Regulations for entering and living in Germany
After deciding that you would like to come to Germany for your doctoral studies, please check the immigration regulations that apply to you. The rules governing your entry into Germany and your stay here will depend on your citizenship.
fall under the principle of freedom of movement. You and your families can enter and stay in Germany without a visa or residence permit. After arriving in Germany, you must register your place of residence at the Local Administration Office (Bürgeramt) in the city in which you live.
EU member states (as of 2021): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden
EEC states: EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
need only to apply for a declaratory “residence permit for Swiss citizens” after arriving in Germany. Information about this application is available from the applicable Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde). After entering Germany, you must register your place of residence at the Local Administration Office (Bürgeramt) in the city in which you live.
must, with a few exceptions, apply for an entrance visa before coming to Germany. You can apply for a visa for a longer stay in Germany at the applicable German foreign mission (embassy or consulate) in your home country.
► List of German foreign missions
Exceptions to this rule for an entrance visa are citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The same applies to citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino if they wish to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying after arriving in Germany.
Within a week of arriving in Germany you must register your place of residence at the Local Administration Office (Bürgeramt) of the city in which you live. Before your visa expires, usually within three months, you must apply for a residence permit at the applicable Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
► Information about applying
What type of visa do I need?
Visa to enter Germany
If you need a visa to enter Germany, please make sure to obtain the visa that corresponds to the purpose of your stay here. You must enter with the correct visa in order to later obtain a residence permit to stay here for the duration of your doctoral studies. If you enter Germany on a tourist visa, you will not be issued a residence permit and will have to return to your home country.
If you are applying for a visa in China, please contact the Service Point for assistance because the regulations may vary and you may need to provide additional information: email@example.com
Student application visa
A student application visa allows you to enter the country before you have been admitted (step 5: "Admission") to Heidelberg University. You must apply for this visa at the German foreign mission (embassy or consulate) in your home country. This visa is valid for three months and can be extended for an additional six months at the most. If, during this period, you receive your admission as a doctoral candidate, you can apply for a student residence permit.
Most doctoral candidates should apply for a student visa (§16b AufenthG). This visa can be issued only if you have already been admitted to the University. You must apply for this visa at the German consulate or embassy in your home country. It is generally valid for three months.
Documents for applying for a student visa:
- application form for a visa (available at the German foreign mission in your home country),
- letter of admission to the University (Zulassungsbescheid) or a document stating that you will receive your letter of admission soon,
- proof of health insurance,
- proof of financial resources for the duration of the stay,
- if applicable, further documents, depending on the requirements of the German foreign mission in your home country.
A research visa is only relevant if you will have a working contract with the university, the university hospital or other research institute for more than 50% of full-time working hours. To apply for this visa, it is necessary to submit a hosting agreement based on your working contract/job offer to the German consulate or embassy in your home country. The hosting agreement cannot be issued by individual supervisors or research groups. It must be issued by an authorized office at the university or research institute. Please see below the information on the residence permit §18d AufenthG (for research purposes).
Staying in Germany
By law, every person who plans to spend a length of time in Germany must register their place of residence at the appropriate Local Administration Office (Bürgeramt). You must register within a week of arriving. Registration takes place at the Local Administration Office in the district or city in which you will be living and is free of charge.
There is a list of all Local Administration Offices (Bürgerämter) in Heidelberg. Their addresses and contact information can be found on the Heidelberg city website:
► List of all Local Administration Offices (Bürgerämter)
Documents required for registering your place of residence
- registration form (available at the Administration Office),
- passport or personal identification card,
- confirmation form signed by your landlord (available at the Administration Office),
- possibly proof of your affiliation with the University or of your financial support or health insurance.
After registering, you will receive a certificate of registration. Please make sure not to lose this document as you will need it for other administrative tasks, such as applying for a residence permit or a bank account.
A residence permit gives you permission to remain in Germany for a limited time. You must be sure to apply for a residence permit before your entrance visa expires, which is generally within three months of arriving in Germany. The kind of residence permit issued to you will depend on your individual situation. In almost all cases, doctoral candidates receive a residence permit according to §16b AufenthG (for the purpose of studying). In a few cases, doctoral candidates are issued a residence permit according to §18d AufenthG (for the purpose of research).
► Overview of possible residence permits for researchers from non-EU countries
This residence permit is issued to doctoral candidates who have an employment contract (up to and including 50% of the regular working hours), a scholarship or who are funding their doctoral studies privately. In order to receive this residence permit, doctoral candidates must demonstrate that they are enrolled at the university. The residence permit can be issued for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. The permit can be extended if you do not complete your studies with the given time period but expect to finish within a reasonable amount of time.
This residence permit is generally issued only to doctoral candidates who have an employment contract of more than 50% of the regular working hours with Heidelberg University or another research institution. In a limited number of cases, the residence permit according to §18d AufenthG (for research purposes) may be better suited to your personal situation, for example, if you plan on coming to Germany with your spouse and children. In order to obtain a residence permit for research purposes, it is necessary to enter into a hosting agreement with Heidelberg University. If you are interested in obtaining more information about the residence permit according to §18d AufenthG, please contact the Graduate Academy Service Centre.
You must apply for your residence permit in writing at the appropriate Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
► Addresses and working hours of the Foreigners’ Registration Offices in Heidelberg and the surrounding areas
The fee charged for a residence permit for one year is 100 Euro; a residence permit for more than one year costs 110 Euro (as of 2017).
Documents required for an application for a residence permit according to §16b or §18d AufenthG
This is a general list of the required documents and, as suc,h is not necessarily complete. Please ask at the Foreigner's Registration Office about which documents are required in your specific case.
- application form for a residence permit (this form is available from the Foreigners’ Registration Office),
- registration certificate from the Local Administration Office,
- proof of health insurance,
- proof of financial resources for the duration of the stay,
- two biometric passport photos.
- For a residence permit according to §16b AufenthG: letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) from Heidelberg University. The letter of admission from the faculty (Annahme als Doktorand) is not sufficient.
- For a residence permit according to §18d AufenthG: hosting agreement with Heidelberg University, the university hospital or other research institute.
Submit photocopies of your documents with the application form and take the originals of the documents with you to your personal appointment.
Hint: Detailed information about the application process
The website of the city of Heidelberg provides detailed information about applying for a residence permit:
► Applying for a residence permit
Proof of financial resources
In order to receive a visa before entering Germany, you must demonstrate that you are able to finance your doctoral studies and thus your stay in Germany for at least one year.
The minimum monthly amount that you will need is 861 Euros; therefore, you will need to demonstrate that you have access to at least 10,332 Euros for the first year of your doctoral studies. If family members come to Germany with you, you will need a larger sum of money.
Methods of proving sufficient financial resources
- approval letter stating the amount and duration of the scholarship,
- salary statement or statement of income,
- statement of parent’s income and assets,
- letter of commitment according to §68 AufenthG: a letter in which a third party assumes responsibility for your financial support during your stay,
- payment of a security of at least 10,332 Euros into a blocked account in Germany,
- bank guarantee that is renewed annually.
Working during your doctoral studies: work permit
If you would like to be employed during your doctoral studies, you must first determine which employment regulations pertain to your situation. This will depend on your citizenship:
do not need a work permit; they have the same access to the employment market as German citizens.
must have a residence permit that allows them to pursue employment. Depending on the residence permit and the type of employment, it may be necessary to obtain the permission of the Foreigners’ Registration Office and/or the Federal Employment Agency.
With a student application visa employment is not permitted.
With a residence permit according to §16b AufenthG for the purpose of studying employment is permitted if it does not exceed 120 whole days or 240 half days per year. In this case, it is not necessary to obtain permission from the Foreigners’ Registration Office or the Federal Employment Agency. In addition, you can be employed part-time as an academic assistant (geprüfte wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft) or a research associate (akademischer Mitarbeiter) without a limitation on the working hours (up to and including 50%) and without obtaining permission from the Foreigners’ Registration Office or the Federal Employment Agency. However, you must inform the Foreigners’ Registration Office about your employment.
A residence permit according to §18d AufenthG for research purposes allows you to carry out the research activities as outlined in the hosting agreement as well as teaching activities. It is not necessary to obtain the permission of the Federal Employment Agency.
Addresses and working hours of the Foreigners’ Registration Offices in Heidelberg and the surrounding areas
The Foreigners’ Registration Office that is responsible for you is determined by your place of residence.
If you live in the city of Heidelberg:
Bürgeramt der Stadt Heidelberg
Zuwanderungs- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten
Bergheimer Str. 147 (Landfriedgebäude)
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 58 17520
► Foreigner’s Registration Office (German only)
The Foreigners’ Registration Office has a service point with open office hours for general information. For specific questions about your situation or to apply for or renew a residence permit, please make an appointment with your case worker.
If you live in one of the smaller towns surrounding Heidelberg:
Phone: +49 (0) 6221 - 522 1478
The municipalities served by the Landratsamt are listed here:
► www.rhein-neckar-kreis.de (German only)
The Foreigners’ Registration Office does not have open office hours. Please call ahead to make an appointment.
If you live in Mannheim:
It is recommended that you make an appointment with the Foreigner’s Registration Office in advance in order to avoid a long wait.
If you live in Ludwigshafen:
Phone: +49 (0) 621 - 504 3297
► Website of the Foreigner’s Registration Office / information on the Residence Act (German only)
The Foreigners' Registration Office does not have open office hours. Please make an appointment in advance with your case worker. Case workers are assigned according to the first letters of your last name. A list of the case workers and their contact information is available on the above website under “Kontakt”.