Entering Germany is usually a very straightforward procedure. If you’re arriving from any of the 25 other Schengen countries, such as the Netherlands, Poland, Austria or the Czech Republic, you do not have to show your passport or go through customs in Germany, no matter your nationality.

However, if you're coming to Germany from a non-Schengen country, full border procedures apply.

Exterior of the Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island in Berlin, Germany
Germany is part of the Schengen area, a group of European countries that allows easy movement across borders © PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

What you need to know about visas in Germany

Germany is part of both the European Union and the Schengen area, a group of European nations that allows free movement of people among them. As such, any citizen from any of these countries does not require a visa to visit Germany for any amount of time.

EU nationals need only their passport or national identity card to enter, stay and work in Germany for three months. If you plan to stay longer, you must register with the authorities at the Bürgeramt (Citizens' Registration Office) within two weeks of your arrival.

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and the USA need only a valid passport (no visa) if entering Germany as tourists for up to three months within a six-month period. Passports must be valid for four months beyond your intended departure date. If you're planning to stay longer than 90 days, contact your nearest German embassy or consulate, and begin your visa application well in advance.

Citizens of other countries need a Schengen Visa, named for the 1995 Schengen Agreement that abolished international border controls between many European countries. Applications for a Schengen Visa must be filed with the embassy or consulate of the country that is your primary destination. It is valid for stays of up to 90 days. Legal residency in any Schengen country makes a visa unnecessary, regardless of your nationality. The website of Germany's Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) lays out the requirements in detail by country.

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