Living in the Hildesheim region
In this section, you can find an introduction to several topics which aim to facilitate your start in Germany and specifically in our Hildesheim region. While the integrated links are often in German only, we are happy to help where needed via email, over the telephone or in a 1-to-1 appointment. With a few clicks, you can send the request for a consultation here.
Settling In, p. 68
Both the city and the district of Hildesheim offer day-care for children under the age of three (“Krippe”) as well as child care for children aged three to school-going age (“Kindergarten”). Also, for school-going age children outside their normal school hours, additional day-care is possible (“Hort”).
“In Germany a law guarantees each child a place in a kindergarten, but there is no guarantee that a child will receive their parents’ preferred choice (exception: when they are privately run). We therefore suggest that you enroll your child to the desired kindergarten at the earliest possible opportunity. Registrations should be done, if possible, from mid-September to the end of October if you wish your child to attend the kindergarten the following year.”
For the district of Hildesheim, here you can find a themed map with the different locations of either the “Krippen” or the “Kindertagesstätten”.
In the city of Hildesheim, the “Familienbüro” is a valuable point of contact for all matters of family life. You can reach it at:
Since 2016, the city of Hildesheim publishes the magazine “Wir HIer!” which covers different topics relevant for families. You can pick it up for free at numerous spots, e.g. at the town hall, schools, kindergarten, the tourist information, the city library, or alternatively download it here.
Families with a migratory background living in the city of Hildesheim (specifically in Hildesheim Ost, Stadtfeld, Fahrenheitgebiet or parts of the Nordstadt) can seek support from the so-called “Stadtteilmütter / -väter”. The latter speak besides German, also English, Arabic and Kurdish and provide help in the neighbourhood, for example, by sharing information on the topics of Health and Education, or by serving as a mediator between the family and institutions, such as schools, etc.
In January 2020, the “PONTO (Brücke)-Elternzentrum” opened – a new point of contact for (soon-tobe) parents with small children where they can get in contact with the above-mentioned “Stadtteilmütter / -väter”. It can be found at Peiner Straße 4 in Hildesheim; the team at the parents’ center works five mornings per week and will offer on-site events as well as externally in cooperation organized ones to support families.
Settling In, p.24
“If you come to Germany wanting to live here for longer than a holiday period, the German law requires you and your family to register officially. This goes for German nationals as well as all other nationalities. A residence permit needs to be obtained. The office responsible for all residence matters is the registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt).” In Hildesheim, it is situated here:
On their website you can see the real-time number of customers waiting to be served. You can also book an appointment – up until 8 weeks in advance – via telephone or through their online system where you select “Meldewesen” (…) and then “Anmeldung Wohnung” (…). For those of you coming from abroad, please select the option “Anmeldung Wohnung bei Zuzug aus dem Ausland” (…).
Please note: It is necessary to either bring a confirmation of your landlord (“Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”) or tenancy agreement (“Mietvertrag”) with you to the appointment.
For those of you living in the city of Hildesheim and coming from foreign countries (third country citizens), except EU and EEA citizens, you will additionally need to register at the Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) of the town hall (Rathaus):
If you don’t live in the city of Hildesheim but rather in the Hildesheim district (Landkreis Hildesheim), you will need to go to the corresponding registration office at the town hall (Rathaus) of the place where you live.
If you are coming from foreign countries (third country citizens), except EU citizens and EEA states citizens, and are living in the district of Hildesheim, then you need to register additionally at the Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) of the district:
Television and radio fee
Settling In, p.28
For everyone in Germany, the following applies:
“If you have a television and/or a radio, you have to pay fixed charges to the GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale) – the Rundfunkbeitrag (television and radio fee). This “central office” is run by the broadcasting stations ARD and ZDF and Deutschlandradio (bodies governed by public law)”. You can either contact the GEZ directly, informing them about your new address and contact details. Alternatively, once you have been to your respective Einwohnermeldeamt (city registration
office), the GEZ will be informed through them and contact you subsequently.
In 2020, the licence fee is at 17,50€ per month per household. Please note: The fee only needs to be paid once per household. For more information, please have a look here.
Garbage and recycling
Settling In, p.30
“It seems so easy – you’ve got garbage, you throw it away. However, in Germany, the topic of waste management is not so easy. Recycling is important – you try to recycle as much as possible.”
Therefore, every household has numerous different garbage bins, for instance, for paper, for plastic, the so-called “Rest”, etc.
In Hildesheim, the Zweckverband Abfallwirtschaft Hildesheim (ZAH) is in charge. If you are unsure what to put into which bin, their Garbage-ABC (“Abfall-ABC”) here may help you. Also, you can always get in touch with them directly:
The different garbage bins are collected on different days. Also, this is dependent on your address.
When you type your address into the search engine on their website, you will be shown a calendartype overview.
Insurances in Germany
Settling In, p. 36
“Compared to most countries it can be said without doubt that the Germans take their insurances very seriously. You will find that most Germans are well insured and that they take great security in the thought of being well covered against numerous dangers.”
If there is a single one you need to have it is the private third-party liability insurance (Private Haftpflichtversicherung). “Especially with children this insurance is very important to have because it can save you a lot of money in case something gets damaged. This does not cost a lot (approx. € 60.00 – € 70.00 a year) and most Germans are covered by this. For example, if your child breaks something in someone else’s house, you will be expected to pay for it through your third-party
liability insurance. This is very common in Germany.”
The education system
Settling In, p. 55
„The German education system is different in many ways from those of other countries. Education is one of the responsibilities of the German federal government, but the educational policies may vary from federal state to state. Each federal state organizes school funding and structure. There are certain guidelines for the whole country, but within this framework, the curriculum may vary from state to state.”
Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Education and the Arts (“Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium”) has published an overview of the school system in Lower Saxony, found here (in German). Further information in English on the German School System in general, can be found on the website of “How to Germany” here.
The district of Hildesheim has created themed maps (“Themenkarten”) including one on the topic of School & Education which you can find here . It provides a great overview of where in the district which type of school can be found. There are filter options for you to customize the map to your needs.
Settling In, p. 59
“School holiday dates change every year in all German states. The reason for this is that Germans are world champions in travelling, so it is really important that not millions of families start travelling on the Autobahn on the same day.”
“Summer holidays lasts six weeks and other holidays, like Easter or Autumn holidays, lasts usually about two weeks.”
Here you can look into the School Holidays in Lower Saxony up until the year 2024.
Settling In, p.18
The organisation of health care in Germany has a long tradition. Its foundation goes back to Bismarck’s reform of health insurance (1883) and offers good quality and high standards. Everybody with a permanent residence in Germany is required by law to join a health insurance. There are two alternatives: public and private health insurance.
Public health insurance
89 % of German people are members of a public health insurance. Everybody with an annual income of less than € 56,250.00 has to join such an insurance.
The monthly cost is independent of age, sex and physical condition. It depends only on the monthly income. Since 2011, everybody has had to pay 14.6 % (may vary depending on the health insurance company*) of their monthly income. Half each is paid by the employer and the other are paid by the insured. Some insurance companies ask for an additional monthly fee* (Zusatzbeitrag), others offer bonus models (where the insured gets a refund based on certain criteria).
The following are important features of public health insurance:
- All family members (especially spouses and children up to 18, respectively 25 years of age if they are still in vocational training) with no or with very small income are insured without additional costs.
- For some services, the insured has to pay an additional fee, e.g.
- a co-payment of 10 % (at least € 5.00, no more than € 10.00) for all medication and
certain treatments (e.g. for physiotherapy and therapist massages)
- a surcharge of € 10.00 per day for staying in a hospital or rehabilitation facility (maximum of 28 days)
- the cost for special dental treatments
- a co-payment of 10 % (at least € 5.00, no more than € 10.00) for all medication and
- Additional private insurance can be bought in order to supplement the services of the public health insurance.
If an employee makes more than € 56,250.00, he can still, of course, decide to join the public health insurance. In this case, the insured must pay the above mentioned maximum fee.
For more information on all public health insurances (including information about services, contact addresses etc.), please visit: www.krankenkasseninfo.de or www.gesetzlichekrankenkassen.de .
Private health insurance
11 % of German people are member of a private health insurance. They can join if:
- they exceed the income limits and have decided against voluntary public health insurance,
- or if they are public servants
- or if they are self-employed.
The following are important features of private health insurance:
- A separate fee will be charged for each member of the family.
- The insured (not the health insurance) has to pay for medical services received. The costs are then checked and reimbursed by the private health insurance.
- There are no additional fees. In many cases, the scope of treatments which will be paid for is larger than with public health insurance, e.g.
- Full reimbursement for medication (including physiotherapy)
- Reimbursement of dental costs (depending on the medical plan chosen)
- No additional charge for staying at a hospital or rehabilitation facility.
Settling In, p. 19
“In Germany, almost all medication is available in pharmacies, marked with the international sign – a red “A”. They are often located close to medical practices or shopping centres. The opening hours of pharmacies differ quite a lot, so watch out! Medication can also be ordered via the internet.
If you require medicine outside the regular opening hours, you‘ll have to look for the Apotheken-Notdienst or the Apotheken-Bereitschaftsdienst.” On the official website of German pharmacists, you can easily find those that are open nearest to your postal code: https://www.aponet.de/ .
If you need medical help…
Settling In, p. 20
“If you have a medical problem which is not urgent, you first visit a general practitioner. If necessary, he or she will send you to a specialist. To visit any doctor, you should make an appointment by phone. Please remember to take along your health insurance card every time.” For an overview of the different doctors in the Hildesheim district, the Ärzteführer is helpful. It is published biennially through the local newspaper Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung.
If you suffer a medical problem at night or on weekends, i.e. outside of the regular office hours, here you can find an overview of the pharmacies that are on late-night duty (“Apotheken Notdienst”) in 2020 as well as an overview of all emergency telephone numbers. Alternatively, you can download this important PDF here.
Having a baby
Settling In, p. 22
“During the second trimester of your pregnancy you should start looking for a midwife (Hebamme).”
Deutscher Hebammenverband e. V. has a lot of valuable information and the Hildesheim district has a list of midwifes including their contact details and a note regarding their foreign language skills. Of course, you can also ask your gynecologist for a list of midwifes.
Driving in Germany
Hildesheim is connected to the federal motorway („Bundesautobahn“) A7 Flensburg-Hannover-Würzburg-Füssen as well as the federal roads (“Bundesstraße”) B1, B6, B 243 and B 494.
Seat belts are a must for drivers and all passengers.
Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, unless there is a hands-free car kit in your car.
For a list of German traffic violations, fines and points see here.
Settling In, p. 48
“If you don’t have a driver’s license yet, and you are at least 17, you can do the following to get a German driver’s license:
- Take an eye test for a driver’s license at an optician.
- Attend a first aid course for a driver’s license. The official German name is Lebensrettende Sofortmaßnahmen am Unfallort (emergency measures at the site of an accident). At some places, you can take the eye test and the passport photo as well. The courses are organized, for example, by the German Red Cross, Johanniter and Malteser:
- German Red Cross Kreisverband Hildesheim e. V. (35€)
- Die Johanniter (45€)
- Malteser Hilfsdienst e. V. (35€, reduced rate is 30€)
- Choose a driving school of your choice in (the district of) Hildesheim.
- Apply for the driver’s license at the driver’s license registration office (Führerscheinstelle).
Please note: You should take your driving tests in the city where you are registered or where you study.
Please bring the following items:
- ID-card or passport (for foreigners please also bring a certificate of residence “Meldebescheinigung”)
- Proof of a first aid course
- Proof of a recent eye test
- A biometric passport photo
- € 43.40 fee (2020)
Or for the district of Alfeld:
Settling In, p. 51
Children under 12 years of age or shorter than 1.5 m must be secured by law in appropriate child restraint systems corresponding to tested standards. Using the appropriate child seats and wearing the seat belt properly could prove to be a life saver in accidents. If the rules aren’t followed, as per Bußgeldkatalog (Traffic Fines and Penalties Catalog) a minimum fine of € 30.00 is charged.
Child restraint systems need to meet the ECE Regulation 44/03, 44/04 or 129. In the near future the latter is supposed to replace the first two completely.
Following ECE Regulation 44, the classification is done in five weight classes:
- Class 0 (up to 10 kg, up to 9 months)
- Class 0+ (up to 13 kg, up to 2 years)
- Class I (9 to 18 kg, about 8 months to 4 years)
- Class II (15 to 25 kg, about 3 ½ years to about 7 years)
- Class III (22 to 36 kg, about 6 to 12 years). The ages in each group are for reference only.
Following ECE-R 129, the classification is in three phases:
- Phase 1 (45-105 cm)
- Phase 2 (100-150 cm)
- Phase 3 (for belted child car seats).
More commonly this regulation is called the “i-Size”.
Also, it is recommended to look for the sign of a TÜV (Technical Monitoring Association, independent quality control organization) seal on the product before buying. Either way, before buying the car seat you should always test it in your car first.
For further information on the internet, the ADAC (the German national motor club) has a section on “child safety” with their most recent child seat test results. Also, Stiftung Warentest (independent German consumer organisation) and their test results is a good place for your research. A further informative website is www.kindersitze-test.de .
Settling In, p. 40
In Hildesheim you can reach the different parts of the city by bus, operated by the SVHI Stadtverkehr Hildesheim GmbH & Co. KG. There is a route network for during the day and a different one for the night hours – you can select the one you need here. Alternatively, you can directly type your desired start and end point into this inquiry box here to receive the best routing options. For all information on ticket options, click here. If you prefer going to a customer counter in person, you can go to one of the following two:
The RVHI Regionalverkehr Hildesheim GmbH operates the bus lines outside of the city, i.e. in the rest of the Hildesheim district. Here you can get an overview of the three different route networks (one for the district in general, one specifically for Alfeld and the third for the night bus). Here you can look into your best route options and for information on ticket prices click here.
Keep an eye on the upcoming events organized by Hildesheim Marketing GmbH. Besides their 2020 event calendar (found on their homepage here) you won’t miss anything if you follow their Facebook (Hildesheim Marketing) or Instagram (Hildesheim Marketing GmbH) accounts.
We also recommended to follow the Instagram account of the Landkreis Hildesheim as well. The name of the accounts is the same, Landkreis Hildesheim. There you will find information about the region Hildesheim.
If you’re planning to further explore the city of Hildesheim, our county Hildesheim and its surrounding area, then the Tourist-Information Hildesheim (based in the picturesque Tempelhaus) is the place to go to. It’s quite a building, too. They have, for instance, all the flyers for current exhibitions and many walking, hiking and cycling maps for you to indulge into nature. A beautiful gift shop with regional culinary delights can be found there – you will quickly notice that the symbol of a rose is very much linked to the city. Don’t forget to check-out the second floor where you will find a partially 3D exhibition dedicated to the world’s and our UNESCO world heritage (St Michael’s Church and St Mary’s Cathedral are both centrally located in Hildesheim). Noteworthy: The entry is free and there is free Wi-Fi; you can find it here:
If you are eager to get a more visual idea of the area, on the website “Drone the world” a few drone videos give you a nice glimpse, for example of Marienburg Castle which is approx. 20 km west of Hildesheim.
Settling In, p. 118-120
The stereotype is true, Germans like their sausages.
“Sausage: There are almost 1,500 different varieties of sausages or Wurst in Germany and hundreds of types of cold cuts, most of them made out of pork meat. The most common is Bratwurst which is offered Germany wide.” The variations range from pre-cooked, to raw and cooked sausages.
“Dairy products: There are many kinds of different dairy products in Germany and a huge selection of cheeses.” One product to look out for is Quark, “a sort of cream cheese which tastes a little sour and can be used for sweet or salty dishes and is very often used for dips or sauces [and] for the German Cheese Cake.”
“Green cabbage or kale (Grünkohl): It is mostly eaten in the winter months mostly together with Bregenwurst and Kassler, mustard and boiled potatoes.”
“Bread: One of the most delicious things in Germany is bread! No other country in the world offers such a large variety of healthy and tasty bread (more than 600 different kinds!). It is mostly made with sourdough and is high in fibres. Bread is the basis of breakfast and of Abendbrot.”
Hildesheimer Pumpernickel: It’s a brown traditional biscuit, one of the Hildesheim originals, and not to be confused with the dark whole mealbread of the same name. Due to the different spices such as cinnamon, it is particularly popular in the Christmas period. You can buy it for instance centrally in Hildesheim at the Stadtcafé Beste. One thing is sure: If you don’t have good teeth, it’s best to dip it into a hot drink first.
Hildesheimer „Himmlische Trüffel“: Translated to “Heavenly truffles”, these sweet truffles with a creamy cocoa filling have been produced for many years by hand in Hildesheim. Their popularity show that they don’t only make a lovely gift.
For all friends of locally sourced food: An overview of the regularly organised food markets in Hildesheim can be found here.
Natural and organic food – Bio or Öko
Settling In, p. 121
“You can find most of the basic organic products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt or eggs in any supermarket and discounters in Germany. Prices and tests vary.“
Dos and don’ts in Germany
Settling In, p.135
Every culture has its particular ways in different life situations. The following points refer to behavioral patterns that are very much used in Germany in regards to addressing somebody and arranging or going to appointments.
When addressing somebody:
- Shake hands when you are introduced to someone – it is impolite not to. Kissing on the cheeks or embracing is becoming more popular among friends.
- Direct eye contact is expected when talking with others. Avoiding eye contact is considered to be impolite or uninterested.
- Say your name at the beginning of a phone call.
- “First things first” when coming in a shop or anywhere else remember to greet first before stating your needs.
For an appointment:
- Be on time! Call also if you are only 5 minutes late!
- Make personal dates or appointments at the doctors two or three weeks in advance. Last minute invitations are not common.
- Bring a little something (flowers, chocolate, wine) if you are invited to a house. Remove the packing of the flowers before ringing the bell. Don’t give someone red roses as a present unless you mean passionate love.
- Invitations to coffee and cake (15.00 to 17.00) at home are usual although it has become more popular to invite for breakfast or brunch. Don’t interrupt quiet times from 13.00 to 15.00 and after 20.00 by calling or making noise.
- For a birthday: It is not unusual to ask what he/she would like to have (if you know him/her well), and to give Gutscheine (vouchers) for a shop he/she shops. Nice packaging and a birthday card are appreciated. Don’t congratulate before the birthday. It brings bad luck! It is no problem to congratulate or celebrate later. “Round Birthdays” are sometimes celebrated almost like a wedding.
- Make sure the people you invite for a meal eat what you intend to prepare. There are many allergies, religious and nutritional issues and taste preferences as well. Ask directly. Don’t insist that somebody has to eat something.
- When entering a private house ask your hosts if they prefer you to take off your shoes. Sometimes they wish so. Don’t smoke indoors at somebody’s home without asking first.
Settling In, p.38
How to find branches (“Filialen”) or mailboxes (“Briefkästen”) near you:
Deutsche Post online at www.deutschepost.de
“1. Click “Filialen/Briefkästen finden” under “Versenden”.
2. Choose “Filialen” or “Briefkästen”.
3. Type in your zip code (PLZ) only or full address and click “Suchen”.
à You will find all the nearby locations and opening hours.”
A very centrally located post office is, for example, here:
Settling In, p.39
“You will probably need to sign a contract with a telephone company when you move into your new home. You have several companies to choose from. Most of them are national providers such as Telekom, Vodafone, Arcor, O2 Germany, 1&1. Some are regional such as the TV cable provider Kabel Deutschland which also offers telephone connections and internet.”
-more coming soon-