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German Health Insurance for International Students

Foreign students in Germany are required by law to have some form of healthcare cover. Whilst degree students are eligible to apply for discounted student public health insurance, those coming for preparatory courses, language courses, PhD students, students over 30, and also guest scientists may have to look for private health insurance. 

This article will look into the different types of health insurance available to international students in Germany and the associated costs.

Health insurance for foreign students in Germany

It is essential that international students are covered by healthcare insurance before they move to Germany.

Healthcare cover is mandatory by law for all residents in Germany, even those staying for one semester. Students under 30 doing a degree can register for discounted public healthcare insurance, whilst others will need to look into alternative avenues for cover, such as standard public healthcare contributions or a private plan.

How much does student health insurance in Germany cost?

Students aged under 30 do not need to pay 7.3% social security contributions towards healthcare insurance, instead they pay a set (discounted) monthly amount of €120.34 (students under the age of 23) or of €125.21 (students aged 23 to 30) for long term care which covers both basic healthcare insurance and nursing care insurance. This amount is usually less than the cost of standard contributions based on earnings.

How much is public health insurance for international students in Germany?

Many people choosing to move to Germany to study worry about how much public health insurance for students will be when abroad in Germany. The good news for international students is that the discounted rate of €120.34  (students under the age of 23) or of €125.21 (students aged 23 to 30) applies equally to both international students and local German students.

Healthcare for foreign students in Germany: private or public?

All students are required to have healthcare insurance before they embark on their degree; this applies to both national and international students. International students will not be granted a student visa without proof of either public or private insurance (or insurance from their home country if this is applicable). Foreign nationals will need to ensure they are fully covered before they start, in order to gain a student visa.

Students over 30 are entitled to choose between public and private healthcare. Those looking for private healthcare options need to weigh up whether they are better off enrolling in the public system. This will usually depend on whether or not they are working alongside their studies.

How to get student health insurance in Germany?

German nationals can organize public health insurance easily, but international students will need to get this organised before they move. Expatrio offers students the chance to register for discounted student public healthcare insurance through TK, one of the biggest and most well-known providers in Germany. Our partnership with TK means you have access to the ongoing (including English-language) support offered by this provider. We can help you every step of the way, ensuring your healthcare cover is organised well before you arrive.

Health insurance required for you visa

Don’t underestimate the importance of healthcare cover for international students. Not only is it mandatory by law, but you won’t be able to gain a student visa without it.

TK Health insurance for foreign students in Germany

Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is one of the biggest healthcare funds in Germany

Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is one of the biggest healthcare funds in Germany

TK administers public healthcare cover for a large percentage of the German population; in fact there are over 8.8 million people signed up with TK.

One of the many benefits of choosing TK is that it offers online and phone support seven days a week and boasts an English-language support portal and an English-language application form.

Expatrio can help foreign students become registered with TK online ahead of their arrivals, helping soon-to-be students in Germany to be granted a student visa and setting their mind at rest about healthcare cover.

How much is public health insurance for international students in Germany?

Student cover with TK costs the standard (discounted) monthly amount of €120.34 (students under the age of 23) or of €125.21 (students aged 23 to 30) for long term care, which covers both basic public healthcare and nursing insurance for care in later life.

You can find out more about the TK and Expatrio partnership on our TK page.

Health insurance for preparatory course students in Germany

Sometimes, international students will be asked to attend a preparatory course ahead of their degree

This may be because a school leaving certificate from a certain country is not recognised by the German university, so the admissions department therefore requires students to prove their skills and knowledge via a short course.

This will culminate in an exam known as a Feststellungsprüfung, and passing this exam will be essential for progression to the degree course. Some short language courses at universities also fall under the banner of preparatory courses.

A preparatory course is also a good way to learn vital language skills and prepare generally for living in Germany full time. Most preparatory courses last around two semesters, which is just under one year. What is important to note is that those enrolled in preparatory courses are not eligible to enrol in public healthcare insurance, but are still required to have health insurance cover under German law.

This therefore means that students will need to register for private healthcare insurance for the duration of the preparatory course. After successful completion of the course and acceptance onto a university degree, students can sign up for public healthcare insurance through a provider such as TK, and take advantage of the discounted student rate.

Health insurance for language students in Germany

Some students choose to take a language course, typically for around one year or one semester, in order to improve their German. Language courses are undertaken by both future degree students and also by those looking to move to Germany to work. A language course can be an excellent way of integrating better into German society.

Just like preparatory courses, those on German language courses or a Studienkolleg are not eligible for public healthcare insurance and will need to find a tailored private plan to cover them for the duration of the course. Once in work or accepted onto a degree course, you will be able to register for public healthcare.

Some language courses are short, possibly the length of a semester or less. In this case, students from EU countries (as well as Norway, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland) can be covered by the terms of their EHIC card.

Note for students from EU countries

Do not always assume that because you are from an EU country (or Norway, Lichtenstein, or Switzerland) that you are automatically covered. Often, you need to actually register with the national health service in your home country, who will issue you with an EHIC card. Without this card, you will not be able to access medical treatment in Germany.

Health insurance for exchange students in Germany

Students living in Germany through an exchange program, such as the Erasmus program, are also required by law to have healthcare cover. Because the length of an exchange can be for as little as one semester, it is sometimes possible to rely on cover from your EHIC for the duration of the exchange. Unlike preparatory or language courses, those on exchange courses as part of a degree are eligible for public health care insurance at the student discount rate.

Here at Expatrio, we can help students who are embarking on a year-long exchange to register with the public healthcare system through our partner, TK. Please visit our Health Insurance page for more information.

Student visa

You will still need to prove you have some form of healthcare cover before you are granted a student visa, even if you are coming to Germany as an exchange student.

Health insurance for PhD students in Germany

International PhD students are also required by law to have healthcare cover for the period that they are living in Germany.

As most PhD students are aged over 30, they do not qualify for the discounted public healthcare rate for students. The situation with PhD students is a little more complex, as some students are employed by their university whilst others are not.

PhD Students employed by the university

Many PhD Students are employed by the university as lecturers or research assistants, in which case they will be automatically enrolled in the public healthcare system, and pay the usual contribution of 7.3%, matched by their employer of another 7.3%.

It is highly unlikely that PhD students in such a role are earning above the threshold which allows them to choose private healthcare. The good news about being employed by the university is that you do not necessarily need to organize the healthcare cover yourself, as it will often be taken care of by the university. You can find out more about the public healthcare system on our Public Healthcare in Germany page.

You can choose your provider yourself

Remember that you can still choose your public healthcare provider, even if you are being automatically enrolled by your employer. Make sure you inform them before they do the paperwork as to which provider you want to register with. The basic contributions will be the same, although all providers are now allowed to charge an additional contribution of up to 0.9%.

PhD students not employed by the university

Many PhD students residing in Germany are not employed by their university. Those aged under 30 will be able to register for discounted student public healthcare through a provider such as TK. Those aged over 30 have two choices: they can either sign up for this standard public healthcare through their employer (perfect for those in part time work) or they can take out a private plan, which is better for those who are not planning on working during their study time in Germany.

Those visiting Germany to undertake part of their PhD for a period of less than one semester can simply use their EHIC card as cover.

Health insurance for Guest Scientists in Germany

Guest researchers and guest scientists are also required to have healthcare insurance cover, regardless of how short their stay in Germany is. Those from an EU or EEA country with an agreement with Germany may be covered with an EHIC card, depending on the length of stay.

You may also be covered by the terms of private health insurance from your home country, but you need to check with your provider first as German law has strict guidelines about what cover is acceptable.

Note for Guest Scientists

Guest scientists should consider getting a specialist tailored plan that is specifically aimed at those staying in Germany for a Guest Scientist or Researcher role. A tailored guest scientist plan will also be acceptable to the authorities when it comes to applying for your temporary visa.

FAQ: Health Insurance for International Students in Germany

How do German students get health insurance?

Before entering Germany, you should choose statutory health insurance and apply for membership there. The statutory health insurance company you choose must accept you if you are under 30 years of age and have an enrollment confirmation from a German university.

If you enter Germany before the day the semester starts - usually October 1 and April 1 of each year - you will need to purchase incoming insurance for the time between entering the country and starting your studies. The incoming insurance is not expensive and saves hassle when entering the country. As a rule, EU citizens do not need this type of insurance.

How much is health insurance in Germany for international students?

Health insurance for international students with a public health insurance company costs between €108.81 (students under the age of 23) and €110.69 (students aged 23 to 30) per month.

Is healthcare free in Germany for international students?

Healthcare insurance for international students in Germany is generally not free. Costs depend on the type of health insurance coverage as well as the health insurance plan and provider.