Visa / Entry into the country
In many cases, foreign students require a visa to be able to enter Germany. Find out what kind of visa you need and apply for it as early as possible.
Does everyone need a visa?
On principle you need a visa if you wish to study in Germany. However, this does not apply to EU nationals or citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Entering the country without a visa for EU member states
As an EU national (or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) you only need a valid ID card or similar proof of identification. When you have found somewhere to live, you must register with the registration authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt) in your university town. You will be given a certificate confirming that you have a right of residence (also known as residence permit).
Where do I get my visa?
You apply for a visa before entering Germany at the German embassy or the German consulate in your country. Embassy and consulate addresses are listed on the website of the Federal Foreign Office. Embassy and consulate staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your visa application.
The Federal Foreign Office website also provides important information about visas and current visa regulations for all countries.
Tip: It can take several weeks or even months to process a visa application. So prepare you application well in advance!
What kind of visa do I need?
The kind of visa you need depends on
- how long you wish to stay in Germany,
- which country you come from
- what you intend doing in Germany.
What do I do if I want to stay in Germany for less than 90 days?
Citizens of certain countries require no visa in Germany if they are here for a limited period of up to 90 days. You can find out if this applies to you by checking the Federal Foreign Office's list of countries with a visa requirement.
If your country is subject to the visa requirement, you can apply for the Schengen visa which entitles you to stay for up to three months for a half-yearly period. This kind of visa is suitable, for example, for a holiday trip or a summer language course.
Important! If you enter the country without a visa or with a Schengen visa, you are required to leave again after three months! As a rule, it is not possible to extend the visa in Germany. It is therefore not advisable to enter the country as a tourist if you intend taking a full course of study, completing a doctorate degree or if you are on a research assignment in Germany.
Only a small number of countries are exempt from this regulation:
Citizens of the countries of Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea and the United States of America may also enter Germany for a longer stay without a visa and apply for a residence permit within three months.
What do I do if I want to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days?
Then you will need a national visa. This visa is issued for a stay of longer than three months, for example, for students wishing to attend a preparatory course at a "Studienkolleg" or those intending to complete a full university course.
- If you have not yet been admitted to a university or "Studienkolleg", apply for a student application visa. This visa is initially valid for three months and it gives you the opportunity to fulfil the admission requirements
What do I do after three months?
If this period is not long enough for you, you can extend your stay by a maximum of six months. If you are admitted to study or attend a preparatory course at a "Studienkolleg" in this period, you may apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying at the foreigners' authorities.
- If you have already been admitted to study or attend a "Studienkolleg", apply for a student visa.
The visa is usually valid for three months. For the period thereafter, you must apply for a residence permit from the foreigners' authorities at your place of study.
Our tutor Max gives you advice about the first things you have to do when you arrive in Germany and which authorities you have to report to in the Student Life Video Film 8 "Deutsche Bürokratie ein Albtraum?"
More information about entry and residence
What documents do I need when I apply for a visa?
It's best to inquire at the German embassy or German consulate in your country. You usually need to submit the following documents:
- proof of health insurance
- proof of financial resources (see below)
- proof of previous study
- proof of German language skills or plans to take a language course in Germany
- for a visa for study purposes: letter of acceptance from your university (or confirmation that you are expecting to receive a letter of acceptance soon)
- for a student applicant visa: a higher education entrance qualification that is recognised in Germany.
Proof of financial resources
With your proof of financial resources, you verify that you can support yourself financially for one year in Germany. Income or assets of around 8,000 euro are usually required per year (approx. 659 euro per month). Inquire at the German embassy in your country about how you should provide proof that you have sufficient financial resources. On principle, several types of proof are possible.
- Proof of parents' income and assets
- Scholarship from a recognised scholarship foundation
- Security on a blocked account
- Bank guarantee
- Someone whose place of residence is in Germany agrees to assume the costs for you
Visa application forms are available in various languages from Federal Foreign Office.
What do I do if I want to stay in Germany and work here after my studies? If you have successfully completed your course at a German university you are entitled to look for a job in Germany. You can find out more about this under career after your studies.