Who Needs a Visa?

Note to readers

GTAI’s Investment Guide to Germany is intended to provide general information for foreign companies wishing to expand to Germany. GTAI is unfortunately not able to answer visa requirement queries from private individuals or support individual visa applications.

Further information can be found at the websites of the German Federal Foreign Office and German Missions Abroad.

EU Nationals

Generally, citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) may enter, stay, and work in Germany without any visa. They only have to register at the local registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt), e.g., if they change their residence to Germany. Swiss nationals have to notify the local immigration office about their long-term stay in order to get a residence permit certifying their right to free movement.

For British citizens, Brexit-related-information can be found at the website of the Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.

Non-EU Nationals

Citizens of non-EU countries generally require a visa to enter, stay, and work in Germany.

For short-term stays in Germany (stays not exceeding 90 days within any 180-day period) a Schengen visa is needed for entry into Germany. A Schengen visa is generally sufficient for most steps required to establish a business in Germany.

Is the duration of the stay exceeding 90 days (within any 180-day period) or is a (self-employed or gainful) occupation taken up, all non-EU citizens require a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) or settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis). For this purpose, the German embassies or consulates issue a national visa for entering Germany which is "transferred" into a residence or settlement permit in Germany.

Nationals of certain countries do not require a visa for entry into or short-term stays in Germany. The Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) provides detailed information on entry requirements into Germany for different countries. Please refer to the following site:

For detailed information on German residence titles, please read:

Overview of Different Types of Visas for Germany

Types of VisaNeeded forVisa RequiredRequired for
Schengen Visa-Stays in Germany for up to 90 days within any 180-day period-Schengen Travel Visa (for business persons in the form of a "business visa")-Entrepreneurs setting up businesses
National Visa

-Stays in Germany exceeding 90 days

-Stays in Germany with the intention of taking up gainful occupation

-Residence permit for the purpose of self-employment-Entrepreneurs running the business in Germany
National Visa

-Stays in Germany exceeding 90 days

-Stays in Germany with the intention of taking up gainful occupation

-Residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment-Employees working in Germany

Please note: the type of residence title depends on the investor's country of origin, the length of the intended stay and the intended business activity in Germany. Read more about the different types of visas for different business activities in Germany on the following sites:

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