Ordner mit "Steuer" beschriftet

Health insurance & tax declaration

What insurance do I need? How do I save taxes?
Ordner mit "Steuer" beschriftet
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Depending on how your doctorate is funded, there are various consequences for your health insurance, e.g. scholarship holders have to search for their own health insurance.

Independent of funding, there is the possibility in Germany to get back costs that incurred in context with your doctorate by handing in a tax declaration.

Health insurance

What are the different types of health insurance? Show content

Unlike undergraduates, doctoral candidates are not automatically members of the public health insurance system in Germany. Depending on how your doctorate is funded, there are various health insurance options.

  • Academic employees are automatically enrolled in the German public health insurance system. Health insurance contributions are automatically deducted from one's salary.
  • Doctoral candidates with scholarships or other types of funding can opt to subscribe to public health insurance or take out a private health insurance policy. If you want to take out private health insurance, please note that there are signifcant differences in the benefits covered. You can find more information here.
  • Doctoral candidates with a limited taxable income of under 450 EUR a month can be insured through their spouse's family health insurance plan, as long as their spouse earns an income which is liable for social security contributions and has public health insurance.

It is recommended to compare premiums, benefits and services of different private companies (see more information here) or public health care providers (e.g. TK, AOK or Barmer).

What should international doctoral candidates consider? Show content

Before arrival

For the duration of your stay in Germany, an adequate health insurance is required. Please note that you must have insurance coverage from your first day in Germany. Please find more information about the German health care system here. The chatbot of the German Society of International Students can provide you with further guidance on which health insurances are suitable for you. Furthermore, the German diplomatic missions abroad can inform you about which health insurance must be provided to enter Germany.

If you have health insurance in another EU or EEA country, you can use it upon arrival in Germany.

After arrival

If you have an employment contract with social insurance (monthly salary > 450,- EUR), you can choose which statutory health insurance you want to be insured with (e.g. TK, AOK or Barmer).

If you do not have an employment contract with social insurance, we recommend that you take out a statutory health insurance as a voluntary member. Alternatively, you can choose a private health insurance instead of a statutory one. If you prefer to have private health insurance, please note that there are significant differences in the services covered. For more information, please see the information on this website.

If you have health insurance in another EU or EEA country, your health insurance is also valid in Germany. Please contact the health insurance company in your home country for information on necessary formalities and how services can be reimbursed.

Further information Show content

Further general information about the German health insurance system can be found on the Euraxess website.

Private liability insurance

In Germany the law states that if you cause damage intentionally or unintentionally, you are liable and have to pay for it. To prevent this from happening, a private liability insurance can be useful. In the event of a claim, it covers the cost of damages up to a specified amount.

Friedrich Schiller University does not provide a liability insurance. Therefore, taking out a private liability insurance is strongly recommended. The insurance should cover liability in the event of damage during research and teaching activities (e.g. laboratory work). If this is not covered by the insurance policy, it is advisable to take out additional private laboratory liability insurance.

Doctoral candidates at non-university research institutions (e.g. Max-Planck-Institute, Leibniz-Institute) should ask at their institution about the regulations that apply there.

In any case, it is advisable to take out private liability insurance.

Tax deductability of a doctorate

The following information serves as an orientation and as preliminary information. The Graduate Academy does not provide any form of tax consultancy. If you have detailed individual questions, please contact your local finance authority, a tax auditor of your choice, or a tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein).

For a general overview on the German system of taxation, click here.

What costs can be tax deductable? Show content

Costs incurred in context with your doctorate may be tax-deductable. Tax-deductable costs include, for instance, your semester fee, materials needed for your work, technical literature, computing costs, travel expenses, course fees or the printing costs for your dissertation. As a rule, these costs are regarded as tax-deductable professional expenses (Werbungskosten) or special costs for education and training (Sonderausgaben).

Offsetting costs as professional expenses Show content

You can offset the costs of your doctorate as professional expenses (Werbungskosten) in an unlimited amount (as of 1st March 2019). It is not a prerequisite that you have a taxable income against which to offset these costs, as you may carry forward professional expenses to the following years. However, it is a prerequisite that obtaining the doctoral degree is essential or at least highly important for the advancement of your career in order to put it in context with taxable income generated at a later point in time. Consequently, you need to provide proof that your doctorate is driven by reasons of your professional advancement (e.g. better career opportunities).

If you have detailed individual questions, please contact your local finance authority, a tax auditor of your choice, or a tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein).

Offsetting costs as costs of education and training Show content

If you cannot furnish proof that your doctorate is primarily driven by reasons of professional advancement, the costs incurred count as special expenses (Sonderausgaben) for education and training, and can be offset up to a maximum amount of € 4,000 per year (as of 1st March 2019). However, you can only offset these costs if you have generated taxable income in the calendar year in question exceeding the tax-exempt base amount defined in the income tax tables (e.g., through your employment as an academic employee, if you are doing an extra-occupational doctorate, or if your spouse is in gainful employment). Carrying forward special expenses to the following year is generally not possible. If you have detailed individual questions, please contact your local finance authority, a tax auditor of your choice, or a tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein).

If you have detailed individual questions, please contact your local finance authority, a tax auditor of your choice, or a tax assistance association (Lohnsteuerhilfeverein).

Further information Show content
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