Everyday life: Practical tips

Alltag in Berlin

This practical information will enable you to manage better in German everyday life.

Tips for everyday life

German SIM cards: services and conditions

SIM cards are not expensive in Germany and you do not need a contract when buying them. However, to buy a SIM card in a shop or activate it online, you have to show an identity document – e.g. your passport. That is obligatory in Germany.

Some providers such as Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are offering refugees special prepaid rates.

Opening an account in Germany

You can open what is called a “basic account” in most banks. This enables you to deposit and withdraw money, make bank transfers, arrange direct debit mandates and set up standing orders. The charges for a basic account vary, depending on the bank. To open an account you only need proof of identity – e.g. your passport. If you want to open a regular giro account you will need more documents, depending on the bank.

Changing money

Since the end of October 2022, it has no longer been possible to exchange hryvnia into euros.

The Ukrainian Central Bank continues to recommend to all people who are fleeing or have already fled Ukraine that they do not withdraw hryvnia to get cash but, if possible, leave it in their account and make cashless payments when in other countries. That, however, is only possible with international money cards such as credit cards. Sometimes Ukrainian refugees in Germany and other EU countries can withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATMs) with an international money card. But frequently this creates problems.

Using local and long-distance public transport

You do not need a ticket to enter Germany: you only need to show your Ukrainian identity card or passport. If you want to continue your journey by train, you will need a free “Emergency Ticket” or “Help Ukraine Ticket”. You can obtain these on board the train when entering Germany or at Deutsche Bahn travel centres. Further information on the Help Ukraine-Ticket.

Until December 31, 2023, refugees may use public transportation within the VBB free of charge for a short period. The “Emergency Ticket” or the “Help Ukraine Ticket” is valid on the day of issue and the following day. These are distributed free of charge in the trains. In addition, the regulation to recognize the free ticket for one week (6 days plus the day of issue) within the Berlin AB fare zone (only BVG, S-Bahn and DBRegio) is also to be continued until December 31, 2023.

Learning German

The Federal Government and the Federal State of Berlin offer a variety of free language courses to Ukrainian citizens who have fled their country because of the war. These include integration courses, which offer a language component of 600 hours with the goal of achieving level B1 CEFR and an orientation course with 100 hours. Following on from this, vocational language courses are offered which provide special courses up to level C2 CEFR for trainees, people undergoing status recognition procedures or people attending industry-specific courses. Initial orientation courses are an opportunity to learn basic German. In Berlin, these orientation courses are offered exclusively by the Adult Education Centres (Volkshochschulen).

The state-funded German courses for refugees at the Berlin Adult Education Centres (VHS courses) are generally open to refugees from Ukraine, provided they do not have access to the regular courses offered by the federal government. Courses (A1-C1 CEFR) are offered with a maximum of 1,000 teaching units per person.

The VHS courses are supplemented by the State European Social Fund offer of job-related language support for refugees. These courses include vocational language support with internships amounting to a maximum of 500 teaching units per person.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) provides a list of free digital German courses for distance learning.

The Goethe-Institute offers online German courses at a special price to Ukrainian citizens who have fled their home country because of the war. In addition, the Goethe Institute provides a variety of exercises for self-learning at www.goethe.de. However, this requires a basic knowledge of German.

Support in everyday life: Tandem projects and counseling services

In tandem projects, people with and without a background of immigration meet as partners. The tandem partnerships support refugees in their everyday lives – whether through helping with visits to government authorities, joint leisure activities or simply through having regular contact.

You can apply for a tandem partner to the following projects. Please note that there is usually only a limited number of tandems available:

The “Café Ukraine” program of the Berlin City Mission takes place at several locations in Berlin where refugees can exchange information, meet people from Berlin and get advice on legal issues.

An overview of the organisations that offer counseling services for refugees can be found at adressen.asyl.net. You can find further offers on the special pages of the district in which you currently live. You can get advice online at www.mbeon.de.

Driving with a Ukrainian driving licence

You can continue to drive with your valid Ukrainian driving licence in Germany. You do not need an international driving licence and you do not need to have a translation of it with you. If you have a digital driving licence, this will also be recognised if the Ukrainian authorities can confirm it is valid. If you have lost your Ukrainian driving licence, contact the driving licence authority. You can find further information on the webpage of the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport.

Entitlement to the authorisation and Berlin-Ticket S

The authorisation and Berlin-Ticket S give reduced-price access to cultural, educational, sports and leisure activities to help participation in social and cultural life. The Berlin-Ticket S also serves as a monthly pass for the AB fare zone. Refugees from Ukraine can get the authorization and the Berlin-Ticket S. Further information can be found on the website of the Senat Department for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs.

Finding lost documents and objects

If you have lost your documents, wallet or other items in Berlin, you can contact the city’s lost property offices. You can contact Berlin’s Central Lost and Found Office by e-mail at fundbuero@ba-ts.berlin.de or by phone at 030 90277 3101 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am to 2 pm). If you lose something on public transport, you can contact the joint lost property office of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe and S-Bahn Berlin.

Further information in Ukrainian

On the website ukraineinberlin.de you can find information on a wide range of cultural and sports activities as well as digital offers in the Ukrainian language. If necessary, children and young people who want to take part can also be accompanied free of charge.

The daily Ukrainian news programme “Ukrainische Deutschlandminute” (Ukrainian Germany Minute) on the Cosmo channel includes news, information and services for refugees and Ukrainians in Germany. The “Ukrainische Deutschlandminute” is available daily from 6 p.m. in the media library.

The following resources contain a lot of information about everyday life in Germany:

Drop-in centres


Contact points for victims of discrimination

In Berlin, no one should be disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their background, gender, age, sexual identity, disabilities, religion or ideology. Refugees do not have to accept discrimination under any circumstances. More information

Gewalt gegen Frauen

Contact points and services for women

Berlin is committed to gender equality and the equal participation of all women in all areas of society, irrespective of their religion, origin or migration or refugee status. More information

Regenbogenflagge in Berlin

Contact points for LGBTI refugees

Berlin is rainbow city and supports LGBTI refugees along with many projects and institutions. LGBTI refugees can get support at at lot of contact points in the city. More information


Portal for victims of crime

If you have experienced a crime, you do not have to cope with this experience alone. Here you will find a lot of useful information about what you can do and what different support options are available. More information

Further Information

Ukrainische Flüchtlinge


Information from Berlin Immigration Office on the online application and right of residence for refugees from Ukraine. More information

Brandenburger Tor

Arrival: Important information for refugees from Ukraine

Berlin welcomes you! Below you will find the most important information on entering Germany, residence status and assistance available to you. More information


Online application for residence permits

Online application for residence permits for the purpose of temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine. More information