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Visa & immigration formalities

Visa / Residence Permit

As a general rule, you need a visa to enter Germany. You may apply for visa at the responsible German Embassy or Consulate in your home country. The visa will be affixed to a page in your passport.

There are two exceptions:

  • Citizens from a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area do not need a visa.
  • Citizens from a few other countries (e.g. Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the USA) do not require visa because there are special agreements between Germany and these countries.

Please inquire about the visa regulations, the application procedure, the fees, and the processing time at the German Embassy or a Consulate in your home country. Please do this before you depart. This is especially important if you want to stay in Germany for more than 90 days or if you intend to take up a job. Do not enter Germany with a tourist visa because it cannot be changed into any type of visa after arrival in Germany.

As a rule, it is necessary to apply for a residence permit in Germany since visas are restricted as to area, purpose, and period of validity.

  • Citizens from a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area will get a Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung (free movement certificate), which permits them to stay and to move freely in Germany. You should apply for this when registering at the municipal registry office; the document will be sent to you by mail.
  • Citizens from all other countries will get a residence permit according to the reason for their stay (visa is to be presented); this includes citizens of the above mentioned countries which have special immigration agreements with Germany (residence permit will be issued without visa). Please apply for the residence permit at the Foreigners Authority Office.

The Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung is generally free of charge; there are usually fees for the issuance of residence permits (there may be exceptions especially for research scholarship holders).


Please note:

Many Viadrina events take place at the Collegium Polonicum. This collaborative institution of Viadrina and Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan is situated in the city of Słubice on the Polish side of the Oder River.

  • Citizens from a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area may enter Poland and return to Germany without visa. In most cases, this also applies to citizens of the above mentioned countries which agreed special regulations with Germany.
  • Citizens from countries being subjected to visa requirements to enter Germany should apply for a visa for the Schengen countries. With a visa for the Schengen countries you may enter Poland and return from there; with a visa valid for entry only into Germany, you may not enter Poland.

If you are a holder of a "Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung" or a residence permit, respectively, you may enter Poland and return to Germany.

Please always have your personal documents (passport, ID card etc.) with you. When Poland entered into the Schengen agreement all stationary border controls were abolished. However, you have to expect mobile border controls – even in interior parts of Poland. Please note that you are required to carry your documents on your person in Poland.

Please remember that dependants travelling with you may be in need of visas, too. You should apply for visas as early as possible: even if your visa will be issued very quickly there may be delays in issuing visas for your dependants.

Information concerning visa may be obtained from the web pages of the German Federal Foreign Office.


It is highly recommended that you bring the following documents with you to Germany:

  • valid passports or personal identification cards for yourself and accompanying family members (if applicable);
  • notarized copies of your educational records and diplomas (especially graduate degrees), birth certificate(s), marriage certificate (if applicable), and proof of insurance—with a German or English translation, if possible;
  • confirmation of stipend issuance (if applicable);
  • international immunization records;
  • multiple passport photos, which you will need for various identification cards that you may receive in Germany;
  • proof of health insurance if it also covers you during an extended stay in Germany. (Please note that you must be able to prove health insurance coverage for yourself and any family members accompanying you from your first day in Germany on in order to secure a visa.  If the policy you have from your home country does not cover you, you will need to purchase a German policy for the entire duration of your stay!);
  • if applicable, an explanation of any chronic or prior illnesses (if needed, recent x-ray copies) as well a supply of medications you may require including their prescriptions;
  • and, if you wish to drive an automobile in Germany: an international driver license or foreign driver license; if you bring your own car with you to Germany, you should possess an international “green” insurance card as proof that your liability insurance is valid in Germany; if you wish/need to purchase liability insurance in Germany, a letter from the liability insurance provider in your homeland stating a record free of collisions may help you to qualify for a discou