You are reading the original text

Thank you for your interest in a translation into plain language. Unfortunately, we cannot offer the article in plain language at this time. We are trying to expand the range.

Thank you for your interest in a translation into sign language. Unfortunately, we cannot offer the article in sign language at this time. We are trying to expand the range.


If you're planning on visiting, working or studying in Hamburg, you should be aware of which visa and entry requirements apply to your situation.

Whether you require a visa for entering Germany depends on your nationality. 

If you are a national of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, please click here.

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. You can use the visa navigator provided by the federal foreign office to find out if you need a visa and which one you need.

Nationals from some countries, including Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, United Kingdom Great Britain and Northern Ireland 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.

Please note that in the case of visa-free entry and application for a residence permit in Germany, several weeks should be planned for the application process. Taking up work is only possible after permission has been granted by the Immigration Office.

Would you like to find out how many permitted days of stay you have left in the Schengen area? You can use the Visa Calculator to do this.

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. This also applies to persons who hold a residence permit from another Schengen state.

National Visa (for long-term stays)

The National Visa is valid for entry into Germany and is usually initially valid for a stay of six to twelve months during which the visa holder can apply for long-term residence. The long-term residence permit will be issued by the local Hamburg Service Point for Foreigners’ Affairs or the Hamburg Welcome Center. You can find out the specific responsibility in your case in the Online Service for Residence Permits in Hamburg which you can also use to submit your application and upload documents.

You can apply for a national visa for the following purposes:

  • Education
  • Work
  • Job seeking
  • Apprenticeship
  • Internship
  • Research
  • Family reunification
  • Self-employment

The national visa is only valid for Germany, but also entitles you to visit the other Schengen states for up to 90 days every six months without taking up gainful employment there. You can calculate the remaining duration of your stay in the countries of the Schengen area yourself.

Please note that the EU states of Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria do not belong to the Schengen area or are not yet full users of this agreement. On the other hand, the non-EU countries Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are part of the Schengen area.

Citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the USA or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can travel to Germany without a visa. They may stay here for 90 days and apply for their residence permit locally. The same applies to nationals of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino who do not wish to take up employment.

Even for people who can enter the country without a visa, in some cases it is more convenient to enter the country with a national visa (visas for longer-term stays or for stays that authorise gainful employment). For example, if a trip abroad is planned shortly after entering the country or if work is to be taken up at short notice.

Please note that if you are travelling without a visa and applying for a residence permit in Germany, you should allow several weeks for the application process. It is only possible to take up employment after authorisation has been granted by the immigration authority.

Transit Visa

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.

First steps after entering Germany

If you have entered Germany and will be staying here for a longer period of time in Hamburg, you must register your place of residence. Further first steps can be found in our overview.