Moving to Berlin?
Expat Info Berlin: Visa Types
Visa Requirements for Short Visits
Before moving to Berlin, please consider your visa requirements. Make sure that your passport is valid for six months past the date you plan to leave Germany. As the list is very long, check which countries require a tourist visa for a stay in Berlin of less than 90 days.
The business visa, like the tourist visa, is only valid for 90 days. It can similarly be used to move about freely in the EU/Schengen countries. Submit a copy of your hotel reservation(s) and return ticket with the application. Often, you will also be asked for bank statements, health insurance cover, and business references.
Foreign nationals from EU member states and the Schengen area countries, as well as Switzerland, do not require an entry visa to visit Germany. If you are not hailing from one of these or from one of the few other countries whose citizens can enter without a visa after arrival (cf. list above), make sure to apply for whichever visa pertains to you before you move to Berlin.
Types of Visa
The following are mostly types of visas for people planning on moving to Berlin for over three months. Keep in mind that the application process can take up to three months.
- If you intend to work in Germany, you will most likely need to apply for an employment visa. These are obligatory for all non-EEA citizens with the exception of Swiss people. To apply for this visa, you will need to have an offer of employment, as you will need to present a copy of your work agreement. Please bear in mind that nationals of certain countries are allowed to enter Germany in order to search for a job, provided they have sufficient funds to support themselves.
- Perhaps you have just graduated at a German university, or have obtained a degree comparable to a German one? Then you can apply for a jobseeker’s visa, which will allow you to remain in Germany for six months searching for employment, as long as you can prove that you will be able to support yourself in this time period. Please note, you are not allowed to, for example, do freelance work while looking for employment.
- If you wish to study in Germany, you will need a study visa. To receive this visa, you will need an acceptance letter for the university, institution, or program you wish to attend. You will also need to prove that you can support yourself monetarily in this time and that you have health insurance. Once you successfully complete your studies in Germany, you will be given the option to extend your residence permit for up to 18 months while looking for a job there.
- The family reunion visa is for non-Germans who wish to join their spouse or parent in Germany. Depending on the nationality (German, EEA-citizen, or other) and legal residence status of your spouse/parent, requirements and the chance of success may differ.
You can find information on registration and how to obtain a residence permit after your arrival in Berlin in our article on living in Berlin. Our detailed expat guide to Germany also includes additional info on getting a German visa and getting a German residence permit.
Registration and Residence Permits
Once you arrive in Berlin, no matter your country of origin, you need to register your address at the Bürgeramt. This office will be an important place for you when living in Germany — much of the important paperwork for your life here will be done there. If you needed a visa to live in Berlin, you will also need to get a residence permit from the Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) once you are in Germany. For more information on registration and residency permits, please see our in-depth article on German residency.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.