Citizens of EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland normally do not need an entry visa. An identity card is sufficient.
2. Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the USA
Citizens from these countries do not require an entry visa. However, if you wish to stay longer than three months and/or wish take up gainful employment, you will need a residence permit. You can apply for this after you have entered Germany.
The entry visa requirement does not, however, depend solely on your country of origin. It also depends on how long you will be staying in Germany and on the purpose of your stay. You are therefore advised to contact the German Embassy in your home country as early as possible in order to clarify which visa regulations apply to you.
3. Citizens from all other non-EU states
3.1 Short stays of up to three months
If you do not plan to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days per half-year, a Schengen visa (type C visa) will generally be sufficient. Please note, however, that a Schengen visa cannot be extended beyond a three-month stay or converted to a different purpose. If you hold a type C visa, you will have to leave the country after three months at the latest.
To obtain a Schengen visa, you will have to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses during your stay. You must also have adequate health insurance cover (at least 30,000 euros) which is valid in all Schengen states. Please make sure that when you complete your application for a Schengen visa, you state “scientific activity” or “research” as the purpose of your stay. The Schengen visa entitles you to travel freely and stay in all states which are signatories to the Schengen Accord – the so-called “Schengen states”.
Exemptions from visa requirements for short stays
Nationals from some countries can enter Germany without a visa for visits of up to three months. A list of these countries can be found on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office. Please note, however, that after you have entered Germany you cannot apply for a residence permit for a longer stay and will have to leave the country after three months at the latest. If you are yet unsure about how long you will be staying in Germany, you should apply for a student/research visa (type D visa) before departing.
3.2 Stays lasting longer than three months
If you are planning to stay in Germany for longer than three months, you must apply for a national visa for Germany (type D visa) while you are still in your home country or country of residence. This also applies if you are already staying in another EU member state. Under no circumstances should you enter Germany on a tourist visa (Schengen visa, type C). This cannot be extended and only permits you to stay a maximum of three months, after which you will have to return to your home country at your own expense and re-apply for a new (correct) visa there. This also applies to members of your family travelling with you.
The type D visa, initally issued for a period of three months, can be used for short stays in other Schengen states as well. After you have arrived in Germany, you will have to apply for a residence permit on the basis of your visa at your local Foreigners Registration Office.
4. Researcher’s visa (for researchers from non-EU states planning to stay in Germany for more than three months)
Following a reform of the German Immigration Act, a new residence permit was introduced especially for researchers – the so-called “researcher’s visa” and “researcher’s residence permit” (§ 20, Residence Act). The residence permit entitles the holder to carry out research activities at the research institute named in the hosting agreement and to undertake teaching duties.
Hosts can find important information on the Intranet regarding the applicable terms and conditions of hosting agreements.
Applying for a visa
As a rule, you will be asked to provide the following documents when applying for a type D visa:
- Passport (valid for the entire duration of your stay)
- Proof of intended activity (e.g. scholarship, employment contract, invitation or hosting agreement with the university)
- Proof of sufficient financial resources (if not clear from the documents named above)
- Adequate health insurance
- Details of planned accommodation in Germany
- For members of your family: marriage and birth certificates
- Application form (available from diplomatic missions)
As the documents can vary from embassy to embassy, please be sure to inquire in advance at the embassy in your home country about which documents you will need for your visa application.