Do you mean diploma or transcript? A diploma doesn't actually prove that you graduated from college or university, it is just a fancy certificate to hang on one's wall stating your name, major, college or university, and the date. Anyone with a color printer capable of producing fancy fonts and graphics can generate a diploma. A transcript, on the other hand, is a computer-generated official document from a college or university, usually with a seal, which identifies the student by name and tracking number, major, courses completed, grades achieves, GPA (grade point average), date of graduation (if applicable), etc.
I seriously doubt that customs officials will examine your dog all that closely. When I flew my dog into Frankfurt International Airport back in 2008, the dog was delivered into the baggage claim area by four male baggage personnel. As far as I know, no one in any official capacity even looked at him. I handcarried his vet records, shot records, USDA record...and no one examined the dog or inquired about the paperwork. My dog never submitted a DNA sample to anyone for any reason. I took the dog to a friend's house near Stuttgart and there he stayed for 3 weeks until our official PCS. When I flew my cat into Frankfurt International Airport a few weeks later, no one looked at her paperwork either. No one even verified there was actually a cat in the little cage I was carrying.
But I would recommend that you use zip ties to secure your dog's carrier after the dog passes inspection at the departure airport (put scissors in your checked baggage). Don't worry about the inspection, the dog will be passed through an x-ray machine to ensure that the carrier and/or the dog are not carrying drugs. You don't want the carrier to jiggle open during flight or during transport on the flight line.
You can keep your health insurance plan as long as it's a plan under FEHB (Federal Health Benefit Plan) such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. But a friend of mine in Stuttgart switched to the Foreign Service Benefit Plan, he likes it better than his old plan, go to www.opm.gov and search for "2013 Foreign Service Benefit Plan." Keep in mind that you will have only a limited time to switch to this plan if you want it once you arrive in Germany, CPAC can tell you how many days, but probably something short like 14 days or 30 days.
About red/official passports and blue/tourist passports, unless the rules have changed in the last 2.5 years, then your entire family will need red/official passports which will be stamped with the SOFA agreement upon your arrival to Germany. Your husband will need to get the paperwork going for the red/official passports NOW. My husband had a red/official passport, but I was the sponsor (and we both had blue/tourist passports). The red/official passports are paid for by the Government.
As for the blue/tourist passports, your entire family, including you and husband, may need them as well (sorry, not paid for by the Government). It doesn't hurt to have them anyway, some countries require blue/tourist passports upon entry. After you arrive in Germany, and your red/official passports gets the SOFA stamp, you will need to carry everyone's red/official passports if you travel outside of Germany, and the blue/tourist passports too.
Start making a list of all the things you need to do, questions you might have, and keep track of what is completed and what needs to be done.
Holyloch is correct, I forgot about USAA's eligibility requirements, my membership is through my deceased father's membership. Anyway, I checked USAA's website today, the eligibility requirements are:
military veterans (retired or honorably discharged)
spouses of USAA members
widows, widowers, and former spouses of USAA members
individuals whose parents are/were USAA members
former USAA members
"Other individuals" are eligible for most investment products, most checking and savings accounts products, credit cards, life insurance, shopping and discounts, but auto insurance and property insurance is not available due the membership eligibility requirements.
Please read my response (Reader75) under "Family of 4 (plus 2 dogs) moving to Stuttgart" listed under one of the previous responses to this posting.
Since your husband is GS, you can probably go online to www.usaa.com and establish accounts for you and your husband (no, I am not employed by USAA). Once you have established the accounts (remember that he's the sponsor overseas so his will be the main account), call USAA and tell the representative that you want renter's insurance for all your household goods and car insurance for your vehicle(s). You will want to start the insurance for your household goods about a week before the movers pack you up, and you will want to start the car insurance a few days before you ship your vehicle overseas. USAA is recommended because this company is very experienced in dealing with the military and GS civilians living and working overseas.
Make a reservation for a car rental before you leave the States, you can usually get unlimited mileage if you rent from the States, otherwise if you rent a car locally you might have to pay X Euro cents per mile, that can be expensive. A rental car is recommended because it will take several weeks for your vehicle to arrive, and the costs for public transportation will quickly add up. Confirm with the rental car company that you can return the car early w/o penalty if your vehicle arrives. And just because your vehicle has arrived, keep in mind you will not be able to take possession of it until you pass the German drivers test. Your AFRICOM sponsor can tell you about it, ask him/her to email the manual to you, it is very extensive, study it.
Don't worry about housing right now. There's a military housing office either at Patch Barracks or Kelley Barracks that will help you find a house. Do not try to find a house on your own. Recommend you rent only from landlords pre-approved by the military housing office.
Let your stateside bank or credit union know you are moving to Germany, ask if they can get some Euros for you before you leave. You will need some Euros when you land in Germany.
Don't expect free WiFi anywhere in Germany. You may be fortunate and come across it once in a while, but don't expect it. Set up online passwords for your credit cards, make sure you know the monthly due dates for the cards you use, and then make your payments online from Germany. If your bills are forwarded in the mail, they may arrive after the due dates.
Make sure you bring a copy of your marriage certificate and birth certificates for your children, also shot records. You will need these certificates to obtain military ID cards. The fact that you will all have official (red) passports means nothing to the military ID card office.
Speaking of passports, get new tourist passports for yourself and your husband if they're about to expire. Your husband will need to arrange for everyone to get official (red) passports before you leave the States.
Be very mindful of the speed limits in Europe, there are cameras everywhere, and you cannot argue with a camera. Good luck!
Don't rent a house heated by oil; with 6 people in your family you will go through the oil in nothing flat and it will be incredibly expensive to fill up the tank 2-3 times per year.
Be sure to bring a copy of your marriage certificate and copies of birth certificates for all of your children. You may need this documentation to obtain military/contractor ID cards. Shot records too.
German landlords are not required to provide smoke/CO detectors. Buy at least four and ship them over with your household goods. Buy the combination smoke/CO detectors because you might end up renting one side of a duplex, your neighbor may have a furnace, etc.
If you are allowed to shop at the PX, the first thing you will want to do is buy a GPS with USA and European maps. Yes, it will be expensive but it will be worth its weight in gold. Buy a GPS with a reset button, or buy a separate stylus to be used to reset the GPS. Never, and I mean never even for 1 minute, leave your GPS in the car...when you exit the car, take it with you.
Make a car rental reservation from the States when you make your flight arrangements, you can probably get unlimited mileage. Recommended length is 3-4 weeks. Verify with the rental agency that you can return the car early w/o penalty. It will take several weeks for your vehicle(s) to arrive, and daily public transportation for a family of 6 will be expensive.
Anyone in your family need glasses or contacts? Go to the optometrist now and buy glasses/contacts before you leave the States.
It is incredibly cold in Germany. Recommend flannel lined jeans for everyone and down coats. And don't forget boots and shoes, the selection at the PX stores is not the best.
What about a marriage certificate? The marriage certificate may not prove your father was German, but it may contain some information which might be helpful.
Does your family still have its old WW2-era identity documents? I think each person or family back in WW2 residing in a country controlled by Germany needed to be in possession of this document (or documents). It looks like a little passport book and it lists all the relatives for several generations. It might have a swastika on the front. It might list the town or region from where your family originated.
Eventually I would think the speeding ticket will be paid by whatever method was used to pay for the rental car in the first place. If you paid for the rental car with your EC-Karte, and you receive the speeding ticket but refuse to pay, eventually the long arm of the law will reach into your EC-Karte electronically and withdraw the payment for the ticket whether you authorize it or not. There is probably fine print of your rental contract titled Additional Charges. If your friend refuses to reimburse you, then he's not much of a friend, he was the one speeding, but the rental car was financed by YOU.
Do you still file your taxes in the United States every year on or before April 15th? If yes, once you purchase the house, you might be able to itemize your tax filing and deduct the various taxes you will be paying on your new house (property taxes) and you may be able to deduct the interest you are paying on the mortgage loan. At least that's how it is if you purchase a home in the United States. In your case, it would be beneficial for you to consult a German tax attorney who is also familiar with U.S. taxes.
Are German mortgages set up the same way as mortgages here in the States? For example, when you buy a home here in the States, you pay a huge amount of interest up front in the loan, and by the time you pay off the loan many years later the interest paid every month is very low. For example, let's say your mortgage payment is $1000 every month (here in the States); in reality you are probably paying $800 per month in interest on the loan and $200 towards the principal of the loan, the next month you might be paying $799 per month in interest and $201 towards the principal of the loan, etc. That's why it's better to itemize your tax filing every year when you purchase a home (here in the States) because for about the first half of the loan you are paying a lot in interest every month. The interest becomes less and less as time goes by, but it is still more beneficial to itemize your tax filing even for the last year you are paying on the mortgage.
You might also want to find out if you can obtain a mortgage from a reputable company here in the United States. If you are affiliated with the U.S. military in any way (maybe your grandfather fought in WWI or your second cousin whom you have never met was in the Marines), you can obtain an account with USAA, and they could offer your advice on this matter.
Now that you're getting ready to make a major maybe once-in-a-lifetime purchase, have you and your husband thought about purchasing term life insurance policies and naming each other as beneficiaries? I don't know if purchasing term life insurance is common or customary in Germany or Europe but I personally would have serious reservations about making such a major purchase without life insurance in case something happened to one or the other. Term life insurance is the least expensive type of life insurance you can buy, it's usually based on your age, and some companies may ask if you and/or your husband are smokers (if yes, you'll pay a little more) or if you have a fatal illness (if yes, you'll be denied a policy). If you buy the house, and 6 months later your husband is killed in a car accident, can you afford the mortgage and general maintenance, and support yourself (and children, if any) all by yourself? What if the reverse happened and you die first? As an American, you can call or contact any one of the major insurance companies in the United States (USAA, State Farm, Met Life, etc.) and inquire about term life insurance for both you and your husband (when I lived in Germany a few years ago, we had flat rate telephone service to the States using Deutsche Telekom). You should really have these policies in place anyway, regardless of the status of your homeownership.
P.S. I am not employed by the financial industry here in the United States.
As of 2013, the federal estate-tax exclusion in the United States is set permanently at $5 million and is indexed for inflation which means that the amount for 2013 works out to be $5,250,000.
There are four forms of co-ownership in the United States:
(1) Tenancy in common whereby a property is held by two or more persons and, upon death, each owner's interest in the property passes to his/her heirs. What this means is that, if the second joint owner was not named an heir by the first joint owner (by a will or trust), then the second joint owner does not become the full owner of the property upon the death of the first joint owner.
(2) Joint tenancy with right of survivorship whereby a property is owned by two or more persons and, upon death, each owner's interest in the property automatically passes to the other co-owners. This type of joint tenancy is commonly used by married persons. If the husband dies first, then the wife becomes the sole owner of 100% of the property, and vice versa.
(3) Tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint tenancy that applies only to a husband and wife during the marriage. As long as they are still married, neither the husband nor the wife separately have an interest that can be sold, leased, mortgaged or liened against. The property cannot be partitioned or divided between them. Each spouse has an undivided interest in the whole property and the right to sole ownership when the other spouse dies. It is necessary that any document relating to property held in a tenancy by the entirety be signed by both husband and wife.
(4) Community property is statutorily created joint ownership that applies only to husband and wife who reside or own property in a state that has enacted the community/marital property laws. Property is divided into two categories: separate property and community (marital) property. If you have ever lived in a community property state in the United States while married, property that became "community property" in that state retains that character even if you move to a non-community state.
I know almost nothing about German laws regarding property ownership, but if I were an American buying property in Germany or any other European country with my EU husband, I would make darn sure that any property purchased by my husband and me had both our names on the deed, title, mortgage, homeowner's insurance, etc...and that the property would be purchased under the German (or European) equivalent of joint tenancy with right of survivorship. And that goes for any other type of property such as a vehicle, boat, etc.
Mix by hand 1 (16 oz.) jar of Fluff together with 1 brick (8 oz.) of softened creme cheese. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Mixture will now be pink. Do not refrigerate before serving. Use mixture as a dip for strawberries.
My German friends love Oreo cookies, the plain ones, not double stuff or chocolate or mint. They also love Twinkies, pretty much anything made by Hostess. Another request was for boxed vanilla cake and chocolate frosting in the tub (always 2 tubs of frosting for each boxed vanilla cake). Finally, brownie mix!
The city in which I live in the United States provides an annual tax assessment document to every homeowner which clearly lists the address of the property and the name(s) of the homeowner(s). I have used this document as proof of ownership to prospective tenants when showing my house for rent. I always allow prospective tenants to view this document before giving me a deposit as a show of good faith that I am not trying to scam them. Is a similar document provided to homeowners in Germany?
I read somewhere that, when still in utero, babies sleep during the day and are awake at night; maybe that's why women complain of babies kicking during the night. I also read it takes about 6-8 weeks after birth for a baby to make the switch to being awake during the day and sleeping at night; maybe that's why so many babies keep their parents up (by crying) at night during the first few weeks of life.
Babies grow a lot during the first few months. This growth stimulates hunger which stimulates crying, and hopefully it's stimulating the parents to provide bottles. All this eating also makes a baby mess his/her diaper (Pampers), that would wake anyone up to cry for attention.
Try a CD that plays a continuous spashing brook or some other type of white noise.