the trains to Germany. You can also get a free SIM card directly from Deutsche Telekom stores. The prerequisite is a valid Ukrainian identity document. You can expect to be able to use most of the SIM cards free of charge until June 30, 2022. They only work within Germany. Information on this can be found in German, English and Ukrainian at telekom.de.
Important: From July 2022, many mobile phone providers will switch from free SIM cards to the normal mobile phone tariff. You will then receive a message informing you of the fees and the switch to the standard tariff. Telefonica Deutschland (O2) will reintroduce the standard tariffs from July 1st, 2022. O2 users can switch to the “Marke Ortel Mobile” prepaid tariff, which is specially designed for the international target group. From July 1st, 2022, Congstar will charge calls, SMS, MMS to Ukraine and internet usage according to standard rates. Deutsche Telekom will not change its tariffs until August. All users will be informed about such changes via SMS in Ukrainian and will receive an offer to switch to another tariff. Vodafone's users can use their SIM cards free of charge until July 14, 2022. From July 15, 2022 you can switch to a prepaid tariff. For this you need to register your card. Registration is possible in Ukrainian, German, English or Russian. In the Vodafone flyer, you will find important information (in Ukrainian) about how to switch to a new tariff.
Please check with your mobile operator in advance whether they are introducing new fees and how the switch will take place.
SIM cards are not expensive in Germany. Nor do you have to sign a contract. You can find out more about mobile communications in our chapter "Mobile phone contract". Important: You will need a document proving your identity in order to activate your SIM card. This can be your passport or a paper issued by a German authority.
You are allowed to open a basic bank account in Germany. The Ukrainian ID card is valid in Germany as a substitute for a passport until February 23, 2023. That means if you do not have a passport but can present your Ukrainian ID card, you are also allowed to open an account.
If you speak little or no German or English, an interpreter is recommended. Do not sign anything you have not understood. If you would like to receive counselling, you can contact the consumer advice centers (Verbraucherzentralen). The staff there will advise you free of charge. You can find your local consumer advice centre at verbraucherzentrale.de. Please note: The employees speak German and only occasionally other languages.
You are free to decide which bank you open your account with. Make sure that you can withdraw money free of charge. And be sure to compare the fees for account management. These vary greatly from bank to bank.
A bank account is very important in Germany. You need it to pay rent, electricity, gas and bills, for example. If you have a job, your salary will be transferred to your account. And also the social welfare office can transfer the financial support directly to your account. That way you won't have to go to the social welfare office and collect the money there.
You can learn more about bank accounts in Germany in our “Bank Account” chapter.
Starting May 24, 2022, you can exchange Hrywnjas you have brought with you for euros in some German banks. It is possible to exchange up to 10.000 Hrywnjas in Euro. Banknotes in denominations of 100, 200, 500 and 1000 hryvnia are accepted. You can exchange your money, for example, at the branches of the Volksbank, Deutsche Bank and Sparkasse.
You can learn about the current exchange rate at bundesbank.de. Please note: You can exchange hryvnias for euros free of charge, but only until November 18th, 2022.
Please note: Since April 1, 2022 it is also possible to exchange Hrywnja into Zloty in Poland. You can exchange a maximum of 10.000 Hrywnja per person. This possibility is offered, for example, by the Polish PKO Bank.
The National Bank of Ukraine recommends that you do not take Hrywnja with you in cash, but deposit it in an account and then withdraw it abroad in the local currency or pay abroad by card.
You can transfer money from Germany to Ukraine. This can be done by international transfer at a bank or by money transfer via a corresponding provider.
For an international transfer at the bank, you have to fill out a special form and usually pay fees. This can be up to ten percent of the amount you wish to transfer. Find out in advance how much the fees will be.
Often special money transfer providers (e.g. Western Union, Moneygram, Wise) are a cheaper and faster alternative. You pay a certain amount in Euro and the recipient in Ukraine can pick up the money in Hryvnia shortly after. As a rule, you do not pay any fees here. Compare the different providers with regard to possible fees and the exchange rate offered – you can do so, for instance, on geldtransfair.de.
Important: Check the local situation in advance. Due to the war, banks or money transfer providers may not be able to operate normally and the withdrawal of your money may be delayed or not be paid out in the desired amount.
From May 31, 2022, refugees from Ukraine will no longer be able to use buses and trains free of charge. You need a valid ticket to use public transportation. Showing a Ukrainian passport or Ukrainian ID is no longer sufficient for using public transportation for free.
If you receive support from the state - e.g., "Bürgergeld" or basic security in old age (Grundsicherung im Alter)”- you can apply for a so-called "social ticket" (“Sozialticket”) at your Jobcenter or Social Welfare Office.
To apply for the social ticket, you need your current certificate of support from the Jobcenter or Social Welfare Office, your identity card and a biometric photo. After a successful application, you will receive confirmation from the Jobcenter or Social Welfare Office that you are entitled to a social ticket. You can then buy a social ticket from a ticket machine or ticket office. You can choose between a single-trip, daily or monthly ticket.
Please note: When you travel using public transport, you must always carry the certificate that shows you can use a social ticket and the ticket itself with you. During ticket controls, you need to present both.
The price of social tickets varies from city to city. In Berlin, for example, the monthly social ticket known as “Berlin-Ticket S” costs €27.50. In Hanover, you pay €39.40 for a monthly ticket known as “Monatskarte S”, and in Munich the social monthly ticket known as “IsarCard S” costs €26.90. In Hamburg, you can buy a monthly ticket known as "Sozialrabatt" for €23.
Please note: The ticket prices also depend on the number of city zones in which you would like to be able to travel.
You may not give your social ticket to anyone else. In some cities, however, you can take a second person with you free of charge. Please inquire whether that is possible beforehand to avoid fines.
Important: You must wear a “medical mask” while travelling on public transport. So-called "surgical masks" and "FFP2 masks" are considered medical masks.
In principle, with a valid Ukrainian driving licence, you can drive in Germany during the first 6 months after your arrival.
At 18.07.2022, the European Union decided that from July 27, 2022, Ukrainian driving licences are recognised in Germany and throughout the EU. Ukrainians who have received temporary protection in Germany may use their Ukrainian driving licence and do not have to exchange it for an EU driving licence after 6 months of stay in Germany.
Non-Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons who were recognised as refugees in Ukraine or had another international or national protection status are also covered by this regulation.
This regulation applies to you as long as you have temporary protection in Germany. That means you do not have to pass a theoretical or practical driving test. Furthermore, you currently do not need to have a translation of your driving licence.
Currently, the regulation is valid until February 24, 2023. And unless the EU decides otherwise, it will be automatically extended by six months. The automatic extension is possible until February 24, 2024. If the situation in Ukraine does not improve by this time, the validity of the regulation can be extended by another year (i.e. until February 24, 2025).
You can learn more (in German) at eur-lex.europa.eu.
On the bmvi.de, you will find a leaflet with essential information in Russian for all drivers who want to drive their car in Germany.
Important: Driving without a licence in Germany is against the law.
If your Ukrainian driving licence is lost or stolen, the authorities in Germany can issue you a new one. For you to be issued a new driving licence in Germany, the Ukrainian authorities must first confirm that you held a valid driving licence in Ukraine. The German authorities check the national electronic driving licence register for such a confirmation.
Before a new driving licence is issued, the authorities may order a medical examination. During this test, it is verified that you are physically and mentally capable of driving a car or other vehicle. The examination is carried out by doctors; and the type of medical examination depends on the class of vehicle you drive. Eyesight and hearing are usually checked. All further examinations are case-specifically determined – if you are physically restricted, for instance, there may be further examinations.
Important: The newly issued driving licence is only valid for the duration of your temporary protection.
Important: From June 1st, 2022, every car with a Ukrainian registration that is on the road in Germany must have motor vehicle liability insurance (“Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung”).
You need the so-called "Green Card" (International Insurance Card for Motor Transport) or border insurance (“Grenzversicherung”) to drive a car with a Ukrainian registration. You can obtain the “Green Card” from your Ukrainian insurer, often also digitally.
You must carry it with you at all times when driving your car in Germany- in the event of an inspection, you must show the "green card". You can learn more about obtaining a “Green Card” in Ukrainian at mtsbu.ua.
You can purchase border insurance either in Germany or at an external EU border. With it you can travel throughout the EU and in the countries listed in the border insurance. On dieversicherer.de you will find a list of insurance companies where you can buy border insurance.
You are not allowed to use your car in Germany without insurance.
Yes, your vehicle needs to be registered in Germany no later than one year after entering the country. To register, you must submit an application to the licensing office. You can find the licensing office responsible for you at zulassungsstelle.de by entering the name of your city or district. Among other things, you need to present proof of your motor vehicle liability insurance and your ID card or passport for the application. Your car will also be checked for technical problems. The list of documents you usually need to register your car in Germany can be found in German at service.berlin.de.
Please note: You have to pay for licensing your car. For more information contact the licensing office responsible for you.
Important: Driving without a license is an administrative offense in Germany. You can face a fine if you do so.
Please Note: The calculation of the year for the registration of your car starts with your first entry with your car to Germany. If you travel out with your car and then enter again, the one-year period is not interrupted. The period continues to run.
If you have already registered your car in Germany, you should note the following when travelling to Ukraine:
- You can only drive your own vehicle (possibly with a trailer) into Ukraine.
- You must be the owner of the car or the person in whose name the car is registered. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, the vehicle owner must grant you power of attorney
- You must have all vehicle documents (registration certificates part 1 and part 2, driving licence, operating permit) with you.
- You must have liability insurance valid within Ukraine.
- You must go through consular registration in Germany (temporary or unlimited). The registration is carried out in the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany. On mfa.gov.ua you will find the most important information about consular registration in Ukrainian. Please note: If you have not registered at the consulate and still want to drive to Ukraine by car, you must go through the customs clearance procedure (“Zollabfertigung”) before leaving for Ukraine. This procedure is usually quite expensive. You cannot enter Ukraine without customs clearance.
You can find a podcast by Cosmo with current news in Ukrainian on wdr.de. On ard.de, you will find a lot of news updates in Ukrainian and Russian. Deutsche Welle broadcasts news in Ukrainian every day.
On Arte, you will find numerous reports on the war in Ukraine in Ukrainian. There you can also find cultural programmes and concerts in different European countries in support of Ukraine.
You can also find accurate information about the war in Ukraine at stopfake.org where the journalists from the Kiev Mohyla Academy report on current events in Ukrainian, Russian, English and German.
You can also find the latest news in Ukrainian on a daily basis on the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) website. In the MDR audio collection, you will have access to daily news in Ukrainian. Their news podcast is 5 to 10 minutes long.
People who are registered in Germany and have a flat here have to pay a public broadcast licence fee. With this licence fee, you are paying for the public broadcasting outlets which are available for all – It doesn't matter if you actually use it or not. The monthly contribution is €18.36.
Refugees from Ukraine have to register for the licence fee if they live in their own flat.
But under certain conditions, you can be exempted from paying the fee. That's usually when you are receiving:
- Asylum Seeker Benefits
- Basic security in old age or social assistance.
Trainees and students who receive vocational training allowance (BAB) or BAföG and no longer live with their parents can also be exempted from the fee.
For exemption, you must fill out an application in German and send it back to the contribution service. You must also send the respective proof to show why you are entitled to an exemption with this application (e.g. certificate from the Jobcenter, Social Welfare Office or BAföG Office). You can find the address of the broadcasting service at rundfunkbeitrag.de.
Important: If you live in a reception centre or shared accommodation facility, you do not have to register for the broadcasting fee.
Please note: If you receive letters from the contribution service, although you are exempt from the broadcasting licence fee, make sure you respond to these letters. By doing so, you avoid unauthorised payment requests and reminders. You can respond to the letters using an online form.
In the document Tierärzte for Ukranians you will find addresses and names of veterinarians who treat animals from Ukraine free of charge in Ukrainian, Russian and German. Some of them also offer free rabies vaccinations for your pets.
On pet-info-ukraine.de, you will find support if you are looking for accommodation for your pet in Germany and also veterinarians who treat pets from Ukraine free of charge.
For more information, see our Pets chapter.
If your pet is missing, you can check with local animal shelters to see whether anyone has found and dropped it there. You can find the nearest animal shelter on tierschutzbund.de by choosing your state. You will then be shown the addresses and contact details of all animal shelters in your region.
You can also create a missing pet poster with your pet's photo and put them up in your neighbourhood or start a search campaign on social media.
To ovoid the problem in the future, you can have your pet microchipped by a veterinarian. During this procedure, a chip is inserted under your pet’s skin. Each chip has a specific number, with which you can register your pet free of charge on findefix.com or tasso.net. This way, you can always locate your pet if it runs away or gets lost. In case someone finds your pet and takes it to a veterinary practice or animal shelter, the doctor or shelter staff can read the chip and contact you.
You can also get help with creating a missing pet poster to find your missing animal. Check out findefix.com to find more information in Ukrainian, English and. In addition, Findefix has set up a hotline for refugees from Ukraine. You can reach the hotline staff on: 0228 6049635. They speak German, English and Russian and are available around the clock. The call costs some money, but the help is free.