getting German visa

Visa for Germany

A visa is necessary for many individuals moving to Germany to live, work, or study. There are several different types of visa in Germany, and it’s important to apply for the correct one, whether it’s a Student Visa, Language Student Visa, Working Visa or Job Seeker Visa.

The following article will help you understand which visa you would need depending on the purpose of your stay in Germany, what documents are required, how the application process works and what is the processing time. It will also inform you about the proof of finance you should provide.

Do I need a visa for Germany?

Citizens from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland will not need a visa to travel to Germany, whatever the reason for their visit.

Those from other states may well need to gain a visa in order to work, look for work or study in Germany. Those visiting for less than three months (not to work or study) may need a tourist visa, although Germany has a visa-free agreement with 62 countries. There are numerous types of visas available for those staying in Germany for more than three months including a Student Visa, Job Seeker Visa, and Au Pair Visa.

Those who are not required to have a visa to work or study in Germany must remember that they are required to gain a Residency Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) for stays of more than three months.

How long does a German visa take?

German visas take around 6–12 weeks to be processed from the time of an interview with the German consulate. This means you need to start the process around 4–5 months ahead of travelling to Germany.

Is a German visa easy to get?

German visas are subject to various bureaucratic processes and will usually include a visit to the German consulate in your home country. Provided you have thoroughly researched every single document you need to have, it shouldn’t be too arduous, but one mistake can hold up the entire process.

How much does it cost for German visa?

The Germany visa fee is 75€ for all long-stay visas. Short-stay visas (under 3 months) cost 60€.

German consulate

It’s important to note that even after an interview at a German consulate and having provided all the requested documents, your visa permission is not guaranteed. If everything went well, it is highly likely that your application will be successful, but it is important that you wait for confirmation before being sure and making future plans.

Things you need for every type of visa

Health Insurance

Everyone who comes to Germany for work or studies needs to register for health insurance.

Funds

You’ll need to prove you have the funds to cover living costs for one year or the duration of your stay.

Visa paperwork

You'll need: passport, biometric photo, certificate of enrollment, proof of: finances, health insurance, and residence; plus the visa application filled out.

Different Types of Visa

Student Visa

With the exception of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, foreign students need to obtain a Student Visa before they begin their studies. To gain this visa, individuals need already to have been accepted onto a course and will also need proof of healthcare insurance and proof of funds, ideally via a deposit in a blocked account (see our Blocked Account page). Those who have not yet had confirmation of acceptance or haven’t decided on a course can apply for a Student Applicant Visa, and then apply for a Student Visa after acceptance.

You can learn more about student visas and how we can help on our German Student Visa page.

Language Student Visa

Foreign (non-EU, EEA, or Swiss) students undertaking a language course that lasts between 3 and 12 months can apply for a Language Student Visa. Again, you will need your evidence of your course registration and proof of healthcare insurance. You will also need to show proof of funds in a blocked account that covers the duration of your course -- these funds should allow you 720 € euros a month to spend.

You can find out more about this visa on our German Visa for Language Students page.

Au-Pair Visa

Those moving to German to work as an Au-Pair can apply for a specialist visa. This does not apply to EU, EEA, or Swiss individuals who can work as an Au-Pair without a visa.

To apply for an Au-Pair Visa, you must be ages between 18 and 26, and you will need to have proof of healthcare insurance (this should be covered by your host family, but you will need to provide evidence of it), a contract with a host family, proof of basic German language skills, and, typically, a motivation letter as well.

You do not need to have proof of finances as most costs of living are largely covered by the host family, but you will need to prove you have enough money to get there and to pay for the visa.

Job Seeker Visa

Those seeking to move to Germany to work but have not yet found employment can apply for a Job Seeker Visa. Those who have not found employment after six months will need to return home. Those who do find work will then need to apply for a Working Visa.

The requirements for a Job Seeker Visa are quite strict and includes having a Bachelor Degree, five years work experience in your field, proof of funds to cover living costs, and either travel or healthcare insurance. Note that EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens do not need to apply for a Job Seeker visa to move to Germany to find work. You can find out more about this visa on our German Job Seeker Visa page.

Tourist Visa

Germany has an agreement with 62 countries, (including all EU states, the US, and Australia) which allows visitors from those states to come to Germany for up to 90 days without a visa. Those arriving from a country not on that list will need a tourist visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Working Visa

Those who have already found a job in Germany may need a Long Stay Working Visa. Individuals from the following countries do not need a visa to come and work in Germany (but may need to apply for a Residency Permit): EU, EEA, Switzerland, the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.

Business Visa

Those who need to stay longer than 90 days in order to do business should apply for a Business Visa.

Guests Scientist Visa

Those taking up a role as a Guest Scientist or Researcher need to apply for a Guest Scientist Visa.

German Visa Application Process

The process for all German visa applications are similar, whether you’re applying for a Tourist Visa, a Student Visa, or an Au-Pair Visa. In all cases, you will need to make a visa appointment with the German consulate or embassy in your home country. You then need to fill out the form and complete all the necessary paperwork and bring this, as well as all other requested supporting documents, with you to the interview.

Although some documents differ for each visa, you will ALWAYS need proof of healthcare insurance, a completed form, passport photos, and a current, valid passport.

For more information on the visa application process for students, see our German Student Visa page.

For more information on the application process for language students, see our German Visa for Language Students page.

For more information on the application process for a Job Seeker Visa see our German Job Seeker Visa page.

German Visa Requirements

Some requirements are specific to certain visas, many of which are included in the list of visa types above, but many requirements apply to all visa applications. This is likely to include the following:

  • Proof of Health Insurance
  • Valid passport
  • Completed application form
  • Passport photos
  • Visa fee
  • Motivational letter (explaining your intentions whilst in Germany e.g. work, study)
  • Proof of either job offer or course acceptance (if applicable)
  • Proof of accommodation

How can I get a tourist visa for Germany?

Individuals from 62 counties, including EU & EEA countries, Switzerland, the US, and Australia, do not need a Tourist Visa for travelling to Germany for a period of up to three months. Those who do need a Tourist Visa for Germany should obtain one via the German consulate in their home country. Tourist Visas do not have the same requirements as the other main visas, but are as follows:

  • Proof of accommodation (e.g. hotel booking)
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport
  • Bank statement
  • Flight reservation
  • Passport photos
  • Completed application form

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Proof of Finance

Read on to find out why you need to prove your finances for a German visa and ways you can do so.

Those applying for certain German visas, including a Student or Job Seeker Visa, will need to prove they have sufficient funds to cover the cost of living during their stay in Germany. A sufficient level of financial resources can be proved in a number of ways, including a blocked account, which is considered the most convenient option and the most successful in terms of visa approval.

How can I prove my financial resources to study in Germany?

There are various ways to prove financial resources if you intend on studying in Germany. The best option is to open a blocked account (see below).

Who needs to provide proof of financial resources?

Proof of financial resources (Finanzierungsnachweis) is necessary for those applying for long-stay German visas, including a Student Visa, Language Course Visa, Student Applicant Visa, and a Job Seeker Visa, as well as those applying for residence permits. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, however, who can live and work in Germany without a visa or permit, do not need to provide proof of financial resources.

That doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to move to Germany without sufficient money to cover a few months living costs, of course.

How to prove my financial resources

There are a few ways that you can prove your financial resources, including a blocked account, proof of a scholarship, proof of parental income, or a bank guarantee

A Blocked Account is generally the easiest and most straightforward option which is preferred by the German authorities when approving your visa, but you may be able to use one of these other options instead.

What counts as proof of financial means?

The proof will generally need to come in the form of a letter, bank statement, or blocked account fund confirmation. You may well need both a soft and hard copy of this evidence.

Proof of scholarship

If some (or all) of your funding is coming from a scholarship, then proof of this scholarship will need to be presented during your visa interview. If the scholarship is only partially covering your living costs, then you will still need to set up a blocked account to prove you have the remainder of the necessary funds to cover your entire first semester.

Proof of sponsorship

Students being sponsored by a host in Germany, or someone that isn’t their parents, will need a sponsorship letter as proof of financial resources. The sponsor may also need to provide bank statements.

Parental income

For those whose parents are paying their cost of living during their time studying in Germany, a letter from the parents, three months of bank statements, and possibly even a copy of their employment contract will be the necessary proof.

Although proof of parental income via a letter and a statement/contract will often suffice, many students still choose to set up a blocked account, to which parents can transfer the funds ahead of the visa interview.

Bank guarantee

Some students and job seekers choose to take out a bank loan in their home country to cover their living costs once in Germany. If this is how you intend to fund your studies, you will need proof from your bank in the form of a guarantee that the bank is providing you with a loan big enough to cover these costs.

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German Blocked Account

Here at Expatrio we offer a German Blocked Account service for those applying for a range of German Visas

What is a Blocked Bank Account?

A blocked account or Sperrkonto is a special type of German bank account available to foreign individuals. It can be set up online from your home country, and the money is ‘blocked’ until you arrive in Germany. Once settled in Germany, you can set up a German bank account and authorize a limited amount of money to be transferred monthly. A Blocked Account can be used to withdraw a maximum of €853 a month. This helps students stick to their monthly budget.

We at Expatrio offer our very own blocked account service. We partner with MANGOPAY, who provide the financial technology for the accounts. Expatrio blocked accounts are approved by the German Federal Foreign Office, helping increase the likelihood of approval for a German visa.

Those applying for a Student Visa will need to prove they have enough funds in their Blocked Account to cover one year. The average living costs for students in Germany is calculated at €853 per month, which means you will need to have €10,236 in the account. Those applying for a Student Language Course Visa will need to have enough to cover the duration of a course (e.g. €5,118 for a six-month course).

Our registration process is quick and easy; you can apply for your account online and receive confirmation of it the next day. A blocked account via Expatrio costs just €49 to set up and then €5 per month.

Those applying for an Au-Pair Visa do not need to have proof of funds as high as this and so do not need a blocked account. Au-Pair Visa applicants may still need to prove they have enough money to travel to Germany, however.

You can find out more about the benefits of this type of account on our Blocked Account information page, and you can begin the registration of your account today quickly and easily on our Blocked Account service page.

Expatrio Blocked Account

Expatrio helps you to open your German Blocked Account in a fast & secure way, while you are still abroad in your home country.

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Proof of Health Insurance

The German healthcare system requires all residents to register for healthcare insurance by law.

The vast majority (around 90%) are enrolled in the public healthcare system. Only some individuals are eligible to choose private healthcare insurance, including students aged over 30, students on language (preparatory) courses, freelancers, and those earning above €60,750.

Every type of German visa requires proof of healthcare cover. This includes a Student Visa, a Language Course Student Visa, and even a Tourist Visa. For the other shorter-stay visas, travel insurance with healthcare cover may suffice.

Is health insurance mandatory for Germany?

Yes, either private or statutory health insurance is mandatory in Germany for all citizens. Most residents pay for healthcare through social security contributions.

All employees are automatically enrolled in the public healthcare system, although everyone has some choice about which provider or Krankenkasse they choose.

Which health insurance is best in Germany?

Most residents register with one of the main statutory health insurance funds such as Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), a good choice of German health insurance for foreigners because of its English-language support and coverage.

It is rarely more cost efficient to choose private healthcare, except for cases involving high earners in good health, who can save money this way. The best private health insurance providers in are listed here.

Do I need travel insurance for Germany?

Those visiting Germany for a short stay of less than three months will need adequate travel insurance in order for the German consulate to issue a tourist visa. Those visiting for less than three months from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland do not need a visa and can use an EHIC card for healthcare cover.

How can I get travel medical insurance for a German visa?

You can usually take out a travel medical plan online.

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