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Frequently asked questions

Mutual respect is important for a peaceful coexistence between locals and refugees. Yet questions are constantly being asked on both sides: how do I behave correctly? How can integration go smoothly? What can I do? Similar questions often occupy the minds of both locals and refugees. Here you will find guidance.

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How do I behave correctly towards refugees?

How do I behave correctly towards local people?

How do I behave correctly towards refugees?

Imagine you lived in a foreign country. You don’t know anybody, can’t speak the language and find it hard to get your bearings on a day-to-day basis. How would you like the local people to behave? Helpfulness and hospitality would certainly make things easier for you to begin with. A smile or returning a greeting is often enough here. You should assume that refugees are feeling just as unsure as many local people.

How do I behave correctly towards local people?

Imagine that a very large number of foreign people came to your homeland within a short space of time. How would you like them to behave? You can often learn the right way to behave in Bavaria by observing the locals: how do people greet one another politely? How do people behave when shopping? Or in a doctor’s surgery? It is very important to learn the language quickly. Try to interact with the locals in your free time – at sports clubs, for instance.

Do I need to fear other religions, such as Islam?

Am I free to practise my religion?

Do I need to fear other religions, such as Islam?

No, you don’t. Just like all other religions, Islam offers starting points for intolerance and fighting against other basic philosophies. The majority of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world peacefully practice their faith. There are particular reasons why some people become radicalised. In many cases, religion serves solely as a front for a person’s actions. Extremist and radical groups exist in all world religions, but this doesn’t mean that religion itself is the problem, but what some people do in the name of religion.

Am I free to practise my religion?

Yes, you are. Religion is a private matter in Germany. Everyone is free to choose their faith and whether or not they are religious. Every individual is free to practise their faith, but not put it above that of another person or the law.

Why is integration important for everybody?

How can I integrate?

Why is integration important for everybody?

Integration means sharing and participating fully in all aspects of life in the host society. It helps to prevent intercultural conflict as well as social and ethnic fragmentation in our society. Yet it can only succeed if migrants make an effort to integrate and the host society simultaneously recognises this effort and approaches people openly. Furthermore, structural integration helps people from migrant backgrounds into employment, which means that they pay taxes and support our social security system. Integration into the working world is the best form of integration into Bavarian life. It is both important and necessary. Successful integration especially requires people to stand on their own two feet economically. Accordingly, all refugees and recognised asylum seekers of working age should earn their own living as quickly as possible. Successful integration is essential for maintaining a peaceful society today and for future generations.

How can I integrate?

Bavaria is the state of successful integration. Across Bavaria, one in five people comes from a migrant background. Migrants have successfully managed to integrate into our society in the past. To ensure that this remains the case, Bavaria has placed a limit on immigration in order to maintain the efficiency of both state and society. In addition, the Bavarian state government is committed to the principle of ‘support and challenge’ and has established clear rules for getting on well with one another. By introducing a number of supportive measures in the areas of language learning, teaching of values, integration through training and employment, and homebuilding, Bavaria is playing its part in ensuring that people integrate successfully.

A common language is the key to good integration. You must learn German, as well as the country’s laws and values and the rules of coexistence. You are obliged to attend the relevant courses. Try to secure a training place or job. In addition to learning the language, integration into the labour market establishes the foundation for a peaceful life of self-determination. Employment provides the basis for you to integrate successfully into society. However, integration also involves a number of other important factors. Continue to study, be curious and open-minded towards the culture and country where you live. Just like all other citizens, you have rights and obligations. You must meet these obligations and play an active role in your integration.

Do all refugees have to learn German?

How and where can I learn German?

Do all refugees have to learn German?

Immigrants with a residence permit who do not speak sufficient German are obliged to enrol on an integration course. At 600 hours, the biggest part of the integration course consists of German lessons. The orientation course lasts 100 hours and teaches people the laws and rules of coexistence in Germany.

How and where can I learn German?

Every person from a migrant background who comes to Germany should basically seize every opportunity to learn German. Knowledge of the German language is the key to a successful life in Germany. Immigrants with a residence permit who do not speak sufficient German and are not attending a school or vocational college have the right and obligation to enrol on an integration course. The course generally consists of 600 hours of German lessons and 100 hours of orientation. To enrol on an integration course in your area, you must submit an application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

You can find further information on integration courses on the website of the BAMF

The Bavarian State Ministry for Employment, Social Affairs, Family and Integration also funds and supports numerous language courses for asylum seekers.

Further information on language courses and asylum and social policy can be found on the website of the Bavarian Ministry for Social Affairs

Questions migrants often ask themselves

Everything is often new for migrants in Germany. From the asylum application to matters such as education and health, here you will find answers to the most important questions.

After arriving in Germany, all asylum seekers will be registered and forwarded to the relevant reception centre where they will receive proof of arrival and be given accommodation and support.

Asylum seekers must generally submit their asylum application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in person. The BAMF will examine whether Germany is responsible for handling the application. If this is the case, they must describe in a personal hearing how and why they are being persecuted. If possible, proof of this should be provided. The BAMF always examines the individual case.

If the application is approved, a temporary residence permit will be issued. If the application is rejected, the applicant must leave Germany. There is, however, the opportunity to lodge an appeal against the rejection of the asylum application.

Nursery facilities and children’s day care

Just like all children in Germany, children from a refugee background are entitled to day care or a place in a nursery facility from the age of 12 months until they start school. This is based on the assumption, however, that the family has been assigned to a particular local authority (generally by being placed in communal accommodation or decentralised accommodation).

Nursery facilities and children’s day care can be the best way of helping children to settle into their new surroundings. They are the ideal places to learn German, familiarise themselves with the living conditions in Germany and gain an understanding of how they are expected to interact with others through play with other children. Playing, singing and talking together will not only help them to learn a new language in the course of their everyday lives. Such activities also play a key role in child development.

Nursery facilities are part of the education system in Bavaria and prepare your child for attending school later on.

As a parent, sending your child to a nursery or day-care facility gives you the opportunity to enrol on a language course, find employment or undertake training while your child is well looked-after and supported. You will get to know other parents at the facility and can also get involved yourself there.

Contact your local youth welfare service when looking for a childcare place.

Here you will find youth welfare services in your area: to the website of the Bavarian Ministry of Social Affairs

You can find further information on the work of the nursery facilities and the types of care available here:

Compulsory education

In Bavaria, 12 years of education are compulsory for all children from the age of six. This means all children must go to school. Compulsory education is divided into nine years of full-time compulsory education and three years of compulsory vocational college during training. It is free to attend school. Children of asylum seekers and refuges are normally obliged to attend school three months after arriving in Bavaria. This also goes for children and young people with disabilities or learning difficulties. Children and young people of compulsory school age are placed in the year corresponding to their age.

There are support and transition classes for refugee children at many schools. In addition, individual support is offered in mainstream classes.

School trips, outings, performances and swimming lessons are part of everyday school life. Children should participate in these, because they will learn many new things and such opportunities will help them to integrate especially well.

You can find further information on the subjects of school and university here:

Vocational colleges for young people

A special kind of vocational college aimed at language learning and career preparation (two-year model) has been set up for asylum seekers and refugees of compulsory vocational college age who do not have an apprenticeship position. This course is open to asylum seekers and refugees between the ages of 16 and 21, who are unable to follow mainstream classes at vocational college for young people with no apprenticeship position due to insufficient knowledge of the German language. In exceptional cases where there is a good reason, young people up to the age of 25 can be accepted.

The Bavarian Industry Association also offers a wide range of courses: in the skill centres there are courses that prepare people for the world of work, including language courses, integration courses, vocational orientation courses, etc.

You can find further information of the subject of vocational education here:

Further information

The Ministry of Culture has also produced an interactive graphic with basic facts about the Bavarian education system in Arabic. The interactive graphic provides information on every kind of school in Bavaria, from the primary school to the specialist academy. The focus is on the essential educational aims of the various kinds of schools, the duration and structure of each educational programme and the various examination and certification options available from the different schools.

Here you will find the interactive graphic on the Bavarian education system in Arabic

Information for asylum seekers and refugees of compulsory vocational college age:

All state education authorities provide general information on the subject of schooling.

Further advice: to the website of the state education advisory service in Bavaria

According to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act (AsylbLG), the necessary medical and dental treatment – including the provision of drugs and surgical dressings and any other services deemed necessary for healing, improving or alleviating illnesses or the consequences thereof – will be provided in the event of acute illness or pain. According to § 6, Paragraph 1 AsylbLG, other treatments may be undertaken if the measure is vital for maintaining the health of the individual.

Asylum seekers essentially receive general medical care. They have the right to see the doctor of their choice. To this end, they are issued with a health insurance certificate every quarter by the relevant local agency and can use this to see registered doctors.

The Free State of Bavaria has set up so-called medical centres in the reception centres where asylum seekers have to report immediately after arriving in Germany. This is so that curative care can be provided locally on a low-threshold basis. In addition to general care, the medical centres normally also offer gynaecological, paediatric and sometimes even psychiatric services.

Medical confidentiality

Everyone is able to trust their doctor. All medical practitioners are duty-bound to maintain medical confidentiality. This means they are unable to pass on any information about their patients, not even to authorities, employers or family members.

Pregnancy

In Bavaria, ‘advisory centres for pregnancy matters’ offer advice and support relating to the subjects of pregnancy and childbirth. Women and men can seek free advice without having to give their name, even if they are younger than 18 years of age. The details of the conversation are not shared with anyone else. Somebody can also come along (friend, partner, mother, etc.). If women want to have an abortion, it is mandatory that they seek advice first.

Like all women in Germany, pregnant refugees or asylum seekers are entitled to receive the necessary medical care. They visit their gynaecologist at least once every four weeks during the pregnancy. The examinations include regular weight checks, blood pressure monitoring, blood tests and ultrasound tests.

Those who have a professional qualification in their homeland can have it recognised in Bavaria if certain requirements are met. If the profession is not recognised, there are a number of ways in which a person can undertake further training and get the necessary qualifications. Partial recognition is often sufficient to gain a foothold in the labour market. It’s best to ask the advisory centre that deals with the recognition of qualifications or the Federal Employment Agency about the available options.

Further information on professional recognition: to the Bavarian service portal

‘Living and working in Germany’ hotline

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has set up a hotline. By calling +49 (0)30 1815 1111, refugees can enquire in German or English whether there is a chance of their profession being recognised. The advice is free of charge; only calls to German landlines are charged at the usual rates.

Further information on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications:

Information portals on the subject of recognition of foreign professional qualifications:

There are various ways of finding a job. On the state side, the Federal Employment Agency is responsible for finding jobs for people. Every state or region has an office of the Federal Employment Agency. The employees advise those looking for work, approve training courses and match individuals with vacancies. Many companies use the local employment agencies and job centres to find new employees.

The Federal Employment Agency has set up a job site where people can go online and search for vacancies in the region.

There are numerous other job sites on the Internet. Some can even inform the jobseeker by email when there is a new suitable vacancy. In addition, companies often publish vacancies on their websites under the ‘Jobs’ or ‘Careers’ sections. Many jobs are also advertised in daily newspapers as well as online.

Searching for an apprenticeship position

Asylum seekers and refugees who wish to undertake professional training – also known as an apprenticeship – can get advice and information from the Vocational Guidance Centres (BIZ) run by the Federal Employment Agency.

To the Vocational Guidance Centre (BIZ)

Online training sites can also provide further assistance, such as those operated by the chambers of industry and commerce and the chambers of crafts. The regional training acquisition services can provide further assistance with specific problems. Prospective apprentices should start looking for a training position at an early stage, ideally one year beforehand.

In Germany there are two free emergency numbers that can be used 24 hours a day.

Emergency number 110 – police

The police can be contacted by dialling 110. They are responsible for dealing with dangerous situations, acts of violence and other criminal offences.

Emergency number 112 – ambulance and fire service

An ambulance or the fire service can be called by dialling 112. Help usually arrives within a matter of minutes in Germany.

The five key questions

Anyone who makes an emergency call will be connected to the local emergency control centre. The employee on the phone will ask some questions in order to be able to send help as quickly as possible:

  1. Where is the emergency?
    State the location of the emergency as precisely as possible. Give the street name, building number and floor.
  2. Who is calling?
    Give your name, location and your telephone number for queries.
  3. What has happened?
    Describe what you have seen and what happened.
  4. How many injured people?
    Estimate the number of injured people. With children, their approximate age is also important.
  5. Wait for questions
    Do not hang up the phone immediately, but instead wait for any questions.

The police protect the population from danger and fight crime. Laws govern precisely what police officers can and cannot do.

In emergencies, members of the public can contact the police 24 hours a day by calling the emergency number 110.

Bavaria has a dense network of public transport. Anyone wishing to travel by train, underground (U-Bahn), local train (S-Bahn), tram or bus must purchase a ticket. Ticket machines can generally be found at bus and tram stops and on train platforms. Bus tickets can often be bought from the driver or on the bus, if there is an on-board ticket machine. Those who travel frequently by public transport should look out for reduced rates: day passes and weekly and monthly tickets are often better value than a single fare.

Road traffic

From the time a person is officially resident in Germany, a foreign driving licence is valid for six months. A German driving licence is required to continue driving a vehicle after this six-month period. The old foreign driving licence must therefore be exchanged for a new German one. The requirements for being issued a German licence depend on the country where the old driving licence was issued.

The ADAC has an up-to-date list of countries: to the website of the ADAC

Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Germany. When crossing a road, it is important to pay good attention and use the pelican crossing or zebra crossing. Vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt by law. Children must be secured in age-appropriate child seats. Drivers may not drive in Germany without a valid driving licence. They must be sober and observe the traffic rules and speed limits. All traffic violations can be punished by the police or other authorities. A person may be fined, have their driving licence revoked or even be sent to prison, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Environmental protection and waste separation have been important in Germany for a number of decades. Most people also care very much about keeping the streets clean and expect others to do the same. Nobody can simply throw rubbish onto the ground, but must dispose of it correctly in a bin. These are located in many different places.

Waste separation

A large percentage of waste is recycled. To do this, it has to be separated beforehand. Waste separation is an important aspect of environmental protection. Glass, plastic, metal and paper are all valuable resources that are collected in containers. Old paper is used to make new paper, for example. Anyone who is unsure what to do can ask in the neighbourhood.

Deposit bottles

A distinction is made between disposable bottles (‘Einwegflaschen’) and deposit bottles (‘Pfandflaschen’). Most bottles are deposit bottles. The deposit is between 8 and 25 cents. This must be paid when buying the bottle, but it is refunded when the bottle is returned to the supermarket. No deposit is charged for disposable bottles. Nonetheless, they are not disposed of in the normal household waste. Glass bottles are placed in glass containers and disposable plastic bottles belong in the plastic waste.

Eating

The choice of food is wide and there is something to suit every taste and preference. The larger shops in particular stock everything ranging from regional products to ingredients for dishes from all over the world. Many ready-made or sausage products also contain pork. It isn’t always easy to tell, especially with sausage products, but the ingredients are precisely listed on the packaging. Anyone who is unsure can ask the sales assistant for advice.

In cities and larger towns, most large supermarkets are open from Monday to Saturday between approx. 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Opening hours are often shorter in rural areas. Shops are closed on Sundays, apart from filling stations and shops in large train stations.

Drinking

Tap water is subject to strict controls and is of a high quality. It is perfectly drinkable throughout Germany. Alcohol is sold in almost all supermarkets, restaurants and cafés. Young people under the age of 16 are not allowed to purchase alcohol. They will be asked for ID in order to be certain that they are old enough. Some alcoholic drinks can only be purchased by people aged 18 or older.