For most foreign nationals, visas have to be obtained prior to entering Germany in their respective home country. The German emabassies or German consulates are responsible for receiving applications and issuing the visa. They provide visa application forms in various languages free of charge.
It is also possible to download visa application forms in different languages for free from the website of the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).
Visas are issued by the German embassy or consulate in the country where the visa application has been made. Foreign nationals applying for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment or taking up employment receive the permission to enter Germany (national visa) from the German mission abroad.
However, upon entering Germany, foreign nationals with a national visa have to contact the responsible local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany which issues the respective residence permit for the purpose of self-employment or taking up employment.
Some non-EU nationals may enter Germany without any visa. Any required residence title permitting long-term stays and work (self-employed or employed) can be applied for and issued by the local immigration office in Germany. This applies to citizens from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States.