Entering Germany – Visa or No Visa?


Depending on where you come from and how long you plan to stay here, you may need an entry visa for Germany. For detailed information about visa requirements, contact the German embassy or German consulate in your home country. You can find the address on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office. 
 

Einen gültigen Reisepass braucht jeder, Bild: Abbis/DAADVisa checklist
Residence permit
1. Countries whose citizens require no entry visa
2. Countries whose citizens require a visa for stays longer than three months
3. Visa requirements for citizens from non-member countries
Additional links 

Visa checklist

  • Submit your application early enough because visa processing can take several months and you won’t be able to enter the country without a valid visa.
  • Apply for the correct visa! Tourist and language course visas cannot be converted into a "student visa”. With the wrong visa, you will be forced to leave the country at some point.
  • Schedule your trip to Germany so that you have sufficient time to enrol and take care of the administrative obligations.
  • Enrolment is a prerequisite for obtaining the "residence permit for purposes of study”.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for your entire stay. If your passport expires while you are in Germany, you will have to return to your home country and extend the validity of your passport there.

Residence permit

The following applies to all international students in Germany who are not citizens of EU member states or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland: If your study programme should last longer than 90 days, you must apply for a residence permit in the town or city where you are studying.

When applying for a residence permit, be sure to bring the following documents with you:

  • Confirmation of registration from your Resident Registration Office
  • Proof of private or public health insurance coverage
  • Student ID from your German university (certificate of enrolment)
  • Proof of financial resources if you didn’t provide it when you applied for your entry visa
  • Valid passport with visa (if applicable)
  • Health certificate (if applicable)
  • Rental contract (if applicable)
  • (Biometric) passport photos (if applicable)
  • Money to pay for the residence permit fee (contact your Alien Registration Office in advance regarding the current fees)

Residence permits are issued for a two-year period and can be extended if desired. An extension is possible provided you have continued your studies in due form (certificate of enrolment required) and apply before the residence permit has expired.

1. Countries whose citizens require no entry visa

a) Citizens of EU and EEA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland):

-Residence permit: Not required -Identity documents: Valid passport or ID card -Obligations on arrival: You must register with the local Resident Registration Office (Bürgeramt) within two weeks after arrival. There you can apply for a residence permit for purposes of study (student visa) by providing proof that you have health insurance and can finance your studies on your own ( proof of financial resources ).

b) Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA:

  •  Residence permit: You may apply for a residence permit after entering Germany if required.
  • Identity documents: Valid passport
  • Obligations on arrival: You must register with the local Resident Registration Office (Bürgeramt) within two weeks after arrival. You may apply for a "residence permit for purposes of study” at the responsible Alien Registration Office within three months.

c) Citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino:

  • Entry visa: Only necessary if you wish to work before or after your period of study in Germany
  • Residence permit: You may apply for a residence permit after entering Germany if required.
  • Identity documents: Valid passport
  • Obligations on arrival: You must register with the local Resident Registration Office (Bürgeramt) within two weeks after arrival. You may apply for a "residence permit for purposes of study” at the responsible Alien Registration Office within three months.

2. Countries whose citizens require a visa for stays longer than three months

Citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, Singapore, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela:

  • Entry visa: No entry visa is necessary for stays under three months. However, you must leave the country when the three-month period is over. If you plan on staying longer or wish to obtain gainful employment which requires prior approval, you will need a national visa and a "residence permit for purposes of study”.

  • Identity documents: Valid passport (and a visa stamp in your passport for longer stays)

3. Visa requirements for citizens from non-member countries

Apart from a few exceptions, international students who come from countries not listed above are required to hold an entry visa upon arrival in Germany. You can obtain an entry visa from the German diplomatic mission in your home country. Generally there are two different types of entry visas.

  • The Schengen visa is issued for brief visits of up to three months every half year (for example, if you wish to visit as a tourist or attend a summer language course). Caution: If you hold a Schengen visa, you are required to leave the country within three months. Therefore, if you wish to study, earn a doctorate or conduct longer-term research in Germany, the Schengen visa is not the right visa for you.

  • A national visa is issued to those who intend to stay longer than three months (for example, if you wish to participate in a Studienkolleg (university preparatory course) or enter a degree programme).

If you wish to study or earn a PhD, you should apply for a national visa right from the start which allows you to obtain a residence permit for purposes of study. When you go to the German diplomatic mission in your country to apply for the visa, be sure to bring the following documents along with you:

  • Notification of admission from the German university

  • Confirmation of health insurance coverage

  • Proof of previous academic achievement (if applicable)

  • Certificates of German language proficiency (if applicable) or letter confirming planned participation in a language course in Germany

  • Documents which substantiate your ability to finance your living expenses during your studies (proof of financial resources).

Study applicants who have not yet received notification of admission from a German university or Studienkolleg can apply for a study applicant visa. Valid for three months, it can be converted to a residence permit for purposes of study after you receive notification of admission from your university.

Another possibility is a language course visa. But please note! This visa is only valid for the duration of the language course and cannot be converted into a visa for purposes of study. If you intend to take a language course in conjunction with a degree programme, you must indicate this on your visa application. In this case, you will have to apply for a study visa or a study applicant visa!

FAQs about visa regulations

In our chat forum Daniela Gräber and Gunnar Schneider from the German Federal Foreign Office answered your questions concerning visa regulations in Germany.