Want to work or study in Germany? Or just want to visit the country?
Last update: August 2015
Read the requirements below & fill in the visa application forms at the end of this article.
- EU nationals do not require a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany.
- Non-EU nationals, generally speaking, require a visa for stays in Germany. A visa is not required for semi-annual visits of up to 90 days for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement.
- Schengen visa:
- never issued in Germany
- valid 3 months
- valid for tourism & transit purposes or studies not lasting more than 3 months in a 6 months period.
- EU citizens do not require any kind of visa or permits (incl. Romanian, Bulgarian & Croatian citizens):
- As a citizen from Switzerland, Iceland (EEA) or Liechtenstein (EEA), you can also live, work and study in Germany without any visa. However, once in Germany, you may apply for a residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde in your town of residence.
Note: The residence permit issued to Swiss nationals and their family members merely certifies the right to freedom of movement. If you are a family member of an EU or EEA citizen and therefore covered by the right to freedom of movement, you will be issued with a corresponding residence card;
- As a citizen from Norway (EEA country), you can live, work and study in Germany without any visa or permit restriction;
- Entry visa (leading to a National visa):
- valid for longer stays and/or stays entitling the holder to take up gainful employment
- when applying for a National visa, the German mission abroad would first issue a short visa with a purpose of staying longer
- it entitles the holder to enter in Germany before acceptance of the electronic residence permit
- it may be converted by the local "Ausländerbehörde" into a longer permit if the student or work permit is accepted
- when in Germany: in order to obtain the residence title, the visa holder must register first with the local "Einwohnermeldeamt" or "Bürgeramt".
- Australian, Israeli, Japanese, Canadian, South Korean, New Zealand and US citizens (exception for the Green card holders) can apply for a residence permit while in Germany (within 3 months) and they do not need an entry visa.
Who needs a visa?
Non-EU nationals require a visa to enter Germany. This visa grants in general free mobility within the Schengen Territory for visitor’s/ business/ tourist stays of maximum of 90 days per 180 days of the year.
As a rule, applicants must submit visa applications, together with all necessary documents, in person at the German mission responsible for their place of residence. In order to avoid time-consuming requests for additional information or documentation, applicants should consult the website of the respective mission well in advance of their departure date to find out about the visa procedure and about the documentation which has to be submitted.
When to apply?
Visa applications must be lodged at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit and cannot be lodged earlier than 3 months before the start of the intended visit.
Time required to process a visa application
As a rule, missions require between 2 and 10 working days to decide on an application for a short stay visa. Applications for visas entitling the holder to a longer stay or to take up gainful employment may take several months to process.
During the peak travel season there may be a waiting period for making an application to a German mission. Persons requiring a visa to enter Germany should therefore submit their applications in good time.
Categories of visas (depending on length and purpose of stay)
- Short stay visa: a “Schengen” visa (one or multiple entries), allowing the holder to stay in Germany & in the Schengen Territory up to 90 days per 6 months. Note: HKSAR passport holders have been granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival for three months to visit Germany.
- Long stay visa: visas for stays exceeding 90 days are national visas, and are issued by member states in accordance with national legislation.
- As a rule, all foreigners require visas for stays of more than 3 months or stays leading to gainful employment. Exemptions apply to EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens and Swiss nationals.
- Furthermore, citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America may obtain any residence permit that may be required after entering Germany.
- Citizens of all other countries planning a longer stay in Germany must apply for visas at the competent mission before arriving in the country.
- As a result of Regulation 265/2010 it is now possible for anyone in possession of a national visa (D visa) and a valid travel document to move freely in the Schengen area up to 3 months in any 6 month period.
- For more details, visit the Federal foreign office website.
- There is a special procedure for citizens from China, please contact the German visa application center to apply for a national visa.
- Airport transit visas: required by the nationals of certain countries. Please check with your embassy.
Information on visa fees (PDF, 7 KB)
The relevant Embassy or Consulate has to be contacted regarding the applied exchange rate and concerning the methods of payment.
What documentation do you need to submit to your German mission abroad?
- The Schengen visa application form duly completed (in capitals & black color if written by hand) and signed. As the form is available online, the best practice would be to fill in the online application form, print it and sign it.
- Passport, which must be valid for a period of at least 3 months after the applicant’s last day of stay in the Schengen states and not older than 10 years. Please ensure that the passport has 2 blank pages to affix visa.
- Two recent passport sized photographs in color.
- Proof of payment of the visa fee.
- Round trip reservation or itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from Germany. Some Schengen authorities accept the itinerary when applying for the visa but request the original air ticket when visa is collected (please verify).
- Proof of sufficient funds for duration of stay, (Bank statement of the past three months) (min. amount required is different in each country – please verify with the relevant consular authority - for Germany it is more or less 45€ per day). Cash will not be accepted as proof of foreign exchange.
- Travel/health/accident insurance: a one-page document stating that the applicant is covered by a Schengen Travel Medical Insurance. Get an online & instant quote now!
- Accommodation: confirmed hotel reservation is requested (hotel vouchers are not necessarily proof of confirmed hotel booking). If applicant is staying with a relative or friend, the relevant authorities may request invitation letter from the host with copy of his passport or ID. Authentication of this document by the relevant authorities may be requested. In case of a pre-paid tour please provide us details of the tour with a proof of payment to the tour operator.
- For business: an official business letter from a company in a Schengen state as well as from the employer stating purpose of visit must be presented. For conferences: proof of registration and payment.
- Children under 18: unabridged birth certificate. If the child is traveling alone: certified parental consent by both parents. If the child travels with only one parent, the other parent must produce the notarized/certified consent. If only one parent has guardianship of the minor, the relevant court documents must be presented. Certain consular authorities require that both parents sign in the presence of a consular official.
- The Schengen State’s Consular offices reserve the right to request further documentation should they deem it necessary, such as:
- Proof of employment: (e.g. letter from company stating monthly wages, continuing employment after period of leave and duration of vacation, etc.)
- If applicant is a student: letter from school/college/university confirming attendance
- A personal interview with the applicant may be requested at any time
- Please verify with your German mission abroad as this is a case by case situation.
Schengen visa application forms (only for Germany)
- German & English
- Apply online for your Schengen visa (only for Germany)
Visa application forms (for longer stays and/or stays entitling the holder to take up gainful employment in Germany) - The National Visa
- German & English
- German & Arabic
- German & Chinese
- German & French
- German & Russian
- German & Spanish
- German & Turkish
- Special procedure for China: contact the German Visa Application Center
- For other special cases and forms in other languages: verify directly with the German mission in your country
- The forms submitted must be original versions in the appropriate language of the mission in question.
- As we are not an immigration agency, we are unfortunately unable to assist with specific visa inquiries. We provide general information on the immigration, but for specific queries to your individual situation, you will need to contact the government’s immigration department.
Source: European Union External Action & German Federal Foreign Office