The University provides an excellent description of the various bits of bureaucracy you will have to deal with upon arrival. Fortunately, these days it is quite streamlined, and you will be able to complete it all in one building if you register during the international students registration week (2, 4, 5, 6 October 2006).
The latest advice from the Ausländeramt in Leipzig is that EU citizens do not need to register additionally as foreigners at the Ausländeramt, unless they require the certificate for another purpose. In Leipzig, at least, the University does not insist on this.
This summary from Haus der fünf Kontinente repeats some of the above information but also provides important other info about what to bring, including for your health insurance. British students should check with the DSS before leaving whether their EU health insurance card is valid for students or whether they still need an E128 form.
Before you leave the UK, open a current account with the Nationwide. Unlike almost all other UK banks and building societies, the Nationwide does not charge for payments and cash withdrawals made with your bank card while overseas. This could save you a lot of money over the course of the year.
If you choose to keep your existing current account open as well (which is probably simpler), register for internet banking so that you can transfer money to the Nationwide in order to be able to withdraw it for free. For comparison, many UK banks charge £2 - £3 for every cash withdrawal, plus up to 3% for every overseas transaction.
Once you get here, you will need to open a German bank account. Most German banks offer free accounts to students, including a cash card, and possibly a payment card (ec/maestro). Note that cash withdrawals are only free from cash machines in the same group as your bank. There are four groups at present:
- Cash Group (Deutsche, Dresdner, HypoVereinsbank, Commerzbank, Postbank)
- Sparkasse (all German Sparkassen)
- VR (all German Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken)
- Cash Pool (a number of small, uncommon banks)
If you use a cash machine which is not in the same group as your bank, you will pay a hefty charge for every withdrawal.
You can get internet banking from most banks. Usually their security procedures involve TAN, which is a printed list of code numbers which you use to authorise transactions. After you have used a TAN once, cross it off the list, and use a different one the next time.
Note that German banks use money transfers (Überweisung) and cheques are non-existent. Often when money is required of you (e.g. for a utility bill), you will be given a preprinted Überweisungsschein for you to add your own account details and submit to your own bank for payment. Allow 3 days for such transfers to clear.