Preparing for your stay

When planning a stay at the University of Bonn, you will be confronted with a multitude of questions. Entry regulations, insurance, housing, planning your journey ...- all these must be considered and prepared for. We recommend that you address these issues at an early stage. Some documents you will require in Germany may have to be applied for first and then translated. Applying for a visa can sometimes take several months. We have compiled the most important points on the following pages. If you have any questions, please contact us. We will be glad to help!

You usually need a visa to enter Germany. Citizens of EU and EEA countries are exempt from visa requirements, as well as nationals of countries with which corresponding agreements exist. Using the Visa Navigator1 provided by the Federal Foreign Office you can find out whether you need a visa and, if so, which visa type.

A visa must be requested from the German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence2 before you enter the country. It takes at least 4 to 6 weeks to process a visa application, and in some cases you can even expect a processing time of several months. We therefore recommend that you apply for a visa as early as possible. 

You can apply for the following visa types to enter Germany:  

National visa (D visa)

  • Must be applied for if the planned stay is longer than 90 days (regardless of whether employment is intended).
  • Must be applied for if employment is intended (and/or for stays of less than 90 days).
  • With this visa, you should expect a processing time of several months.
  • In Germany, this visa can be converted into a long-term residence permit.  

Schengen visa (C visa)

  • Only valid for a maximum stay of 90 days.
  • Does not allow employment or doctoral study.
  • Not renewable. You cannot apply for a residence permit whilst in the country on this visa. When a Schengen visa expires, you must leave Germany in any case.
  • This visa is generally not recommended for research stays, as it does not make allow changes in purpose of the stay or extension of the length of stay. This visa is only an option if it is clear beforehand that you will be leaving again after max. 90 days and will not be employed.  

Please note:

  • The entry and visa requirements for Germany change frequently. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you should in any case consult the  German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence.
  • Visa and residence permit are different documents. A visa only entitles the holder to entry. If a longer stay (more than 90 days) is desired, you must apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office of the City of Bonn after your arrival. The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you in making an appointment.
  • A visa is applied for a specific purpose, e.g. for taking up work or for study purposes. You are bound to the approved purpose. If you will be working in Germany, you will usually need a visa that allows you to work.
  • Please inform the responsible diplomatic mission at which you apply for your visa that you as an academic are exempt from the approal requirement per Section 34 (2) of the Residence Ordinance. Accordingly, the immigration office in Bonn does not have to be involved.
  • If you apply for a visa that allows concluding an employment contract in Germany, you may notify the diplomatic mission in your home country that you as academic, are exempt from the approval requirement per Section 5 of the Employment Ordinance. The agency for work in Bonn does not have to be involved.
  • If you have any doubts or questions about entry requirements, please contact the team at the Welcome Center - we will be glad to help you.

The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you in finding housing. An International Guest House is available at the University of Bonn, for which you can quickly and easily make a reservation online. It is advisable to reserve an apartment as early as possible. To the extent possible we also support you in finding accommodation in the Bonn housing market. However, we ask for your understanding that our capacity in this regard is limited. Please note that it is very difficult to find suitable housing in Bonn and that rents are very high.

Health insurance is part of the German social security system. In Germany, valid health insurance is compulsory and proof thereof must be demonstrated, for example, when applying for a visa,  signing an employment contract or being issued a residence permit. Insurance from abroad is only sufficient in a few exceptional cases; very often health insurance from German insurance companies is exclusively recognized. In Germany there are both private and statutory health insurance schemes. Whether you can take out private or statutory insurance generally depends on whether you are employed in Germany or otherwise funded (e.g. via scholarship, funding from your home university or own means).

You should bring the following documents with you for your research stay in Bonn:

  • Valid passport or ID document (valid for the entire duration of your stay in Germany)
  • If necessary, visa passport photos for ID cards and documents (ideally biometric passport photos)
  • Confirmation of your funding (scholarship, salary from your home country) in German or English
  • If necessary, proof of health insurance in German or English with confirmation of monthly premiums.
  • If you are insured in Germany due to holding an employment contract: confirmation from your previous health insurer (if applicable, European Health Insurance Card from your previous insurer)
  • Certified copies of your academic degrees in German or English translation
  • Birth certificate and marriage certificate, if possible with German or English translation.
  • Depending on the country of issue, certificates require an apostille or legalization. The Ausländeramt Bonn only accepts marriage or birth certificates that have an apostille or legalization by the German Embassy.
  • Copies and certified translations of your children's birth certificates (with apostille or legalization if necessary)
  • Credit card and / or debit card
  • If applicable, (international) vaccination certificate and documents on illnesses and/or required medication
  • If you want to drive a car during your stay in Germany: international driver's license or foreign driver's license

Do you need a certified translation of your documents (marriage certificate, birth certificate, diplomas, etc.)? You can use the search engine to find suitable translators and interpreters in North Rhine-Westphalia and beyond on the website of the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators8 and on the website of the Justice Interpreters9.


Applying for a visa

Step by step to a visa for Germany

Erklärvideo Visum
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