Visa, entry and residence issues

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Here you will find all important information and contact persons concerning visa, entry and residence formalities.

Entering Germany: Visa

  • A visa is a document that you must apply for at the German embassy or consulate in your home country before entering Germany, if this is required for your home country. You will need this entry permit if your stay in Germany is to last longer than 90 days.

Staying in Germany: Residence permit

  • A residence permit is a permit that is applied for after you have entered Germany. This document is usually required for stays longer than 90 days when a visa is not required (depending on the home country) or the visa has expired.

The exact regulations and requirements for a visa and/or residence permit depend on your nationality and the purpose of your stay (study, research). Be sure to seek advice in advance and allow sufficient time for the application process:

You should contact the German embassy or the German Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in your home country directly after you have been accepted for a study place or after you have received the letter of invitation for a research stay.

Visa, residence permit or both?

Without visa

Nationals from the member states of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Switzerland do not require a visa. They can enter Germany and stay in Germany. An identity card is sufficient for entry.

Member states of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises the member states of the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

With residence permit

Nationals of these countries do not need a visa for entry. For longer stays than three months, however, you need a residence permit. You can apply for this after entering Germany at the responsible foreigners authority in Germany.

With visa (and maybe residence permit)

You need a visa for entry. Here you can find a list of countries for which a visa is required for entry into Germany: German Foreign Office - Overview Visa Requirement.

Where can I apply for a visa?
You apply for a visa at the German Embassy or a German Consulate in your home country or country of residence: List of German Embassies or Consulates Abroad

Take care in time!
If possible, you should apply for a visa immediately after you have been accepted for a study place, have received proof of a research stay or similar.

With family
If you are accompanied by your spouse or children during your stay, it is advisable to submit the applications for you and family members at the same time - even if your family arrives a few weeks after you.

What documents do I need?

The documents required may vary from country to country. Generally, you will need the following documents: 

  • Application form (available at the respective diplomatic mission or consular post abroad)
  • Passport (valid for the entire duration of stay)
  • Proof of subsistence (if applicable, blocked account, scholarship promise, declaration of commitment)
  • Proof of sufficient health insurance
  • Proof of the intended purpose of stay (e.g. scholarship promise, employment contract, admission agreement from the University of Kassel, certificate of a language course preparing for studies, admission to the Studienkolleg, conditional admission or admission to full-time studies)
  • Biometric passport photo
  • Details of planned accommodation in Germany
  • For family members marriage and birth certificates

Please inquire at the German Embassy or Consulate of your country of residence about exactly which documents are required for a visa application. Only they can give you legally binding information.

Costs for a visa?
The issuance of a visa may be associated with costs. Please contact your German embassy or consulate for information on the exact costs.

Scholars of German funding organizations who receive a scholarship from public funds - for example, scholars of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or the DAAD - do not have to pay fees for the visa or the residence permit.

If your research period in Germany is not scheduled to last longer than 90 days within a six-month period, a Schengen visa (“C” category) will usually be all you need to enter the country.  More Information about the different categorie for the Schengen Visa can be found here.
However, please bear in mind that Schengen Visas cannot be extended beyond the three-month period; it cannot be re-designated for other purposes either. At the end of the three-month period, you will be expected to leave Germany. If you plan to stay longer than three months, you will have to apply for a “D” category visa in your home country or country of residence.

Health insurance
As a general rule for a “C” category visa, you need travel health insurance for all Schengen states with a liability limit of at least EUR 30,000. You will find further information on this matter in our section on health insurance.

Visa exemptions for short visits
Nationals from some countries are allowed to enter Germany for visits up to three months without a visa. You can find a list of these countries (as well as a list of countries whose citizens (do not) require visas to enter Germany) on the website of the German Foreign Office.

If you plan to stay in Germany for longer than three months, you need to apply for a national visa for Germany (“D” category visa) while you are still in your home country or country of current residence.

The national visa only entitles you to stay in Germany for three months. You will need to apply for a residence permit at the local foreigners' registration office ("Ausländerbehörde") after this.

Please note that this regulation applies, even if you are already living in another European Union country. 
Do not under any circumstances enter Germany on a visitor or tourist visa (Schengen visa). This type of visa cannot be extended and only entitles you to stay in Germany for up to three months. You would then have to return to your home country at your own expense and apply for the appropriate visa from there. The same applies to your family members.

Third-country nationals who are holders of a national long-stay visa category "D" may, on the basis of this document and a valid travel document, in principle move freely in the Schengen area for up to 90 days per period of 180 days. You can find more information here.

Find further information on how to apply for the residence permit under "first steps".

Health insurance

You will have to provide proof of health insurance to apply for a visa in the first place. In most cases, however, travel health insurance will only suffice for your visa application, but will not be sufficient for your stay in Germany. Therefore once in Germany, you are normally required to take out a German health insurance policy.

Please contact the relevant diplomatic mission in your country to enquire how long your travel health insurance has to provide cover for you to apply for a visa in your home country or country of current residence.


Svetlana Winter

Visa- und Aufenthaltsfragen

Holländischer Platz
Moritzstraße 18
34127 Kassel
2126 (Ebene 2)
Consultation Hours

Dienstag und Donnerstag
13-15 Uhr

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