Whether or not you need a visa for entry into Germany when planning a short (tourist) visit depends on your nationality. As the list is very long, check if your home country belongs to those whose citizens require a tourist visa for a stay of fewer than 90 days. Foreign nationals from the European Union and the Schengen area countries do not need a special entry visa for Germany.
You typically need to apply for whichever visa pertains to you before entering Germany. The following are types of visas for people planning on staying in Germany for work purposes or longer than three months. Please note, while your visa allows you to enter Germany, you will need to have it replaced with a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) during the first three months of your stay. There are, however, some nationalities that do not require a visa prior to entry in Germany including US Americans and Canadians. You can find a full list of who does or does not require an entry visa on the Federal Foreign Office website.
Keep in mind that the application process for a short stay visa requires between two and ten working days, while visas for a longer stay or for the purpose of finding a job might take several months. Please enquire with the nearest German embassy or consulate which visa applies to your case and which documents you need for a successful application.
Please note, visas for employment, but also family reunion, study, au-pairing, and language courses, are also referred to as the national (D) visa.
More information on visas, foreigners’ registration and obtaining residence permits after your arrival in Germany can be found in our Germany: Visa and Administration section or in our article on living in Germany. We feature more background info on how to get a German visa, how to get a residence permit, as well as customs and import restrictions.
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