Do I need a visa to enter Germany?

A visa is often required to enter Germany. Visa are issued by the German embassy or consulate in your home country. The application process may take up to three months. If family members are traveling with you, you should apply for their visa at the same time as yours.
You will find addresses of the competent consulates and details on your country's visa requirements on the website of the Federal Foreign Office:

Auswärtiges Amt: Auslandsvertretung

Who does not need a visa?

If you are a member of the following groups, you do not need a visa to enter Germany:

  • Group A:cititzens of an EU member state, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein
  • Group B: cititzens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and the USA. If you belong to group B, you are entitled only to visa free entry. If you intend to work in Germany, you will need a work visa or a residence permit before you start working. See also: Behörden

Which kinds of visa might be relevant?

Depending on the intended length of your stay, there are different kinds of visa:

  • National visa (D visa): issued for three months but can be used to apply for a residence permit at your host town's foreigners' office (Ausländerbehörde)
  • Schengen-Visum: valid for three months only, no extension, cannot be used to apply for a residence permit. Not recommended for students and scientists who plan to stay longer.
  • Visa under § 20 Aufenthaltsgesetz: established in 2007 especially for scientists. Only approved research institutes may participate in this programme. Researchers planning to bring their families to Germany may profit most from this "science" visa as it facilitates entry, residency and mobility within the EU. Obtaining a work permit is easier for accompanying spouses. See also "Aufenthaltstitel".

However, you must fulfil two conditions in order to obtain a "science" visa: Your prospective salary has to reach a certain minimum amount and you need to conlude a host agreement (Aufnahmevereinbarung) with your host institute. If you fulfil the requirements for a science visa, your host institute will send you the agreement which you can present to your German consulate along with your visa application.

Please note: You may only start working at the Max Planck Institute if you have a valid residence permit or a national visa including a work permit. Therefore, please allow for enough time to apply for those documents before your first working day.

Residence permits will be issued for a limited period of time depending on the purpose of your stay. Such permits may be extended - but also reduced. See also "Aufenthaltstitel".

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