Many world travellers will need a visa to enter Germany for tourism or visiting. Many more will need a visa for working, studying, or joining a family member.
Check if You Need a Visa for Germany
Whether you need a visa to Germany or not, it mostly depends on the following factors:
- The length of your stay.
- The purpose of your trip.
- Your citizenship.
If your country is listed under the German airport visa regime, you will need an airport visa to transit Germany. You will need such a visa if you are a national of one of the 12 countries under the common Schengen Area Airport Visa Regime list. Or, if you are a national of the additional eight countries under the German airport transit visa regime. These eight countries are:
- South Sudan
You will not need a short-stay visa to Germany if you are a national of the 62 Schengen visa-exempt countries.
Types of Visas for Germany
Due to the several purposes under which one might wish to enter Germany, the German Immigration Authorities have established a few types of visa.
A German Schengen visa entitles its holder to stay in Germany for a maximum of 90 days within a 6-month period. Holders are permitted to travel to Germany and the other 25 Schengen countries while the visa is valid.*
*Unless when the Germany Schengen visa holder has an LTV Visa (Limited Territorial Validity), which means they cannot travel to the other Schengen countries.
You can apply for a German Schengen visa if you are traveling for the following purposes:
- To transit through a German airport.
- To visit family and friends or for tourism.
- To attend meetings and other business related events.
- For medical treatment.
- For official, cultural or sports visits.
What if I Have to Stay in Germany for Longer that 90 Days?
The Germany long stay visas, contrary to short stay visas are issued for stays that exceed 90 days and under completely different purpose of travel than the purpose of short stay visas. You will not need to apply for a German long stay visa only if you are a national of:
- EU/EEA/EFTA countries
- New Zealand
- Republic of South Korea
- the United States of America
If you will stay in Germany for longer than 90 days and are not a national of one the countries mentioned above, you should apply for one of the following visas:
- Germany Student Visa for prospective students in Germany or those that have already been admitted in a German university.
- Germany Language Course Visa for prospective students in Germany may need to attend a langue course before being fully admitted to a university.
- Germany Student Internship Visa for students who want to participate in a training program or internship in Germany that lasts longer than 90 days.
- Germany Researcher visa for international scholars and researchers who will participate in a scientific event in Germany.
- Germany Employment Visa for persons that have a job offer in Germany and can be used to work on a paid job.
- Germany Job Seeker Visa for those seeking attractive job opportunities in Germany but do not have a job offer yet.
- Germany Freelancer Visa for foreign freelancers of different fields to enter Germany and work there as a Freelancer.
- Germany Family Reunion Visa for bringing specifically spouses and children of those who have already settled in Germany
- Medical Treatment Visa for every international with health issues to seek medical treatment in Germany.
How to Apply for a Germany Visa?
The application process for a Germany Visa is simple and quick. In particular, if you already have figured out what visa type you need and where you need to apply. To apply for a German visa you will need to go through these simple steps:
- Fill the German visa application form.
- Compile your document file.
- Check when you need to apply.
- Schedule a Germany visa appointment.
- Attend the visa interview.
- Pay the Germany visa fee.
- Wait for a response on your application.
Fill-in the German Visa Application Form
The application form that you need to fill depends a lot on the visa type you are applying for. There are two types of application forms:
- Germany Schengen visa application form.
- Visa application form for long-stay visits in Germany.
Choose the right form and enter your information online. Give correct information and try to avoid any typos of mistakes. If any of the information you have given in the application form does not comply with the information in the other required documents then your application might get rejected. Print the form and then sign it at the end.
Compile your document file
Depending on your purpose of application and nationality, and also the purpose of visit, the embassy or consulate will ask you to submit some certain documents, which will help the consular officer decide whether you should be issued a visa or not.
Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you will have to submit some extra supporting documents to prove the purpose behind your travel.
For the full list of Germany visa required documents, click here.
You should keep in mind that if you do not comply to the German authorities’ requirements your application will be denied.
KEEP IN MIND: Having health insurance coverage for your entire stay in Germany is required to be able to get a German visa. Here you can learn how to obtain travel health insurance for Germany. If you will be staying in Germany for work, to study or other reasons besides visiting, you should consider a German expat health insurance plan and become familiar with the German health insurance system.
Check when you need to apply
There is a given time within which you need to submit your application for a visa to Germany. You should submit your application six months prior to your trip the earliest, and two weeks in advance the latest.
On the other hand, If you are applying to remain in Germany for a period longer than three months, then you ought to submit your application six months prior to your trip the earliest and six weeks in advance the latest.
Schedule a Germany Visa Appointment
Booking a German visa interview is mandatory. The German embassies and consulates around the world do not accept walk-in applications.
In most of the countries, you will be able to schedule an appointment online, through the website of the German consulate, or through the website of the visa service company to which Germany has outsourced visa processing. However, in some others you will need to make an appointment in person at the facilities of the German embassy/consulate.
Attend the Germany visa interview
Make sure to be on time at the application center since they may not accept your application if you arrive later than ten minutes. After the verification of your appointment letter, you will be issued a token. Keep it because you will need it later!
The interview takes around 10 minutes. During which, the official person at the application center will check and verify your documents. She/he will ask you several questions regarding your trip.
Once the interview is over, your biometrics will be collected, if this is your first trip to Germany. This is a quick process that captures a 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner, which usually takes 7-8 minutes per applicant.
After all these steps, the applying procedure has been completed. The Embassy or consulate where you have applied will process your application, and may also ask for additional documents in the meantime. Take care to provide anything extra they ask for.
Pay the Germany Visa Fee
At many German consulates, you will pay the Germany visa application fee at the beginning of your interview. Whereas, in others you will have to pay the fee online through the visa application website.
To get a Germany visa you will need to pay a visa application fee.
Yet, you may be exempt from paying this fee or eligible to pay a lower fee, depending on your age, nationality and purpose of entry.
Note that you will need to pay this fee when you submit your application at the German consulate of visa center in your country.
Wait for a response on your application
The German embassies abroad take about 10 to 15 working days to process a visa application. In some particular cases, it may take a longer time to get e visa to Germany. This happens due to the complicity of your situation, or the high number of applications the embassy is processing at the time.
What If My Application Is Rejected?
If the German embassy rejects your Germany Schengen Visa application, you will receive the reason behind this decision.
If you think this decision is unjust, you can always appeal by writing an appeal letter for visa refusal.
Here you can read about the 9 most common reasons for Germany visa denial.
How Many Times Can I Enter Germany With a Schengen Visa?
The German Schengen Visas are grouped based on the number of times they entitle you to enter Germany and the number of Schengen countries you may visit with it:
- German Schengen Uniform Visa. This visa permits you visit Germany and any other Schengen states for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. Depending on the number of entries you can perform within your visa validity period, these are two Schengen Uniform Visas for Germany:
- German Schengen “Single-Entry” Visa. You can enter Germany and move across the Schengen states, for no more than one time during the entire visa validity period. Once you leave the Schengen territory, returning to it is not possible with the same visa.
- German Schengen “Multiple-Entry” Visa. If you get this visa, you can enter and leave the Schengen territory for as many times as you need to, as long as you do not violate the 90/180 days rule.
- German Schengen Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV). When this visa is granted to you, this means that you are not entitled to move across other Schengen states. You should only remain in Germany.
How Long Can I Stay in Germany With a Schengen Visa?
The maximum number of days you can stay in Germany and the whole territory of Schengen is 90 days within a period of 180 days.
Please note that this is the maximum of days of stay that you may be granted. The German embassy in your country of residence may grant you with a visa that is valid for a shorter period, i.e. 15 days.
Can a German Schengen Visa Be Extended?
As a rule, a German Schengen Visa cannot be extended. The rule, however, disregards the cases when there are serious grounds upon which you cannot leave Germany, as follows:
- Force Majeure. When there are strong reasons beyond your control, which prevent your return in the home country. I.e. natural disasters, no air traffic due to bad weather, etc.
- Humanitarian Reasons. When you are incapable of traveling due to a disastrous event of a family member living in Germany, and similar.
- Serious Personal Reasons. In case of an unforeseen crucial business or professional event that cannot wait.
- Late Entry in the Schengen Area. When you have been late in entering Germany and you did not fully use your visa period.
Even in the aforementioned cases, the extension will not be granted if you fail to apply for an extension within your 90 days of stay.
Can I Work in Germany with a Schengen Visa?
No, you cannot work in Germany with a Schengen Visa. A Schengen Visa does not entitle its holder to work anywhere in the 26 Schengen countries. If you want to work in Germany, you should instead apply for one of the following visas:
Germany Residence Permits
A German residence permit allows holders to stay in Germany for a longer period than the one stated in the visa. It can be issued for various purposes such as studying, working and partake in other activities.
The application for a residence permit is done at the Foreigners Authority within Germany. There are three categories of German residence permits:
- Temporary residence permit
- EU Blue Card
- Permanent residence permit
Find below the types of residence permits that fall within the above mentioned categories:
- Germany Student Residence Permit – issued to student who participate in a training program, study at a university and is issued for the length of the course.
- German Employment Residence Permit – issued to those who get a job offer in Germany after actively seeking work under a Job Seeker visa.
- German Family Reunion Residence Permit – issued to family members of German residents under the purpose of a family reunification.
- Germany EU Blue Card – residence permit for highly skilled workers and want to work in their area of expertise in Germany.
- EU Residence Permit – issued for these groups of people who want to reside in Germany on another EU country.
- Germany Humanitarian Residence Permit – issued to those who have escaped a situation at their home country.
- Permanent Residence Permit – issued to settle in Germany
Germany Long Stay Visa and Residence Permit Extension
To extend a German long-stay visa, you should in fact apply for an extension of your residence permit in Germany. You should meet the criteria set by German immigration authorities to do so.
Quick facts about Germany
Located in the heart of Europe, Germany is one of the top destinations for many world travelers. Its old-fashioned architecture, infrastructure and rich history have made the country a top destination for travel. Moreover, the country is known for its many types of beer, fantastic bread and sausages.
In addition, it has one of the strongest economies in the world and a very low unemployment rate. As such, it is also a country of possibilities for investors and employees. With low university tuition fees and some of the best world universities, many students dream to study here.