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Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ

On the Federal Foreign Office webpage you can find out whether you need a visa for visits to Germany and the Schengen states of up to 90 days. Most non-EU-foreigners wanting to work or study in Germany or to stay longer than 90 days in Germany for other purposes, usually need a visa.

Exceptions are indicated in the relevant list of countries.

If you and/or your spouse live in a Schengen country, the situation is as follows:

As holder of a residence permit issued by a Schengen country, you need no visa for short-term stays in other Schengen countries - so you need no visa for Germany either. In any 180 days period you may stay for up to 90 days maximum in another Schengen country. Please check with the relevant authorities in your country of residence whether your spouse's residence permit entitles him or her to visa-free travel within the Schengen area.

If you or your spouse live in an EU country where the Schengen Agreement does not apply or not apply in full, the situation is as follows:

If the authorities of your country of residence have issued your spouse with a "residence card of a family member of a Union citizen" pursuant to Art. 10(1) of Directive 2004/38/EC, he or she needs no visa for travel within the EU.

If you and your spouse live outside the EU, your spouse will need an entry visa if he or she is from a country subject to a visa regime. In this case, however, a facilitated visa procedure applies.

If you have further questions, please visit the website of the relevant German mission or contact the mission directly.

The EU provides a guide to your rights as an EU citizen.

Yes. Holders of

- a Schengen visa (text on the visa reads "valid for Schengen states"),

- a residence permit of a member state or

- a national visa of a member state

can also travel to Germany for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days.

The Schengen visa should, however, have been issued by a mission of the country which is the main destination. The country of entry and departure is not the determining factor.

The vast majority of foreign travellers benefit from the "transit privilege" - if during a stopover at a German airport, you do not leave the International Airport Area and if the destination is not in a Schengen country, you do not need a transit visa.

However, if for some reason you need to enter the Schengen area during your stopover (for example to change terminals or if the destination is in a Schengen country), you may require a visa; please plan for this. You should apply for a visa well before you travel!

Only five airports in Germany have an International Transit Area enabling you to transit without formally entering the Schengen area:

  • Frankfurt/Main
  • Munich
  • Hamburg (4.30 a.m. - 11.30 p.m. only)
  • Düsseldorf (6.00 a.m. - 9.00 p.m. only) and if the airline has arranged the transit beforehand with the authorities responsible for cross-border security (the Federal Police)
  • Cologne/Bonn (4.30 a.m. - 11.00 p.m. only)
  • Berlin (06.00 a.m. - 11.00 p.m. only) at Berlin-Tegel, for Air Berlin passengers only. The airline has to arrange the transit beforehand with the authorities responsible for cross-border security (the Federal Police). The connection time must be at least 75 minutes.

Nationals of the following countries do not have the transit privilege and therefore require an airport transit visa (category A) for transit at a German airport:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan *
  • Lebanon
  • Mali
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Turkey *

* certain exceptions apply to these countries

Exceptions from the requirement to hold an airport transit visa:

  • Holders of valid visas and national residence permits from EU and Schengen countries
  • Holders of certain national residence permits from the following countries: Andorra, Japan, Canada, San Marino, United States of America
  • Holders of valid visas from the EEA countries (the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and visas issued by Japan, Canada and the United States of America

Do I have to enter and leave via Germany or can I do so elsewhere?

Yes, you can. Holders of

- a Schengen visa (text on the visa reads "valid for Schengen states")

- a residence permit of a member state or

- a national visa (D-visa)

can stay in the entire Schengen area for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days. The Schengen area consists of the following countries:

Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Schengen visa has to be applied for at the foreign mission of the country which is the main destination. The country of entry and departure is not the determining factor. The entry into and departure from the Schengen area can thus occur at any border crossing.

Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland have all acceded to the Schengen Agreement and are thus Schengen states.


The Schengen area thus includes all EU member states except the UK, Ireland and Cyprus; at present the EU members Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia only apply some of the Schengen provisions. Until these three countries apply what is known as the Schengen acquis in full, as is their aim, passport controls will remain in place at internal borders. In addition to the EU countries already mentioned, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also Schengen states.


Holders of Schengen visas (text on the visa reads “valid for Schengen states” in the language of the issuing country) may spend up to 90 days in a given 180 days period in the Schengen area, provided their visa is valid at the time. The same applies to holders of most national residence permits and national category D visas issued by individual Schengen states for long‑term visits of more than three months. A separate visa may well be needed for travel to other EU states which are not Schengen states.

On the planned date of departure from Germany, your passport has to be valid at least for another three months and it has to be issued within the last 10 years. It should also contain at least two empty pages where the visa can be inserted.

The mission abroad decides what type of visa to issue (period of validity, number of days covered) on the basis of the documents submitted. If necessary, it may issue a visa that entitles the holder to enter the Schengen area on multiple occasions within the given period of validity. Such annual or multi-annual visas, which are valid for one or more years, are as a rule only issued to persons who have already been to Germany or other Schengen states several times in the past and whom the mission abroad considers to be particularly trustworthy (e.g. because of their position in the host country). Please note that regardless of the length of validity, visas only entitle the holder to a maximum stay of 90 days in any period of 180 days.

Can I have my visa extended in Germany?

It is only possible to extend the validity of visas in certain exceptional cases. This can only be done by the foreigners authority in Germany covering the place of residence of the visa holder. This is the only authority that can decide on an extension of a visa during a visit to Germany. Neither the Federal Foreign Office nor its missions abroad can do so.

The visa always has to be applied for by the person who intends to travel to Germany. Details on the documents to be presented at the time of application are often available on the webpage of the competent German mission or directly from the mission itself.

For private visits, an invitation is usually required to confirm the purpose of the journey. In case the visitor is not able to fully cover the expenses associated with the trip a formal pledge to cover all costs (declaration of commitment) has to be presented with the visa application. In this case the host can sign the relevant form ("Verpflichtungserklärung") at his/her residency's local authorities (usually Ordnungsamt or Ausländerbehörde).

German missions abroad: Countries A to Z

In the first place, an invitation proves the purpose of the intended journey. Therefore, no special formalities are required. If, however, the host intends to cover the expenses associated with the trip, a formal pledge to cover all costs (declaration of commitment) has to be presented with the visa application. In this case the host can sign the relevant form ("Verpflichtungserklaerung") at his/her residency's local authorities (usually Ordnungsamt or Auslaenderbehoerde).

...who is also not a German national live and work with me in Germany?

If you want to live in Germany with your spouse you have to submit an application for family reunification to the competent German mission abroad. Details on the documents to be presented with your visa application are often available on the webpage of the competent German mission abroad or directly from the mission itself.

EU citizens as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland citizens have the right to live and work in Germany. After arrival, they just need to register with the appropriate office of the town hall (mostly called "Einwohnermeldeamt" or "Bürgeramt") of their residence in Germany.

First of all you have to apply for a visa for family reunification (subsequent immigration of spouses) from the competent German mission abroad.

Documents required include an authenticated marriage certificate as well as the German passport of the German spouse.

The German mission will forward the visa application to the foreigners authority in the place where you want to live in Germany for an opinion.

The German mission abroad can only issue a visa for entry once the foreigners authority has given its approval. The final residence permit will be issued by the foreigners authority in Germany once you are there.

Details on the documents to be presented with your visa application are often available on the webpage of the competent German mission abroad or directly from the mission itself.

National residence permits issued by the Federal Republic of Germany entitle the bearer to travel to the other Schengen countries of the EU without a visa. If you intend to move to an EU country that does not belong to the Schengen area, it is possible that your spouse may not require a visa if he or she holds a national residence permit.

If your spouse does not hold a national residence permit, an entry visa is generally required if he or she is from a country subject to a visa regime. In this case, however, a facilitated visa procedure applies.

A visa is not required if your spouse has been issued with a “Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen” pursuant to Art. 10 (1) of Directive 2004/38/EC. If you and your spouse intend to move from one EU country, of which you are not a national, to another EU country, you should first establish the applicable regulations with regard to visas.

If you have any other questions, please contact the responsible mission abroad for the EU country in question directly and visit their website for further information.

First of all find out from the competent registry office in Germany what documents you and your German spouse have to present in order to marry in Germany.

As soon as the registry office confirms your documents are complete, you can apply for a visa to marry in Germany.

Once you are married the final residence and work permit will be issued by the foreigners authority in Germany.

Details on the documents to be presented with your visa application are often available on the webpage of the competent German mission abroad or directly from the mission itself.

Yes. Under the amended Immigration Act which entered into force on 28 August 2007, foreign spouses have to prove they have at least a basic knowledge of German. For detailed information on this, please click on the link below to the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. You can also request further information directly from the German diplomatic missions in the respective country.

As a general rule, all foreigners staying in Germany for more than 90 days wanting to work or study in Germany need a visa before entering Germany.
For more information:

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States may apply for the necessary permit after arrival in Germany. The same applies for nationals of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino who do not intend to take up employment.

EU citizens as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland citizens have the right to live and work in Germany. After arrival, they just need to register with the appropriate office of the town hall (mostly called "Einwohnermeldeamt" or "Bürgeramt") of their residence in Germany.

If you plan to study in Germany, you have to submit an application for a student visa to the respective German mission abroad. Documents have to be presented proving inter alia that the applicant has been accepted for studies by the university. The German mission abroad will then forward the visa application for an opinion to the foreigners authority in the town housing the university.

The German mission abroad can only issue the visa for entry once the foreigners authority has given its approval.

Details on the documents to be presented with your visa application are often available on the webpage of the competent German mission abroad or directly from the mission itself.

German missions abroad: Countries A to Z

Financing can be proved by presenting the income and financial circumstances of parents, by a declaration of commitment in line with Article 66-68 Aufenthaltsgesetz (German Foreigners Act) made by a person with sufficient assets or income, by paying a security into a blocked account in Germany, or by depositing an annually renewable bank guarantee at a bank in Germany.

Proof of sufficient funds is also taken as satisfied if the stay is being financed by a scholarship from public funds or a scholarship from an organization recognized in Germany or a scholarship financed by public funds in the country of origin, if the Federal Foreign Office, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or another German organization granting scholarships has been responsible for providing the link to a German higher education institution.

Visa applications of students need amongst other things the approval of the competent German alien´s authority. Therefore the processing time for student visas may take several weeks, in individual cases even months. Applicants for student visas are encouraged to read all the relevant information on the respective German mission´s website carefully before their appointment and hand in only complete paperwork. This is the best way to assure a speedy process.

As soon as there is a development in the processing, the applicant will be contacted.

Kindly be advised that the help desk of the German Foreign Office is not able to speed up the process or check the status of the application.

As a general rule non-EU nationals need a residence title (visa or residence permit) to take up employment in Germany. By law the residence title has to give information whether and to which extent access to the labour market is granted. This information replaces the former work permit. If you intend to commence work in Germany you have to apply for a visa with the competent German mission abroad before entering Germany. (Only nationals of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States may apply for the necessary residence title after arrival in Germany.)

Details as to which documents have to be presented with your visa application are available on the webpage of the competent German mission abroad or directly from the mission itself.

German missions abroad: Countries A to Z

Germany has concluded bilateral agreements on working holiday stays with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Chile, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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