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.
If you have further questions on the topics of residence, finding accommodation, dealing with authorities, government financial aid, medical care and psychological support, daycare, school or work, register on our community platform “Together in Germany” and ask them anonymously and free of charge. There you will receive reliable and verified answers to all your questions from our moderators, experts or other members of the community.
What do I need to know?
The situation is very confusing and constantly changing. Currently, we have no information about closed border crossings. You must decide for yourself which border you want to cross. Please note: You will probably have to wait longer. Bring sufficient water and food with you.
The following lists and links may be able to help you when you leave the country. Please note: These pages are not created by Handbook Germany. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information there.
Important: Do not give your passport to anyone. And if possible, do not travel alone. This is especially important for women, teenagers, and children. Join a group. There are currently many people willing to help, but there are also people who want to take advantage of your situation and exploit you. On the IOM website, you will find important information in Ukrainian, German, English, and Russian on how to stay safe during your trip.
You can find more important tips on jadwiga-online.de in Ukrainian, German and English. Visit stopthetraffik.com for information in English - there you will also find a list of organizations in different countries where you can seek support in an emergency.
Information on leaving Ukraine:
- Telegram channel of Ukrainian Railways.
Information on transport options from borders and within the EU:
- Information from Polish Railways, Czech Railways, Slovak Railways, Moldavian Railways, Romanian Railways, Hungarian Railways, Austrian Railways, Dutch Railways, French Railways, Belgian Railways, Danish Railways and German Railways, which are currently transporting people with Ukrainian ID documents free of charge.
- On zugportal.de you can find detailed information about your trip to Germany and onward journey in Germany in German, Ukrainian, English, and Russian.
- You can search for rides on ukrainenow.org.
- Facebook groups with offers of help from Moldova, Romania, Poland.
Important: From June 16, 2022, people fleeing Ukraine to Germany can obtain free tickets in the regions near the border (e.g., the Polish border) for DB trains („Helpukraine-Ticket“). These tickets may only be used to travel in second class up to your destination. A maximum of 5 people can travel using each ticket. The ticket is valid for 2 days. In Berlin and Brandenburg, you can also use it for riding buses and trains for a week. This regulation remains valid until it is announced revoked.
You can find more information about travelling by train at bahn.de in Ukrainian, Russian, English and German.
Please note: Many people are currently helping with private cars to bring people from the border to a safe place in neighbouring countries or to Germany. This help is free. If a person asks for money, you should not get into the car. Also, ask them to show you an ID of the person and take a picture of it. Be sure to take a photo of the licence plate and send this, along with the ID photo, to friends or family. Do not get into one of these cars alone.
Support options in other European countries:
- You can get help from UNHCR if you are in Poland, Hungary, Romania, or Slovakia.
- You can contact dopomoha.org in Ukrainian or English if you need assistance while fleeing. You will need to fill out a form. The staff of International Assistance Headquarters For Ukrainians will then contact you.
- Facebook groups with offers of help from Moldova, Romania, Poland.
- Information from IOM on Ukraine / Romania border crossings and support options in Romania.
- In Poland, you can contact the NGO “Fundacja Ocalenie” and ask for advice.
- You can search for free accommodation in different countries on mapahelp.me in English, Ukrainian and Russian.
- You can look for free accommodation in different countries on icanhelp.host in many languages.
CAUTION! Unfortunately, some of the above free transport options are only valid for people with a Ukrainian passport. Here is information for people without a Ukrainian passport and BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour):
- Help for international students fleeing Ukraine: contact in Ukraine: +380631133989 and +380 93418 56 84, contact in Hungary: +233244499939.
- A list with information for non-Ukrainian passport holders and BIPoC on the border situation and support options.
- On unhcr.org you will find information and support services in Ukraine for international students and refugees from other countries.
- A Telegram channel for refugees from other countries who are currently still in Ukraine. There you will find information in Russian, English, and Ukrainian.
- At statefree.world, you will find tips and support options for stateless people
- The African Network of Germany supports BIPoc with the onward journey from Poland to Germany. You can also reach the African Network on +49 (0)176-45848430.
- The International Women* Space offers support for BIPoC women in Germany.
- Support for Roma from Ukraine is offered by “Poland - Roma - Ukraine grupa wsparcia support group Група підтримки”. You can also contact the organization via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Germany is currently not planning any evacuations, neither for German citizens nor for Ukrainians.
According to the "Ukraine Residence Transitional Ordinance", the following persons are exempt from the visa requirement for Germany from March 9th, 2022:
- All people who were in Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, and who entered or will enter Germany after this date. This applies to all people in Ukraine at this date, regardless of whether they have a biometric passport and regardless of their citizenship. It also applies to non-Ukrainians who have lived in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian citizens and refugees recognized in Ukraine as well as people who have been granted international or national protection in Ukraine, who were temporarily not in Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, but resided there until then.
- Ukrainian citizens who were already legally resident in Germany on February 24th, 2022 (e.g. as tourists) and whose visa has expired or is about to expire.
The people mentioned above do not need a biometric passport to enter Germany.
Important: This regulation applies retrospectively from February 24th, 2022, and until March 4, 2024. That means you may enter Germany without a visa until 04.03.2024. After entering Germany, you may stay for 90 days (within 180 days) without a visa or another residence permit. If you enter Germany for the first time by March 4, 2024, you must apply for a residence permit by June 2, 2024 at the latest. You can find more information about the types of residence permit you can obtain in Germany in the "Residence" section.
Please note: If you do not belong to the above groups, you may have to apply for a visa before entering Germany. You can find out more about visas in the “Can I apply for a visa?” section. If you entered Germany without a visa, although you require a visa, you currently do not have a residence permit in Germany. Your stay in Germany is then “tolerated” (geduldet). It is best to seek immediate advice on your options from a counseling center (Beratungsstelle). You can find counseling centers in the “Further Assitance” section.
Important: Anyone who comes to Germany and applies for asylum has the right to have an asylum procedure carried out. You do not need a passport or a visa for this. You may also apply for asylum directly at the German border. However, the border officials can refuse you entry, as Germany's neighbouring countries are all considered safe countries. It can also happen that Germany lets you enter but then sends you back to the EU country through which you entered. You can read more about this in our “Dublin Procedures“ chapter. In most cases, it is better not to apply for asylum at the moment. Be sure to also read the “Stay / Residence” section.
Important: The Dublin procedure does not apply to people who are allowed to enter Germany without a visa - and they may not be refused entry. So, if they wish to apply for asylum, Germany will be responsible for their asylum case.
People who left Ukraine long before the start of the war and live in an EU country cannot receive temporary protection in Germany in accordance with Section 24 of the Residence Act.
If you meet the requirements, however, you can apply for one of the following visas to enter Germany:
Important: Ukrainian citizens and people with permanent residence in Ukraine who were staying in the EU area as tourists up to 90 days before the start of the war have the right to temporary protection in Germany. To find out who else can receive temporary protection, see the section “What is “temporary protection” and who can get it?”.
If you would like to come to Germany with your minor child/children, you will need to present valid passports for yourself and your child/children, as well as a declaration of consent from the other parent. In this document, the other parent declares their consents to the departure of the child/children.
Please note: If your last name does not match the last name of your child/children, you will need to present your child/children's birth certificate in addition to the documents mentioned above.
According to the decree the President of the Russian Federation issued on March 5, 2022, Ukrainian citizens who entered Russia after March 5, 2022, can leave Russia in a simplified exit procedure.
You need the following documents to leave Russia:
- Biometric passport or old standard passport or
- Identity documents or
- ID card
- Migration card (миграционная карта), which you applied for and obtained when you entered Russia.
Children under the age of 16 need their birth certificate and migration card. If the child is travelling with one parent, the other parent's consent is not required for departure.
Important: If you do not have a biometric passport, you can only leave Russia by land. With a biometric passport, you can also fly out of Russia.
Please note: If you entered Russia before 05.03.2022 and do not have a biometric passport, it is likely that you will not be allowed to cross the Russian border. If you entered Russia before 05.03.2022 and have a biometric passport, you can fly out of Russia anytime.
If you need help leaving Russia, you can contact volunteers via this Telegram channel.
Please note: The publication of the link to the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation published on 03/05/2022 does not mean that we recognise the splitting of Ukraine into independent republics.
More information is available in Russian at ua-ru.eu.
Many people from Ukraine do not currently need a visa for Germany. You can find out more about this in the “Am I allowed to enter Germany?” section.
If you need a visa: The German embassy in Kyiv currently does not issue visas and the consulate in Donetsk is closed. However, you can apply for a visa at the German embassies in neighbouring countries of Ukraine. This applies to both a national visa and a visitor visa. You can also apply for a visitor visa / Schengen visa at the embassies of another EU country. The Schengen visa is valid for the entire Schengen area, which also includes Germany. Please note: Applying for a visa is currently taking a very long time.
If you have not yet registered with the authorities, you are free to choose your place of residence. Both within the EU and within Germany. You can find out more on the European Commission's website in English, Russian and Ukrainian.
Important: There is a rumour that everyone must register in Berlin. It is not true. You are free to choose the city in which you register.
Please note: From May 31, 2022, refugees from Ukraine will no longer be able to use buses and trains free of charge. That means you will need a valid ticket to use buses and trains, and showing a Ukrainian passport or ID is no longer sufficient.
You can find a map of Germany on basemap.de and use it to better find your way around the country – the names of the states and cities are spelled out in Ukrainian. Among other things, the map also shows the most important motorways and their names.
Important: Do not give your passport to anyone. And if possible, do not travel alone. This is especially important for women, teenagers and children. Join a group. There are currently many people willing to help, but there are also people who want to take advantage of your situation and exploit you. You can find more important tips on jadwiga-online.de in Ukrainian, German and English. You can find more important tips in Ukrainian, German and English on jadwiga-online.de.
Yes, you are allowed to travel. You are allowed to spend 21 days per year away from your place of residence. This is called a „Ortsabswesenheit“. You must have your absence approved by the Jobcenter responsible for you no earlier than 3 weeks before your departure. You can also apply for your absence online at web.arbeitsagentur.de. The Jobcenter should response within 2 days. If not, contact them and make further inquiries.
Important: During your approved absence, you will continue to receive financial help from the Jobcenter. But if you are away from your place of residence for more than 21 days, you will no longer receive financial assistance after the 22nd day. If you cannot return in time, you must inform the Jobcenter staff urgently. When you are back at your place of residence, you need to report to your caseworker at the Jobcenter.
You can find more information about absences from your place of residence (in German) at arbeitsagentur.de.
You can travel while receiving a pension or basic security income in old age (“Grundsicherung im Alter”) in Germany. However, you may not stay abroad for more than four weeks per year. These four weeks correspond to the duration of the statutory minimum holiday in Germany. You may spread the 4 weeks over the entire year (e.g., a 2 weeks holiday in one month and later another 2 weeks in another month). If you stay abroad for more than 4 weeks, from the 5th week on, you will no longer receive a pension. Before you leave, you must inform the employees of the Social Welfare Office about your trip. The office responsible for you is the Social Welfare Office at the place where you are staying. On sozialaemter.com, you will find a list of all Social Welfare Offices in the respective federal states.
What you need to do in case you plan to return to Ukraine depends on your personal situation.
If you are registered with the police in Germany, you must deregister. De-registration takes place at the residents' registration office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”) or at the citizens' registration office (“Bürgeramt”) of your place of residence - you can find the address of these offices at melderegister-auskunft.de. You can deregister a week before leaving the country up until 2 weeks after your departure. To deregister, you must appear in person and present your identity card or passport. In some offices, it is possible to deregister in writing. Please inquire at the office responsible for you.
Important: If you want to move, be it to Ukraine or another country, you must de-register (“abmelden”) in Germany. Not doing so is an administrative offence, and you may face a fine of up to €1000 for it.
If you have rented a flat, you must terminate your rental agreement. Please note: There is a cancellation notice period for rental contracts, which you need to observe. The length of such a notice period is specified in your rental agreement. Also, remember to cancel your electricity and internet contracts.
If you are insured in Germany, you must cancel your insurance contract. Furthermore, if you have a bank account here, you must close it.
If you are registered with the Social Welfare Office, you need to inform the employees of the Social Welfare Office that you are leaving the country. The Social Welfare Office responsible for you is the office at the place where you are staying. On sozialaemter.com, you will find a list of all Social Welfare Offices in the respective federal states.
If you are already registered with the Jobcenter, you must inform the Jobcenter about your return to Ukraine. You can find the Jobcenter responsible for you at jobcenter-ge.de by clicking on your state and then on the name of your city. If your city is not on the list, you can search for your Jobcenter on the Employment Agency's website. To do so, you need to enter the name of your place of residence or your postal code.
You can usually reach all authorities by post or email. When writing to the relevant offices, you must also mention your personal customer number (“Kundennummer”) or your file number (”Aktenzeichen”).
Please note: If you leave the country permanently, you will lose the residence permit you have been issued in Germany. Your departure will be considered permanent if you completely relocate to mainly live in another country.
Please note: You do not have to pay back the financial support received from the Jobcenter or Social Welfare Office if you decide to return to Ukraine permanently. The same applies to state-funded language courses.
Your residence permit in Germany will expire if you move back to Ukraine after receiving temporary protection in Germany.
However, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, you can re-enter Germany at any time and apply for temporary protection again. You can learn more on dw.com in Russian.
Since June 17, 2023, regulations for entering Germany with pets have been standardised for refugees from Ukraine who want to come to Germany. Dogs, cats and ferrets need a microchip, ID, vaccination against rabies and sufficient proof of antibodies for entry.
Please note: If you have puppies, you are allowed to bring them to Germany, but only if they are at least seven months old.
You can find more information about bringing pets to Germany at bmel.de.
Please note: Dogs must be registered in Germany. You can register your dog at the so-called “Tax and City Treasury Office” („Steuer- und Stadtkassenamt“) in the municipality where you are registered. Registration is free; however, as a dog-owner, you have to pay the so-called “dog tax” (“Hundesteuer”). The amount of the “Hundesteuer” differs from city to city, but it is usually between €30 to €190 per year. After registration, you will receive a dog tag with a unique number –you should always carry this tag with you when you are out with your dog.
You can also find a lot of information about this in our “Pets” chapter.