How To Apply For A Visa In Germany

How To Apply For A Visa In Germany

How to apply for a Visa in Germany as British Expat? Take a look through our guide as there's several options for you to chose from and you can decide which option is best for you.

Olivia Cole · 7 minute read

As a British citizen, you’re able to live and work in Germany despite Brexit.

Below you will find a breakdown of options, depending on whether you want to live, work, or travel in Germany.

The rules are the same across Germany, whether you want to move to Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt or anywhere else. As long as you can prove that you qualify for a visa, your options are endless.

What types of visas can I use to move to Germany?

The most relevant visa options for British citizens are detailed below:

1. The Blue Card EU scheme

What is the Blue Card EU scheme?

The Blue Card EU scheme is designed to attract high-level professionals to EU countries. It is a standardised work permit that allows workers from outside of the European Union (EU) to live and work in the majority of EU member states, including Germany.

Blue Cards are usually issued for between 1 and 4 years and there is an option to renew. The card also allows the holder to travel between and visit other Blue Card scheme countries, but only for a combined period of 90 days in any 6 month period.

Who is the Blue Card EU Scheme meant for?

The EU Blue Card is Europe's answer to the US Green Card. It is designed to attract skilled, high-paid employees who will offer a positive contribution to German businesses and society as a whole. Generally, an employee must be making 150% of the country’s minimum wage to be accepted.

What are the requirements for the Blue Card EU Scheme?

In 2021, applicants must be offered employment in Germany with a minimum wage of €56,800 per annum (approximately £48,600). As well as standard ID documents, you must be able to submit an employer’s declaration (“Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis”), proof of an academic degree or proof of 5 year’s work experience and a full CV.

What paperwork do I need to bring to the appointment for the Blue Card EU Scheme?

Requirements change from country to country, but at the bare minimum, you should provide all of the listed documents below. Contact the German Missions in advance if you are unsure about any of this material.

  1. An application form, as provided by the German Missions website. Print the form twice and sign both copies at the end
  2. A Passport, valid for at least 15 more months beyond your planned date to leave the EU. It must not be damaged. It must have at least two blank pages in order to be able to affix a visa, too
  3. Scanned copies of important passport pages. These are the first pages with your details and the pages with visa stickers and stamps
  4. Any previous passports
  5. Two identical biometric passport photos, taken within the last three months.
  6. A signed work contract with an employer based in Germany. It must be valid for at least one year, meeting at least the minimum required wage (€56,800 per annum for 2021)
  7. Proof of educational level, e.g. a University certificate
  8. Proof of continuous 5 years professional work experience in your field, e.g. contracts and P60 forms
  9. An up-to-date CV
  10. Proof of application fee payment
  11. Proof of private health insurance
  12. A written declaration by your employer. This is referred to in Germany as an ‘Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis’. You should request this from the HR department of your new employer and mention that it should be presented with company letterhead. This document states the reasons how you meet all conditions and requirements important to the employer

How do I apply for the Blue Card EU Scheme?

British nationals need a residence title (visa or residence permit) to take up employment in Germany. Importantly, this paperwork should be acquired before entering Germany. You should first contact the German Missions in the UK, who are responsible for processing your application.

On the German Mission website, you will find digital application forms, which must be filled out, printed, and brought to your appointment, along with all supporting documents.

Ensure that you book your appointment in the correct category, and remember that a separate appointment is required for each individual applicant; i.e. a family of five requires five appointments.

The current fee for most types of visas is €75 (around £64). It is possible that the German Mission will need to keep your passport for several weeks for processing purposes. They return all passports via postal service, so don’t plan any international travel in the weeks following your appointment.

How long does the approval process take for the Blue Card EU Scheme?

Take care, as processing times can be as soon as 2 weeks for some employment visas, but up to six months for self-employed professionals. The German Missions frequently emphasise that it is best to submit your application well in advance of any scheduled relocation.

2. General Employment Residence Permit

What is the General Employment Residence Permit for Germany?

This visa is similar to the Blue Card, although there is no minimum wage stated. However, it is still extremely difficult to have your visa approved via a low-wage job offer.

You will still need to provide multiple materials from your employer in order to prove that you will be undertaking a role that cannot be filled by anyone with a pre-existing right to work in Germany. Your employer should be able to support this type of application.

Who is the German General Employment Residence Permit for?

There are two types of Permit: a Limited Residence Permit and an Unlimited Residence Permit. The Unlimited Residence permit is only an option for those who have already worked in Germany for over five years. For incoming British applicants, a Limited Residence Permit is usually the best option.

This document, referred to in German as an ‘Aufenthaltserlaubnis’, is valid for a certain period of time and is issued for a certain purpose. This can include residency for educational purposes, the purpose of economic activity, on humanitarian or political grounds, or for family reasons. The Aufenthaltserlaubnis does not automatically grant the right to work; instead, the permission to work must be included in your application and explicitly mentioned in the document.

What paperwork do I need for the Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in Germany?

To get your residence permit ‘Aufenthaltserlaubnis’ to work in Germany, your application must include:

  1. A passport, valid for at least 15 more months beyond your planned date to leave the EU. It must not be damaged. It must have at least two blank pages in order to be able to affix a visa, too
  2. One biometric passport photo, which should have been taken within the last three months
  3. Proof of income
  4. Proof of employment, for example, a signed copy of your German employment contract
  5. Proof of health insurance
  6. Proof of residence—your address registration (Meldebescheinigung) will do
  7. AnCompleted residence permit application form downloaded from the website —also known as the Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels
  8. A Completed employment permission form—also known as the Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung
  9. A Completed job description form—also known as the Stellenbeschreibung

How do I apply for a Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in Germany?

Your new German employer should lead this process for you and you should ensure that you do not relocate to Germany without the assurance from the employer’s HR representatives that they are able to support the application.

Your company will prepare your application documents and send them to the Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde), and they will review your case. If you get approved, you’ll receive an appointment to come in person and pick up your new residence permit. If it’s your first time, you’ll receive an Aufenthaltserlaubnis, a limited permit that has an expiry date, which you can renew before it expires.

There is an application fee which can range between €50 to €110. This is generally paid at the appointment - you should agree in advance whether you or your employer will be covering this amount.

How long is the approval process for the Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in Germany?

The processing time for a residency permit application in Germany is around two to three weeks.

3. Residence permit for a freelance employment ‘Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur freiberuflichen Tätigkeit’

Can I apply for a self-employed / freelancer visa in Germany?

Yes, if you can show sufficient proof of your skills and ability to work. A residence permit may be issued for a freelance occupation if it is expected to have a positive economic or cultural impact. Although, it is much harder to get approval than if you are working full-time for a German employer.

Alongside the standard ID documentation, you must also prove a detailed business plan outlining the business idea and proof of interest from clients. You will also need to provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, confirmation of health insurance cover and a full CV. Be aware that most applications in this category will be processed within 4 to 6 months.

What paperwork do I need to bring for a Freelancer Visa interview in Germany?

Applications are held in person and you must bring the following materials with you:

  1. A passport, valid for at least 15 more months beyond your planned date to leave the EU. It must not be damaged. It must have at least two blank pages in order to be able to affix a visa, too
  2. One biometric passport photo, which should have been taken within the last three months
  3. Form "Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels" (Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit)
  4. Revenue forecast
  5. Letter of intent for the collaboration
  6. Submission of at least two declarations of intent from clients (with information on type, scope and description of the occupation)
  7. Fee contracts
  8. Resume / Curriculum vitae
  9. Details of professional career, qualification certificates, diploma, references/sponsors
  10. Professional permit (only if a permit is required for the freelance occupation, e.g. a license to practice law)
  11. Health insurance
  12. Lease or proof of homeownership
  13. Proof of the monthly rental costs (e.g. current account statement) or costs of the inhabited property
  14. Adequate pension plan (only if you are over the age of 45)
  15. Certificate of registration at the main residence (Meldebestätigung) or
  16. Lease and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord

Do I need a visa to go on holiday in Germany?

Probably not, unless you’re planning to stay there for a very long time. British citizens do not require a visa for Germany and the other Schengen member states, provided that the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180 day period and provided that no economic activity is being pursued.