Health insurance 

Doctoral candidates on stipends will have to cover their own health insurance fees. They will have allow for this approx. 200–280 euro per month.

Statutory or private health insurance?

During their stay in Germany and at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain doctoral candidates on stipends must have health insurance cover. Health insurance is a mandatory insurance in Germany. Doctoral candidates will have to cover their own health insurance fees.

Doctoral candidates can choose between two types of health insurance in Germany: “statutory” and “private” health insurance. The scope of statutory health insurance is defined by law and covers medically necessary treatments that patients then do not have to pay for. All patients have to do is present the doctor or hospital with the chip card provided by your health insurer. Private health insurance companies may have either a smaller or a larger range of services. The invoice initially will have to be paid by the patient and those costs/treatments covered by the insurance agreement will later be reimbursed.

According to the Central Federal Association of Health Insurance Funds almost 90% of Germans are covered by statutory health insurance.

Since private health insurance can offer varying benefits, it is at any rate sensible to check the list of services covered before signing any insurance agreement and to compare it with the list of services covered by statutory insurances. Often it is not possible for doctoral candidates to switch from the health insurance they selected in the first semester to another type of health insurance – from statutory to private health insurance or vice versa – until they  have completed their degree or reached the age of thirty.

Even those international candidates who are covered by health insurance from their home country and have it approved when they enroll may find that switching to German statutory health insurance is no longer possible.

Doctoral candidates can find more information on health insurance here:

Non-EU citizens

Important additional information supplied by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) regarding new regulations concerning statutory health insurance for foreign scientists from outside the EU (as of March 2017):

After examination of their case, doctoral  candidates/visiting researchers from the EU can switch to a statutory health insurance company, if they have been insured by a statutory health insurance company in their home country for at least 12 months. EU citizens provide evidence with the E104 form (certificate showing the aggregation of insurance, employment or residence periods), and Turkish citizens with the AT/11 form.

According to §5 Para. 11 Clause 1 of the Social Code Book V, compulsory insurance comes into question (according to §5 Para. 1 No. 13 of the Social Code Book V) if customers already have a settlement permit or a residence permit for a period of more than 12 months for which no guarantee of earnings had to be verified.

Doctoral candidates/visiting researchers from countries outside the EU can attempt to switch to statutory health insurance and apply to one of the statutory health insurance companies.

One new requirement is that applicants fill in a form from the foreigners’ registration office, in which as a rule the registration office will have marked the following statement with a cross: “The guarantee of earnings and adequate health insurance coverage is required for the granting of a residence title for specific purposes.”

This form must be submitted upon application to the TK. Having this cross marked, the applicant may not be accepted by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) statutory health insurance company – the justification is to be found in the Social Code Book V §5 Para.1 Article 13 ( For this reason the probability of being accepted by the TK is virtually zero. (But please check yourself!)

Please note:
The handling of the new requirement will probably apply to other statutory insurance companies as well! Please check with them. As a consequence non-EU citizens may have no other option but get insurance from private health insurers. (But please check yourself!)


Private liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung)

It is highly recommended that doctoral candidates and visiting researchers take out a personal liability insurance.

The website “How to Germany” writes: “The most important and yet the least expensive insurance cover you will need in Germany is third-party private liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung). It will provide cover to you or to any insured member of your family in the event that you commit an act for which a German court would consider you ordinarily negligent. Ordinary negligence could be a simple matter of damaging someone else’s property, for instance knocking over a vase while visiting a friend or in a shop, or causing an accident as a pedestrian by not crossing at the zebra crossing, causing bodily injury whilst engaging in sports activities.”

Third-party private liability insurance costs only around 38–50 euro per year, i.e. 3–4 euro per month. The cost of one mensa meal per month could save you literally millions of euros.

Read more about this and all other insurance on “How to Germany”:

This page last updated on: 31 August 2019