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HAW Hamburg

Visa & Residence permits

As a foreign exchange 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. Guest students from EU countries, European Economic Area & Switzerland

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

B. Guest students from visa-waiver countries

International guest students from 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. You must complete "Arrival - Step 1" and "Arrival - Step 2".

C. Guest students from other countries

International guest 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 (659 Euro/month, a total of 3.300 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) in the form of an electronic ID (eAT) within three months of arriving in Germany. Please apply early as the process takes 4-6 weeks. The eAT costs up to 100 Euros.

In order to get a residence permit you will need to provide proof of your finances (720 Euro/month). This can either be a letter from your home bank confirming that you have 3.600 Euro on your personal bank account for your study semester or it can be a bank statement from your German bank account, confirming that you have this money. 

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 guest student (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung - HELIOS)
  • proof of finances (bank statement or letter in Euros - must have min. of 720 Euros/month that you are staying)
  • 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

When you have completed your semester in Hamburg, you have to inform the authorities that you are leaving. You can either do this in person at the Einwohnermeldeamt where you registered your address in the first place or you can send this form to:

Bezirksamt Hamburg-Mitte
Fachamt Einwohnerwesen
Steinstraße 1
20095 Hamburg

Letzte Änderung: 18.03.16

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


Opening 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