Procedure descriptions

Applying for a national visa

Are you a citizen of a country from which you can only travel to Germany with a visa?

You must apply for this. The visa is issued before travel to the Schengen Area, destination Germany.

You do not require a visa if you possess a residence title which is still valid.


A national visa is necessary if


  • you are staying in Germany for more than three months and
  • you wish to remain in Germany for a purpose of stay named in the Residency Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz). This includes:
    • Special residency rights (for example the right to return
    • Humanitarian or political reasons or reasons under international law
    • Family reasons
    • Employment (for self employed and non-self employed employees)
    • Education

Please note: For stays of under three months, you require a Schengen visa.

After entry with a national visa, you can apply for a (temporary) residency permit for a specific statutory residency purpose. In special cases (for example highly qualified), a permanent residency permit can also be issued immediately. The issuing of the residency permit or permanent residency permit must be applied for at the foreigners authority before expiry of the visa.

Tip: You can find a list of the countries which are subject to visa requirements on the Internet side of the Auswärtiges Amt, as well as a list of those countries which are exempt from visa requirements for travel to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Note: For citizens of the EU Member States, as well as for those of the European Economic Area (EEA) states of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, no visa is required for travel to Germany and no residency title is required for residence. This also applies to Swiss citizens.
Further information can be found in the procedural description "
Application for residency permit for Swiss citizens"

For citizens of the EU Member States of Bulgaria and Romania, transitional arrangements concerning free movement of employees and freedom to provide services are currently still in place. Before taking up employment, they must obtain a work permit from the employment office responsible.

More detailed information concerning "residency permit" can be found in the chapter of the same name in the "immigration" book.

Responsible department

to issue a visa: the German Embassy/Consulate

Note: You can also apply for a visa for a short-term stay at the German Embassy/Consulate of another Schengen state. As a basic rule, you should apply for the visa at the German Embassy/Consulate of the Schengen state in which the primary destination for the short stay is located.



The requirements are as follows:

  • Your identity is clear and you fulfil the passport requirement.
  • Your maintenance is secure.
  • No reason for expulsion is present and
  • if no claim to a residency title exists:
    Your stay does not endanger or impair the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
    The special requirements for residency titles in accordance with the intended purpose of stay are present.

Note: The issuing of a visa is not possible if you have been expelled, deported or repatriated.


You must make the visa application in writing, giving details of the purpose of the stay. The German representations abroad (embassies, consulates) are responsible.

Note: Incorrect or incomplete information in the visa process normally leads to refusal of a residency title following entry. This can also lead to expulsion. Exceptions are possible


In good time before the intended entry.

Required documents

  • Passport or replacement passport
  • Proof of the named requirements (for example declaration of responsibility of a third party concerning guarantee of maintenance)
  • Proof that the special requirements for the intended residency title are present.


75 euros

Processing time

Several months

Above all during the peak travel season, delays may be incurred.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Innenministerium released it on 06.10.2017. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.