Whether you require a visa for entering Germany depends on your nationality. Most foreign nationals from countries outside of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland require a visa to enter Germany. Visas typically need to be applied for at the German mission abroad in the applicant’s home country.
Nationals from some countries, including Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States are exempted from the visa requirement. They can enter Germany without a visa and stay for up to 90 days or apply for a residence permit locally. The same applies to nationals of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino, provided that gainful employment is not taken up.
Schengen Visa (for short-term visits)
The Schengen Visa is valid for short stays (up to 90 days per any 180 days). With this visa you are allowed to stay within the entire Schengen area. A visa for short-term stays is not required for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. Consult this list for an overview of countries whose citizens require / do not require visas to enter Germany.
National Visa (for long-term stays)
The National Visa is valid for entry into Germany and is valid for a stay of three to six months during which the visa holder can apply for long-term residence. The long-term residence permit will be issued by the responsible immigration authorities in Hamburg. You can apply for a national visa for the following purposes:
- Job seeking
- Family reunification
The national visa is only valid in Germany, but also entitles the visa holder to stay in other Schengen states for up to 90 days, provided that employment isn’t taken up in another country.
Air passengers with transit visas may enter the international transit area at airports but not the Schengen area itself.
Further information on visa and entry requirements is available on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.