First Steps

First Steps – Information for international students

You are already or will shortly be a guest in a country which you do not know very well yet and which has some different rules and customs to your home country in terms of cultural and social behavior – in daily life and at the University. “First Steps” aims to introduce you to life in Germany and answer some of the most important questions you may have when you first arrive.


Before you travel to Germany:

  • Apply for a visa/residence permit. Check the regulations which apply to your home country.
  • Look for accommodation in Erlangen and the surrounding area (via FAU’s accommodation service or private advertisements). See more information on the FAU website.

After your arrival in Germany:

  • Register with the registration authorities of the city of Erlangen and apply for an income tax card.
  • Open a bank account with a German bank.
  • Get health and liability insurance: see more information on the FAU website.
  • Enrole at the university: See more information on the FAU website.
  • As soon as you receive your login data: activate your IdM account and e-mail adress. (In this Youtube video we want to guide you through the activation of the most important services in your IdM account).
  • Activate your FAU Card: library-access and canteen.
  • Register for courses: meinCampus (website available in German), StudOn (website available in German).
  • Register for language courses: Oktis (website available in German).
  • Read the examination regulations and check the module plan. See more information on the FAU website (website available in German).
  • If you need any advice, get in contact the Student Advice and Career Service. See more information on the FAU website.

  • Attend the introductory event of your degree programme/faculty. See more information on the FAU website.
  • Re-register for the next semester (always in January/July). See more information on the FAU website.
  • Register for examinations (ensuring you observe the deadlines). See more information on the FAU website.
  • If you wish to change to a different degree programme: see more information on the FAU website (website available in German).
  • If you wish to apply for leave: see more information on the FAU website.
  • If you have a part-time job: apply for an income tax card.
  • You can look for a part-time job on the following FAU website (German).
  • Information about the buddy programme and other student initiatives is available on the FAU website.

What you should do before leaving Germany:

  • Get in touch with the immigration authorities once you have passed your last examination to clarify questions such as when does my residence permit expire? How long can I stay in Germany?
  • De-register with the local authorities
  • Cancel your health insurance and liability insurance
  • Terminate your rental contract
  • Close your bank account
  • Cancel any other contracts such as mobile phone provider, gym membership and so on


Germany is similar in a lot of ways to other Western European countries, but it does have its own unique culture. In order to avoid cultural misunderstandings, you can watch this video before coming to Germany. The DAAD has also gathered a lot of useful information on the study in Germany portal.

In order to use the FAU online services, you have to activate your IDM (account Identity Management System). Instructions are available here or in our video.


Students in Erlangen and Nuremberg have several options for obtaining advice on studying with a disability.

The Student Advice and Career Service (IBZ) at FAU offers advice for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses. For general information and support, you can also contact the disability liaison officer at FAU, Dr. Jürgen Gündel.

Students can become a member of the FAU alumni network any time and benefit from many career and training opportunities. See more at the alumni-homepage.

The authorities are required to uphold the law in an orderly manner. The same laws apply to everybody – they are clear and cannot be negotiated. When dealing with the authorities it is important to remain polite and respectful; it is also essential to observe opening hours, appointments and deadlines.


If you are staying in Germany for more than three months you should open a German bank account. Please note: Some banks charge fees for managing accounts; ask the banks for more information. Only close your German bank account once you have made all outstanding payments for rent, electricity, telephone, etc. for the entire duration of the contract. Before you leave, you can close your bank account in person and inform the bank on what date the account should be cancelled. This means that you could withdraw your returned deposit from your home country.

The FAU buddy programme aims to promote exchange between German and international students and help exchange students and students participating in exchange programmes to get to know Erlangen and Nuremberg when they first arrive. Detailed information on the buddy programme.


Church organisations in Erlangen, Nuremberg and the surrounding area are open to all individuals regardless of their faith.

The question as to the costs of studying can only be answered very generally as the needs and living conditions of every student are different.

You can find a breakdown of the estimated costs and more information on the websites of the FAU and of the German National Association for Student Affairs.


Students and doctoral candidates can de-register from the University themselves in order to change university or withdraw from their studies, and after completing their degree or doctoral degree.

The university will de-register you if you have missed the date for re-registration, if you have failed an examination at the final attempt or after the end of the semester in which you have successfully completed your degree.

You can apply for de-registration at the Student Records Office at any time throughout the year. In contrast to enrolment, there are no fixed deadlines for de-registration.


In the past, the workload of a class was expressed in weekly hours or semester hours (SWS), irrespective of whether the class was a lecture or a seminar. Today, the amount of time you spend preparing for a class is also taken into account. This means that the overall workload can be calculated which is much higher for a seminar than a lecture. The units for measuring the workload are called ECTS credits. Study achievements can be compared and transferred to another university or even to another country using ECTS credits. A Bachelor’s degree is worth 180 ECTS credits. In the calculation of the workload, 1 ECTS credit is equivalent to about 25 to 30 hours of work.

For further information visit the website of FAU.

The emergency number for the police in Germany is 110. Dial 112 for the fire brigade and ambulance services. All other emergency numbers for Erlangen are available on the website of the Universitätsklinikum.

Exchange students can enrol at FAU for one or two semesters. They are enrolled for a fixed term at the University and have the same rights as regular students. International students who are completing their entire degree programme at FAU should register as a regular student.

Please refer to the examination regulations for the relevant degree programme for all information concerning examinations. You will normally be given information on registering for examinations during the introductory sessions for your degree programme. Usually, you should register via the mein campus platform. The Examinations Office is always responsible for everything to do with examinations. An overview of the German grade scale is available here.


What’s my professor’s e-mail address? Which room is my seminar in? What’s on the menu today? In the free FAU app for iOS and Android you can find the answers to these and many more questions.

You can download the FAU app for free from the Apple app store or the Google Play store. Then you can add your lectures to the planer from UnivIS, create your own appointments and choose which cafeteria menus you would like to have access to. You can also use the settings to choose which functions you want to see in the app – sorted by faculty.

The School of Business and Economics launched a specially-designed FAU app at the beginning of the summer semester 2015. This pilot project was extended to the whole University at the end of the semester. This means that the School of Business and Economics already has its own navigation area and news services – with a newsfeed, blog and newsletter.

To find a student job you can use the FAU student jobs portal, the jobs website of the Federal Employment Agency and other internet portals:

Exchange students will receive an e-mail with all the information they need on the formalities they have to complete whilst studying. If you have any questions you can contact the Office of International Affairs (RIA) directly.


There are a number of different advice and service centres available at FAU. In addition to services offered by Student Services (such as the counselling service), the University offers several services of its own. The Diversity Scouts from the Office of Equality and Diversity are available to help with anything relating to gender and diversity. In the Learning Lab and the writing workshop people are on hand to help you with academic working, whilst staff at the student service centres and the international offices at the faculties and departments can give you information about anything to do with your course.


If you become ill, you are entitled to be treated by any physician, however not all treatments are free of charge. You should ask your doctor about any costs before receiving treatment. More information on health insurance is available at the German National Association for Student Affairs website.

If you are only planning a short stay in Germany as an exchange student without enrolment or to participate in a language course or Studienkolleg, you are not eligible for statutory health insurance. You will need to arrange for travel health insurance in your home country or register with a private health insurance company for the duration of your stay in Germany. If you have any queries, please contact the Central Office for International Affairs (RIA).

All students in Germany must have health insurance. You cannot enrol at FAU if you do not have health insurance.

Detailed information on the obligation for students to have health insurance is available on the page about health insurance.

We would also recommend taking out liability insurance which protects you in the event that you cause any damage to property. Several departments require you to take out laboratory liability insurance in order to be allowed to use the laboratories. Please remember to cancel the contracts for all insurance policies in good time before you leave Germany.

Exchange students must inform the Central Office for International Affairs (RIA) if they have an accident. The staff at RIA will provide assistance and contact your home university.

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the only student ID card recognised throughout the world. This card will entitle you to various discounts while you are abroad. You can get an ISIC from many travel agencies and Student Services Erlangen Nürnberg. You can find contact details for Student Services in the guide “Studieren in Erlangen und Nürnberg” on their website and

If you are completing an internship, you are not automatically given student status. You will be registered if possible, but this is not always an option. FAU does not have an internal office responsible for organising internships/placements.


Although many lectures and seminars are taught in English, German is still the main teaching language at FAU. You cannot always rely on everyone speaking English outside the University either. It is therefore really worthwhile to take a German language course. The Language Centre offers free German language courses during the semester, and it is also a good idea to have some language learning advice or take part in a language tandem.

It does not happen very often, but sometimes you may require legal assistance. Student Services Erlangen-Nürnberg provide a free legal counselling service for students. Some information about legal matters is also available in this video.

In addition, you should be aware of the following:

German law treats all individuals as equal regardless of their gender, age, religion, social status or sexual orientation.

All individuals must possess an identity card or passport in Germany. We recommend that you always carry this with you, should you need to identify yourself to the police.

Smoking is banned in public buildings, restaurants and bars in most parts of Germany.

Erlangen and Nuremberg have a lot to offer, not only as university towns but also in the way of leisure activities. An overview of the diverse cultural and leisure activities on offer is available here.

Everyone who lives in Germany has to register with the local authorities. You have to register with the local authorities in the town you live in within 14 days of arriving in Germany and de-register when you leave. You also have to register correctly when you move house. Failing to register or de-register is an offence and will put your residence status in Germany at risk.


The University does not draw up a schedule for you. It is not always easy to plan your schedule at the start of your studies. Please consult the study advisors for your degree programme and ask other students or lecturers for advice. We recommend a total workload of between 25 and 30 ECTS credits in the first semester.

All lectures and seminars are listed in UniVIS.

A language placement test is required for some degree programmes. The dates are usually announced during the introductory sessions. You should register via the FAU Language Centre.

For many courses (seminars, practicals, foundation courses) you will need to register online:

Other rules apply to students of medicine, dentistry and law.


All students who are studying at FAU for more than a semester will need to re-register at the start of the next semester. This is done by paying the Student Services fee. If you do not transfer this fee to the University within the deadlines, you may face de-registration.

The deadlines for re-registration are available on the FAU website. All information on re-registering can be found in mein campus nearer the time.


Studying at FAU is free for international students. To finance your costs of living, you can apply for a scholarship. Several scholarship organisations offer financial support at particular stages in your studies. You can search for scholarships in the scholarship database of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

For a list of all foundations which also offer programmes/scholarships for students, please see:

The most important semester dates (lecture periods, deadlines for registering, enrolling and re-registering) are available on the FAU website. A list of official public holidays is also available.

The FAU semester ticket was launched in the winter semester 2015/16 and covers the entire VGN network for the whole semester. It consists of a basic ticket which all students and doctoral candidates are obliged to purchase and an optional additional ticket.

All information on the system and prices is available at

IBZ, the Student Advice and Career Service, is your main point of contact for all questions concerning your studies. Here, you will find all the necessary information on the degree programmes offered at FAU: subject combinations, study plans, admission regulations, application procedures, studying abroad, etc. IBZ can offer advice if you have problems during your studies or if you want to change your subject or transfer to another university. IBZ can also provide information on the structure and contents of individual degree programmes.

All students admitted to FAU must enrol at the Student Records Office by the deadline stated in the admissions letter.

The Student Services fee (currently EUR 42) must be paid on enrolment. This fee pays for subsidised meals in the restaurants and cafeterias as well as for student support and advice services. You must pay the Student Services fee for each semester you study at FAU.

Since the semester ticket was introduced in winter semester 2015/16, you must also pay a contribution of 75 euros per semester towards the semester ticket.

More information is available on the Student Services website.

If all your applications are rejected or you have no idea what to do after you finish your degree, you may feel worried and anxious. If these feelings get too much for you to deal with on your own you can contact Student Services’ counselling service.

Student Services Erlangen-Nürnberg offers all FAU students psychological counselling and psychotherapy in individual sessions, with partners and family members, and in therapy groups at two locations in Erlangen and Nuremberg.

Further information, contact details and opening times are available on the counselling service web page.


There are several computer systems which you will need to use at FAU. The most important are the Identity Management System (IDM) and mein campus. In mein campus, you can print out your enrolment certificate and register for examinations. Your grades are also recorded in mein campus.

The Erlangen Regional Computing Centre (RRZE) provides technical services for FAU. On their website, you can find out all you need to know about computer rooms, your FAU e-mail address, the FAUbox and internet access at FAU. An overview of all online portals at FAU is available here.

There are good train connections between all the main cities in Germany. Germany also has an excellent public transportation infrastructure including underground trains, suburban trains, trams and buses. There are many special offers and fares.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket desks (subject to a service charge) or the ticket machines at the station (NB: tickets usually cannot be purchased on the train). Tickets for local public transportation can be purchased from the customer service offices of the transportation companies or from ticket machines at major stops.

Information on public transport and tickets is available on the VGN and Deutsche Bahn websites.

Erlangen and Nuremberg are bike-friendly cities with a large network of bicycle lanes. Therefore, it is recommendable to either rent a bike or even buy one. Please do not purchase a bike from somebody on the street you do not know. You could risk losing your money and the bike. We strongly recommend buying a secure bike lock – even though crime rates are low in Germany, bikes are frequently stolen in larger cities, especially if they are not secured. Please observe the traffic regulations closely. All vehicles, including bicycles, must be roadworthy. In other words, you must ensure that your brakes and lights work properly.


Academic work also includes reading other academic texts. The necessary media to do so (books, journals, etc.) can be found in the University Library (abbreviated as UB or Uni-Bib in German) and all branch libraries.

For further information visit the university library’s homepage.

The University Sports programme is open to students, doctoral candidates and staff and runs a wide range of low-cost sports courses in Erlangen and Nuremberg. The programme is divided into sports classes and competitive sports with regular participation in university championships. Important note for all sports classes: please sign up online at an early point in time.

More information is available on the FAU website.

In addition, there are a number of sports clubs you can join in Erlangen.


If you have arrived in Germany from outside the EU with a student visa, you will need to extend your visa to a residence permit for study purposes (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zu Studienzwecken).

All the information you need concerning entry formalities and residence permits is available here.


You must take several things into consideration if you want to work in Germany, for example all the rules regarding income tax and social security contributions. All the relevant information is available here.