Frequently Asked Questions
1. My visa was issued by the German Embassy/Consulate. Can I use this visa to make a side-trip to other European countries (e.g. France)?
Yes, you can. According to the Schengen agreement, visas are valid for: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Please note, however, that you must always apply at the embassy/consulate of the country which is your primary destination.
2. I have already made a trip to Germany with a visa ("Schengener Staaten"), which was issued by the German Embassy/Consulate. I think the visa is still valid. Can I use the visa for a business trip to Italy?
Yes, you can. Please carefully check the validity of the visa, the permitted number of entries and the maximum duration of stay (both are mentioned on your visa sticker).
3. My travel itinerary requires an overnight stay at a German airport. Must I apply for a transit visa or a regular visa?
Transit visas are valid only for short stopovers (hours in length) while you are waiting for your onward flight in the airport's international transit area.
Please apply for a regular tourist visa if you must/would like to stay overnight.
4. My travel itinerary requires transit through Germany, however I do not have a confirmed onward flight. Must I apply for a transit visa or a regular visa?
If you do not have a confirmed onward flight from Germany, you must apply for a regular tourist visa.
5. I am planning to apply for a visa at the German Embassy/Consulate. For how long should my passport be valid?
Your passport must be valid for at least three months upon conclusion of your trip.
6. The website tells me that I must submit a bank statement when applying for a visa. I do not have a bank account/my balance is low and the trip will be paid for by friends/relatives in Germany. What then must I submit?
Ask your friends/relatives to complete and sign an formal letter of obligation ("Verpflichtungserklärung") and submit this when you apply for your visa.
7. How can my friends/relatives in Germany get an formal letter of obligation ("Verpflichtungserklärung")?
The formal letter of obligation is available at the local Aliens' office in their place of residence in Germany. Please bring the original of this letter when applying for your visa.
8. I would like to visit friends/relatives in Germany. My own funds are sufficient and I am paying for the trip myself. What kind of invitation must I submit?
Just ask your friend/relatives to send you an informal invitation. This must include their name, address and a copy of their passport. A copy of their residence permit is an additional requirement if your friends/relatives in Germany are not German nationals. If your friends/relatives will pay for your travel expenses, you will also need to submit a formal letter of obligation.
9. I have my own business and therefore cannot submit an employment letter. What documents should I submit instead?
Please include your business registration and latest bank statements (covering three months time) to complete your application.
10. Why am I required to have health insurance coverage for Germany?
Imagine you are injured during your stay in Germany. Please check carefully whether your medical insurance would cover costs for medical treatment abroad. You will need to submit health insurance documents which reflect coverage during your stay in Europe when applying for the visa.
11. My spouse is a German national. I am South African/South African resident. We both live in South Africa and are planning to spend our vacation in Germany. I am required to hold a visa to enter Germany. What must I submit?
Please submit your application and all necessary documents listed for the required type of visa. If you attach an original or certified copy of your unabridged marriage certificate (with apostille), your visa will be free of charge.
12. We would like our child (under the age of 18) to travel to Germany. How may we apply for a visa for him/her?
You would apply, on your child's behalf, for a regular visa to visit friends/relatives in Germany or a regular tourist visa. You must bring your child's birth certificate and submit a copy. Children under the age of 18 are considered minors by EU law. Therefore, the visa application must be signed by the persons exercising permanent or temporary parental authority or legal guardianship - usually both parents. Please make sure that you include a family court order if only one parent has full custody. The application form must be signed by the legal guardian(s) during the visa interview. Alternatively, their signature may be certified by a notary public.
13. How long will I have to wait for my visa?
The processing time for visa applications (short-term) is a minimum of four days. If you apply for long-term residence permits or an Employment visa, processing time will be several months.