The legislation on entering and staying in the Federal Republic of Germany varies somewhat depending on the country of origin of the person entering. The most general distinction is between citizens of EU or EEA countries and those of other countries. You are advised to enquire well in advance about the entry regulations that apply to you by consulting the nearest German embassy or consulate or our representative office in your home country.

Visa Information

Legislation on Foreign Nationals

Citizens of EU or EEA countries only require a valid identity card or passport to enter Germany. They also enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement in Germany and the same rights as Germans in many aspects of residence or work legislation.

Non-EU or -EEA nationals require a valid passport and a visa to enter Germany. The one exception to this rule is for citizens of certain countries, who can stay in Germany without a visa for up to three months within a given half-year period. This time can be used to prepare for starting up a company or implementing an investment project.

Foreign visitors can, of course, conduct negotiations or conclude contracts. An alternative solution may be to obtain a so-called business visa, issued for multiple entries and a total duration of stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period. With such a visa, foreign nationals can not only propare a business start-up, but also establish additional contacts and engage in other business activities.

Visa/ Residence Permit Applications

As a non-EU or -EEA national, you will usually require a visa if you plan to stay in Germany for more than three months. This visa must be applied for and issued before you travel to Germany. You can apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate general in your home country. A list containing the addresses of Germany’s diplomatic representations abroad is available from the Federal Foreign Office.

To ensure that the verification process will be completed prior to the start of employment, the visa application has to be submitted well in advance. On average, the processing of a visa will take up to three months, depending on the completeness of the documents submitted.

Please note: the responsibility for issuing visas lies with the missions of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. its embassies and consulates‑general. After the entry into the Federal Republic of Germany, responsibility for all further legal residence matters lies within the immigration services of Hamburg’s district offices. These included, for instance, the grant of a residence permit.

Whether, or how long, a residence permit will be granted depends on whether there is a limit to the duration of the residence permit in the respective legal norms. In regard to a possible extension of the residence grant, the issuing conditions will still have to prevail (including the security of livelihood) along with the facts that once provided the base for the issuing of the residence permit.

Work Permits

A specific visa is required for foreign nationals intending to work in Germany. A differentiation is made between employed (hired) and self-employed persons. Prospective employees must apply for a separate work permit in conjunction with the visa.

The work permit requirement does not apply to:

  • Citizens of EU or EEA member states
  • Senior management personnel with power of attorney or representation
  • Managing directors of a joint stock or limited liability company (AG, GmbH) or majority shareholders of a partnership (OHG, KG)
  • Head of the representative office of a foreign company with sole power of representation or unlimited power of attorney.

We will gladly assist you in obtaining a residence permit, or recommend suitable advisors.