This article is reviewed regularly by Wego‘s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated June 2024

Germany has been recognized as a top destination for immigrants. It is an appealing option for many who relocate there each year, drawn by the robust economy, high-quality education and healthcare services, abundant career opportunities, and much more.

With the government’s welcoming policies and the public’s acceptance of newcomers willing to make Germany their home, the country has emerged as a popular choice for expats from around the globe.

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Considering a move to Germany? Explore Wego for a wealth of information on what you can expect in the country, including a comprehensive guide that covers immigration procedures and key processes to remember.

Moving to Germany

There exist numerous visa options for entering Germany, and you must select the one that aligns with your purpose. These visas offer temporary residency for a specific duration.

German student visa

Germany stands out for its superior higher education quality, research facilities, teaching methods, affordable study options, and promising career prospects. Hence, numerous international students perceive Germany as the prime destination for advancing their education.

If you’ve secured admission to a German higher education institution and are prepared to commence your studies in a higher education program, you’ll require a German student visa to obtain temporary residence for the duration of your studies.

Student visas are usually valid for three months. Within these three months, you will have to apply for an extended residence permit at the Alien Residence Office in your town of residence.

Documents required

Visa application documents

The German diplomatic mission in your home country will tell you what additional documents are required for a visa application. You will usually need the following:

  • valid passport
  • certificate confirming health insurance coverage
  • proof of financial resources
  • certificates of past academic work and achievements
  • certificate of German language proficiency or proof that you intend on attending a language course in Germany, or English language skills for a degree program taught in English
  • letter of acceptance from your German university (or a statement from the university confirming that you have a good chance of being admitted)

Proof of financial resources 

Before you begin your studies, you will have to prove that you have enough money to support yourself. The document you need is called a “Finanzierungsnachweis,” or proof of financial resources. In most cases, applicants have to prove that they have around EUR 11.208 at their disposal for one year. This amount of money is called “Regelbedarf,” which means it is the amount of money that is estimated to be needed by a student to live in Germany for one year.

There are a number of ways to show that you can finance your studies. The following forms of proof are possible:

  • your parents can submit documents certifying their income and financial assets
  • someone with permanent residence in Germany can guarantee the Alien Registration Office to cover your expenses
  • a bank guarantee
  • a scholarship award notification from a recognised scholarship provider
  • a security payment can be deposited into a blocked account

The term “blocked” account refers to the nature of the account: it receives a lump sum payment for an entire year, which is then restricted and only allows a monthly withdrawal of 1/12 of the total amount. It is alternatively referred to as a limited-withdrawal bank account. For 2024, students applying for a visa must deposit EUR 11,208 into the blocked bank account.

Proof of health insurance 

If you’d like to study in Germany, you need health insurance. You must present proof of health insurance when you enroll at the university and apply for a residence permit. Depending on your country of origin, your health insurance may also be valid in Germany.

Public health insurance plans from the following countries are valid in Germany:

  • Member states of the European Union
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Morocco
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

Germany has signed social security agreements with these countries. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers any medical treatment you require in Germany.

If your health insurance policy from your home country is not recognised in Germany, you will have to sign up for coverage in Germany. A public health insurance policy costs about EUR 110 a month until you reach the age of 30 or have completed your 14th subject-related semester at university. After that, the monthly premium jumps to EUR 190 or more

Application process

After you get the acceptance letter, financial resources and other required documents, follow these steps to apply for your Germany student visa:

  • find the nearest German embassy or consulate: This can be done in your own country’s German mission to obtain detailed information regarding visa requirements and schedule an appointment. You can find the German mission in your respective country here
  • examine the requirements and procedures: Once you access the German embassy website, navigate to the student visa section to carefully review the specific requirements for your country and the procedures for arranging a visa appointment. Before proceeding with the visa appointment, thoroughly examine all the provided information, particularly the necessary documents
  • arrange a visa appointment: Once you are prepared, follow the instructions outlined on the official website of the German embassy in your country to schedule a visa appointment. In certain countries, it is advisable to apply for a visa appointment several weeks in advance due to a high volume of applications, which may result in longer processing times. It is crucial to act promptly, as all available slots for student visa interviews can be filled quickly
  • gather all the required visa application documents: After confirming your visa appointment date, double-check all your documents to ensure that you have everything in order. You can handle this task independently without the need to engage external consultants or agencies to apply on your behalf
  • prepare for your visa interview: Prior to your interview, pay the visa application fee and obtain confirmation of payment. Determine the exchange rate of your country’s currency and ensure that you pay the exact amount. It is advisable to adequately prepare yourself in advance for the visa interview

For more information, please refer to our dedicated article on the German student visa.

Germany job seeker visa

As unemployment decreases in Germany and its job market earns global acclaim, numerous international individuals are drawn to the country in pursuit of employment opportunities. Individuals keen on employment in Germany may opt for a job seeker visa.

This visa enables them to stay in Germany for a designated duration to actively seek employment opportunities.

Documents required

The documents necessary for your Germany job seeker visa application include:

  • two completed, printed, and signed application forms.
  • valid passport.
  • three passport-style photographs.
  • evidence of accommodation.
  • travel health insurance confirmation.
  • proof of financial means demonstrated through:
    • bank statements.
    • “Verpflichtungserklärung” (Letter of commitment) from a sponsor.
    • blocked bank account.
  • comprehensive Curriculum Vitae detailing educational and employment history.
  • proof of personal status (if applicable): marriage certificate, birth certificates of applicant, spouse, and children.
  • Cover Letter for the visa application, authored and signed by the applicant, outlining the purpose, job search strategy, intended duration of stay in Germany, and future career plans.
  • verification of academic qualifications.
  • confirmation of visa fee payment.

Application process

To secure the German job seeker visa, adhere to these steps:

  • fill out the German job seeker visa application form.
  • gather the necessary documents for the job seeker visa.
  • arrange an appointment for a German student visa interview at the German embassy or consulate in your home country.
  • attend the interview at the German Embassy/Consulate.
  • fulfill the payment of the job seeker visa fees.

Germany employment visa

Individuals desiring employment in Germany must acquire a residence permit, typically in the form of a visa. If necessary, a work permit will be incorporated into the visa granted for this purpose.

Prior to submitting your visa application, please verify if your foreign professional qualifications require recognition in Germany.

Documents required

Ensure you gather all these documents as per the provided instructions:

  • two fully completed application forms, printed and signed at the end.
  • two passport photographs adhering to strict requirements (refer to our page on photo requirements for details).
  • valid national passport meeting specified requirements.
  • proof of residence, such as your driver’s license and/or utility bill in your name, confirming residency within the consulate’s jurisdiction where you intend to apply.
  • health insurance documentation, including a compulsory certificate from your German employer valid from the date of employment. If not covered by compulsory health insurance, present separate travel insurance for the period from arrival in Germany until the start of employment.
  • employment contract or binding job offer detailing gross annual salary and job specifics in Germany.
  • approval from the Federal Employment Agency if applicable.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) reflecting your academic qualifications and job experience.
  • proof of qualifications, including diplomas, certificates, transcripts, or similar documents.
  • personal cover letter outlining the purpose and duration of your stay.
  • evidence of a clean criminal record.
  • receipt of the paid visa fee, which is €75 for a German long-stay visa.
  • declaration confirming the accuracy of the provided information.

Application process

To obtain a German employment visa, you need to apply at the appropriate German representative office in your country of residence, which may include:

  • the German embassy/consulate
  • a Visa Application Center

If there are no German representative offices in your country of residence, you can apply at:

  • the German embassy or consulate in a neighboring country
  • the embassy or consulate of another country in your residence country where Germany has outsourced visa admission.

EU Blue Card

An EU Blue Card for Germany is a German work visa or work and residence permit that allows highly skilled individuals to work in professions where there is a shortage or opportunities for advancement. The holders can use their German EU Blue Card to live and work in Germany for four (4) years. Nevertheless, they can extend the validity, provided they meet all the requirements.

However, to get a German EU Blue Card, applicants need to apply for a German employment visa or a job seeker visa from a German Embassy or Consulate. These long-stay visas cannot be used to work in Germany. They simply serve to show the Immigration Authorities that you have entered the country legally and with the intention of working.

Within three months of entering the country, applicants must mandatorily for the EU Blue Card at the German Immigration Office.

Please note that citizens of the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Israel, South Korea, and New Zealand can apply for an EU Blue Card in Germany without the need to apply for a visa beforehand.

Documents required

The following are some of the documents required to apply for the German EU Blue Card:

  • the passport of the applicant
  • a recent biometric picture of the applicant. The applicants must make sure that the biometric picture meets the requirements set out by the Federal Printing Office.
  • since the EU Blue Card is a residence permit, the applicants must fill out the application for a residence permit (Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels)
  • the employer of the applicant must fill out the Declaration on the Employment Relationship (Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis)
  • the applicant must submit their original employment contract or job offer.
  • proof of your residence in Germany
    • the Certificate of Registration, or
    • the lease and a written confirmation of residency from the applicant’s landlord.
  • original University or college diploma
  • the Certificate of Evaluation (Zeugnisbewertung), if required.
  • occupation practice permit. If required.
  • in case the applicant has statutory health insurance:
    • the electronic health card
    • the recent confirmation of health insurance
  • in case the applicant has private health insurance:
    • a certificate from the health insurance company stating the details of the applicant’s insurance.
    • proof that the applicant has paid their contributions.

Application process

To apply for a Germany EU Blue Card, the following steps have to be followed:

Step 1: Find a job in Germany

Applicants will only be eligible to apply for a German Blue Card provided they have a qualifying job offer in Germany. The job offer must further meet the following requirements:

  • must be for at least one year
  • must have a salary meeting the threshold requirement (€56,400 per year and €43,992 per year for professions in shortage).

Once the applicant has a job, their employer must provide them with a work contract stating their position, the duration of their employment, and their salary.

Please note that if you do not have a job offer, you can apply for a Job Seeker Visa to travel to Germany in search of work. Furthermore, you can also search for job vacancies for the EU Blue Card through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal.

Step 2: Apply for an employment visa

To apply for an EU Blue Card to Germany, applicants must first obtain an Employment Visa. To apply for the Employment Visa, you must contact the nearest German Diplomatic Mission and make an appointment.

The authorities will let you know the documents you will be required to submit. Applicants might also have to go through a visa interview on the date of their appointment.

After receiving the Employment Visa, applicants can travel to Germany and start preparing for their Blue Card application at the Immigration Authorities.

Step 3: Get work authorization

In case the applicants have a job offer in one of the shortage occupations, including in the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering, or human medicine, and they will earn an annual salary of €43,992, they need to apply for an Approval from the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), after arriving in Germany.

However, if they need it for the visa application, their employer can do this on their behalf before the applicant’s arrival.

Please note that in case you have an annual salary of €56,400 in non-shortage occupations you do not need work authorization.

Step 4: Make sure to register the living address in Germany

Within 14 days of moving to Germany, applicants must register their living address. The registration will take place at a local Resident’s Registration Office (Bürgeramt) by following the process given below:

  • find the local Resident’s Registration Office (Bürgeramt) and make an appointment.
  • gather the following documents:
    • your passport.
    • the rental agreement and a confirmation of moving in from your landlord.
    • registration form. You can get this at the office or download it, if available.
  • submit them at the Bürgeramt on the date of your appointment.
  • wait for your Residence Registration Document (Meldebescheinigung). You will usually receive this within the same day.
Step 5: Get health insurance

Before getting the EU Blue Card, applicants need to be registered with a German health insurance provider. This can be either public (statutory) or private health insurance. However, travel insurance or a health insurance plan applicants have from their country of origin will not be accepted.

Please note that in some cases, statutory insurers may not agree to enroll you before you officially get the EU Blue Card, proving you are legally a resident of Germany. In these cases, you will have to register with a private insurer first and then switch to public.

Step 6: Collect the documents required & apply for the German EU Blue Card

Applicants will be required to collect all the documents mentioned above to apply for the German EU Blue Card.

Once you have the relevant documents, you can then apply for the EU Blue Card at the local German Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) by following the steps given below

  • make an appointment at Ausländerbehörde. There is a different one in each German state.
  • complete your application file, including your documents, application forms, and any required fees.
  • on the date of your appointment, submit everything at the Ausländerbehörde.
  • wait for your application to be processed. Please note that you cannot start working until you receive your German EU Blue Card.

For more information, please refer to our dedicated article on the EU Blue Card.

Living in Germany

Living in Germany offers a unique experience brimming with diverse cultures, history, and opportunities. As an expatriate, understanding the immigration laws and necessary permits is essential to fully enjoy your stay in this dynamic country.

Residency in Germany

Gaining residence in Germany opens up a host of facilities and opportunities. As a legitimate resident of Germany, you are entitled to the following:

  • open a bank account
  • access financial facilities
  • apply for a driving license
  • access government health services and health insurance
  • register your children in government and private schools
  • work and invest
  • travel without an exit reentry visa
  • own real estate in your name
  • host and invite relatives

These exclusive benefits, available only to residents of Germany, significantly elevate the living experience and lay a robust foundation for both personal and professional advancement in the country.

Settlement permit

In order to reside indefinitely in Germany, obtaining the German Settlement permit, also known as the Permanent Residence Permit or Niederlassungserlaubnis in German, is necessary. With this permit, individuals can work within Germany and freely travel in and out of the country as needed.

Generally, this permit is granted to individuals who have held a temporary residence permit for a specified period or those possessing the EU Blue Card. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum of five years of employment, approval from the Federal Employment Agency for their job, and compliance with tax and governmental contribution obligations. Moreover, strict German language proficiency standards apply, requiring proficiency at an advanced level.

Once granted, holders of the permanent residence permit can sponsor their spouse and children to join them. Initially, dependents receive a temporary residence permit, which can eventually transition to permanent residency after a designated period.

Documents required

To apply for a German residence permit, you must provide the following documents:

  • valid passport from another country.
  • clean criminal record.
  • proficiency in German, at least at a B1 level.
  • German health insurance coverage.
  • successful completion of a health examination confirming fitness for employment and/or studies.
  • financial stability to sustain yourself and your dependents.
  • if joining your spouse in Germany, provide proof of marriage such as a marriage certificate.

Application process

  • register your German address to meet residency permit eligibility requirements. Obtain a certificate upon completion.
  • secure German health insurance, as foreign insurances are rarely accepted. Consider opening a German bank account to demonstrate financial stability. Attach relevant financial statements to support your application.
  • obtain an application form and schedule an appointment at your local immigration office. Early appointment booking is advisable.
  • arrive early for your appointment with all required documents. Expect a brief interview with an immigration officer. If documents are missing, reschedule and provide the necessary additions.
  • await processing of your residence permit application, typically taking two to three weeks. Upon approval, the permit grants the specified duration of stay. In case of denial, review reasons for rejection and enhance your application for future attempts.

Financial aspects of living in Germany

The cost of living in Germany varies based on where you live and your lifestyle. In general, it’s challenging to sustain yourself on less than €1,000 a month, especially in cities with higher rents, which can range from €1,500 to €2,000. Students typically spend around €850 monthly to cover their living expenses.

Travel costs are reasonable, even in urban areas, and food and drink prices are on par with the European average. On the other hand, Health insurance is a significant consideration for those moving to Germany.

Breaking down the approximate monthly living costs for a single person in Germany, rent ranges from €300 for student accommodation or a shared flat to over €700 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city. Utilities, including internet and mobile services, typically amount to around €220. Travel expenses vary, ranging from nothing for students to around €100. Health insurance costs, on average, amount to approximately €120 for students enrolled in the public health insurance system. Overall, total monthly living costs for a single person in Germany can range from €850 to €1,500.

Germany income tax

If you generate income in Germany, you’re obligated to fulfill tax duties on your earnings. Germany employs a progressive tax structure, meaning tax rates increase in proportion to taxable income.

Typically, individuals settle their income tax obligations via automatic deductions from their pay by their employer. However, if you engage in multiple professions, run your own business, or operate as a freelancer in Germany, you’ll need to file an annual tax return to compute your income tax liabilities.

Average income in Germany

As per the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis), the average gross annual salary in April 2022 amounted to 49,260 euros, equivalent to 4,105 euros per month. However, individual salaries can significantly deviate from this average due to variables like age, tenure, sector, expertise, work hours, and geographic region.

Minimum wage in Germany

Germany implemented its minimum wage in January 2015, extending to all employees over 18 years old and subject to biennial revisions. As of 1 January 2024, the minimum hourly wage stands at 12.41 euros. It is slated to increase to 12.82 euros per hour starting 1 January 2025.


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