Checklists/How to do lists for international PhD students/hired academics/academics on mobility - AFTER Arrival

The well-structured checklist should help international PhD students, researchers and other academics efficiently navigate through the administrative duties and procedures right after arrival in a host country /institution. It may include a roadmap of the necessary steps. It should be precise, efficient, easy to use, and straight to the point.


Improved access to information Improved quality of service

Basic information
Categories Social Integration & Daily Life Language Support, Language Policy Administrative & Legal Support Accommodation Social security, Health Insurance, Taxation Visa, Residence & Work Permit Family Matters Institutional Processes
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Essential to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers)
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Fixed term employee Exchange student
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

When creating the checklist for international PhD students, visiting or hired academics/researchers, and their family members regarding their after-arrival duties you can consider the following steps:

Phase 1: Planning

  • Define the target groups for which the checklist is intended:

    • EU/Non-EU citizen/Cross border commuter (if applicable):

      • Full-time PhD students

      • Visiting PhD students/academics

      • Employees (researchers, lecturers on fixed term contract, fellowship)

      • Family members

  • Define the topics the checklist should cover (registration of stay, applying for the residence permit (if applicable), opening a bank account, taking out health insurance, university card/email account/ login ID, enrolling at the university studies - applicable for PhD students, library, canteen, public transport, finding general practitioner/medical provider/pediatrician, enrolling for local language classes (if possible), for family members – looking for job opportunities, looking for/enrolling in local schools/pre-school facilities, car registration, driving licence exchange, taxation procedures, campus leisure facilities etc).

  • Define individual steps to be described.

  • Organise the suggested steps according their priority.

  • Phase in individual steps according to the relevant timeframes from the after-arrival perspective (e.g.):

    • 1 - 2 weeks after arrival 

    • 3 - 4 weeks after arrival

    • during the stay

Phase 2: Designing the checklist

  • Describe each step within each phase in detail. The description of individual steps and corresponding instructions should be clear, compact and easy to navigate for the respective target groups. In case longer texts would be needed, refer them to other resources/other subpages with specific content. Be specific about the deadlines, in case they are crucial.

  • Group related steps by topic/target group. You can use a different colour background to easily highlight the step (s) applicable only for specific target group.

  • Include references and contact details to the departments, personnel in charge 

  • Include information on risks that might affect the suggested procedures (pandemic situation related instructions, state of emergency, etc).

  • Include information on the availability of a buddy support system at your institution (if applicable).

  • Pay attention to the visual layout of the checklist.

  • You can include 2 checkboxes (applicable; done) next to each described step to imitate the "to-do list": Those checkboxes can be gradually ticked when each suggested and applicable step/procedure is completed.

  • You may add information/create a separate leaflet on places of special interest in the city/town (e.g. mobile phones & mobile phones contracts, pharmacy in/near campus, fresh fruit/vegetable market, special restaurants, special food-stores, computer repair, flea market, etc.)

Phase 3: Validation

Validate the designed checklist with your colleagues and several representatives of the respective target groups.

Challenges to consider: since the checklist contains contacts to various external institutions you may consider including a disclaimer that some contacts may be outdated and if so, invite the target group to send you corrections to the dedicated email address.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Study department
  • IT support department
  • Library
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
  • Campus health center
  • Day-care centre
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Municipality
  • Language centre
  • Immigration office
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Job platform
  • Medical centre
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Employers association
  • Local healthcare professionals
  • Local school/pre-school facility
  • Eures office
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Procedures or bylaws are defined or updated

Internal Actors:

@IRO/welcome centre - this centre can be responsible for preparing a checklist for international visiting PhD students, researchers and other academics, and their families on topics such as entry regulations, housing and health insurance (for non-EU incomings/ EU incomings)/public health insurance (international PhDs/academics pursuing their study/research/teaching within an international programme), family members, opening a bank account, local/city/regional issues

@Study department -  in cooperation with IRO/welcome centre can prepare a checklist for full-degree PhD students focusing on documents on diploma/education recognition procedure, PhD studies enrolling

@HR department - in cooperation with the legal department can prepare a checklist for international academics hired on the basis of an employment contract, practical steps regarding social security, if applicable, health insurance, taxation

@Language department - terms for enrolling for local language classes

@IT support department - preparation of the access to the institutional systems

@Library - terms for enrolling for institutional Library services

@Leisure activities centre. Campus health center, Day-care centre - terms for enrolling for their services


External collaborators:

@EURAXESS centre can serve as a peer reviewer of the described steps covering typical EURAXESS topics (residence permit procedure, registration of stay, health insurance, etc.)

@Municipality can offer various city discounts upon registration (public transport, city card for discounts to museums, galleries, events), providing subscription opportunities for newsletters about activities in the city, brochures in English on various spots of interest within the city/regular cultural events, can take over the coordination role in checklists related living in the city/region

@Language centre can offer local language classes if the host institution runs out of their capacity.

@Eures office, Employers and their associations - can be referred to in case of spouses looking for job

@Local school/pre-school facility - can contribute to practical issues for registration of new pupils/children

@Medical centre/Local health care professional - can contribute to practical issues for registration of new patients

Practice delivery

  • Publish the checklist on the institution's website in the visible place.

  • Ensure the checklist clearly indicates individual target groups.

  • Include links to registration for various services/institutional systems.

  • The checklist can have a form of an online app with interactive functionalities - checkboxes

  • Update the checklist regularly (ideally, once a year or anytime when required by the new circumstances)

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • HR Department
  • IT support department
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Municipality
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of researchers affected
  • Number of page visitors

@EURAXESS centre -  if it is not part of the organisation, they could share experience, good/bad practice and provide advice and support in delivery.

@Municipality -  can pomote the relevant institutional pages.

Examples of practice

Checklist of First Steps after arrival at Humboldt University in Berlin

Overview of the most important steps for international PhD students and academics to undertake after arrival to Humboldt University Berlin.