Although public universities do not charge tuition fees in Germany, living costs can be quite high. The cost of living is higher in western federal states than in eastern ones. All students are subject to compulsory health insurance, which covers doctors' fees, hospital expenses and medicines. The student-rate premiums for statutory health insurance are DM550 (HK$2,112) every six months. Students will need about $74,800, for annual expenses covering accommodation, health insurance, food, transport, books and supplies, and student affair services. Visa applications Hong Kong students wishing to enter the Federal Republic of Germany require a residence permit visa for educational purpose issued by the Consulate General. This regulation does not apply to students from Eu ropean Union countries and from countries with whom separate agreements have been reached. For holders of British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport, SAR passport, Certificate of Identity and Document of Identity, the procedure for applying for a student visa is the same. Normally, applications and residence permit visas for educational purpose, which are only valid for three months, take four weeks to process. Students will have to renew their visa at the Alien Authorities in Germany before they expire. Student visas issued in Germany generally last for a year. The applications fee for a student visa at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong is $220. Those who received a scholarship for their studies could be exempted from the charge. Students are allowed to work part-time up to three months a year.