Gesundheitskarte einer Krankenkasse mit Chip
Image: Klaus Eppele /

What benefits will I receive?

Asylum seekers in Germany who cannot support themselves receive state assistance. During the asylum process, the federal state of Berlin will pay for your accommodation and food. You will live in an initial reception center or an emergency shelter at the beginning. There you will receive three meals a day. In addition, you and your family members will receive pocket money; twice a year, you will be given a fixed amount of money for clothes. In most accommodations, you will have access to free clothing that was donated by the people of Berlin. Once you have moved to shared accommodation or an apartment and are preparing your own meals, you and your family members will receive higher cash benefits.

You can do charitable work at your accommodation or for an association even before a decision has been made on your asylum application. These jobs are available through the management of your accommodation, and the Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten (the State Office for Refugee Affairs – LAF) will pay you €1.05 an hour for them. You are permitted to earn up to € 84.00 a month this way, in addition to the benefits you receive.

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Where do I receive benefits?

You will receive all of your benefits from LAF until your asylum procedure has been completed. After that the job centers or the social services offices of the boroughs will be responsible for you. As an asylum applicant, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Accommodation and food
    You will receive written confirmation that LAF is assuming the costs for your accommodation and food. You must give this confirmation to your accommodation. It is a temporary document and must be renewed at LAF.
  • Medical care
    After you have registered, you will be examined by doctors and can be vaccinated. You will also register for the electronic health card, which you have to present every time you see a doctor or get medical treatment at a hospital. The health card ensures that the treatment costs will be covered. You can find more information under ‘Who will help me if I get sick?’
  • Pocket money
    You will receive pocket money for yourself and your family members from LAF. If you open a bank account, the entire amount will be transferred to your account once a month.
  • “Welcome to Berlin” ticket
    For the first three months, you will be given a ticket for public transportation in Berlin. You can find more information under ‘How do I get from A to B?’
  • After three months, you are no longer required to live in an initial reception center. After that you can rent an apartment and make your own meals. For this purpose, you will receive higher benefits either in cash or as a transfer to your bank account. You can find more information under ‘Housing’.

Who is responsible for me after my asylum application has been decided?

Until your asylum procedure has been completed, your benefits will be provided by LAF. After that, other Berlin agencies will be responsible for these, depending on how the asylum procedure turned out. It will either be one of the twelve borough social services offices or one of the twelve job centers. Exact information will be available at ZLA.

Who will help me if I get sick?

As an asylum seeker, you will receive free medical treatment in case of acute pain or sickness by any doctor or hospital. That includes medical care during a pregnancy or a birth. Before receiving treatment, you must show your electronic health card to the doctor’s office or the hospital. If you have to undergo an operation, your doctor will supply you with a medical prescription for hospital treatment. Please present this prescription at a local branch of your health insurance for authorization to make sure the costs of treatment will be covered.

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How do I get from A to B?

Berlin has a dense and convenient public transportation network that enables you to reach any place in the city quickly.

The following means of transportation are available:
  • Bus
  • Tram
  • U-Bahn (“underground railway/subway/tube”)
  • S-Bahn (“metro railway”)

If you would like to know the quickest way to get somewhere in Berlin, Berlin’s public transportation company, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), has information online. They also have a free app you can download.

When you register, you will be given the “Welcome to Berlin” ticket, which allows you to use public transportation in the entire city with no additional payment. This helps you to get around Berlin easily. The ticket is valid for three months and is a benefit in kind. During this period, your pocket money will be reduced accordingly.

Once the ticket has expired, you will have to buy your own tickets for public transportation. Your pocket money will no longer be reduced, so you can afford the tickets. You can also buy a reduced monthly ticket, the “Berlin-Ticket S.” You will need to have a “berlinpass” in order to buy the “Berlin-Ticket S”; you can get the “berlinpass” from LAGeSo.

It is important that you always have a valid ticket with you – whether it’s a monthly ticket or a single ticket – whenever you use public transportation. Otherwise you will have to pay a fine.