How can I legally reside in Germany?

Young woman works in Germany

Foreign citizens who want to reside in Germany need to obtain a residence permit. For a short-term stay, a visa will suffice - but if you'd like to stay longer or plan to make Germany your new home, you must apply for and acquire a residence permit. Citizens of other EU states, however, are exempt from this rule, i.e. they may stay in Germany without a visa or residence permit.

On this page, you will read about some options for foreign citizens to obtain longer-term right of residence in Germany. If you have fled to Germany, read the chapter "Residence Permit for Refugees", where you can find all essential information concerning right of residence for asylum seekers.

Various ways of obtaining a residence permit

Vocational Training ("Ausbildung")


Job Hunting


EU Blue Card


Research Work

Family Reunion

If you require a visa to enter Germany, you must apply for it at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country and present the required documents there. After entering Germany, you must register your address and apply for a residence permit at the relevant Immigration Office within three months. To do so, you must submit the necessary documents and, in principle, a confirmation of registration (“Meldebestätigung”) and a rental agreement. The authorities will check your papers and decide if you should be granted a residence permit. Please note that the processing of your visa application may take several months.

If you do not require a visa to enter Germany, please register with the Immigration Office at your new place of residence upon arrival and present the required documents there.


If you are a citizen of an EU country or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Norway, you do not require a residence permit for vocational training, studying, working or residence in Germany.