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HAW Hamburg

Visa & Residence permits

As an international student you may need a visa to enter Germany. If you do not hold a German or EU passport, you should check if you are from a visa-waiver or from a visa country (see below) before leaving home.

Please follow the steps to make sure you have the correct paperwork for your stay in Hamburg. Everyone needs to complete step 1; students from visa-waiver countries and countries requiring a visa to enter Germany will also need to complete step 2.

fold faq Do I need a visa to enter Germany?

A. International students from EU countries, European Economic Area & Switzerland

International students from European Union countries, EEA and Switzerland do not need a visa to enter Germany. You need only complete "Arrival - Step 1".

B. International students from visa-waiver countries

International students from visa-waiver countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the USA can enter Germany for study purposes without a visa and stay for 90 days. During the 90 days you must apply for a residency permit. You must complete "Arrival - Step 1" and "Arrival - Step 2". Complete list of countries - "Do I need a visa?"

Note: from 2021 the EU is introducing the ETIAS, which is required by all people entering from visa-waiver countries.

C. International students from other countries

International students from all other countries need a visa to enter Germany. Please do not enter the country with a tourist visa. A tourist visa cannot be converted into a study visa in Germany. You will need a visa for study purposes [Visum zu Studienzwecken].

When you apply for the visa for study purposes, you must provide proof of of your finances (720 Euros/month, a total of 4.320 Euro/semester). Please apply early for your visa, as this process can often take eight weeks or more.

With your visa you generally have the right to be in Germany for 90 days. You must complete "Arrival - Step 1" and "Arrival - Step 2". 

In some cases (e.g. China) the embassy will provide a visa for the full semester in Hamburg, so you do not need to extend your residence permit after 90 days.

Complete list of countries - "Do I need a visa?"

fold faq Arrival in Hamburg - Step 1

Within 7 days of entering Germany, all students must register their address with the Hamburg Welcome Center and get a Meldebestätigung. You will need an appointment (ask your buddy for help) and should take the following with you:

  • your passport/photo ID
  • registration form (download)
  • your rental contract *
  • administration fee of 12 Euros

* if you are subletting a flat (Untermiete) or staying with someone until you find somewhere to live, you can write the name of the person from who you are subletting on the form. If that person is not the main person registered at that address, you will also need a copy of the rental contract. If you are staying in a hostel or hotel, you can give the name and address of the hostel/hotel. Once you get your own rental contract, you should inform the local authorities of this address.

fold faq Arrival in Hamburg - Step 2

Students from visa-waiver and visa countries must also apply for a residence permit (Aufenthalts-erlaubnis) within three months of arriving in Germany. The residence permit is in the form of an electronic ID (eAT) and costs ca. 100 Euros. Please apply early as the process takes 4-6 weeks.

In order to get a residence permit you will need to provide proof of your finances (725 Euro/month). This can either be a letter from your home bank or a bank statement from your German bank account, confirming that you have this money for the semester (exchange students) or the first year (degree-seeking students).

Students entering Germany on a visa will already have a blocked bank account as part of the visa process.

The application for a residence permit can be made at the Hamburg Welcome Center or with a local Ausländerbehörde*. You will need an appointment.

To apply for a residence permit you will need:

  • an application form (download
  • your passport
  • a biometric photo not older than 6 months
  • a Meldebestätigung or a registration form (download)
  • proof of health insurance
  • proof of enrolment as a student (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung - HELIOS)
  • proof of finances (bank statement or letter in Euros - min. of 720 Euros/month for the semester (exchange students) or first year (degree-seeking students)
  • administration fee for eAT: up to 100 Euros

You can apply for the Meldebestätigung and the Aufenthaltserlaubnis in one go at the Hamburg Welcome Center. You will need to make an appointment with the Hamburg Welcome Center.

fold faq Leaving Hamburg (exchange students only)

When you have completed your studies at the HAW Hamburg and before you leave Hamburg, you have to inform the authorities that you are leaving. You can do this in person at the office (Einwohnermeldeamt) where you registered your address when you arrived in Hamburg or via email info(@)

It is only possible to de-register during the two weeks before your departure date.

For your de-registration you need:

Further options for degree-seeking (not exchange) students only:

Studienbewerbervisum: With this visa you can enter Germany for a maximum of three months. The purpose of the stay is to get to know the German university system and visit German universities to get a better idea of where and what you want to study. This visa can be turned into a Visum for Studienzwecke when you get a place on a degree programme.

Visum für studienvorbereitende Maßnahmen: If you want to go to a Studienkolleg or participate in a language course in preparation for a degree programme in Germany. you can apply for a Visum für Studienzwecke. This is valid for a maximum of two years.

After an au-pair year: A visa for an au-pair year can be turned into a residence permit for study purposes, if you are offered a place on a degree programme, while you are working in Germany. Please ensure you ask the Ausländerbehörde about this well before your year terminates.

Letzte Änderung: 03.04.20

An die Redaktion

Hamburg Welcome Center

T +49.40.428 54-5001

Adolphsplatz 1

20457 Hamburg

(behind the Rathaus, entrance to Chamber of Commerce)

Appointment necessary


Office hours:

Mo. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tu. 8 a.m. - 12 noon

We. 8 a.m. - 12 noon

Th. 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Fr. 7 a.m. - 12 noon