You have just arrived or will soon arrive in Luxembourg. In the words of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t panic!”
You really haven’t landed on another planet. Luxembourg has been welcoming foreign residents for decades. It is multilingual and multicultural and there is a fairly good chance that you are not the only member of your nationality in the country. You are not alone.
There are, however, some administrative steps to take, as well as a few things to avoid doing to make your integration into Luxembourg life as smooth as possible. In this section, we provide you with some useful contacts and practical tips on settling in--finding accommodation, opening a bank account, social security and healthcare, etc. Our first piece of advice? Don’t assume that things here are done in the same way as the country you just left.
A good place to start is the Official Portal of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which offers information in English, French and German on all the steps required for entry and residence (which may vary according to your country of origin) under its “living” sections. These also include lots of other useful information about the country in general.
The first thing you will need to do is register with your local “commune”. Now, we don’t mean that you have to join some kind of cult, “commune” is just how we refer to the local municipality here, i.e., your town hall. (The multilingual nature of Luxembourg means that eventually you might find words from other languages sneaking into your everyday English, even if it is your mother tongue. So, don’t be too upset when you start talking about taking a train from the “gare”, for example. We all do it.) The process may vary from one municipality to another, but as a rule of thumb, take your passport and a copy of your rental contract or house purchase agreement with you to get a residency card. It normally doesn’t take too long.
Also, don’t be surprised if you receive a friendly visit from the local police or are invited to pop into the nearest police station. It is just a formality, Interpol is not after you (unless, of course, you have something to hide… and that’s really beyond the scope of this article).
If you still have to find somewhere to live, welcome to the Luxembourg housing market. Take a deep breath, this might sting. Renting and buying in Luxembourg can be expensive, so we recommend that you do your homework and set realistic expectations about where you want to live and what kind of property you would like. Basically, the closer to Luxembourg City you are, the more expensive it is. There is a plethora of estate agents out there, but not all of them are worth your time. We suggest searching the atHome website, as it usually contains all the property available to rent or purchase, as well as information on average prices and typical rental contracts. Read the contract carefully and don’t sign unless you are confident that you understand it. If you are renting a home, you will normally be asked to pay a security deposit equating to between 2 and 3 months’ rent.
Remember, you don’t need to use an estate agent, but it is helpful to have someone to guide you through the process. Check out the Homexperts and NoAgent websites for no nonsense practical help in several languages. Homexperts even provides certification of reliable estate agents and NoAgent (as the name suggests) provides a step-by-step guide to doing it all by yourself at a very reasonable fee. There are also Facebook groups featuring property for sale and for rent directly from the owner with no agency involvement.
Before you move in, you’ll want to get connected to utilities--gas, electricity, water and telephone/internet. If you are in Luxembourg City, contact the Luxembourg Energy Office. Outside the capital, contact Creos for gas and electricity, or Enovos for electricity. Water is usually supplied by the commune you have just registered with. In each case you will need ID (passport or ID card); proof of your address (ask your commune for a residence certificate) and bank account details if you want to pay by direct debit.
There are many telephone and internet service providers in Luxembourg. The key players are: Post, Luxembourg Online, Orange, Tango and Join. As ever, you will be asked for ID and proof of residency.
The next step is home insurance. “Newcomers must know that this insurance is not legally mandatory, but most of the time, owners ask tenants to take out an insurance policy before signing the lease,” explain AXA Luxembourg.
“It’s also important to keep in mind that, if you arrive with your own car, you have only six months to register it with a Luxembourg licence plate. And in this case, you also have to take out civil liability insurance. This civil liability in car insurance is, in fact, the only legally required insurance in the grand duchy.”
You are also going to need a bank account. On your behalf, we asked the Banque Internationale à Luxembourg to talk us through the process. Alessandra Simonelli, head of product development, told us that with increasing digitalisation, it is even possible to open a bank account via an app on a smartphone. Whether in a branch or with an app,
“ID is requested, ideally a passport or national identity card, as well as a copy of the rental agreement and employment contract when possible. In order to provide the most appropriate services, we also need to know a few things. Will they rent or buy in Luxembourg? Are they moving with their family? Will they need investment products to plan for the future (studies for the kids, retirement, etc.)? We offer special onboarding packages with discounted services negotiated with many companies in Luxembourg, so we will need to know the company they work for. If they will travel a lot, they might need insurance for their purchases or assistance services.”
It typically takes one to two weeks to receive your bank card and pin code.
After all that, you should be all set up and ready to tackle daily life in this country you now call home. So, read on for advice on how to get around the city and country, which schools to choose for your children, how to recycle and much more.