Foreign nationals may require a visa to enter Germany and a residence permit for their long-term stay. A visa is an approval of a foreign national's entry, transit and stay for a specified period of time in the country. The German mission abroad is responsible for issuing visas for Germany.
Do you need a visa?
Nationals of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland enjoy unlimited freedom of movement and do not need a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States may enter without a visa and, if they wish to stay in the long term, may apply for a residence permit at the relevant immigration authorities in Germany. All other foreign nationals need a visa to enter and stay in Germany.
For short-term stays of up to 90 days per period of 180 days, the Schengen Visa will be issued. Visa for short-term stays are not required for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. You can find an overview of these countries on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
For long-term stays of more than 90 days and stays leading to gainful employment, a national visa is required. To apply for a national visa, applicants must state the purpose of their stay (for example work or self-employment, study or immigration to family members). The issuing of the visa is then determined by the applicable regulation for the residence permit.
Further information on the requirements and the application process can be found in the PDF file Visa and Entry Process.
If you're planning to live and work in Germany in the long term, you will need a residence permit and a work permit. These can be applied for at your relevant immigration authority. Which office is relevant to you is based on your registered address in Hamburg. Specialists and managers, students and their families can also contact the Hamburg Welcome Center.
Livelihood security is essential when applying for residence and work permits. Unless a legal claim exists, the issuing of the residence permit is based on the purpose for which the visa was applied for.
Registering your address
All residents in Germany are obliged to register their residential address with the authorities as soon as possible, for instance after moving to Hamburg from abroad or after moving within Hamburg. Registration in Hamburg is done by appointment at one of the District Office’s Customer Service Centres (Kundenzentrum). Find more information about the registration process in the article Registration in Hamburg.