Settlement permit

You’re already living in Germany with a temporary Residence permit and would like to settle here permanently? That's not a problem! After a few years’ residence in Germany, you can apply for an indefinite residence title, called a " settlement permit”. A settlement permit opens numerous prospects: you have the unrestricted right to live in Germany with your family; moreover, you can work as an employee or take up Self-employment.

Settlement permit © fotolia / Rido

General requirements

Settlement permit: General requirements © fotolia / onoky

Nationals of non-EU and non-EEA states can apply for a settlement permit if they meet the following requirements:

  • They have held a Residence permit for 5 years. 
  • They have the means to support themselves without public funds.
  • They have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months. 
  • They are entitled to exercise gainful employment and have the permits to do so.
  • They have a sufficient command of German and basic knowledge of the legal and social system and way of life in Germany
  • They have sufficient living space for themselves and their family.

If you satisfy the above requirements, the best thing to do is make an appointment at your local foreign nationals' registration authority to make your application for a settlement permit. The foreign nationals' registration authority will also tell you which documents you have to submit. 

You don’t meet all the requirements? No need to panic! You might be entitled to a settlement permit under facilitated conditions. This is the case if you fall into one of the following groups:

  • EU Blue Card holders
  • Graduates of German universities
  • Highly qualified professionals
  • Self-employed persons

EU Blue Card holders

Settlement permit: EU Blue Card holders © fotolia / shock

Anyone holding an EU Blue Card can apply for a settlement permit after just 33 months if they exercised skilled employment during that time. 

If you have an EU Blue Card and also have sufficient command of the German language, i.e. at least Level B1, this period is reduced to just 21 months – under two years 

Here is a list of the documents required for a settlement permit to be issued to holders of the EU Blue Card

Graduates of German universities

Settlement permit: Graduates of German universities © fotolia /

As a graduate of a German university you can apply for a settlement permit after just two years. This is on condition that after completing your studies you held a residence title for the purposes of employment or Self-employment, or an EU Blue Card, for at least two years. Moreover, you need to have a job commensurate with your qualifications and to have paid the statutory pension insurance for 24 months.

You can see what documents are required to issue a settlement permit to graduates of German universities here.

Highly qualified professionals

Settlement permit: Highly qualified professionals © istockphoto / Pamela Moore

Highly qualified immigrants are entitled to a settlement permit from the outset as they do not need to satisfy a minimum period of residence. If you fall into the group of researchers with special technical knowledge or teaching personnel or scientific personnel in prominent positions, you can apply for a settlement permit as soon you as you arrive in Germany. The important thing is to be able to prove that you have an actual job offer.

The best thing to do is compile all the documents you will need for obtaining a settlement permit immediately before travelling to Germany. You’ll find a check list here.

Self-employed persons

Settlement permit: Self-employed persons © istockphoto / alvarez

If you are self-employed in Germany, you also enjoy facilitated conditions for obtaining a settlement permit. You are entitled to one after just three years on condition that at the time you apply you have a valid Residence permit for a self-employed activity. Moreover, you must have realised your project for Self-employment. If you can also prove that you can support yourself financially in Germany on a long-term basis, there is no further obstacle to your obtaining a settlement permit.

You can find out exactly which documents self-employed persons require to apply for a settlement permit here.


Settlement permit: Costs © fotolia / Marco2811

When you apply for a settlement permit a fee is payable, the amount of which varies according to the type of activity you exercise. A settlement permit generally costs 135 euros, but for the self-employed the fee is 200 euros, while highly qualified people have to pay 250 euros when applying for a settlement permit.

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Information on this portal

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Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

Important information about residence and settlement permits in Germany (German, English, Turkish)

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Information about the Immigration Act (German, English)

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

Flyer „The EU Blue Card“ (German, English)