A-Level (=general higher education entrance qualification) (Abitur (=allgemeine Hochschulreife))

Highest school-leaving qualification in Germany; eligibility to study in higher education

Accessibility (Barrierefreiheit)

Full access and unlimited opportunities for use of all areas of life, including for people with disabilities


Legal establishment of a parent-child relationship between the adopter and the child to be adopted, regardless of biological descent

Adult education centres (Volkshochschulen – VHS)

Institutions providing further education, particularly adult education

Asylum application (Asylantrag)

Application for the granting of entry and protection as a person suffering political persecution in accordance with article 16a clause 1 of the German constitution, as a refugee in accordance with the Geneva refugee convention or as a so-called person granted subsidiary protection

Asylum process (Asylverfahren)

Recognition process defined in asylum law and through which asylum seekers pass. The German federal office for migration and refugees conducts the asylum process and determines whether asylum, refugee protection or subsidiary protection is to be granted to the asylum seeker, whether there are obstacles to deportation or the asylum application must be rejected.

Asylum seekers’ benefits (Asylbewerberleistungen)

Benefits to cover basic needs, which are granted to asylum seekers, people who are obliged to leave the country and other foreign nationals who are temporarily resident in Germany

Asylum seekers’ benefits act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz)

Law governing the amount and form of asylum seekers’ benefits

Authentication (Beglaubigung)

Certification with which something is confirmed by an official body as being correct, true, genuine

BAföG (BAföG)

Abbreviation for the Federal Training Assistance Act; act governing the funding of needy trainees, school pupils and students

BAföG notification (BAföG-Bescheid)

Decision of the BAföG office concerning the amount and approval period of the funding amounts

Bank transfer (Überweisung)

Payment instrument with which, through the bank of the account holder, an account holder can provide a specific amount to the account of the beneficiary

Basic account (Basiskonto)

Payment account; all consumers are entitled to one, including asylum seekers and people with permission to remain until deported

Basic provision benefits – SGB II, SGB XII, AsylbLG (Leistungen der Grundsicherung – SGB II, SGB XII, AsylbLG)

Need-based and means-tested social benefits to cover the cost of living

Basic provision benefits (Grundsicherungsleistungen)

  1. Social welfare (SGB XII): Basic provision in old age and in case of reduced earning capacity and for help with the cost of living
  2. For job seekers (SGB II): Unemployment benefit II (gen. II) and by association income support for people who are not gainfully employed (children, partners)

Benefit recipient (Leistungsempfängerin/Leistungsempfänger)

Recipient of state aid to secure existence (e.g. unemployment benefit II, social welfare or asylum seeker benefits), offset social disadvantages (e.g. housing benefit, integration benefit), offset the tax burden (e.g. child benefit) and for similar purposes as part of the social state system

Benefit reduction (Leistungskürzung)

Reduction of a social benefit to which the person concerned is essentially entitled, in order to impose sanctions

Berlin centre for independent living (Berliner Zentrum für Selbstbestimmtes Leben e. V. – BZSL e. V.)

Volunteer-run self-help organisation for people with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses

Berlin cold aid (Berliner Kältehilfe)

Programme to offer homeless people unbureaucratic accommodation during the cold season

Birth attestation (Geburtsbescheinigung)

Required attestation for the birth notification in order to obtain the birth certificate

Birth certificate (Geburtsurkunde)

Official (register office) document of someone’s birth (place and date) as well as parentage

Birth notification (Geburtsanzeige)

Written notification of a birth at the register office

BZFO (BZFO – Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer)

Treatment centre for victims of torture, see survival centre

Capital punishment (Todesstrafe)

Inhumane form of punishment abolished in Germany by article 102 of the constitution, rejected by the United Nations, members of the Council of Europe and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Care dependency (Pflegebedürftigkeit)

People in need of care are those who require assistance to a significant or greater degree due to physical, mental or psychological illness or disability

Care level (Pflegestufe)

Category of care cases determined by level of care dependency

Central register of foreign nationals (Ausländerzentralregister – AZR)

Database of the German federal office of administration with personal records for foreign nationals who are or have been resident in Germany

Certificate of accommodation entitlement (Wohnberechtigungsschein – WBS)

Proof, issued by an authority, of entitlement to social housing

Chamber of trade (Handwerkskammer)

Representation of interests of the trade in the form of a body under public law

Child benefit (Kindergeld)

Benefit from the state for tax relief for families with children

Child benefit certificate (Kindergeldnachweis)

Notification from the family benefits department confirming the receipt of child benefit

Child supplement (Kinderzuschlag)

State grant for parents on low incomes

Children’s day nursery (KiTa)

Abbreviation for: children’s day nursery; facility in which children are looked after for a full or half day

Children’s day nursery voucher (KiTa-Gutschein)

Required so that your child can go to a children’s day nursery or children’s day care centre in Berlin and issued by the youth welfare office responsible

Citizenship test (Einbürgerungstest)

Test to prove knowledge of the legal and social order and of living conditions in Germany in order to gain naturalisation

Compulsory schooling (Schulpflicht)

Legal obligation for children of a certain age to attend a general educational school regularly

Compulsory use of a cemetery (Friedhofspflicht)

Regulation prohibiting storage of the physical remains of a dead person (i.e. the coffin with the body or the urn with the ashes) in a place other than a place dedicated to this purpose, the cemetery

Conditions (Auflagen)

Obligation imposed on an applicant with a notification

Conflict during pregnancy counselling (Schwangerschaftskonfliktberatung)

Advice for pregnant women in an emergency or conflict situation

Constitution (Grundgesetz – GG)

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany

Constitution (Verfassung)

Entire body of principles defining the form of a state and the rights and obligations of its citizens

Cost of living (Lebensunterhalt)

Total financial expenditure for the essentials of life (food, clothing, accommodation etc.); measured in the right of residence according to the relevant standard rates in unemployment benefit II plus costs of accommodation and heating and any other amounts

Cultural institution (Kultureinrichtung)

Public institution for cultural purposes

Culturally sensitive care for the elderly (kultursensible Altenpflege)

Care for the elderly, which takes into account the cultural diversity of ideas about age and about provision and looks at cultural and migration-specific backgrounds of the people to be cared for

DAAD: German academic exchange service (DAAD: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst)

Association of German higher education institutions and student bodies to maintain their international relationships; supports students, graduates and scientists from Germany and abroad

Deportation interest (Ausweisungsinteresse)

Public interest in deportation of foreign nationals, governed by § 54 of the German residence act

Deportation prohibition (Abschiebungsverbot)

Is established if there is a considerable specific risk to life, limb and freedom or a risk of other serious violations of human rights for the people concerned in the event of deportation to the destination country

Direct debit (Lastschrift)

Using the direct debit system, a payment recipient can collect outstanding debts from an account of the person liable for making the payment at the bank of the same

Disabled person’s pass (Schwerbehindertenausweis)

Proof of the level of disability

Discrimination (Diskriminierung)

Unequal treatment of individual people or groups on the grounds of specific actual or attributed characteristics

District (Bezirk)

Independent administrative division of Berlin

District authorities (Bezirksämter)

Part of the Berlin administration at district level; there are twelve district authorities in Berlin

Divorce (Scheidung)

Formal legal dissolution of a marriage

Dublin procedure (Dublin-Verfahren)

Examination of which state in Europe is responsible for implementation of the asylum process and, if applicable, subsequent process to transfer the applicant to the relevant state

Education authority (Schulamt)

Authority responsible for the school system

Educational and participation package (Bildungs- und Teilhabepaket)

Grants for children and young people from families with low incomes to ensure educational participation and social participation

Educational facility (Ausbildungsstätte)

Building in which training or teaching takes place

EJF (Evangelisches Jugend- und Fürsorgewerk)

Protestant youth and welfare foundation

Emergency accommodation (Notunterkunft)

Temporary accommodation

Emergency overnight accommodation (Notübernachtung)

Overnight accommodation facility for homeless people

Employed people (Erwerbstätige)

All people who undertake an activity with the aim of economic gain

Employment (Beschäftigung)

Employed (= salaried) paid activity

Enrolment certificate or study certificate (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung oder Studienbescheinigung)

Evidence that someone is enrolled at a higher education institution

Entitled to subsidiary protection (subsidiär schutzberechtigt)

Special form of protection afforded to refugees and defined by the authority responsible during the asylum process; it is issued if the person has fled from torture, capital punishment or dangers to the civilian population in connection with armed internal state conflicts but not been persecuted on the grounds of specific characteristics (e.g. origin, political belief, religion).

Equal rights (Gleichberechtigung)

Equal rights; political or social equality

EU blue card (Blaue Karte EU)

Residence permit to practise in highly qualified employment under the German residence act

Evening class (Abendschule)

Educational establishment at which working people in particular receive further training in evening courses

Exceptional hardship (Besondere Härte)

Assumed particularly if circumstances exist that make the rejection of certain decisions by the immigration authority seem unacceptable

Exemption from producing the certificate of no impediment to marriage (Befreiung von der Beibringung des Ehefähigkeitszeugnisses)

Issued after examination of the marriage conditions by the presidents of the higher regional courts or in Berlin by the president of the superior court of justice, in order to allows the marriage of foreign engaged couples whose country of origin does not issue a certificate of no impediment to marriage.

Family benefit office of the German federal employment agency (Familienkasse der Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

Office of the German federal employment agency; responsible for child benefit and child supplement

Family reunification (Familiennachzug)

Entry into Germany of family members of a German or a foreign national with residence permit in order to live here together as a family

Family unification (Familienzusammenführung)

See family reunification

Fare zones (Tarifgebiete)

Geographical area of validity of a fare

Follow-up accommodation (Folgeunterbringung)

Designation of facilities for the accommodation of asylum seekers after their residence in the reception centre

Foreign office (Auswärtiges Amt)

One of 14 ministries of the Federal Republic of Germany, responsible for foreign policy

Foundation (Stiftung)

Institution of a donor who provides a certain sum and determines for which purpose the asset should be spent

Gainful activity (Erwerbstätigkeit)

Generic term for self-employed and employed activity; for employed activity see “employment”

General law on equal treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – AGG)

German federal law which should “prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or ideology, disability, age or sexual identity” also called anti-discrimination law

Geneva Refugee Convention (Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention)

Actually: “Convention relating to the status of refugees”. Title of an international convention signed by many countries in the world, which determines who is to be regarded as a refugee and which legal protection, which aid and which social rights the states must grant to refugees in their national territory

German federal criminal investigation office (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA)

German federal office responsible for fighting crime in cooperation between the federal government and federal states

German federal office for migration and refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge – BAMF)

Higher federal authority in the operating area of the German federal ministry of the interior (BMI); responsible for the tasks in the areas of asylum, migration, integration, return support and Jewish immigrants

German mission abroad - Embassy - Consulate (Deutsche Auslandsvertretung - Botschaft - Konsulat)

Diplomatic representation of Germany abroad

German residence act (Aufenthaltsgesetz – AufenthG)

Governs the entry, residence, gainful employment and residence termination of foreign nationals

German social code II (Sozialgesetzbuch II – SGB II)

Second book of the German social code, governs basic provision for job seekers (unemployment benefit II)

Grammar school – secondary school (Gymnasium – weiterführende Schule)

Higher school form leading to higher education entrance qualification

Grant (Stipendium)

Support granted by the state, foundations, the Church or other institutions to finance studies, research or artistic work

Gross salary (Bruttogehalt)

Salary without deductions

Grounds for fleeing (Fluchtgründe)

Justified fear of persecution in the home country due to race, religion, nationality, membership of a certain social group, or political belief

Guarantee (Bürgschaft)

Agreement by means of which a guarantor undertakes to take responsibility for the liabilities of a third person towards creditors

Hardship provision – care (Härtefallregelung – Pflege)

Can be claimed if there is an exceptionally high cost of care

Hardship provision – right of residence (Härtefallregelung – Aufenthaltsrecht)

People who have no residence permit and who have an enforceable obligation to leave the country can contact the Berlin hardship commission and request the issue of a residence permit for hardship cases in accordance with § 23a of the German residence act. The condition is the existence of urgent humanitarian or personal grounds justifying continued presence in the federal territory.

Hartz IV (Hartz IV)

Colloquial name for:
  1. Unemployment benefit II, also called Hartz for short
  2. The so called “basic provision for job seekers”, see also second book of the German social code (SGB II)

Health insurance (Krankenversicherung)

Insurance against costs arising due to illness

Healthcare card (Gesundheitskarte)

Serves as proof of entitlement to receive benefits for medical care; issued to members by the statutory or private health insurance

Help for the homeless (Wohnungslosenhilfe)

Offers help in the event of impending or already existing homelessness

Higher education institution - University (Hochschule - Universität)

Establishment for scientific training and research, organised in several faculties

Homelessness (Wohnungslosigkeit)

A person is homeless who has no housing secured with a rental agreement

House regulations (Hausordnung)

Regulations for the conduct of tenants or inhabitants issued by the landlord of a residential building or by the management of a home, concerning the use of certain facilities belonging to the house

Housing benefit (Wohngeld)

A social benefit under the German housing allowance law (WoGG); allowance granted by the state, particularly for accommodation rent

Housing office (Wohnungsamt)

Office for housing

Human dignity (Menschenwürde)

The permanent spiritual-moral value of every person’s own self, independent of external characteristics

Humanitarian residence permit (humanitäre Aufenthaltserlaubnis)

Residence permit under the German residence act, issued for humanitarian reasons or to mitigate or resolve a humanitarian emergency

Identity card (Personalausweis)

Official document for a person, with a photograph, personal details and a signature of the holder

Ideology (Weltanschauung)

Summary of how someone understands or explains the world

Immigration authority (Ausländerbehörde)

Authority responsible for measures and decisions concerning the residence and gainful employment of foreign nationals in Germany (execution of the right of residence)

Inclusion – education (Inklusion – Pädagogik)

Joint education of disabled and non-disabled children in nursery schools and (mainstream) schools

Independent patient advice, Germany (Unabhängigen Patientenberatung Deutschland – UPD)

Offers comprehensive, understandable, neutral and free advice and information to patients, whether with statutory or private health insurance – also anonymously if desired

Individual case support (Einzelfallhilfe)

A special form of support for children and young people with and without disabilities

Infectious disease (Infektionskrankheit)

Illness caused by infection with pathogens (e.g. bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites)

Integrated secondary school (Integrierte Sekundarschule – weiterführende Schule)

Comprehensive school type (alongside primary school and grammar school)

Integration course (Integrationskurs)

Course comprising a German course and an orientation course; serves convey knowledge of German history, culture and the political system

Interdisciplinary institution (Interdisziplinäre Einrichtung)

Institution that combines various subject specialisations

Intermediate school leaving certificate (Mittlerer Schulabschluss – MSA)

Secondary school leaving certificate obtained in a leaving process

Interpreter (Dolmetscherin/ Dolmetscher)

Someone who translates statements into a foreign language (professional title)

Job centre (Jobcenter)

Joint facility of district authority and employment agency, responsible for granting SGB II to people with almost all residence permits

Landlord (Vermieterin/Vermieter)

Entrusts an object to the tenant for use for a period. In return, the tenant owes the landlord a fee (rent)

Language proficiency assessment (Sprachstandsfeststellung)

Statutory assessment of language development for all children

Legal action (Klage)

Application for a court ruling in a dispute

Legal guardian (gesetzlicher Vormund)

Person who legally represents a minor by order of the family court in place of the person with legal custody


Abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

Life partner (Lebenspartnerin/Lebenspartner)

The word has two meanings:
  1. Someone who has a permanent partnership with someone else;
  2. A registered life partnership (between two people of the same sex); this gives rights and obligations that approximate to those of spouses

Life situation (Lebensumstand)

Detail or fact determining life

Local public transport or local public passenger transport (Öffentlicher Nahverkehr oder Öffentlicher Personennahverkehr – ÖPNV)

The geographical area for transporting people in commuter, education, shopping and other everyday traffic with road, rail and shipping (ferries) vehicles in scheduled service

Maintenance advance (Unterhaltsvorschuss)

Payment of maintenance costs for a child of a parent living alone by certain state bodies if the parent liable for maintenance does not meet the maintenance obligation

Maintenance advance fund (Unterhaltsvorschusskasse)

Maintenance advance body of the youth welfare office of your district

Maltese Migrant Medicine Berlin (Malteser Migranten Medizin Berlin)

Offers people with no health insurance a doctor who performs the initial examination and emergency care in the event of sudden illness, injury or pregnancy

Marriage of convenience (Scheinehe)

Marriage formed only for appearance (for the sake of a certain legal status)

Maternity protection (Mutterschutz)

Protection under labour law for working mothers and core area of employee protection for women

Maternity protection periods (Mutterschutzfristen)

Period of protection under labour law for working mothers

medibüro (medibüro)

Provides anonymous and free treatment from qualified medical professionals to people with no residence permit and no health insurance

Medical certificate (ärztliches Attest)

Medical statement (particularly about someone’s state of health)

MedPoints (MedPoints)

Medical treatment facility in large accommodation establishments

Mental disorders (psychische Erkrankungen)

Impairments of perception, thought, feeling, behaviour and processing of experiences or social relationships as an illness, e.g. anxiety or depression

Midwife (Hebamme)

State-certified midwife (professional title)

Minimum wage (Mindestlohn)

Lowest wage (permitted by law)

Minor (minderjährig)

A person under the age of 18 years

Name declaration (Namenserklärung)

Notification to the authorities about the name of your new-born child

Naturalisation (Einbürgerung)

Administrative act by means of which a foreign national is awarded citizenship

Notice of termination (Kündigung)

Dissolution of a contract, tenancy or special employment relationship

Obstacle to leaving (Ausreisehindernis)

Exists if leaving is not possible or reasonable

Of majority age (volljährig)

A person who has reached the age of 18 years

Operating costs (accommodation) ((Betriebskosten (Wohnung))

Heating costs, costs for water supply and water heating, fees for wastewater, fees for refuse collection, costs for street cleaning, property tax, costs for a caretaker or cleaning and gardening work, costs for liability or building insurance

Owner (Inhaberin/Inhaber)

Person who owns – possesses – something, who holds a certain right or similar

Parental benefit and parental benefit plus (Elterngeld und Elterngeld Plus)

State benefit to support mothers and fathers who look after their child themselves after the birth and temporarily forego gainful employment either entirely or partially

Parental benefit body (Elterngeldstelle)

In Berlin: Youth welfare offices in the individual districts; responsible for processing parental benefit

Parental leave (Elternzeit)

Career break (with protection from dismissal), which mothers or fathers can take after the birth of a child in order to care for the child

Particular need for protection in living (besonderer Schutzbedarf beim Wohnen)

Exists in the case of the following refugees: pregnant women, people with disabilities, people with serious illnesses, women travelling alone with children, homosexual or transgender people

Passport photograph, passport picture (Passfoto, Passbild)

Photograph used for a – generally official – personal document

Payment (Vergütung)

Sum of money paid for a product, service or activity

Pension notification (Rentenbescheid)

Administrative deed in which pension type, pension start date, pension amount and if applicable term of annuity are defined

Permission to remain until deported (Duldung)

Temporary suspension of deportation of migrants who are obliged to leave; issued if deportation is not possible for actual or legal reasons or cannot reasonably be expected on urgent personal or humanitarian grounds

Person with legal custody (Sorgeberechtigte/Sorgeberechtigter)

Person who has custody (of a specific child)

Pregnancy termination (Schwangerschaftsabbruch)

Termination of a pregnancy by gynaecological measures

Primary school (Grundschule)

The first school that must be attended by all children obliged to attend school; in Berlin it includes the six first years. From the fifth year of school, however, children can already move to secondary schools.

Private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung – PKV)

Part of the structured health insurance system in addition to the statutory health insurance; the following tasks here fall to the private health insurance: provision of insurance cover for people who do not have statutory insurance; insuring the services not covered by benefits for people who are eligible for benefits, as part of comprehensive insurance for medical expenses. Provision of insurance cover for people who have statutory insurance as part of additional supplementary insurance to meet individual demands, for example between hospital accommodation and private medical treatment

Probation period (Probezeit)

Limited period in which someone should prove ability, suitability for a job or similar

Property management (Hausverwaltung)

Institution, person, group of people responsible for dealing with all matters relating to a building

Racist violence (rassistische Gewalt)

Use of violence due to racist motives

Rainbow city (Regenbogenstadt)

In accordance with its constitution and the General law on equal treatment (AGG), Berlin campaigns for equal treatment and equality of people of different sexual identities and lifestyles

Rainbow families (Regenbogenfamilien)

Refers to forms of family of a different constellation, in which at least one parent lives as a lesbian or gay person

Readiness for vocational training and readiness for further education (Berufsbildungsreife (BB) und erweiterte Bildungsreife (eBB))

School-leaving qualifications acquired after successful examination (after year 9 or 10)

Reception centre (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung)

Facility for accommodation of asylum seekers in the initial weeks before and after the initial asylum application is made

Recognition (Anerkennung)

(Official) confirmation, declaration of validity, of legality

Register office (Standesamt)

Authority that certifies births, marriages, deaths or similar

Registered life partnership (Registrierte Lebenspartnerschaft)

Partnering of same-sex couples, similar to marriage

Registration (Registrierung)

Recording of the personal details of refugees and allocation to a federal state; first step in the asylum process

Rent acceptance certificate (Mietübernahmeschein)

Confirmation that the costs of residence (rent) will be covered by the service provider

Rent allowance (Mietzuschuss)

Allowance for the expenses for living space to provide economic security for reasonable accommodation that meets the needs of the family for tenants

Rent index (Mietspiegel)

Table from which the usual rent for living space with comparable facilities in a community or residential district can be seen

Rental agreement (Mietvertrag)

Contract between renting party and landlord concerning the conditions of the rental

Repatriation (Rückführung)

Deportation of foreign nationals

Reporting obligation (under law concerning foreign nationals) - communication obligation (Meldepflicht (ausländerrechtliche) - Übermittlungspflicht)

Obligation of official bodies to inform the respective authority responsible of certain facts

Resettlement (Resettlement)

Permanent settlement of refugees in a third country

Residence (Wohnsitz)

Place of permanent residence of a (natural) person

Residence condition (Wohnsitzauflage)

Requirement to have habitual residence in a specific place

Residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)

Temporary residence permit under the German residence act

Residence restriction (Aufenthaltsbeschränkung)

Official restriction to one neighbourhood, district or federal state for the residence area of asylum seekers and people with permission to remain until deported

Residence status (Aufenthaltsstatus)

Entitlement for migrants to reside in the federal territory

Retirement home / old people’s home (Altenwohnheim / Altenheim)

Establishment for the accommodation, care and support of old people

Right of free movement (Freizügigkeitsrecht)

Right of Union citizens to enter and reside in the member states of the European Union

Route network map (Liniennetzplan)

Map of the public transport network

Rush application (Eilantrag)

Urgent, rush application / in court: Application for order or reinstatement of the deferral effect of a claim or for provisional settlement of a situation by temporary injunction

Safe countries of origin - safe home states (sichere Herkunftsländer - sichere Herkunftsstaaten)

States in which due to the general political conditions there is a statutory assumption that neither political persecution nor inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment takes place (§ 29a AsylVfG)

Scholarship scheme (Begabtenförderung)

Funding of particularly gifted school pupils and students through scholarships

Schufa information - self-declartion (Schufa-Auskunft - Selbstauskunft)

Information about the credit rating of a person

Second-chance education (Zweiter Bildungsweg)

Allows catching up of a school leaving certificate or higher qualification

Service providers (Leistungsträger)

Bodies, institutions or authorities responsible for the provision of a social benefit

Settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis)

Unlimited residence permit under the German residence act

Severe disability (Schwerbehinderung)

Anyone with a disability level of at least 50 is severely disabled

Sexual identity (sexuelle Identität)

Fundamental self-conception of people of who they are as sexual beings, how they perceive themselves and how they wish to be perceived by others

Shared accommodation (Gemeinschaftsunterkunft)

Facility accommodating several people

Social housing - social accommodation (sozialer Wohnraum - Sozialwohnung)

Accommodation constructed from public funds, which has relatively low rental costs for tenants on low incomes

Social housing assistance (soziale Wohnhilfe)

Offers advice and support for accommodation emergencies, rent arrears and homelessness

Social state (Sozialstaat)

Democratic state that endeavours to guarantee the economic security of its citizens and to offset social contrasts within society

Social welfare (Sozialhilfe)

Means-tested state social benefit for people who are unable to work or of retirement age

Social worker (Sozialarbeiterin/Sozialarbeiter)

Someone whose job is in social work (professional title)

Specialist grammar school (Fachgymnasium)

Grammar school with vocational focus leading to general higher education entrance qualification

State housing companies (staatliche Wohnungsbaugesellschaften)

State company that finances the construction of accommodation and that manages and markets such accommodation

State office for refugee matters (Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten – LAF)

Authority responsible for all questions concerning registration, the granting of benefits and accommodation of refugees in Berlin

State training grant (staatliche Ausbildungsförderung)

Financial support for trainees whose means are inadequate for the cost of living

Statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung –GKV)

Branch of the social insurance system for protection in the event of illness; all people in Germany have compulsory insurance in this unless they are classified as exempt from insurance or otherwise protected

Student loan (Studienkredit)

Loans that should serve to finance the costs of living and/or possible study fees

Survival centre (Zentrum Überleben)

Treatment and rehabilitation working area, (formerly the treatment centre for victims of torture) offers medical and psychotherapeutic help for severely traumatised people who have experienced torture, war violence, escape and persecution

Tax (Steuern)

Money that must be paid to the state as part of income (e.g. income or inheritance tax) or as a surcharge on the price of goods and services (e.g. turnover or mineral oil tax)

Tax class (Steuerklasse)

Tiered tax assessment basis within the tax scale for income and wage tax, determined according to family status and number of children

Tax consultant (Steuerberaterin/Steuerberater)

State authorised consultant and representative on tax matters (professional title)

Tax office (Finanzamt)

Lowest authority of the financial administration, responsible for collection and administration of taxes

Technical secondary school (Fachoberschule)

School focused on vocational specialisations, leading to advanced technical college certificate

Term holidays (Semesterferien)

Time between two terms, in which no classes take place

Time limitation (Befristung)

Restriction to a specific period of time

Torture (Folter)

Treatment as a result of which great physical or psychological pain or suffering is deliberately inflicted on a person in order to break or influence the will

Tourist (Touristin/Tourist)

(Holiday) traveller; person who travels to discover foreign places and countries

Tourist visa (Touristenvisum)

Residence permit under the German residence act

Trade (Handwerk)

  1. a) (Independent) professionally practised activity learnt on a training course characterised by tradition and consisting of manual producing or repairing work performed with tools of the trade
    b) Someone’s occupation, activity, work (with which someone subsists)
  2. Occupation of traders

Trade register (Handwerksrolle)

Directory kept by a chamber of trade in which the independent traders are entered with the trade they practise

Trainee (Azubi/ Auszubildende/ Auszubildender)

Person who is doing an apprenticeship or taking vocational training

Training agreement (Ausbildungsvertrag)

Agreement concerning training between the person or institution giving the training and the person to be trained

Transcription from the register of births (Abschrift aus dem Geburtsregister)

Civil status document (photocopy); reflects the basic register and all changes of civil status (name changes, adoptions)

Types of school (Schulformen)

In Berlin: primary school, grammar school and integrated secondary school

Unemployment benefit I (Arbeitslosengeld I – ALG I)

Wage replacement benefit financed by contributions and limited in duration

Unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II – ALG II)

Benefit to cover the cost of living for employable people in need of help


UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Visa (Visa)

Residence permit as a note in the passport of approval to cross the border

Vocational college (Berufsschule)

College attended once or twice per week in addition to practical vocational training in a company

Vocational training allowance (Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe)

Grants or loans for vocational training

Voluntary position (Ehrenamt)

Position exercised on a voluntary basis and predominantly free of charge

Wage statement - salary statement (Lohnabrechnung - Gehaltsabrechnung)

Written list of the gross monthly salary, all deductions for taxes, social security contributions, additional company provisions etc. and the remaining net monthly salary of an employee; generally includes further information such as tax class, number of child allowances, date of joining the company etc.

Welcome class - transition class (Willkommensklasse - Übergangsklasse)

Learning group for new arrivals with no German skills in all types of school

Welcome to Berlin ticket (Welcome to Berlin-Ticket)

Personalised (travel) ticket valid on the transport of BVG and S-Bahn Berlin as well as all other transport companies in Berlin AB fare zone

Welfare associations (Wohlfahrtsverbände)

Charitable organisations that (in addition to the state welfare work) are the principal sponsors and operators of public social welfare, health and care facilities in Germany. An additional task of the welfare associations is to safeguard and represent the interests of the welfare state.