Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

Entry General Entry and Stay Regulations in Germany

For the entry and stay in Germany, you need a valid visa or a residence permit. There are special regulations for nationals of the EU/EEA and Switzerland due to the freedom of movement.

General Entry and Stay Regulations - Hamburg Welcome Portal

Generally speaking, every foreigner needs a visa to enter Germany and a residence permit for a long-term stay. A visa is the approval issued by a state for entry and transit. The German Mission Abroad in your home country is responsible for issuing visas.

Do you need a visa?

Nationals of the EU/EEA countries and Switzerland enjoy unlimited freedom of movement and do not need a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States may enter without a visa and apply for a residence permit at the relevant immigration authorities in Germany.

All other foreigners need a visa to enter and stay in Germany.

Visa depending on duration and purpose of the stay

For short-term stays of up to 90 days per period of 180 days, the Schengen Visa will be issued. A visa is not required for short-term stays for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. You can find an overview of countries whose citizens require / do not require visas to enter Germany at the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

For long-term stay of more than three months or stays leading to gainful employment, you need a national visa. To apply for a national visa, you must state the purpose of your stay (for example work or self-employment, study or immigration to family members). The issuing of the visa is then determined by the applicable regulation for the residence permit. You are only allowed to work if this is stated in the visa.

Further information on the requirements and the application process can be found in the PDF file “Visa and Entry Process”.

Application of the residence permit

For long-term stays in Germany, you must apply for a residence permit before the end of your visa period. For the appropriate residence permit you apply at the responsible immigration office. Which immigration authority is relevant for you, depends on your registered address in Hamburg. Specialists and managers, students and their families can also contact the Hamburg Welcome Center.

In particular, the secured livelihood is essential for the issuing of a residence and work permit. For further information, please visit the section Residence. Unless a legal claim exists, the issuing of the residence permit is based on the purpose for which the visa was applied for.

Obligation to register the place of residence

In Germany there is the obligation to register the place of residence. If you move within Hamburg or from abroad to an apartment in Hamburg, you have to register in one of the District Office’s Customer Service Centres (Kundenzentrum) in Hamburg. More information about the registration process can be found on the Hamburg Welcome Center page “Registration in Hamburg”.