Information Guide for Ukrainian Refugees

We have compiled basic information for Ukrainian refugees and helpers on this page. Links are provided for all further information.

Ein kleines Kind hält einen herzförmigen Stein, der in den Farben der ukrainischen Flagge (blau und gelb) bemalt ist.
© IMAGO / panthermedia

1. Arrival and getting started

  • No ticket is required for onward travel by local trains.
  • The German railway company (Deutsche Bahn) issues free tickets for long-distance journeys within Germany ("helpukraine" ticket).
  • Further information is available on the Externer Link:Deutsche Bahn website (in German, English and Ukrainian).

2. Social benefits and medical care

  • Since 1st June 2022, Ukrainian refugees have been entitled to basic security and social assistance benefits under SGB II and XII. This is conditional on having a residence permit (as per the Residence Act) or a corresponding “fictional certificate”, being on the Central Register of Foreigners (AZR) and having a police criminal record check (ED-Behandlung). If these requirements are not met, benefits can only be claimed under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefit Act (AsylbLG).
  • Those who are able to work but are in need of assistance receive benefits under SGB II (unemployment benefit II/”Bürgergeld”). Those who are also in need of assistance but who cannot work at all or are only able to undertake limited work can receive benefits under SGB XII. More information about entitlement to benefits can be found Externer Link:here (in German and English). The Federal Employment Agency has put together an Externer Link:overview (in German, Ukrainian and English) with explanatory videos in all three languages to make it easier to apply for ALG II.
  • Applications for the benefits offered under SGB II can be submitted at the appropriate Jobcenter (which can be found via the Externer Link:home page of the Federal Employment Agency)). The respective social security office is responsible for benefits under SGB XII and can be found via Externer Link:

  • Receipt of SGB II benefits includes automatic access to the statutory health insurance scheme. This allows refugees to access medical treatment and services for the prevention and early detection of diseases, as well as pregnancy and maternity care.
  • In contrast, receipt of SBG XII benefits does not confer automatic access to the statutory health insurance scheme. However, those entitled to benefits under SGB XII receive an electronic health card through which they receive benefits within the scope of the statutory health insurance scheme.
  • Those who do not have a residence permit or fictional certificate, have not been added to the Central Register of Foreigners or do not have a criminal record check can only access healthcare through the Asylum Seekers’ Benefit Act.
  • The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds has published an Externer Link:information sheet (only available in German) with detailed information on the subject of healthcare for refugees.
  • Further information on medical benefits is available on the Externer Link:website of the Federal Ministry of Health (only in German, but with related links, partly in Ukrainian).

  • Care assistance in the form of nursing support can be claimed under SGB XII. After 24 months of membership in the statutory health insurance scheme, it is possible to claim benefits through the statutory long-term care insurance scheme.
  • Care assistance received by those who come under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefit Act is largely the same in scope as that received by those who claim assistance under SGB XII.

  • Refugees who are entitled to SGB II and XII benefits are entitled to integration assistance benefits under SGB IX. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs published some Externer Link:information on the subject on 29th April 2022 (only available in German).
  • Those who do not receive any benefits under SGB II and XII can claim integration assistance support through the Asylum Seekers’ Benefit Act.
  • A newly established Externer Link:contact point of the BMAS, BMI and DRK (in German, English and Ukrainian) mediates assistance offers for refugees with disabilities and those in need of care and coordinates their reception and care (according to the website, the service itself is unfortunately currently only offered in German).
  • Aktion Mensch (charity group) has published a Externer Link:guide (in German only) with various support services for refugees with disabilities.

  • Ukrainian refugees who are not entitled to benefits under SGB II/XII generally receive benefits through the Asylum Seekers’ Benefit Act.
  • The benefits catalogue includes benefits to cover basic needs, the socio-cultural subsistence minimum and medical care for acute illnesses and pain conditions (§§ 3 and 4 AsylbLG).
  • If applicable, further care for persons with special needs is also granted (§ 6 AsylbLG). These include, for example, benefits of the integration assistance, special hygiene articles or also interpreter costs in the context of psychotherapy.
  • Information is available on the Externer Link:website of the Verbraucherzentrale (consumer advice centre) (German and English) on the issuing of medical treatment certificates and on the possibility of obtaining an electronic health card in some federal states.
  • Applications for benefits under the AsylbLG are submitted to the responsible social welfare office.

3. School, training and work

  • The websites of the Externer Link:Kultusminister-Konferenz (Conference of Ministers of Education) and the Externer Link:Schulportal (a portal for educational resources) contain numerous links to general information and to information that federal states have put together on the subjects of school and education for refugee Ukrainian children. These are only available in German but include some further links to sources in English and Ukrainian.

  • Academic achievements in Ukraine are generally recognised in Germany due to the country's membership in the Bologna Process.
  • Information regarding academic studies is available on the Externer Link:website of the National Academic Contact Point Ukraine (German, English and Ukrainian).
  • Those undertaking apprenticeships who have a residence permit or fictional certificate and are on the Central Register of Foreigners are entitled to benefits under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) if they meet the relevant requirements under that act. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has published Externer Link:information on this subject (only available in German). The relevant application forms can be found Externer Link:here.

  • From 1st June 2022 the only requirement for receiving child benefit is a residence permit; it is no longer linked to an existing job.
  • The Externer Link:Federal Employment Agency has created a page (German, English and Ukrainian) with brief information sheets, as well as a form for an application for child benefit (both in German and Ukrainian).

4. Other topics and information worth knowing

Information and offers from our regional VdK associations

VdK Bayern:
The three information sheets "We stand up for your rights", "Need of care? From application to benefit" and "Information on the law for severely disabled persons" are available in German, English and Ukrainian for free download: Externer Link:VdK Bayern - Informationsmaterial

VdK Berlin-Brandenburg:
Our local organisation VdK Berlin-Brandenburg advises and supports people who have fled Ukraine refering to:

  • Benefits under the Council Directive 2001/55/EC/ German Residence Act
  • Other social benefits and public services

Externer Link:Advise and support for Ukrainian refugees | Beratung und Unterstützung für ukrainische Flüchtlinge

VdK Sachsen:
The Landesverband Sachsen provides region-specific information resources Externer Link:on its website, including on initial orientation and educational programmes on offer (in a mixture of German, English and Ukrainian).