Woman standing at the airport to enter Germany

Entry & visa process

There are several steps required in applying for a visa. To make it easier for you, here is an overview of the whole process.

Step 1: Check the requirements

Before applying for a visa, you must check whether you meet the basic requirements for the granting of a residence title (Section 5 (1) of the Residence Act [AufenthG]):

  • A secure livelihood: As part of the visa process, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your living expenses. This can be done in a number of ways: Depending on the purpose of your entry, you can use either your future salary, a declaration of commitment or a blocked bank account with a minimum amount of funds as proof.
  • Proof of identity and nationality: You must prove that there is no doubt about your identity and nationality. This is usually done by presenting a valid passport when applying for a visa.
  • No public interest in your expulsion: There must be no grounds for your expulsion. A check will be made as to whether your entry into Germany is likely to pose a threat to public safety and public order. Indications of an interest in your expulsion may arise, for example, from information you provide during the security interview and in your visa application.
  • Passport obligation: As a third-country national, you can only enter Germany with a valid and recognised passport or document in lieu of a passport. The competent German mission abroad will advise you on passport validity requirements.

In addition to the mandatory requirements for obtaining a residence title, you will also need to find out about the specific requirements that apply to your particular purpose of entry and residence – for example, whether you intend to work, study or undertake vocational training in Germany. Refer to the “Types of visa” section for more information.

Step 2: Make an appointment at the German embassy or consulate

If you meet all the requirements for a visa, you will need to collect the necessary documents for your visa application. The list of required documents can usually be found on the website of the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Around the same time, you should also make an appointment to submit your visa application.

To find out which German embassy or consulate you need to contact to apply for a visa, please consult the world map.

Info box

Have you already found an employer who wants you to come to Germany as soon as possible? Your future employer may be able to speed up the process from Germany. Tell them about the fast-track procedure for skilled workers before you make an appointment at the embassy or consulate.

Step 3: Apply for a visa in your country of residence

Submit your visa application to your local German embassy in your country of residence. Please make sure that you are applying for a visa that corresponds to the purpose of your stay in Germany. For example, if your stay in Germany is for work purposes, you are required to obtain a work visa. Only then will you be able to obtain a residence permit in Germany on the basis of your visa.

To apply for a visa, you must select the visa application form that corresponds to the purpose of your stay.

An entry visa fee of €75 is charged for all types of visas issued for long-term stays in Germany. You can usually pay the fee in your local currency at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Please note that this fee is non-refundable if your visa application is unsuccessful.

Required German language skills depending on the type of visa

You can use this chart to check whether and which German language skills you need to have to obtain a specific residence title.

Step 4: Enter Germany

Has your visa been issued? You can now start preparing to come to Germany. Given that you are planning to stay in Germany long-term, it is advisable to bring all your personal documents with you, such as your birth certificate, school-leaving certificate, professional qualifications, and, if it applies to you, driving licence and marriage certificate.

Please note: You will need health insurance coverage from the first day you arrive in Germany. Proof of insurance will be required at the latest when you collect your visa from the German embassy.

Step 5: Apply for a residence title in Germany

Did you enter Germany on a visa? We wish you a warm welcome! Your visa is usually valid for up to 12 months. Within this period, you must apply for a residence permit to stay in Germany on a long-term basis.

Please contact the foreigners authority responsible for your matters and find out what documents you need to apply for a residence permit. Then make an appointment to obtain the residence permit that corresponds to your visa.

Find the address of the foreigners authority responsible for your matters.

Do you have any questions?

Let us advise you on your opportunities to work and live in Germany. Our experts will support you with questions regarding job search, visa, recognition and learning German. 

You can find out more about the various contact options by clicking on one of the icons in the bar below.

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