Visa : Applying for the correct visa

As an international student you may need a visa for Germany depending on where you come from and how long you plan to stay here. For more and BINDING information about visa requirements, contact the German embassy or German consulate in your home country.

by the Editors (last updated May 2019)

International student showing identification in an office © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Student applying for a visa . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

Visa requirements for your country

You will generally need a visa, which you must apply for before coming to Germany. You can apply for the visa at the German diplomatic mission in your home country. There are exceptions for specific countries, depending on the duration and purpose of your stay.

Do I require a visa to study in Germany?

A) International students from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland

If you come from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland you do not require a visa or other documentation to enter Germany and study here. However, upon your arrival in Germany, you are required to register with the local residents' registration office. 

B) International students from countries, who don't need a visa for entry

International students from certain countries do not require a visa for entering Germany. Please consult the website of the Federal Foreign Office to find out whether your home country is one of those without a visa requirement for entering

Currently these countries are listed (last updated May 2019):

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • South Korea
  • USA

However, you are required to register with the residents' registration office. If you wish to study in Germany for more than three months, you are required to apply for a residence permit in Germany.

Nevertheless, we recommend that you consult the German diplomatic mission in your home country in good time before your departure, because there are special regulations, e.g. if you want to work in Germany directly after your studies. Eventually you need also other documents or requisites for your entry.

C) International students from countries with a visa requirement to study

All students from other countries worlwide require a visa. That means it is imperative that you apply for a visa in your home country.

Please apply for your visa in good time in advance, as this may take several months to issue. 

Visit the website of the German Federal Foreign Office for the latest visa requirements for all countries.

For more information, contact the German embassy or consulate in your home country. They can help you with any questions relating to the visa application procedure. You can find the addresses of all German diplomatic missions on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.

The correct visa

The type of visa you need to apply for depends on whether you have already received your notification of admission from a German university. (Do not enter Germany as a tourist! A tourist visa cannot be converted to a student visa or prospective student visa!)

Student receiving a visa  © DAAD/Jan Zappner
Student receiving a visa . © DAAD/Jan Zappner

There are two types of visas:

1. Prospective student visa („Visum zur Studienbewerbung“)

If you have not yet received notification of admission to a university or foundation course, you should apply for a prospective student visa.

This visa is valid for three months and gives you the opportunity to meet the requirements for admission to a German higher education institution. If you need more time, it can be extended by up to six months. If you are admitted to a higher education institution or foundation course during this period, you can apply for a student residence permit.

2. Student visa („Visum zu Studienzwecken“)

If you have received your notification of admission to university or a foundation course, you should apply for visa for study purposes. Student visas are usually valid for three months. Within these three months, you will have to apply for an extended residence permit at the Alien Registration Office in your university town.

Required documents for a visa application

The German diplomatic mission in your home country will tell you what additional documents are required for a visa application. You will usually need the following:

  • valid passport
  • Certificate confirming health insurance coverage
  • Proof of financial resources
  • Certificates of past academic work and achievements
  • Certificate of German language proficiency or proof that you intend on attending a language course in Germany, or English language skills for a degree programme thaught in English
  • For a prospective student visa: university entrance qualification recognised in Germany
  • For a student visa: letter of acceptance from your German university (or a statement from the university confirming that you have a good chance of being admitted).
  • perhaps a health certificate 


When applying for a visa, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Submit your application early enough! Visa processing can take several months and you won’t be able to enter the country without a valid visa.
  • Apply for the correct visa! Make sure it is a student visa! Tourist and language course visas cannot be converted into a student visa later on. If you have the wrong visa, you will have to leave the country.
  • Arrange your date of arrival in Germany so that you have enough time to enrol at your university and take care of the administrative formalities. Enrolment is a prerequisite for obtaining the “student residence permit”.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for the length of your stay! If your passport/ID documents expire while you are in Germany, you will have to return to your home country and extend them there.
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