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Visa Requirements in Frankfurt

Although it might not be the biggest city in Germany, moving to Frankfurt is the right choice for any self-proclaimed urbanite. After all, Frankfurt’s skyscrapers earned it the nickname “Mainhattan”. Read our guide on moving to Frankfurt and learn about neighborhoods, visa requirements, and more.
Acquiring a visa for Frankfurt involves a lot of red tape.

Types of Visa

Which type of visa you need for a move to Frankfurt depends on your nationality and the reason for your relocation. Unless you are from the EEA, Switzerland, or certain other countries, you will need to apply for a visa before moving to Germany. Citizens from certain countries, such as the USA and Canada, may enter Germany without a visa, however, they will still be required to apply for a residence permit within the first three months of their arrival. You can find a list of these countries on the Federal Foreign Office website.

Don’t forget that it might take up to three months for any long-term visa application to be processed.

  • Schengen visas, whether for tourist or business visits, are only valid for up to 90 days but allow you to move about freely within the Schengen Area. A copy of your hotel reservations and of your return ticket is required when applying for this type of visa. You should also be ready to include bank statements, proof of healthcare coverage, and a travel itinerary or business references.
  • Employment visas are probably the most important types for expats, as anybody who is not an EEA or Swiss citizen and wishes to work in Germany needs to secure one. In order to apply, you need to find a job first and present your work agreement with your application.
  • The EU Blue Card is a special form of employment visa/permit and is issued to highly skilled workers whose annual income at their job in Germany is over 49,600 EUR or 38,688 EUR, if they work in a field that has a shortage of applicants. These salary thresholds are correct as of 2016, but change yearly. In order to apply, you need to have a university degree and a contract of employment.
  • Job-seeker visas enable university graduates with a German or equivalent degree to move to Germany in order to look for work in their field for a duration of up to six months, provided they have sufficient funds to support themselves during this time.  
  • The family reunion visa is the right choice for any non-German wishing to join their spouse or parent in Germany. The requirements and chance of success will differ depending on the nationality (German, EEA citizen, or other) and legal residence status of your spouse/parent.

For more information on visa types, please have a look at our guide on moving to Germany. Our detailed guide to expat living in Germany also provides background info on how to get a German visa and how to get a German residence permit

Getting Your Registration Certificate

Whether you are a European citizen or not, whether you require a visa or not, you still need to get a registration certificate which officially proves your residency in Germany, also known as a Meldebestätigung or Meldeschein. Keep in mind that this registration has to be repeated with every change of address within Germany.

For your registration, you need to visit the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt) and present your passport and your rental agreement. The main Registry Office in Frankfurt is located in the center of the city. However, there are eleven branch offices located in different neighborhoods all over the city, making it easier for you to take care of the red tape.

Remember to Get Your Residence Permit

If you are not an EEA citizen, registration is not the last step. You also need to turn to the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) and apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung). To do so, you need to present a valid passport, proof of sufficient financial funds (i.e. a work contract or a bank statement), proof of healthcare coverage, and proof of residence in Frankfurt. Each member of your family needs to apply for their own residence permit.

While most residence permits expats receive are of temporary validity and need to be renewed, permanent settlement permits are valid infinitely, but can only be applied for following 5 years of residency in Germany. In addition, there are “Permits for Permanent Right of Residence – EC” (Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt – EC) which entitle you to mobility within the EU.

For non-permanent permits, the end of validity should be stated on your residence permit, indicating the date when a renewal is due. This might be the case every 12 months, for instance. If you are planning to renew, make sure to start your application at least a month in advance to allow for processing times.

Please also remember that a registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung) is not the same as a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung). While a residence permit is only required by non-EEA expats, a registration certificate is required by everybody, German citizens included.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Francis White

"I had the pleasure to meet so many interesting expats at a Frankfurt bar night that I found myself a new social circle in no time at all. "

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