Germany Visa Requirements

German immigration rules are complex, and the visa requirements vary depending on your circumstances. We have provided a general outline of Germany visa application requirements in this article, and have explained certain must-haves as far as your supporting documents are concerned.

It is advisable, however, to consider consulting a Germany immigration lawyer, who can help you navigate through the myriad of German visa requirements and assist with your application. For bespoke legal advice pertaining to your German visa application, call us today on +44 (0) 333 305 9375.

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    Types of German Visas

    There are two main categories of Germany visa: short stay visas (also referred to as Schengen visas) and long stay visas.

    A Germany short stay visa allows visa-required foreign nationals to travel to Germany and stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period, for various purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family and friends in the country, receiving medical treatment, attending seminars and conferences, participating in a sports or cultural event etc.

    You may also be able to visit other countries in the Schengen Area on a German short stay visa, provided your total stay in the Schengen Area does not go beyond the 90-day limit (or the maximum number of days allowed in your Schengen visa) and your travel purpose remains the same.

    Foreign nationals coming to Germany to live, work and study in the country on a longer term than 90 days, may need to apply for a Germany long stay visa (also known as a ‘D’ visa or national visa) to travel to the country. Upon arrival in Germany, they will have to apply for a temporary residence permit for their specific purposes, e.g. work, study, invest, family reunion etc. within 90 days.

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    Who Needs a Visa to Enter Germany?

    EEA (the EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss citizens do not need any visa or residence permit to travel to visit Germany or live, work and study in the country.

    Citizens from the visa-exempt countries for Germany, e.g. the US, Canada, Japan, the UK etc., will not require a Schengen visa to come to Germany and stay there (or anywhere in the Schengen Area) for a maximum of 90 days in a six-month period.

    They can also travel to Germany without a long stay visa to live, work and study in the country for more than 90 days, but will need to apply for a residence permit for their specific purposes within 90 days from their date of arrival in Germany.

    Foreign nationals from visa-required countries (e.g. China or India), however, will have to apply for a visa to travel to Germany, be it for a short stay or longer. If they are travelling on long stay visas, they must apply for a residence permit upon their arrival, within the 90-day period.

    Germany Visa Requirements and Application Guidelines

    The German embassy or consulate in the visa applicant’s country of residence handles the visa processing. The local foreigner’s office in Germany processes the residence permit.

    The application procedure and visa requirements vary depending on:

    • Whether you are applying for a short stay or a long stay visa
    • What are your purposes for coming to Germany
    • Your nationality

    For example, if you are a visa-required foreign national coming to Germany to take up skilled employment, your job offer from a German employer must be pre-approved by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) before you can start with your visa application.

    Moreover, apart from certain general documents to be submitted along with German long stay visa applications, you will have to provide additional supporting documents proving your qualification (i.e. a university degree or vocational training recognised in Germany) and your German job offer details.

    In accordance with Section 71 (2) of the German Residence Act, the ultimate responsibility and decision-making authority for issuing visas lies with the German embassy/consulate in the visa applicant’s country of residence. The Federal Foreign Office is neither involved in individual visa applications, nor possesses any knowledge of the status of such applications.

    So, it is crucial to get in touch with the local German embassy/consulate in your country of residence, or check their respective websites, to understand their specific visa application guidelines and obtain a list of the supporting documents they will require you to submit.

    In some countries, visa application and document submission processes are outsourced to an external service provider, e.g. TLScontact in the UK or VFS Global in India. Please visit your local German embassy/consulate website for any such instruction. If yes, then please get in touch with the service provider to understand the specific procedures.

    Required Documents for Germany Visa Application


    Here is a general list of supporting documents that you will be required to submit along with your German visa application. We have also mentioned certain specific documents, which will vary depending on your immigration situation.

    However, please note that this list is by no means exhaustive. Your local German embassy or consulate (or the external service provider, where applicable) will provide you with a complete list of documents required in your case.

    These documents may include:

    • Printout of the relevant visa application form, duly completed and signed
    • Passport
    • Copies of previous visas, if any
    • Cover letter explaining the reason for your travel
    • Recent photos
    • Proof of financial means, to cover your stay in Germany (and that of your family members, if applicable)
    • Health insurance covering any medical treatment, emergencies and body repatriation costs
    • Proof of accommodation in Germany
    • Proof of civil status, e.g. married, divorced, in a civil partnership etc.
    • Proof of employment status, e.g. employed, student, retiree, businessperson etc.
    • Evidence demonstrating the purpose behind your trip to Germany, such as:
      • Travel itinerary, hotel reservation confirmation, round trip ticket etc., for a tourist visa to Germany
      • Medical history and confirmation from a private healthcare facility in Germany where the visa applicant will receive treatment, for a medical visa
      • Acceptance letter from a German educational institution, for student visas
      • Job offer in Germany along with salary and employment condition details, for migrant workers
      • Business plan as approved by competent German authorities and financial details, for foreign entrepreneurs setting up a business in the country
      • Proof of relationship, e.g. marriage or birth certificates, if coming to Germany for family reunification purpose etc.

    Required Documents for Minors Applying for a German Visa

    If the visa applicant is a minor, the German embassy/consulate will ask for certain additional documents, such as:

    • Visa application form signed by both parents, or legal guardian(s)
    • Applicant’s birth certificate
    • If the minor is travelling alone, then consent of both parents (or legal guardians)
    • If the minor is travelling with one parent, then consent from the other parent
    • Custody court order, in case only one parent or a legal guardian has full custody over the child
    • Death certificate of parent(s), where applicable
    • Certified copies of ID/passport of both parents/legal guardians
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      Germany Visa Application Form

      The first step in your German visa application process is to fill up the application form online. Please ensure you have selected the relevant form depending on your reason for travelling to Germany. An incorrect form will reject your whole application.

      While filling in the form, please provide as detailed information as possible. Wrong information or false claims will jeopardise not only your current visa application but also impact any future German visa application.

      After filling in the form completely and accurately, please take a printout of the same and sign on the required pages. Handwritten forms are not accepted. You will have to carry the signed hard copy of the form along with your supporting documents on the date of your visa interview appointment.

      Passport Requirements

      Your passport must be:

      • Valid at the time of your visa application, and for at least six months from your return journey date
      • Issued in the past 10 years
      • Having at least one blank double-page spread for affixing the visa sticker

      Please note that your original passport will be with your local German embassy/consulate during the processing of your visa. If you withdraw your passport at any time during the processing period, your visa application will automatically be cancelled and you will have to make a fresh application.

      Germany Visa Photo Requirements

      You will need to submit two identical, high quality photographs along with your visa application. The photos must be as per the German visa photo guidelines, such as:

      • 35×45 mm in size
      • Taken in the last six months
      • Your face should take up 70-80% of the photo, with a full frontal view
      • Background should be light grey, and taken in even lighting
      • Red eyes, reflections and such other anomalies are not permitted
      • Should have a 600 dpi resolution

      Insurance Requirements for Germany Visa

      For any type of German visa, you must submit evidence of a valid health insurance for yourself and your accompanying family members (if any), where the sum insured must be sufficient to cover your medical expenses or emergencies in Germany, as well as the cost of body repatriation in case of a death.

      The type of health insurance you can buy or the premium you have to pay will depend on the type of visa you are applying for, and your employment status in Germany. For example, workers in Germany will have to pay only half of their medical insurance premium, the other half being covered by their German employer.

      Self-employed individuals will have to pay full premiums, but they will have the freedom to choose between public and private health insurance. However, practising artists in Germany will need to pay only half of their health insurance premiums since the other half will be covered by the Artists’ Social Security Fund.

      Given all these complexities, please thoroughly read the guidelines for health insurance as applicable for your particular German visa. Call us today on +44 (0) 333 305 9375 to get advice from our immigration experts on what type of health insurance you will require in Germany.

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        Financial Requirements for Germany Visa

        It is crucial for a visa applicant to prove to German immigration authorities that they have sufficient financial means to cover their stay in the country. To prove that, you will have to submit your bank account statements for the last three months prior to the date of your visa application, or a blocked bank account for a study visa.

        Alternatively, if someone else is going to sponsor your trip, e.g. your friends or family residing in Germany or your company in case of a business visit, you will have to submit a letter of sponsorship issued by the sponsoring party, confirming that they will cover your expenses in the country.

        Visa Requirements Based on Your Employment Status

        Furthermore, based on your current employment status, you will be required to submit certain additional supporting documents, such as:

        • Employment contract, last six months’ bank statements, leave permission from your employer, income tax return details etc. for employees
        • For self-employed individuals, copy of business licence, company bank statements for last six months, tax returns etc.
        • No-objection certificate from your educational institution as well as proof of your enrolment with them, if you are a student
        • For retirees, pension statements for the past six months, proof of income from property etc.

        How Total Law Can Help You

        Obtaining a German visa involves several requirements that you must meet to be successful with your application. What makes the matters more complex, is the fact that these requirements vary depending on the visa type as well as your circumstances.

        It can prove to be a challenging task to navigate through all these requirements. We, therefore, strongly recommend seeking legal help if you are planning to apply for a visa in Germany.

        At Total Law, our expert immigration lawyers can advise and assist you with your Germany visa application and requirements, even if your circumstances are particularly complicated.

        Specifically, we offer a document and application checking service, where our immigration advisers will thoroughly check your application form and documentary evidence to ensure that everything is in order as per Germany immigration guidelines.

        Dial +44 (0) 333 305 9375 today to consult with one of our competent and experienced legal team members.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  No. Although you will start your German visa application by filling up the relevant online visa application form on VIDEX, the rest of the process, e.g. submitting documents, attending visa interview etc., is to be completed in person.

                  A short stay visa in Germany is valid for a maximum of 90 days. A long stay German visa is usually valid for six months.