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Extending your residence permit while your application is being processed - What you should know about fictional certificates

If the residence permit has expired or will no longer be valid in the near future, immigration authorities can issue a fictional certificate.

An information sheet on the fictional certificate ('Fiktionsbescheinigung') can be downloaded as a PDF here.

If a residence permit is expired or due to expire in the near future, the local Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Authority) may issue a Fiktionsbescheinigung.

Fiktionsbescheinigung Vorderseite
© Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat
Fiktionsbescheinigung Rückseite
© Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat

A Fiktionsbescheinigung is issued only when it is not possible for the Ausländerbehörde to make a final decision on an application. This may apply in the following cases:

  • Documents are missing
  • The applicant’s file is not available or must be retrieved
  • The eAT (elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel, lit. ‘electronic residence permit’) cannot be issued before the current residence permit expires

Issuing a Fiktionsbescheinigung is only possible if it is ensured that the residence is legitimate at the time of the application.

If an applicant’s residence permit (either Aufenthaltserlaubnis or D-Visum long-term visa) is currently valid,

  • a Fiktionsbescheinigung may be issued according to section 81 (4) Aufenthaltsgesetz (AufenthG; lit. ‘Residence Act’). This means that the current residence permit will stay valid until further notice of a decision on the application, and the applicant may continue to work or study. Valid Fiktionsbescheinigungen allow for travels abroad and returns to Germany, but similar to a standard residence permit, the certificate must be valid at the point of return. 

If an applicant does not have a valid residence permit because they were allowed to enter without a visa due to nationality,

  • a Fiktionsbescheinigung may be issued according to section 81 (3) AufenthG. Thus, their stay in Germany is legitimate until notice that a decision regarding the application has been made. This particular Fiktionsbescheinigung, however, permits neither entry nor return to Germany, nor does it allow the applicant to take on new employment or begin a new course of study.

Please note: Visitors who are allowed to enter Germany without a visa may stay for a period of 90 days. This means that re-entry is permitted for visitors who have been in Germany for less than the full period of 90 days.

You entered the country with Schengen visa (short-stay visa):

Unfortunately, a Fiktionsbescheinigung cannot be issued in this case.

If a residence permit has expired but a new application has already been filed,

the current residence permit is still valid and legitimate. Applicants do not need to take any further action.

This may sometimes happen if applications are filed in writing or via phone, email or the online appointment service.

Applications should be submitted in advance with sufficient time for processing. Ideally, this is 3 to 4 months before the residence permit is due to expire.

Tip: It is advisable to make the necessary steps for making an appointment as early as possible.

Temporary residence certificate issued by the Ausländerbehörde

Covid-Bescheinigung Fiktion
© Behörde für Inneres und Sport Es ist ein Muster einer formlosen Fiktionsbescheinigung abgebildet.

This is an informal certificate (also called a ‘COVID certificate’) issued by the Ausländerbehörde due to pandemic-related application processing delays. Applicants can use this certificate to prove (for example, to their employer) that their stay in Germany is legitimate and that their residence permit is still valid. This temporary certificate, however, is not sufficient for re-entry into Germany.

Documents required for applying for a Fiktionsbescheinigung:

  • Valid passport or passport substitute - Fiktionsbescheinigungen are only valid in connection with a valid passport or passport substitute.
  • Previous residence permit - If applicable, the previous residence permit must be submitted (for example, the electronic residence permit, eRP).
  • Proof of primary residence in Hamburg (Meldebestätigung at the primary residence orlease agreement and written confirmation of occupancy by the landlord)


Adults: € 13

Children: € 6.50

Free of charge:

  • Turkish citizens entitled to ARB support (residence permit for Turkish employees and their families); proof and duration of employment must be submitted (for example, annual accounts, pension insurance statements, etc.)
  • Persons entitled to political asylum; valid proof must be submitted.