Woman standing at the airport to enter Germany

Entry & visa process

There are several steps required to apply for a visa. To make it easier for you, we present an overview of the entire procedure.

The way into the German labour market

You want to apply for a visa and don't know where to start? This chart explains step by step how the visa and entry process works and how an application procedure works.

Step 1: Checking the requirements

You will need to inform yourself about the different requirements for the various visas to stay in Germany. To learn about the requirements that apply for your stay in Germany, see Types of Visas.

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

If you fulfil the requirements for a visa, you must gather all the necessary documents for your visa application. The list of necessary documents can generally be found on the website of the German embassy or the German consulate in your country of residence. Around the same time, you should also book an appointment to hand in your visa application.

To find out which German embassy or consulate you will have to contact regarding your visa application, see World Map.

Info box

Have you already found an employer that wants you to come to Germany in the near future? Your future employer is able to expedite the process from Germany. Inform them about the fast-track procedure for skilled workers before making your appointment at the embassy or consulate.

Step 3: Applying 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. This is the only way you can obtain a residence permit in connection with your visa in Germany.

For your visa application, you will need to select the visa application form that corresponds to the purpose of your stay.

For all types of visas issued for long-term stays in Germany, an entry visa fee of € 75.00 will be charged. Generally, you can pay the fee in your local currency at the German embassy or German consulate in your country of residence. Please note that this fee cannot be reimbursed if your visa application is unsuccessful.

The way into the German education system

You want to apply for a visa and don't know where to start? This chart explains step by step how the visa and entry process works if you want to study, do a PhD, learn German or complete a vocational training in Germany.

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: Coming to Germany

Did you receive your visa? Now you can start planning your trip to Germany. Since you are planning a long-term stay in Germany, you are advised to bring all your personal documents with you, such as your birth certificate, documents regarding your post-secondary school or vocational qualifications, your driver’s licence or your marriage certificate.

Please note that you will have to be within a health insurance scheme that is valid from your first day in Germany. Proof of insurance will be requested when picking up your visa from the German embassy at the latest.

Step 5: Applying for your residence title

Were you able to enter the country with your visa? Welcome to Germany! Your visa generally remains valid for up to 6 months. During this time, you will have to apply for a residence permit to be able to stay in Germany for a longer period of time.

Contact your local Foreigners' Authority and inform yourself about the needed documents to apply for a residence permit. Afterwards you will have to make an appointment to have a residence permit issued that corresponds to your visa.

Find the address of the Foreigners' Authority in your area.

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.

Smiling young woman working on her laptop at work
Skyline of Hamburg