The entry of non-EU citizens to Germany generally requires a visa issued by the German mission abroad (embassy, consulate) in the country of origin.
For a stay of more than 90 days, e.g. in the context of family reunification, or for the purpose of gainful employment, visas are issued as so-called "national" visas. The requirements for the issuance of a national visa are based on the regulations applicable to the issuance of a residence permit, an EU Blue Card, an ICT card, a settlement permit and a permanent residence EU permit and thus differ depending on the purpose of stay (see "Related Topics").
After entry , the national visa may have to be replaced by another residence title to be applied for at the competent foreigners authority. The application must be made within the period of validity of the visa.
Visas for short stays (e.g. tourist or visiting stays, business trips) of up to 90 days per period of 180 days are to be distinguished from national visas. These are usually issued as so-called "Schengen visas" (see "Related topics" - "Schengen visa; issuance and extension").
Exceptions from the visa requirement apply to nationals of
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, the USA,
- Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the
- Republic of Korea,
who may always enter the country without a visa, regardless of the duration and purpose of their stay.
This also applies to nationals of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino, provided they do not intend to pursue gainful employment.
For tourist stays (up to 90 days per period of 180 days), nationals of many countries are also exempt from visa requirements. Gainful employment is not permitted during the visa-free stay. An immediate extension of the visit is usually not possible without further ado.
More detailed information on visa requirements, visa exemption and the procedure as well as on the Schengen states can be obtained from the website of the Federal Foreign Office (see "Further links"). Basic information on the requirements of the visa procedure can also be obtained from the Foreigners' Registration Office.