Before we left Switzerland, we took care of some of the more important administrative tasks. The first was to deregister in Switzerland with the local authorities, to cancel our Swisscom cell phone contracts, and to cancel Trav’s medical insurance with Swisscare. Even beyond that, though, our lengthy to-do list followed us to Germany. Blast. I’d hoped we could just leave it behind when we crossed the border. For anyone moving from one European country to another, you’ll likely face many of these same tedious tasks before, during, and after your big relocation.
I finally decided to make a list of things we still need to take care of so we could prioritize and manage our time better. Plus I needed to stop feeling like I was losing my mind with so much to do. This kind of relocation makes even an organized person feel a bit discombobulated!
I know most of you who know me are probably laughing, but I really am pretty organized. Usually.
So here’s our list, which is by no means complete, but at least it’s a start. If it’s crossed off, we’ve already done it, which makes us heroes. And yes, I’ve put things on lists before even though I’d already done them, just so I could cross them off. Don’t judge.
If you’re moving to Germany, this may also give you some idea of the kinds of things you might be facing as you settle in. Some of it might be specific for our situation, but some of it applies to any international relocation.
To-do Drudgery in Switzerland
- Cancel medical coverage with CSS Insurance by sending them a copy of the Swiss attestation of deregistration
- Pay Swisscom bill for fixing my Samsung phone, the last bill to be paid from our Swiss bank account.
- Submit claim form to AXA-Winterthur, the insurance company for our cell phones, for reimbursement for our payment to Swisscom.
- Pay our final Swisscom bills for both phones
- Email deregistration letter to Helvetia, our Swiss car insurance company, once we have German car insurance. Our agent in Switzerland will then cancel our Swiss insurance and issue a refund for unused months directly into our bank account.
- Contact someone (who???) about getting a refund for the money Travis paid into Social Security while employed in Switzerland. He’s entitled to withdraw it, but we’ll have to find out how.
- Close Swiss bank account when we return to Fribourg with a moving truck to pick up our belongings – and Brisco the demon cat, despite Trav’s objections.
To-do Drudgery in Germany
- Apply for German medical insurance for both of us. As it turns out, Germany prioritizes having medical insurance above all else. They require we have proof we have medical coverage before we can even register with the local authorities or apply for visas. Yowza! The good news is that everyone we’ve met here recommended a company called TK, and it was really easy to apply. Trav found out his employer will pay half of the premiums, leaving us owing only about 7-8% of his paycheck to insure both of us, rather than 15%. As in Switzerland, full medical is impossibly expensive and basic medical doesn’t include dental or vision (which boggles my mind), but hey – ya can’t have everything!
- Forward letters of cancellation from Swiss medical insurance providers, Swisscare and CSS Insurance, to TK.
- Go to the local Rathaus (city hall) to register with the authorities within a week of arrival. Be prepared to provide a permanent home address, which we don’t have. Hmm, conundrum.
- While at the Rathaus, make an appointment with Immigration to apply for residency/visas. Be prepared to provide a permanent home address, which we don’t have. Again, conundrum.
- Appointment at Commerzbank on Tuesday, November 10th to open a German bank account. Fingers crossed! It took 3 weeks in Switzerland, clearance from the US Dept of Justice (according to the Swiss bank), and we had to convince them we weren’t planning to commit tax evasion with the IRS. Our blog name, “Two Small Potatoes,” was born from our experience opening a Swiss bank account.
- As soon as our German bank account is open, request wire transfer of funds from our Swiss bank account. Don’t tell IRS. (Haha, just kidding!) This one’s actually pretty important since we’re dunces and only brought a few hundred euros with us for the entire month. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb….
- Contact Helvetia and see if they can offer car insurance, plus renter’s insurance (if mandatory, as it was in Switzerland). We loved working with Helvetia in Switzerland and even though we couldn’t keep the same agent here in Germany, we’ll start with their company to find out about comparable coverage here.
- Contact the local Kraftfahrzeugzulassungsstelle (German DMV) and make an appointment for vehicle inspection, registration, and new German license plates. This is another conundrum. Not only does that word make me extra doubtful we can learn German, but we’re supposedly allowed up to a year to legally drive our car in Germany with Swiss plates before we have to register it here. We’re just required to have the registration certificate available in German, so we’d have to get it translated from French. The problem is that once we register our car here and send our Swiss plates back with a copy of our deregistration letter, we’re entitled to a refund of the vehicle fees we paid in Switzerland back to November 1st. It seems that if we wait to register our car here, we’re potentially going to get money back for months that Germany thought we were registered in Switzerland. Is this a bizarre loophole? Or are we not really registered anywhere right now?! So confusing.
- Mail our old Swiss license plates back to the OCN (Swiss DMV), along with our attestation of deregistration for a partial refund.
- Find a new cell phone provider. Though Swisscom was expensive (and Verizon before them in the US), we’ll miss our unlimited data plans. Apparently it’s not available with any carrier in Germany. Speechless.
- Find another Airbnb where we can stay after November 19th.
- Oh, and find a place to live. No big deal.