If you’re a non-EU citizen and you’re planning to reside in Germany for longer than three months, you are required to obtain a residence permit which is called an Aufenthaltstitel. 
It’s important to understand that a visa and a residence permit are not the same. A visa grants you entry into Germany for a temporary period, typically for a short-term visit or specific purposes. On the other hand, a residence permit is designed for long-term stays, allowing you to legally reside in Germany for an extended duration. 

Residence Permit for Non-EU-Citizen 

1. Limited Residence Permit


Limited Residence Permit

This is a temporary permit that allows you to stay in Germany for specific purposes only. Examples of these purposes include family reunification, studying, and working in Germany. The permit is tied to the initial purpose and has a time limit. After a certain period, you will need to renew or extend the permit. For instance, if you apply for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis to study and complete a degree, the permit will be valid for the duration of your studies and no longer. When it expires, you must either leave Germany or apply for a different type of permit to extend your stay. 

2. Unlimited Residence Permit


Unlimited Residence Permit

This permit allows you to stay in Germany indefinitely. It is not tied to a specific purpose like the limited permit mentioned above. With the Niederlassungserlaubnis, you have more rights and can pursue any employment you wish. You do not need to continuously renew this permit and enjoy almost the same rights as a German citizen, although you cannot obtain a German passport or vote. To be eligible for the Niederlassungserlaubnis, you generally need to have held an Aufenthaltserlaubnis for a certain period, typically five years 

Documents required for a residence permit as a Non-EU Citizen 

You will need your passport, which should be valid for the duration of your intended stay in Germany.

You will need to fill out the application form for a residence permit. This form can be obtained from the local immigration office or downloaded from their website. 

Depending on the purpose of your stay, you will need to provide supporting documents. For example:

-Work purposes: Employment contract or job offer letter.

-Study purposes: Letter of acceptance from a German educational institution.

-Family reunification: Marriage or birth certificates, proof of relationship, etc.

You will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Germany. This can include bank statements, sponsorship letters, or proof of scholarship. 

You will need to provide proof of health insurance coverage in Germany. This can be either private or public health insurance, depending on your situation. 

You will typically need to submit biometric passport-sized photos that meet the specifications provided by the immigration authorities. 

You may be required to show proof of accommodation in Germany, such as a rental contract, a letter of confirmation from your host or the the registration certificate of the citizen office 

Depending on the purpose of your stay, you may need to demonstrate your proficiency in the German language. This can be done through language certificates like the TestDaF or Goethe-Institut exams. 

Additional documents may be required based on your specific situation. This can include certificates, diplomas, police clearance certificates, or other relevant documentation. 

It is important to note that the requirements can vary depending on factors such as your nationality, the type of residence permit you are applying for, and the specific regulations in your local jurisdiction. It is advisable to contact the local immigration office or consult with an immigration lawyer to get accurate and up-to-date information regarding the required documents for your particular case. 

Residence Permit for EU-Citizen 

If you’re a person from the EU, you don’t require a residence permit in the same way as someone from outside the EU does. However,  if you’re planning on staying in Germany for more than 3 months, you will need to register your address at the ‘Bürgeramt’ which is the local citizens registration office. 

Documents required to register

You will need your valid passport or ID-Card

You are required to register your address within a few weeks of arriving in Germany

You might need to prove that you can support yourself (and any dependents living with you)  financially even if a residence permit is not required.  

You will need to show that you have valid health insurance coverage while living in Germany. As an EU citizen you may be able to transfer the health insurance from your home country to Germany through the EHIC – European Health Insurance card. 

Countries with an agreement

Japan, Israel, USA, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia

Citizens from certain countries, including Japan, Israel, USA, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia, have the privilege of entering Germany without a visa. They can then apply for a residence permit while being in Germany. However, if you are not a citizen of these countries, you will be required to apply for a residence permit at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence. 


A residence permit is an official document that allows non-German individuals to legally reside in Germany for an extended period. 

You’ll need to visit your local migration office (Ausländerbehörde). Before you proceed, check the website for the immigration office in your city for more valuable information, like opening times, necessary forms and more. 

Usually, your families documents will be processed in the same place. 

All residence permit applications will require a processing fees, but these vary based on the region as well as your visa type. You can find detailed information on the immigrations office website of your city. 

If Germany is your home country for a longer period of time and not just for a visit, a travel insurance is not sufficient for obtaining a visa in Germany since they’re not compliant with §257 SGB V, §61(6) SGB XI. 

Non-German citizens who plan to stay in Germany for longer than a specified period, usually three months, will generally need to obtain a residence permit. 

There are various types of residence permits in Germany, including permits for work purposes, study purposes, family reunification, and other specific situations.

The duration of a residence permit can vary depending on the type of permit and the specific circumstances. It can range from a few months to several years. Renewal or extension may be required before the permit expires. 

The application for a residence permit is typically submitted to the local immigration office or foreigner’s registration office (Ausländerbehörde) in the city or region where you plan to reside. 

The processing time can vary depending on the workload of the immigration office and the complexity of your case. It is advisable to apply for a residence permit well in advance of your intended arrival date, as the process may take several weeks or even months.

If your residence permit application is rejected, you may have the option to appeal the decision or explore other alternatives, such as reapplying with additional supporting documentation or seeking legal advice. 

Depending on the circumstances, a residence permit in Germany can serve as a pathway to permanent residency (Niederlassungserlaubnis) and, eventually, to German citizenship. The specific requirements for permanent residency and citizenship differ and usually involve longer periods of residence, integration into German society, and meeting additional criteria.