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Preparing your stay in Bonn


You will have to deal with many issues when planning a stay at the University of Bonn. Entry requirements, insurance, finding accommodation, and planning your journey are all topics requiring thought and preparation. We recommend that you begin dealing with them at an early stage. You should probably apply for some documents that you will require in Germany as soon as possible and then have them translated. It may also take you several months to receive a visa. We have summarised the most important points on the following pages. If you still have questions, please contact us directly and we will be happy to provide additional help.

Important documents

  • 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 financing (scholarship, salary from your home country) in German or English
  • If necessary, proof of health insurance in German or English with confirmation of the monthly contributions.
  • If you are insured in Germany due to an employment contract: confirmation of your previous health insurance (if applicable, European Health Insurance Card from your previous insurance)
  • 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 needed medication
  • If you want to drive a car during your stay in Germany: international driving license or foreign driving 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 Translators and on the website of the Justice Interpreters.

Visa and entry requirements

You usually need a visa to enter Germany. Citizens of EU and EEA countries are exempt from the visa requirement, as well as nationals of countries with which corresponding agreements exist.

Visa must be requested from the German diplomatic mission in your home country or country of residence before you enter the country. It takes at least 4 to 6 weeks to process a visa application, 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. Please also ask the German diplomatic mission in your home or country of residence whether you need a visa at all.

You can apply for the following visa 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 planned or not).
  • Must be applied for if employment is planned (also 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)

  • Is only valid for a maximum stay of 90 days.
  • Does not allow gainful employment and no (doctoral) studies.
  • Not renewable. You cannot apply for a residence permit whilst on this visa. After a Schengen visa has expired, you must leave Germany in any case.
  • This visa is rather not recommended for research stays, since it does not make it possible to change the purpose of the stay or to extend the length of stay. Only if it is clear beforehand that you are leaving again after max. 90 days and you are not gainfully employed, this visa is an option.  

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 a scientist are free of consent in accordance with Section 34 (2) of the Residence Ordinance. The immigration office in Bonn does not have to be involved accordingly.
  • In the event that you apply for a visa with which you would like to sign an employment contract in Germany, you can point out to the diplomatic mission in your home country that you, as a researcher, are free of consent in accordance with 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 happy to help you.

Finding accommodation

The Welcome Center will be happy to assist you in finding accommodation. 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 apartmet as early as possible. As far as possible, we also support you in finding accommodation on the free housing market in Bonn. However, we ask for your understanding that our capacities in this area are limited. Please note that it is very difficult to find suitable housing in Bonn and that rents are very high.

Health insurance

Health insurance is part of the German social security system. In Germany, valid health insurance is compulsory and must be demonstrated, for example, when applying for a visa, when signing an employment contract or when being issued a residence permit. Insurance from abroad is only sufficient in a few exceptional cases; very often only health insurance from German insurance companies is 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 financed (e.g. through a scholarship, funding from your home university, your own funds).

Planning your journey

Bonn is easily accessible from Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt airports. Trains with direct connections to major German and European cities, very good motorway access and numerous local transport connections offer an optimal transport infrastructure.

By train

The best way to get to the university by train is via Bonn Hbf or the Siegburg/Bonn ICE train station on the east side of the Rhine. Bonn Central Station is in the heart of the city, on the west side of the Rhine. From the Siegburg/Bonn train station, take the underground line no. 66 towards Bad Honnef (travel time to Bonn main station: 25 minutes).

By plane

The closest airport is Cologne/Bonn airport - CGN. From there you can take the express bus no. SB60 (from Terminal 2) to Bonn Hbf. From Düsseldorf Airport - DUS, we recommend arriving by train, which will take you to Bonn in about 1 hour (train line RE 5). From Frankfurt Airport - FRA, the ICE train connection to Cologne with a stop in Siegburg/Bonn is recommended, from there continue with the underground train lin no 66 in the direction of Bad Honnef. Total travel time is about 1.5 hours.

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