Applying for a visa to enter Germany

Depending on which country you come from, you may need a visa to enter Germany. The Auswärtige Amt (Federal Foreign Office) can tell you which countries this applies to.

If you already hold a valid residence permit, you do not need a visa to enter. When issuing a visa, a distinction is made between two cases:

Transit and short stays

If you are only passing through the Schengen area by air or land, i.e. on your way to a so-called third-party country (which is it itself not a Schengen state), you need to apply for a category "A" or "B" Schengen visa.

For short stays of up to three months within a six-month period in which you do not intend to seek employment, you must apply for a category "C" Schengen visa. This visa also entitles you to short stays in other countries within the Schengen area.

Note: You can also obtain the short-stay visa for multiple stays with a validity period of up to five years. This requires that, from the day of first entry, each stay be no longer than three months within a six-month period. Also note that, after entry, the visa can only be extended by the Bureau for Foreigners to a very limited extent.

Longer stays  [...]

Foreigners requiring a visa must obtain a national visa for longer stays, i.e. more than three months, (for example for work or family reunification). This is issued in accordance with the regulations for the residence permit, the EU Blue Card, the permit for EU long-term residence and settlement permits, and requires the consent of the Bureau for Foreigners at the set residence location.

After entry with a national visa, a (temporary) residence permit is issued for a specific legal purpose, upon request. A (permanent) settlement permit can also be issued in special cases (e.g. highly qualified persons). These permits must be applied for from the Bureau for Foreigners before the visa expires.

Note: EU citizens and members of the EEA states Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein do not require an entry visa or residence permit. This also applies for Swiss citizens.

Point of contact

the German embassy / consulate in your country.

–> German embassies and consuls
  Department of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt)

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Service details

Prerequisite

For a visa to be issued,

  • Your identity must be clarified and you must hold a passport,
  • You must have a secure livelihood,
  • There must be no grounds for expulsion, and
  • Insofar as you are not entitled to a residence permit, your stay must not affect or endanger the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany in any other way.

If you are planning a longer stay, the special requirements for residence permits must also be met, based on the intended purpose of the stay.

A visa is not issued if you have been expelled, deported or sent back.

Procedure

  • The entry visa application form is available in various languages on the website of the German embassy / consulate in your country.
  • Complete the form in full, and sign it.
  • Collate the necessary proof.
  • Submit the application (at least two copies) with the necessary documents in person to the German embassy / consulate in your home country, or your local Bureau for Foreigners.

Assessing and issuing visas

The German embassy / consulate obtains the consent of the Bureau for Foreigners at your future place of residence in Germany, which is required in order to issue the visa.

Entry and registration

If you have been issued a visa, you are granted entry and temporary residence by virtue of an endorsement in your passport. Once in Germany, you must register with the registry office in your new place of residence within eight days of arrival. If you are staying longer than three months, you must apply for a residence permit extension from the Bureau for Foreigners before your visa expires.

Required documents

You must submit all necessary documents with your visa application. To avoid time-consuming additional requests, you should contact the embassy / consulate promptly and enquire about the documents you are required to submit.

Deadlines

  • Duration for a visa to be issued: several months (depending on country)
  • Validity: in general at least 3 months

During peak travel times, you may have to wait before you can lodge the application with the embassy / consulate. That’s why applications must be lodged promptly if a visa is required to enter Germany.

Costs

  • Visa Code (Schengen visa): EUR 60,00, or children between 6 and below 12 years old: EUR 35,00
  • Ordinance Governing Residence (national visa): EUR 75,00, for minors: EUR 37,50
Note: The German missions are able to consider waiving or reducing the fees charged in certain cases.

Processing time

Usually 2 - 10 days

For visas permitting the holder to work (self-employed or employed) in Germany, a processing time of a few months should be expected.

Miscellaneous

You can also apply for a short-stay visa from another Schengen state’s embassy / consulate. However, this state should be the main destination of your short-term stay.

Legal basis

Release note

Based on the German version authorized by Sächsisches Staatsministerium des Innern. 05.07.2018