Generally speaking, all other foreigners require a visa for stays in Germany. A visa is not required for visits of up to 90 days in an 180‑day period for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement.
You will find an overview on visa requirements here:
Bodies responsible for issuing visas
Under German law (section 71 (2) of the Residence Act), responsibility for issuing visas lies with the missions of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. its embassies and consulates‑general. In principle, the Federal Foreign Office is not involved in decisions on individual visa applications, nor does it have any knowledge of the status of individual applications being processed by the missions.
Ratione materiae competence (subject‑matter responsibility) lies with the mission of the Schengen state in whose territory the sole or main destination is situated.
Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60.
Exemptions may be possible. Please refer to our fees page for information:
Time required to process a visa application
As a rule, missions require between two and ten working days to decide on an application for a short stay visa. Applications for visas entitling the holder to a longer stay or to take up gainful employment may take several months to process.
As a rule, applicants must submit visa applications, together with all necessary documents, in person at the German mission responsible for their place of residence. In order to avoid time‑consuming requests for additional information or documentation, applicants should consult the website of the respective mission well in advance of their departure date to find out about the visa procedure and about the documentation which has to be submitted.
Visa application forms can be obtained from the mission free of charge (in the local language). Applicants may also download the forms here (see right). The forms submitted must be original versions in the appropriate language of the mission in question. Application forms may also be downloaded free of charge from the website of the competent mission.
Requirements for the issue of short stay (Schengen) visas
Since 5 April 2010, Regulation (EC) No. 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) forms the statutory basis under European law in all Schengen states for the issuing of visas for transit through the Schengen area or for short‑term stays in the Schengen area not exceeding 90 days in any 180‑day period.
The Visa Code standardises the visa requirements which must be examined by the mission in the course of the visa procedure. The respective mission makes a decision on the visa application at its own discretion, taking into account all the circumstances in any given individual case.
There is no automatic entitlement to a Schengen visa.
The mission must ensure that the following requirements have been met in each individual case:
- The purpose of the trip to Germany must be plausible and comprehensible.
- The applicant must be in a position to finance his/her living and travel costs from his/her own funds or income.
- The visa holder must be prepared to leave the Schengen area before the visa expires.
- Documentary evidence must be provided of travel health insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros valid for the entire Schengen area.
Should an applicant be unable to prove that he/she can finance the journey and stay from his/her own funds, a third person may undertake to cover all costs associated with the trip in accordance with sections 66 and 68 of the Residence Act. This undertaking is normally to be made to the foreigners authority in the place of residence of the person making the undertaking.
Persons whose entry into the Schengen area would jeopardise security or public order in the Schengen states or who do not fulfil one or more of the above‑mentioned requirements, cannot be granted a visa.
Should a visa application be rejected, the applicant will be informed of the main reasons for the rejection. Every applicant is entitled to take legal recourse against the mission’s decision.
Requirements for the issue of visas for longer stays and/or stays entitling the holder to take up gainful employment
As a rule, all foreigners require visas for stays of more than three months or stays leading to gainful employment. Exemptions apply to EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens and Swiss nationals.
Furthermore, citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America may obtain any residence permit that may be required after entering Germany. Citizens of all other countries planning a longer stay in Germany must apply for visas at the competent mission before arriving in the country. Such visa applications must be approved by the relevant foreigners authority in Germany, i.e. the foreigners authority in the place where the applicant intends to take up residence. If the approval of the foreigners authority is necessary before a visa can be issued, the procedure can take up to three months, in some cases longer, since the foreigners authority will often consult other authorities (e.g. the Federal Employment Agency). Missions may only issue visas once they have obtained the approval of the foreigners authority.
Visas entitling holders to take up gainful employment often do not require the approval of the foreigners authority, which speeds up the application process.
Visa application forms for a long‑term stay (longer than three months) can be obtained from the relevant mission free of charge. They can also be downloaded here (German, English, French, Italian). The forms submitted must be original versions (at least two sets) in the appropriate language of the mission in question. Please contact the mission beforehand to find out exactly which forms are required.
Simplifying the procedure for applying for Schengen visas
The possibility of downloading and filling in visa application forms online, and then taking the completed and printed out form to the interview at the visa section where they can be scanned in electronically via a barcode has done much to reduce the time required to process the application at the visa counter. In addition, many German missions have introduced an electronic appointments system to help manage the number of visitors to the mission and thus shorten waiting times.
The increasing number of visas issued which entitle holders to multiple short stays in the Schengen area over a long period of time means it is no longer necessary to submit visa applications repeatedly. This option is of particular benefit to persons who have to travel frequently for professional or private reasons and have proven their reliability by using previous visa legally.
In future all missions will electronically scan in applicants’ fingerprints when accepting visa applications. This biometric procedure will be introduced gradually region by region, probably by the end of 2014. Once a person’s fingerprints have been scanned in, an interview at the mission will only be necessary in exceptional cases when submitting a visa application. A renewed biometric procedure is envisaged after five years.
- Number of short stay Schengen visas (transit, visits, business, tourism, etc.) issued by German missions in 2012: 1,782,351 (2011: 1,621,745)
- Number of national visas issued by German missions (usually for longer stays and stays leading to gainful employment) in 2012: 174,071 (2011: 162,258)
- Number of visa applications rejected by German missions in writing in 2012: 138,682 (2011: 143,984)
- Total number of visa applications processed by German missions in 2012: 2,095,104 (2011: 1,927,987)
Legal provisions relating to the issue of visas (selection)
- external link, opens in new windowConvention Implementing the Schengen Agreement (Agreement of 14 June 1985 between the Governments of the States of the Benelux Economic Union, the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on the Gradual Abolition of Checks at their Common Borders)
- external link, opens in new windowVisa Code Regulation (EC) No. 810/2009 of 13 July 2009
- external link, opens in new windowSchengen Border Code Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 of 15 March 2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders
- external link, opens in new windowResidence Act of 30 July 2004 (Federal Law Gazette I, No. 41, p. 1952)
- external link, opens in new windowOrdinance Governing Residence of 25 November 2004 (Federal Law Gazette I, No. 62, p. 2945)
- external link, opens in new windowCouncil Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Official Journal L 81/1 of 21 March 2001); Council Regulation (EC) No. 2414/2001 of 7 December 2001 amending Council Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001), in the respective current version
- external link, opens in new windowCouncil Regulation (EC) No. 453/2003 of 6 March 2003 amending Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
- external link, opens in new windowCouncil Regulation (EC) No. 1932/2006 of 21 December 2006 amending Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
- external link, opens in new windowCouncil Regulation (EC) No. 1244/2009 of 30 November 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
- external link, opens in new windowFreedom of Movement Act/EU of 30 July 2004 (Federal Law Gazette I, No. 41, p. 1986)
- of 22 November 2004 (Federal Law Gazette I, No. 62, p. 2937)
- external link, opens in new windowD visa regulation Regulation (EU) No. 265/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2010 amending the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement and Regulation (EC) No. 562/2006 as regards movement of persons with a long‑stay visa
The above‑mentioned Federal Law Gazettes can be obtained from Verlag des Bundesgesetzblattes, Postfach 13 20, 53003 Bonn, Germany, and the Joint Ministerial Gazettes from Carl Heymanns Verlag KG, Gereonstrasse 18‑32, 50670 Cologne, Germany, or through booksellers. The Official Journal of the European Communities is available from the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, L‑2985 Luxembourg.
Last updated 14.11.2013