topics
tools
Expatica countries
editor's choice

Culture and social etiquette in Luxembourg

Museums in Luxembourg

Banking in Luxembourg

Crime and the legal system in Luxembourg

User’s Guide: Getting around

Index Last Var.(%)
BEL 20 3083.51 0.32
DAX 9605.08 0.17
IBEX 30 10058.5 -1.04
CAC 40 4387.61 -0.20
FTSE 100 6806.86 -0.05
AEX 397.5 -0.20
DJIA 16272.65 0.46
Nasdaq 4318.933 0.63
FTSE MIB 20298.33 -0.11
TSX Composite 14214.35 0.18
ASX 5415.4 -0.10
Hang seng 22836.96 0.04
Straits Times 3110.78 0.45
ISEQ 20 836.3 0.23
EUR / USD 1.37976 0.67
EUR / GBP 0.82571 0.59
USD / GBP 0.598544 -0.10
Gold 1329.6 -0.13
Oil 108.9 -0.76
Silver 21.28 0.08
You are here: Home Moving to Getting Started The complete guide to German visas and permits
Enlarge font Decrease font Text size


07/01/2014The complete guide to German visas and permits

The complete guide to German visas and permits You may need to apply for a visa or other permit to visit, live, work or study in Germany. Use our essential guide to find out which ones you will need for your particular situation.

The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt fur Migration und Fluchtlinge or BAMF) – see below for contact details.

Do you need a visa for Germany?


EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

You don't need a visa or residence permit if you're an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen (with a few exceptions).

The Federal Republic of Germany is one of 26 countries making up the ‘Schengen' area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. They have one common visa and no border controls between them.

Therefore, under the Freedom of Movement Act, if you're a national from one of the countries in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) – that is, all the countries of the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – you don't need a visa or other permit to visit, live, work or study in Germany.

Citizens of newer EU member state Croatia will need work permits for their first year of employment, potentially up until 2020.

Swiss nationals can also enjoy freedom of movement within the EU but have to apply for a purely declaratory residence permit for Swiss nationals from the Aliens Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

All other EU and EEA nationals can enter, stay and work in Germany with just a valid passport or ID card, although you do have to register with the residents' registration office in the town in which you live within three months of entering the country.

If you don't hold EU/EEA citizenship yourself, but wish to join a close family member in Germany who does, you will, depending on your nationality, have to apply for a visa to enter the country and then you'll receive a ‘residence card' from the Alien's Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

For more information, see our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to Germany.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

Almost everyone else will need a visa – and everyone will need a residence permit.

Citizens from some countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America, don't need a Schengen visa to enter Germany for stays of up to three months (90 days) but will need to apply for a residence permit within that three months if they wish to stay longer or to work.

If you are not from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, or one the countries listed above, you will probably need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter Germany and stay up for three months (90 days) or for a permit called a ‘residence title' if you want to stay for longer than three months and/or work here.

To find out if you need an entry visa for Germany, click here.

Moving to Germany: Getting a German visa or permit

German visas and permits

Visas

Depending on your nationality, if you will be stopping briefly in a German airport (even for a few hours) en route to another destination, you may need a transit or airport visa. It only allows you into the international zone of a German airport. If you are leaving the airport, even for a day, you may need to get the three-month Schengen visa. Schengen visas allow you to enter Germany (or any other country in the Schengen area listed above) for up to three months (90 days) within a six-month period.


If you enter Germany on this visa, you cannot change it to a residence title once you are in Germany, except in exceptional circumstances. You will have to leave, apply for the residence permit from aboard and re-enter the country.

You must apply for a Schengen visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence, so check out the website for your own German embassy or consulate. The Federal Foreign Office website has detailed information on all aspects of Schengen visa regulations.

You can download a Schengen application form now in German/English, Spanish, French, Russian or Chinese.

Residence permits

If you want to stay in Germany for longer than three months, for whatever reason (eg. to work, complete a vocational training course, or be reunited with your family), you will need to apply for a visa plus residence permit or ‘title' before you arrive – unless you are a national from one of the countries that doesn't require a visa to enter Germany (see above), in which case you can apply from within Germany.

Types of residence permits:

  • The most common permit is the residence permit, which is usually valid for one year and can be renewed so long as your situation – eg. employment, marriage – stays the same as when you were originally granted the permit.
  • The EU Blue Card is a residence permit with enhanced conditions for highly qualified migrants and their spouses.
  • The settlement permit and permanent EC residence permit, as their names suggest, are both permanent residence permits. They are usually only granted after five years of residence (and if you fulfill other conditions) but they can be issued to highly skilled workers immediately and to other groups after two or three years of residence.


Your reason for wanting to come to Germany and your educational and professional qualifications will determine which residence title you can apply for. You will need to meet some general requirements, including holding a valid passport and being able to prove you have enough money to support you during your stay.

Most people have to apply for a residence permit via the German embassy or consulate in their country of residence. You can find the contact details of yours here.

Family reunification

Unless you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen (or the relative you want to join is), if you want to come to Germany to be with a partner (spouse or registered/civil partner) or other close family member you will have to apply for a residence permit. You and your relative must also fulfil other criteria, for example, your relative must possess a residence permit, have somewhere for you to live, and show sufficient finances to support you. In most cases, you may also have to prove that you have basic German language skills.

For more information, read our overview on German permits for family reunification.

Studying in Germany

You can get a nine-month residence permit to come to Germany before being admitted to a German university (as long as you have the required qualifications), or a longer one to study in Germany on a full-time university course. You will need to prove that you have the necessary finances during your course and you may have to prove German language proficiency. Most universities have very comprehensive and helpful information about residence permits on their own websites.

Permanent residence in Germany

Once you have been living in Germany for a number of years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. A permanent residence permit allows you to stay in the country indefinitely but you don't have the same rights as German citizens – you can't vote, for example. If you wish to have the same constitutional rights and legal status as any other German citizen, and you fulfil certain conditions, then you can apply to be naturalised after eight years of residence.

To find out more, see our guide to permanent visas in Germany.

Asylum seekers and refugees

See the BAMF website for information on asylum law.

Electronic residence

Since September 2011, the residence title (the label that was stuck into the passport), residence card, permanent residence card and paper ID cards have been superseded by an electronic ‘credit card' residence title. Existing ‘paper' titles will retain their validity until August 31, 2016.

Getting a visa or permit in Germany: German visas and permits overview

Working in Germany

If you're a national from a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work in Germany without restriction, with the exception of citizens of the newer member state Croatia, who will need permits potentially up until 2020.

Everyone else can only work in Germany if their residence permit allows it. There is no separate work permit in Germany and the right to work – and to what extent you can work – will be detailed on the residence permit that you apply for before you enter the country (see above).

To read more about working in Germany and to understand which permit you need for your situation, see our guide to work permits in Germany.

For more information:

Contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country, or the BAMF Information service:

Monday to Thursday: 9 am to 3 pm
Friday: 9 am to 2pm
T: +49 911 943 6390
E: info.buerger@bamf.bund.de



Expatica




15 reactions to this article

Houman posted: 2013-01-08 02:32:45

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

sowmya posted: 2013-02-25 17:12:47

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Sterling Michols posted: 2013-04-07 19:15:56

The information regarding permanent residence based on employment is outdated as of July 2012, when the Blue Card was introduced. Rules have been eased, allowing more non-Eu foreigners holding a college degree to obtain residency. There does not seem to be any mention of this in the article.

Moi posted: 2013-04-22 14:20:56

Proof of basic knowledge of German? I don't know a single person (myself included) who has ever been asked for this (and this is across 3 different BL in Germay)

Ro posted: 2013-05-10 13:53:47

I would just like to stay here and take care of my 98 year old grandmother.
The amt said 6months is all they can give but there must be a loop whole.
What kind of a country doesn't allow you to take care of your family

LP posted: 2013-08-23 16:36:25

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Melinda Colette Hawkins ( Philpott ) posted: 2013-10-20 18:17:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

josie posted: 2013-11-19 16:27:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Habib posted: 2013-12-12 11:18:56

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Shabbir posted: 2013-12-13 12:12:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

wasim posted: 2014-01-04 20:06:03

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Halal posted: 2014-01-14 01:13:14

Non -eu citizen I have a student permit of stay in italy and i want to move to germany because i found a work there

shantel posted: 2014-02-06 13:44:36

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Giang posted: 2014-04-08 07:28:17

im not living in Germany but i want to come there, get a visa must register in embassy from here or somehow can do in German,

Giang posted: 2014-04-08 07:35:28

i meant a visa for work and maybe marriage,so somehow can do it in Germany, not in embassy of my country?

15 reactions to this article

Houman posted: 2013-01-08 02:32:45

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

sowmya posted: 2013-02-25 17:12:47

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Sterling Michols posted: 2013-04-07 19:15:56

The information regarding permanent residence based on employment is outdated as of July 2012, when the Blue Card was introduced. Rules have been eased, allowing more non-Eu foreigners holding a college degree to obtain residency. There does not seem to be any mention of this in the article.

Moi posted: 2013-04-22 14:20:56

Proof of basic knowledge of German? I don't know a single person (myself included) who has ever been asked for this (and this is across 3 different BL in Germay)

Ro posted: 2013-05-10 13:53:47

I would just like to stay here and take care of my 98 year old grandmother.
The amt said 6months is all they can give but there must be a loop whole.
What kind of a country doesn't allow you to take care of your family

LP posted: 2013-08-23 16:36:25

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Melinda Colette Hawkins ( Philpott ) posted: 2013-10-20 18:17:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

josie posted: 2013-11-19 16:27:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Habib posted: 2013-12-12 11:18:56

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Shabbir posted: 2013-12-13 12:12:20

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

wasim posted: 2014-01-04 20:06:03

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Halal posted: 2014-01-14 01:13:14

Non -eu citizen I have a student permit of stay in italy and i want to move to germany because i found a work there

shantel posted: 2014-02-06 13:44:36

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

Giang posted: 2014-04-08 07:28:17

im not living in Germany but i want to come there, get a visa must register in embassy from here or somehow can do in German,

Giang posted: 2014-04-08 07:35:28

i meant a visa for work and maybe marriage,so somehow can do it in Germany, not in embassy of my country?

Looking for a job?

Browse all jobs

Search for a home?

Browse all houses
ask your question
Discussion Forums

Community Noticeboard Luxembourg

Opening a company in Luxembourg

Community Noticeboard Luxembourg

1st supperclub in Trier, Germany / December event

Community Noticeboard Luxembourg

Interested in an English book to learn Luxembourgish?

Community Noticeboard Luxembourg

Do you dream of a life in Luxembourg?Let us help you!

Community Noticeboard Luxembourg

Carnival of Venice

participate in the forums

 
 
 
 
 
Inside Expatica
Visas, permits and citizenship in Luxembourg

Visas, permits and citizenship in Luxembourg

Since 2008, the work permit and the residence permit (for third country national workers) have been merged into a single permit, the Autorisation de séjour. Since 2009, dual or multiple citizenship has been permitted.

Buying or renting a house in Luxembourg

Buying or renting a house in Luxembourg

Whether you decide to buy or rent in the Grand Duchy, here is our short housing guide, including a look at some of the areas you might want to live in.

The healthcare system in Luxembourg

The healthcare system in Luxembourg

Whether it’s finding a doctor or figuring out how to fill your prescription, we give you the basics you need to stay healthy in Luxembourg.

Banking in Luxembourg

Banking in Luxembourg

Here is a list of some of the many banks based in Luxembourg.