Visa and residence permits

What's the difference?

A VISA states the reasons you are entering the country. These can be many: Work, Freelance, Artists, Student, Marriage, and many others. All non-EU citizens require a visa for stays longer than 3 months.

A Residence Permit - is permission to stay here longer than 3 months.
Residence Permit : Residence permit or residence permit. This is often referred to as a 'visa` but this is a misnomer - but easier to say! It is required for all non-EU citizens. As the name implies this is your permission to actually reside here - ie stay longer than 3 months. You must apply for this as soon as possible after you arrive in Germany - we suggest no later than 2 months as some processing can take a month to complete. You apply at your local Foreigners Office.

Visa and residence permits are only required for NON-EU citizens. Residency registration is required for everyone - German nationals included. To obtain a Residence Permit, Non-EU citizens will require approved health insurance and a certificate from the insurance company stating that the insurance complies with the German legal requirements. Spectrum International can provide this for clients who have approved insurances arranged through Spectrum.

Please do not confuse this process with the separate, but also necessary, Residence Registration. See below: Residence Registration : This required for everyone including German Nationals. This should not be confused with the Residence Permit above, this is necessary as proof of your actual accommodation address. This can be your own apartment or even that of a friend – you must report where you are physically living – AND you must re-register each time you move within Germany – even if it is ac/o address, or you move just 'next door' or 'across the street' etc.! This you must do at your local Burgeramt (Residence Administration Office). You will be given a Residence Certificate

Residence de-Registration IMPORTANT: When you leave Germany and will no longer be classed as a registered resident here, you MUST de-register and obtain a de-registration certificate (Abmeldeschein) . You will need this in order to terminate any contracts you have entered into whilst in Germany relative to legal requirements here, such as Health Insurance, Mobile Phones, Rental Agreements etc.

IMPORTANT: There is often speculation, rumor and comment about the acceptability of various International Health Insurances for Residence Permits - even from some In surers, some Brokers, and individuals who may have had their insurance declined. This is invariably wrong. Sometimes the legislation in respect of International Insurance for example is not properly understood. The legislation for International Insurances is not the same as for domestic German Insurance - but that does not mean they are unacceptable. All international insurances provided through Spectrum are fully authorized and registered as approved to operate in Germany by the German Financial Services Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht - BaFin).

Some Insurers and some Brokers may say that people who have had international insurance must make back payments to the German Insurer if they wish to take out a German Insurance. THIS IS NOT CORRECT. Please do not make any such back payments. PLEASE do contact us for clarification

TIP: See also: GETTING A VISA. - Get Visa Germany GetVisaGermany IMPORTANT: Health insurance can take a few days to arrange.
PLEASE do not leave this until the last minute before applying for your residence permit. Allow at least 7 working days for International or 2-3 weeks for German.