Visas and other entrance formalities
Whether or not you need a visa to enter Germany depends on your citizenship as well as the planned length of your stay. The following is an overview of the most important German visa and entrance regulations. However, please be sure to verify the visa regulations pertaining to your specific case with the German consulate or embassy in your home country. There is a list of addresses of all German consulates and embassies as well as a list of visa requirements or exemptions on the web site of the Federal Foreign Office.
Citizens of European Union (UE) countries, countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland
Citizens of EU countries and those of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa. A personal identification card is sufficient to enter Germany. In the past it was possible to apply for a so-called “Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung” (Freedom of Movement Certificate) or, in the case of Swiss citizens, a residence permit at the Foreigners' Registration Office if you stayed in Germany for longer than 3 months. Due to a change in law from January 29th 2013, a "Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung (Freedom of Movement Certificate)" for EU citizens and citizens of EEA (Norway, Liechtenstein and Island) is generally not issued any more. For information see here (in German). Swiss citizens still have to apply for a residence permit, if they stay longer than 3 month in Germany. Please remember to register your place of residence within one week after arriving in Heidelberg at one of the local Residents’ Offices.
Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of AmericaCitizens of the above countries can also enter German without a visa. For a stay longer than three months you will, however, need a residence permit. You can apply for this after your arrival at the Foreigners' Registration Office of the city of Heidelberg. Please remember to also register your place of residence within one week after arriving in Heidelberg at one of the local Residents’ Offices.
Citizens of all other countriesShort stays of less than three months
If your stay in Germany will not be longer than 90 days per half year, a so-called Schengen visa (C Visa) is generally sufficient. You must apply for this at a German consulate or embassy in your home country before coming to Germany.
Please note: A Schengen visa can not be extended or changed to cover a different purpose. You must leave Germany at the latest when the three months are over.
Stays of longer than three months
If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than three months, you will need a national visa (D-Visa). You must apply for this at a German consulate or embassy in your home country before coming to Germany.
In this case, do not enter Germany with a Schengen Visa (C Visa)! The Schengen visa is only valid for three months and can not be extended. After the three months are up, you must travel back to your home country at your own cost and apply there for an appropriate visa.
The national visa, however, allows you to enter and stay in Germany. To travel within the first three months of your stay to another Schengen country (for example to a conference) is possible.
The national visa is generally issued for a period of three months. After entering Germany you must apply for a residence permit based on this visa.
Please make sure to apply for your visa well ahead of time! A visa application for a longer stay in Germany or for permission to work will take several months to process. If you are travelling to Germany with your family, you must apply for a separate visa for each family member. Please make sure to state in your visa application if your partner wishes to work while in Germany.
Highly-qualified applicants are scholars, teachers and researchers with specialized expertise in their fields. Highly-qualified applicants are permitted to immigrate if they have an employment position in Germany. They can immediately obtain an unlimited residence permit, which automatically allows them to take up employment. Candidates simply need to submit an application to the Foreigners' Registration Office in Heidelberg.
For international visitors living in the city of Heidelberg, all immigration and residency issues are dealt with by the Foreigners' Registration Office of the Heidelberg City Administration:
City of Heidelberg
Central Administration Office – Aliens’ Section (Bürgeramt / Ausländerabteilung)
Bergheimer Str. 69
Tel: +49-(0)6221-58 17529, Fax: +49-(0)6221-58 17900
If you live in one of the following municipalities, the Foreigners' Registration Office of the Landratsamt of the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis is responsible for you: Bammental, Brühl, Dossenheim, Eberbach, Edingen-Neckarhausen, Epfenbach, Eppelheim, Eschelbronn, Gaiberg, Heddesbach, Heddesheim, Heiligkreuzsteinach, Helmstadt-Bargen, Hemsbach, Hirschberg, Ilvesheim, Ketsch, Ladenburg, Laudenbach, Lobbach, Malsch, Mauer, Meckesheim, Mühlhausen, Neckarbischofsheim, Neckargemünd, Neidenstein, Nußloch, Oftersheim, Plankstadt, Rauenberg, Reichartshausen, Sandhausen, Schönau, Schönbrunn, Schriesheim, Spechbach, St. Leon-Rot, Waibstadt, Walldorf, Wiesenbach, Wilhelmsfeld.