Students from member states of the EU, the EFTA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland), from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America and their families can enter Germany without a visa. (Important: family members who have a different nationality may need a visa, however.)
For nationals of countries which acceded to the EU 1 May 2004 and 1 January 2007, transitional regulations apply.
Please note: Within two weeks after arrival in Germany you must register with the local authorities. For more information check the our page Registration with Local Authorities.
It is important that you apply for a study visa at a German embassy or consulate in your home country well in advance (at least 3 months prior to departure). On no account should you enter Germany on a tourist visa (the Schengen visa). The Schengen visa is only valid for a maximum of 90 days. It is not suitable for a doctorate and cannot be converted into a (national) study visa.
It is normally only possible to do a doctorate in Germany if you have a National Visa for the Purpose of Studying (in German "Einreisevisum zu Studienzwecken"). A study visa is issued for a stay that lasts longer than 90 days. It is a temporary entry and residence permit with a normal validity of three months. Before it expires, it has to be converted into a long-term residence title ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis für Studienzwecke") at the foreigners’ registration office of the city of residence in Germany.
Please contact a German embassy or consulate in your home country regarding current entry and residence requirements.
• Generally, it is not possible to obtain a visa from a German embassy other than in the home country. Exceptions apply only when a person’s country of residence is not the country of nationality. In this case, the German embassy in the country of residence will deal with the visa process.
• Congress participation: please note that it is necessary to apply for a visa (if applicable), if travelling outside of Germany. The residence permit for Germany does not automatically allow a person to travel within Europe.
• Leaving Germany for longer than 6 months: the residence permit for Germany expires, if you leave the country for more than 6 months. In this case, you have to re-apply for a new visa for Germany.
• Proof of finance: If you intend to enter Germany for a longer stay, you have to provide evidence that you have € 585 per month and per person available, when applying for a visa. This may be a grant, a stipend, a state or city official guarantee, or a bank account.
• Proof of adequate living space: A longer stay in Germany requires proof of adequate living space. As a general rule, a family (e.g. 2 adults, 1 child) needs at least 50 m2 of living space.
You can find more information about the visa application process on the homepage of the German Federal Foreign Office.