Applying for a visa to enter Germany

Depending on the country you come from, a visa may be required for entry into Germany. You can find out to which countries this applies with the help of the "Staatenliste zur Visumpflicht" (list of countries whose citizens require visas) of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Note: If you already hold a residence permit that is still valid, you do not need a visa to enter the country.

Visas are issued for two distinctive use cases:

Transit and short stays

If you are only passing through the Schengen area by air or land, i.e. you are on your way to a so-called third country (which is not itself a Schengen country), you must apply for a Schengen visa of category "A" (air transit) or "C", respectively.

For a short stay of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days, you may apply for a Schengen visa of category "C", if you do not intend to take up gainful employment. This visa also entitles the holder to short stays in the other member states of the Schengen Agreement.

Long-term stays  [...]

Long-term stays (e.g. for the purpose of gainful employment or for the purpose of family reunion) require a national visa if you are a foreigner subject to visa requirements.
The issuance is governed by the regulations for the
  • residence permit,
  • the EU Blue Card,
  • the ICT card,
  • the Mobile ICT Card,
  • the settlement permit and
  • the permit for permanent residence - EU
and generally requires the consent of the immigration office at the intended place of residence.

After entering the country with a national visa, the corresponding permit is issued upon application for a specific legal purpose of stay. In special cases (e.g. for highly qualified professionals), a (permanent) settlement permit can also be issued immediately.

It is mandatory to apply for the issuance of a new visa at the immigration office before the current visa expires.

For citizens of the European Union and nationals of the EEA states Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, no visa is required for entry and no residence permit is required for residence. As a rule, this also applies to citizens of Switzerland.

Point of contact

German foreign representation in your country of origin (embassy, consulate)

–> German foreign representations
  Department of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt)

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Service details

Prerequisite

As a rule, the issuance of a visa requires that

  • your identity is clarified and you fulfill the passport obligation,
  • your livelihood is secured,
  • there is no reason for expulsion and
  • if there is no entitlement to a residence permit, your stay does not impair or threaten the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany for any other reason.

If you intend to stay for a longer period of time, you must also meet the specific requirements for a residence permit in accordance with the intended purpose of your stay.

If you have previously been expelled, deported or returned from Germany, a visa cannot be issued as long as a re-entry ban is still in place.

Procedure

The application forms for entry visas are available in various languages on the website of the German representation in your country of origin.

  • Fill out the form accurately and sign it.
  • Compile the necessary supporting documents.
  • Hand in the application (at least two copies) with the required documents in person at the German foreign representation in your country of origin.

Examination and issuance of the visa

  • The foreign representation of the Federal Republic of Germany obtains the consent of the immigration office at your future place of residence in Germany.
  • With this approval, the foreign representation can issue the visa.

Entry

  • If you are granted a visa, entry and residence are permitted via an endorsement in your passport.

Required documents

In order to avoid time-consuming subsequent demands for additional documents, you should contact the foreign representation in good time before your intended time of travel and get information on the documents you need to submit.

Deadlines

Validity: usually at least 3 months

During peak travel periods, there may be waiting periods before the application can be submitted to the foreign representation. If a visa is required for entry into Germany, you should therefore submit the application in good time.

Costs

  • Schengen visa: EUR 60.00, for children aged between 6 and 12: EUR 35.00
  • National visa: EUR 75.00, for minors: EUR 37.50

In certain cases the fee can be reduced or waived completely.

Processing time

Usually 2-10 working days

If you are applying for a visa that entitles you to a long-term stay or to take up employment, you should expect a processing time of several months.

Miscellaneous

You can also apply for a visa for short-term stays at the foreign representation of another Schengen state. However, you should always apply for the visa at the foreign representation of the Schengen state which is the main destination of your short stay.

Legal basis

Release note

Based on the German version authorized by Sächsisches Staatsministerium des Innern. 08.10.2020