This section provides information about visas for international students according to country and/or region.
International students from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland
You do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, after your arrival in Germany you must register at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
International students from countries with no student visa requirement
Please check the website of the German Foreign Office to see if your home country is one of the countries where students do not need a visa to study in Germany. Once you have arrived in Germany and have found a place to live, you will need to register at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) and apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners' Registration Office (Meldebehörde für Ausländer).
International Students from countries with student visa requirement
Students from some countries are subject to visa requirements. In this case, you must apply for a visa in your home country before you travel to Germany. Allow enough time to apply for the visa, as it can take several months for the visa to be issued.
Check the website of the German Foreign Office for current visa requirements for all countries. Contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country for more information. The addresses of the German missions abroad can be found on the German Foreign Office website.
The visa you need to apply for depends, among other things, on whether or not you already have a permit. Do not enter the country with a tourist visa under any circumstances! A tourist visa cannot be subsequently converted into a student visa needed to apply and study in Germany.
There are three types of student visas:
Language course visas for educational activities are issued for between 3-12 months to attend German language courses.
Study application visas: are for individuals who want to study in Germany but are still trying to find the right program, or have not yet received a confirmation letter from their target university. This visa is valid for three months and gives you the opportunity to meet the requirements for admission (such as successfully passing the entrance test). If the duration is not long enough, the visa can be extended for a maximum of six months.
If you have not yet been admitted to the Studienkolleg, apply for the visa for the purpose of applying to study.
If you are admitted to the Studienkolleg during this time, you can apply for a residence permit for study purposes.
Visa for study purposes: This is for students who have already been admitted to a German university. This visa is normally issued for three months. During these three months, you must apply for a residence permit at the Foreigners’ Registration Office.
Required Documents for Visa Applications
You can find out which documents you need from your German embassy or consulate abroad. Normally you need the following:
- Admission or entrance qualification (Zeugnisanerkennung) for a degree program at a German institute of higher learning
- Valid passport
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of financial means
- Proof of German language proficiency
- Possibly a health certificate
Tips for applying for a visa
When applying for a visa, it is important to keep the following points in mind:
- Apply early enough. Processing can take several months and you will not be allowed to enter Germany without a valid visa.
- Apply for the correct visa - a student visa. A tourist or language visa cannot be subsequently converted into a "student visa".
- Come to Germany early enough so that you have enough time to enroll at your university and take care of any important administrative steps. Matriculation is a prerequisite for obtaining the residence permit for study purposes.
- Make sure that your passport is still valid. If your passport has expired, you will have to return to your home country in order to get them renewed.