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Residence permit in Germany - Explained

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

For the nationals of third countries ( non EU / EEA countries ) a residence permit / Aufenthaltstitel is required to live or work in Germany. If you already have a German national visa, converting it to a residence permit is rather easy.

Do I need a residence permit to work and live in Germany ? Image represents a person holding a German passport

A German residence permit is a legal document that grants non-EU citizens the right to live and work in Germany for a certain period of time. There are various types of German residence permits, including those for employment, study, family reunion, self-employment, and entrepreneurship.

Do I need a residence permit to work in Germany?

It depends; your nationality and the duration of stay depends on whether you need to apply for a residence permit at all.

The Citizens of EU / EEA member countries are exempted from the requirement of having a visa or residence permit in Germany. Citizens of these countries can freely travel, live or work in Germany without a visa or residence permit.

However, they are obliged to register at the local citizen’s office / Bürgeramt if they stay in Germany for more than 90 days.

While the citizens of Switzerland are free to travel within the EU, they are required to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of living or work at the local Foreigner’s office / Ausländerbehörde

Citizens of non EU / EEA countries

Citizens from the countries that are not part of the EU and EEA may need to apply for a German residence permit depending on their nationality.

Tourists and business travellers who leave the country within 90 days of arrival don't need a residence permit.

That doesn't mean that you don't need a visa. You may have to apply for a Schengen visa depending on your nationality.

However, If you plan to work in Germany, even if your period of stay is less than 90 days, you need to apply for a German national visa and then convert it into a residence permit.

Longer stays

If your stay in Germany exceeds 90 days, you need a residence permit. However, if you are nationals of the USA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, you can enter Germany without a visa and then apply for a residence permit in Germany.

A German national visa is required for the citizens of other countries and it has to be applied at the German consulate or embassy in your home country (or sometimes in the country you reside if not living in the home country while applying for the visa) before you can travel to Germany. The residence permit can be applied at your local foreigner’s office once you arrive.

Different types of German residence permits

Three types of residence permits are issued in Germany.

Temporary residence permit / Aufenthaltserlaubnis

This is a one year valid permit and extendable as long as your circumstances stay the same.

This residence permit is issued for a limited period of time and for specific purposes. This may be applied to attend training or take up employment.

Staying for family reasons is also possible and is relevant for those seeking protection, especially in the context of family reunification.

Permanent residence permit / Niederlassungserlaubnis

You are entitled to apply for a permanent residence permit after completing a certain period of time in Germany. This is generally five years but people with certain highly-qualified skills or the graduates of German universities may get an exception.

The permanent residence permit gives you the right to stay in Germany without a time restriction.

On your way to Germany

You can find all the information you need about living and working in Germany at

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