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EU citizens and citizens from the following countries do not need a visa: Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA. Students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino may enter without a visa if they do not intend to subsequently work in Germany. Side jobs while you study are excepted from this rule. Nevertheless you should visit a German diplomatic mission in your country (embassy or consulate general) for further information before traveling to Germany.

Exceptions also apply for the citizens of many other countries if they stay for no more than three months and do not take up employment. This time limit cannot be extended. For more information, please see our Information on the legal framework conditions for immigration and residence of foreign students and scholars.

Applicants from other countries will usually require a visa. There are however further exceptions. Detailed information on visa requirements is available here.

If you need a visa, you must apply for a visa for study purposes (in short: study visa) via the German diplomatic representation in your home country. You must not under any circumstances travel to Germany on a tourist visa because it cannot be converted into a study visa. Also a language course visa cannot be converted into a study visa.

In order to get a national study visa the following criteria must be met:

  • admission to a German higher education institution or preparatory course (Studienkolleg)
  • sufficient heath insurance coverage
  • proof of sufficient funds (Finanzierungsnachweis)
  • if necessary proof of language skills
  • for underage students: permission of the parents
  • if necessary records of previous study
The proof of sufficient funds serves as a guarantee that you can afford the cost of studying in Germany during one year. The amount required (720€/month respectively 8.640€/year) corresponds to the maximum student grant in Germany.

The proof of sufficient funds can be raised by
  • explanation of the income level an financial circumstances of the parents or
  • commitment of another person to pay for the living costs of the student or
  • transfer of a bail on a blocked account in Germany or
  • deposit of a bank guarantee which must be yearly renewed at a German financial institution or
  • scholarship which fulfills certain conditions or
  • proof of receipt of a student grant
The ways of proof accepted by the German diplomatic representation vary from country to country.

Details on this and other related questions can be found on this DAAD website. Note in particular the "Information on Legal Requirements for the Entry and Residence of Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists" in the download section.