For International Students

(Updated: 21.9.2023)

Welcome to the international section of the Fachschaft website. Since most of the information on the site is in German, we tried to put together information for new incoming international students. This page will essentially be filled with links which we hope will give you all an overview of information regarding the physics faculty and the first steps in Germany. Also, we recommend that you bookmark this page so you can come back to it later when you’re in need of it 🙂

Note: For the new incoming students, who have not yet obtained a Visa for travel, can still attend the courses. Some courses might have the option of an online format (lectures and seminar). Always check with the individual teacher’s website and do not rely on central systems such as ILIAS or KLIPS for comprehensive information

Courses information

To check physics courses at Cologne University, go to,  click on Continue without login, click on Courses and filter according to your criteria.

A detailed information of the courses can be found in the module handbook. The long-term planning information under specializations can be used to plan for future semesters. Please note that the plans may change due to unforeseen circumstances. And there are always additional offers not being part of the long-term planning.

For Physics courses at Bonn University, go to BASIS. You also have to use BASIS to register for courses and exams at Bonn university. This is possible only AFTER you get your second enrolment certificate (Zweithörerschein) and activating your account using the credentials in that certificate hereIf you do not have it before the start of Bonn courses, please email the teacher and request them to make it available in ILIAS which you can access using your Cologne Uni credentials.

You can also take German language courses here as part of the university. The course fee for your first course (irrespective of the level of German) can be covered by the BCGS. Mail Petra RIGHT AFTER you register for a German course in the semester so she can take care of the invoice and paperwork.

You also do not have to pay more tuition fee if you take more than 4 semesters to finish. It is normal for students to take more than 4 semesters although it is recommended to finish your studies on time!

Uni Cologne International website

To get official information for international students, the first stop is the international section under University of Cologne website. You will find information about residence, housing and other first steps. Scroll down and look at each block under Topics

A rough plan of your immediate tasklist after arrival will be as follows

–> Sign a rental contract (We understand that it’s easier said than done)  –> City Registration with your address  –> Open Bank account  –> Apply for Health Insurance  –> Apply for Residence permit  (Can take upto 2 months to obtain. Please stick to German in your emails. Having officers speak to you in English is an exception and not the rule) –>  Receive residence and work permit and be eligible to work part-time if needed (Note that you cannot start working before you obtain your work permit along with your residence permit)

There is a wonderful website written by Nicolas titled All About Berlin. Though this is about Berlin, a lot of the process are identical. You can also find templates for forms that you might need, like applying for a tax number at the Finanzamt (Tax office) if you have to start working as soon as possible.

BCGS Scholarship holders, apply for your residence permit with the initial letter that mentions your scholarship is for a 2 year duration. If you apply with your official German contract for one year, there are chances that you may be offered Permit only for 1 year and you may have to renew your permit later!

If you need help with assisting you in your application for residence permit, taking appointments at the Foreigner’s office (Ausländerbehörde), take an appointment with doctors for acute cases and other practical things, the Team „Service for international students“ at the Student Service Center (Universitätsstr. 22a, 50937 Köln – ground floor) will help you with such requests. You can use their contact form here

Physics faculty also offers an informal setup for physics students where you can request a fellow person from Physics – Ms. Hajar Tarakji ( to accompany you to the residence permit office.

ThP Welcome website

A list of more practical information has been organized and put together by the Institute of Theoretical Physics, thought some parts might be outdated. Also there are open colloquiums and seminars that you can attend from the ThP (

A small tip – If you are looking to organise meetings with presentations and discussions with fellow students, you can find the available rooms here

Fachschaft offers

The Fachschaft is the student body that concerns with your well-being and acts as a mediator between the students and the administration if needed. Sign up for the Physics Fachschaft newsletter to stay updated with the events being advertised –

You can join the Jobs mailing list for jobs advertised through the Fachschaft. Most of the postings might be in German. But some in English may come through once in a while –

The Fachschaft also has a repository of old exams that can be borrowed or taken a copy of. AFTER you are scheduled an exam with an examiner, you can come to the office during the opening hours – You pay a 10 Euro deposit, make copies of the relevant exams and you get the money back after you submit your own exam’s protocol within half a year.

WiFi and Mobile

Eduroam ( is available on all campus areas. If you need to access scientific articles/protected websites of uni profs, VPN ( can come in handy! You can configure your email in your phone/desktop apps too (

If you buy a prepaid card from a store, you might have to still activate it using your residence permit at a post office. Please do not buy it before you have your residence permit or confirming if you can use it straight away. You can always opt for a SIM card with a contract later.

Semester travel ticket

Your Semesterticket will let you take public transprt all over Germany (No IC and ICE trains though). The new ticket does not permit you to take a bike or another person with you though. It is also exclusively digital (for now). You will need to download it in to a digital wallet or so, information on how to do that here: Look into the website for more information

You can generally find the public transport schedule on Google maps. For a more local and accurate result, try using the DeutscheBahn app (

As a student, there are offers to use the city bikes for free for 30 min everyday. For more information – Use the Nextbike app to use the bikes!


The main library ( has study places and books can be borrowed with your ID card (It also works as your library card). There are also sitting places available at the Physics library. Unfortunately, books cannot be borrowed from here by the students, but can always be used within the library.

Health Insurance

As a student, it is mandatory to have a statutory (not private) health insurance. This covers the costs of all visits to your general practitioner (Allgemein Arzt). Getting treated for specific problems is a bit tricky. When you wish to go to any specialist with your health insurance, it is advisable to be referred to by your general practitioner. If you directly approach the specialists, you might have to pay money out of your pocket in certain cases.

Also, there are different clinics. Ask before if your health insurance will be accepted there. Clinics that  call themselves only PrivatKasse means either you have an additional private health insurance or you pay for all the bills by yourself.

Getting an appointment with specialists or tests in the labor tends to be cumbersome with longer waiting times. There is a shortcut. For example, if the doctor asks you to take an MRI (MRT in German) scan and you call a labor that says they have an appointment only 4 months later, try contacting your health insurance company. If you are insured with Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) for example, they offer a service under the number ‭+49-40-4606619220‬ where you call and explain your situation. They put you on a list and if any existing appointments in the city gets cancelled, they will send you a short notice and confirm your appointment with them. Please mind that this is not guaranteed to work all the time. But, it is worth a try. You can always confirm your later appointment and cancel it if the health insurance company offers you an option for an earlier date.

Psychological counselling

If you are facing psychological problems or if physical disabilities are hindering your studies, you can and you should contact the Counselling for physical, psychological and other problems people at their emails here –

There is also the Department for Anti-discrimination with ombudspersons who can be contacted confidentially in case of any issues.


If you need any more information or find any broken links, please drop in an email to Fachschaft and someone on the the other end will reply as soon as possible. Happy studying and again, a warm welcome from our student Fachschaft team 🙂


International 101-presentation

for new international students we have made a presentation with some basic information: