Visa regulations

11.06.2024 - Article

EU nationals

Non-EU nationals

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:

Table of countries whose citizens require/do not require visas to enter Germany

Information for Britons and their family members

Information is provided on the Homepage of the German Missions in the United Kingdom.

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.

Visa fees

Since 11 June 2024, the fee for Schengen visas has been increased to EUR 90, to be paid upon submission of the application.

The fee for national visas has been EUR 75 since 1st of September 2017.

However, both the Visa Code (Schengen visas) and the Ordinance Governing Residence (national visas) provide for fee reductions or waivers in certain cases.

Fee waivers

a) For Schengen visas:

Visa fees are waived by all Schengen states for the following categories of persons, regardless of their nationality:

  1. Children under six years
  2. School pupils, undergraduates, postgraduates and accompanying teaching staff who undertake trips for the purpose of study or training
  3. Representatives of non-profit organisations aged 25 years or less participating in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events organised by non-profit organisations
  4. Researchers from third countries travelling within the European Community for the purpose of carrying out scientific research as defined in Recommendation 2005/761/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 September 2005
  5. For the “replacement” of an old, valid visa in a “full” travel document (one that has no empty pages) with a new visa valid for the same period in the applicant’s new travel document

b) For national visas:

  1. Foreign nationals receiving a scholarship from public funds during their stay in Germany, as well as their spouse or partner and minor children as long as they are covered by the funding
  2. Members of the diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organisations in Germany, as well as their spouse and children up to and including the age of 25
  3. Where Germany has undertaken to do so in bilateral or multilateral agreements

c) General fee waivers

Visa fees are waived for the spouses, same-sex partners in a civil union and minor single children of German citizens, the parents of minor German citizens and family members of EU/EEA nationals, provided they enjoy freedom of movement.

Reduced fees

a) The visa facilitation agreements with Armenia and Azerbaijan stipulate a fee of EUR 35.00 for a Schengen visa worldwide and various waivers of this visa fee (e.g. for visits to relatives). For those nationals of Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Albania, Ukraine and Georgia who still require a visa (holders of non-biometric passports), visa facilitation agreements stipulate a fee of EUR 35.00.

b) A reduced fee of EUR 45.00 for granting a Schengen visa applies to children between the ages of 6 and 12.

c) For national visas, the fee for minors is half of the regular rate, i.e. EUR 37.50.

The German missions will also consider waiving or reducing the fees charged in individual cases if the applicant is seeking to enter the country to promote cultural interests, interests in the field of foreign policy, development policy or other areas of vital public interest or for humanitarian reasons. Foreign exhibitors at German trade fairs who present an official trade fair pass are also exempt from the visa fee.

Enquiries regarding visa fees in individual cases should be directed to the German mission responsible for the application in question.

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.

Application procedure

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 at the bottom of this page. 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:

  1. The purpose of the trip to Germany must be plausible and comprehensible.
  2. The applicant must be in a position to finance his/her living and travel costs from his/her own funds or income.
  3. The visa holder must be prepared to leave the Schengen area before the visa expires.
  4. 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, the United Kingdom 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 2021: 287.614 (2020: 353.983, many of which were issued before the start of the pandemic).

  • Number of national visas issued by German missions (usually for longer stays and stays leading to employment) in 2021: 304.773, reaching almost pre-pandemic numbers. In 2020 a total of 191.485 national visas was issued.

  • Number of visa applications rejected by German missions in 2021: 92.772 (2020: 92.165)

  • Detailed statistics on Schengen visas are also provided by the European Union - Migration and Home Affairs

Legal provisions relating to the issue of visas (selection)

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.

Additional content

Top of page