House Insurance

Household contents insurance (Hausratversicherung) is not compulsory in Germany, but some rental contracts stipulate that this is a requirement. Usually insurance will cover your contents against fire, theft, water damage, vandalism and hail.

Some English-speaking brokers who can assist in find the right cover for you are:

American Express Finanzmanagement
Patrick Ott.
Luisenstr. 46,
10117 Berlin.
Tel: 0700 226 525 688

DKV Service Centre
Thomas Wagener.
Tel: 030 3150 5330
http://www.dkv.com

Duebbert & Partner
Am Steinberg 16,
13086 Berlin-Weissensee.
Tel: 030 3644 9990
http://www.duebbert-und-partner.de

Independent insurance broker
Cathy J. Matz-Townsend
Tel: 06173 995
http://www.insure-invest.de

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Utilities

Usually gas and electricity are included in the additional rent costs (or Nebenkosten) and organised by the landlord, but this is not always the case. Monthly combined costs for gas, electricity and water are typically about 150 Euros per month for a one bedroom apartment, and 300 Euros per month for a three bedroom apartment. Note that in “apartment for rent” advertisements, Nebenkosten will often include the above utilities and internet, trash disposal, basic insurance and cleaning of communal areas.

You will receive a Nebenkostenabrechnung from your landlord at the end of each year detailing your actual gas and electricity usage, and in some cases may be asked to pay the difference or be refunded.

If you are organising your own utility connections, you will find that the energy market in Germany is deregulated and as a result is fiercely competitive. There are a number of cost comparison websites available to evaluate which supplier to select and the type of supply preferred; green or nuclear.

These are:

(Websites are in German)

The main gas and electricity suppliers in Berlin are:

GASAG (gas)
Tel: 030 787 272
http://www.gasag.de

Vattenfall (electricity)
Tel: 01801 267 267
http://www.vattenfall.de

E-on (energy)
Tel: 0211 457 90
http://www.eon.com/en/

RWE (energy & water)
Tel: 0231 438 02
http://www.rwe.com/generator.aspx/rwe-energy/unternehmen/language=en/id=67150/unternehmen-home.html

Yello Strom (energy)
Tel: 0800 190 0019
http://www.yellostrom.de

Setting up your account is pretty straightforward and relatively painless. Many gas and electricity companies offer an online facility, however this is only available in German. To obtain the best results, contact the customer service centres as most will have English speaking staff to assist.

When taking over your new home, you will need to take note of the meter reading so that the company can bill the previous tenant for their consumption and start anew with you. Changing account details can be done over the phone.

In order to change account details, the supplier company will require:

  • The meter number
  • Meter reading
  • Date of transfer
  • Name and contact details of previous tenant
  • The exact address and floor
  • Name and bank account details

In multiple occupancy buildings there will be a specific company responsible for supplying gas and electricity to the building, you will need to ask the Landlord who it is and make the appropriate arrangements with that company. If you have an opportunity to select your preferred supplier, you will have no issue in setting up a new account as the previous tenant should have disconnected their utilities prior to leaving.

Once a year, a representative from the supplying company will come around and read your meter. Consumption is then estimated for the following year and adjustments are made for the previous twelve-month period, based on your actual consumption. Over-payments are reimbursed. On the other hand, if you have exceeded the estimated consumption an additional payment is requested. Invoices will be sent to you bi-monthly and these can be paid either via direct debit or through the post office.

Water is generally included in you monthly rent under the additional costs (Nebenkosten).

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Postal Services

Deutsch Post is the national postal service in Germany. In order to commence your postal service, you need to do nothing. This service will commence immediately upon moving into your new home.

Retail outlets and Postbank centres are typically open Monday to Saturday, however opening times vary considerably. To locate your nearest branch and opening hours, visit: http://standorte.deutschepost.de/LocationSearch?lang=en

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Shipping Companies

A-Trans :: International Moving Service
Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee 86, 10589 Berlin
Tel: 030 3309 1581
http://www.a-trans.net

A-Tran runs a global operation. With over 30 years experience in International removals, A-Tran provides shipping by ship, land and air across all continents. A-Tran is a member of the Household Goods Forwarding Association of America and provides services in German, English, Spanish and French.

HERTLING GmbH & Co. KG
Sophie-Charlotten-Str. 15, 14059 Berlin
Tel: 030 3209 030
http://www.hertling.com (site in German only)

With offices in Berlin, Hertling provides international removal services in English, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Russian. Providing a full service shipping solution, Hertling co-ordinates freighting, insurance, customs and even temporary storage facilities if required.

DHL
DHL is run by Deutsch Post. Retail outlets are run in conjunction with the local postal service with numerous branches scattered throughout the city. DHL will ship boxes up to 31kg to most countries around the globe through their online Franking Service at http://DHL.de You can also arrange for parcels to be collected from your home or alternatively you can take them into any Deutsch Post Office.

FedEx
FedEx is most commonly used in Germany for fast and efficient international document transport. They offer pickup from most areas in metropolitan Berlin, and also have a drop-off station at Gottlieb-Dunkel-Strasse in Tempelhof. For anything over the size of a standard envelope, DHL is likely to be significantly cheaper, although not as fast.

UPS
UPS is similar to FedEx, and offers a drop-off station at Bahnhofstr. 1/1a in Mitte. This location also sells shipping boxes and packing materials. UPS only offer an international express service, meaning that sending a standard carton to the USA can cost upwards of 400 Euros.

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