Germany Tourist Visa - Visiting Visa Requirements and How To Apply

Written By: Jakus Eloff
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Jun 13, 2022

22 min read

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Germany is one of Europe's largest countries and most important countries. As such, it has plenty to offer, from festive Beerhalls of Bavaria to the Brutalist and Bauhaus architecture of Berlin. Every year, international visitors travel to Germany in their thousands to experience exactly what this modern European powerhouse offers.

If you are one of these thousands of travelers planning to visit Germany, you might need a German Schengen or tourist visa to complete your journey. Unfortunately, applying for a German tourist Visa can be a daunting and time-consuming process, but fret not - Atlys is here to help you out!

In this complete guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about your German tourist visa. We'll discuss a German tourist visa, the German Schengen Visa Application process, the visa requirements, and other handy tips.

We'll Talk About

But first, let's take a quick look at the basics of a German Tourist Visa...

German Tourist Visa At A Glance

Germany forms part of the Schengen Area, and as such, a German Tourist Visa is known as a Schengen Tourist Visa.

Citizens from countries outside the EU may need to acquire a Schengen Visa before traveling to Germany. EU, US, & UK citizens do not need a Schengen Visa when traveling to Germany for 90 days or less. The main details of this visa are as follows:

  • German Schengen Visa Fees: German Schengen Visa Fees differ from country to country, but for most countries, it's EU 80.00.
  • German Schengen Visa Processing Time: In normal circumstances, a German Schengen Visa can take up to 15 days. However, the processing time can take as long as 30 days, depending on the number of applications being processed.
  • German Schengen Visa Requirements: To apply for a Schengen Visa To Germany, an applicant will need a complete Flight Itinerary, a full Hotel Itinerary, as well as various other requirements that we'll discuss in detail in this article.

How To Get Your Next German Tourist Visa Now

Now, if you are someone who values your time and energy, we've got some great news for you! You don't need to read through this entire guide on getting a German Schengen Visa. Instead, all you need to do is download Atlys and use it to complete your application for you.

With Atlys, you can immediately start your next German Tourist Visa application. A benefit of Atlys is that you don't need to stress about the visa application process and everything it entails. All you need to do is select a destination, travel date, and enter your relevant details. Afterward, Atlys will do all the tedious paperwork for you. With Atlys, you can receive your next Tourist Visa in no time!

What Is A German Tourist Visa

The German Tourist Visa, or German visitor visa, is a travel authorization that allows you to travel and visit Germany for non-essential purposes like tourism and short business trips. Keep in mind that you're not allowed to work in Germany with your German Tourist Visa. Short business trips only include meetings, conferences, and so on.

When applying for your German Tourist Visa, you're actually applying for a Schengen Visa. This is because Germany forms part of the Schengen Zone, and applying for a Schengen Visa allows you to enter the Schengen Area. Therefore, with your German Schengen Visa, also known as the German Tourist Visa, you can visit any Schengen Member States.

There is no difference between these two visas. The only difference is the name. Many people refer to the German Schengen Visa as a German Tourist Visa or the other way around. Also, people might refer to the German Schengen Visa as a German short-stay visa.

Note that you'll need to provide sufficient purposes if you plan to travel to other Schengen Countries. Also, the country where you'll be spending the most time will determine what Embassy you need to apply at. For example, suppose you plan to visit Germany for 20 days and travel to Italy afterward for 10 days. In that case, you'll need to apply at the German Embassy or German Consulate General for your Schengen Visa.

You can visit any of the following Schengen Member States with your German Schengen Visa: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Where Should I Apply For My German Tourist Visa

We suggest you first ascertain where you want to apply for your German Schengen Visa as this might influence how long your application will take, and therefore when you should apply. We'll provide 3 options you can choose from when determining where you should apply for your German Schengen Visa:

1. Use Atlys To Apply For your Visa Easily Atlys is your easiest and quickest option. Atlys is designed to be fast and simple. With Atlys, you can cut the time it takes to apply for your visa in half. Furthermore, Atlys has very helpful and friendly customer service that will help along the way. With the Atlys app, you can apply from the comfort of your home.

2. Apply At Your Local German Embassy Applying at your local German Embassy is the more traditional way of getting your German Schengen Visa. Keep in mind that this option does involve some uncertainty and time-wasting. Unlike Atlys, there is no clear guidance from the Embassy. Forgetting a document or submitting an incomplete application form can lead to your visa being denied.

3. Apply Through A Visa Application Center Submitting an application at an application center is fairly similar to submitting an application at the Embassy. In fact, many embassies outsource their visa services to application centers. However, due to the increasing demand for visas, these application centers may become overburdened at times. As a result, there is a lengthier wait time. Also, there are numerous accounts of people who have had negative experiences with the application center's customer support. However, this is not always the case.

Each of these options can lead to you getting your German Schengen Visa. The final decision is always yours to make. Choose the option you like the most, and be sure to follow the exact instructions given to you.

When Should I Apply For A German Schengen Visa

We recommend you start the application process at least 1 month before your intended departure date to Germany. Also, you can apply for your Schengen Visa as early as 3 months before your planned date of departure.

Typically, a Schengen Visa will be processed in 15 calendar days. However, according to the Government's Official website, your German Schengen Visa should be processed within 2 to 10 days of applying for it.

This may not always be the case. Some factors may delay the visa process. This can be concerning if your trip is in 15 days or less.

Factors that can delay your Visa include:

  • A sudden demand in the German Tourist Visa

  • Political changes or developments

  • An unforeseen global pandemic like COVID-19

  • New visa regulations and policies that influence the process

What Is The German Schengen Visa Application Fee

Before you can get your German Schengen Visa, you'll need to pay the visa application fee. You can expect to pay the following:

For an adult - €80

For children between the age of 6 - 12 years - €40

For children younger than 6 years - Free

Note that paying the visa application fee doesn't guarantee a successful visa application. Instead, the fee you're paying is for the service provided by the Embassy. Also, the payment for your German Schengen Visa is non-refundable.

These fees are subject to change. Contact your local German Embassy or Consulate to learn about the most up-to-date information.

Who Needs A German Schengen Visa

Not everyone is required to obtain a German Schengen Visa to travel to Germany. Certain third-world countries are exempt from acquiring a visa. These countries enjoy what is known as visa-free travel. The German Government has created a list of countries where you can find what countries require a visa and what countries don't.

For example, US citizens don't need to apply for a German Schengen Visa to visit Germany. Instead, they simply need to meet Germany's entry requirements (which we'll discuss later in this post).

It's worth mentioning that visa-free travel only applies to short stays that don't exceed 90 days. Also, the purpose of your trip must be non-essential.

If EU/EEA/Swiss National:

If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss National, you do not need a Schengen visa to visit any Schengen Area member state countries.

If Citizen Of Schengen Area Country:

If you reside in one of the Schengen Member States, you enjoy the benefits of the Schengen Agreement. Meaning, you can work, study, and live in any Schengen Member State without applying for any type of visa.

If US Citizen:

US citizens can travel to any Schengen Area country visa-free, provided that they only stay in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days, within 180 days. For more information on the 90/180-day Rule, you can read this article.

If US Green Card Holder:

Unfortunately, US Green Card Holders don't enjoy the same benefits of visa-free travel as US citizens. In the case of a Green Card holder, your nationality, i.e., the country of your passport, will determine if you need a Schengen Visa to Germany or not. So if you're a US Green Card Holder with a nationality that does not qualify for visa-free travel (like India), you'll need to apply for a German Schengen Visa.

Luckily, you can do this in the US, and you're not required to travel back to your home country and apply from there. However, if you're in the US on a visitors visa (B1/B2 visa), you must travel back to your country of origin and apply for your German Schengen Visa from there.

What Are The Visa-Free Travel Requirements For Germany

Even if you enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel to Germany, you still need to meet a few requirements to enter Germany. Also, keep in mind that German authorities have the final decision to permit entry into Germany.

Therefore, ensure that you bring the following documents with you when you travel to Germany.

  • A Valid Passport You need to present a valid passport to German border authorities upon entry. Your passport must be valid for 3 months beyond your intended departure date back to your home country. Also, ensure that your passport is in good condition and not older than 10 years.

  • A Return Flight Ticket You must prove to authorities that you intend to return to your country of origin following your visit. This can be proved by presenting a return flight ticket with all of your travel dates.

  • Proof Of Accommodation Border authorities will want to know where you'll be staying when visiting Germany. A rental agreement, a hotel booking, or an Airbnb booking can all be provided as proof of accommodation. In addition, you'll need a letter of invitation from the person you'll be staying with if you're visiting a family member or a friend.

  • Proof Of Sufficient Funds Another requirement is that you prove you have the financial means to support yourself fully for the duration of your visit to Germany. You must have a minimum amount of €45 per day. For example, if you plan to visit Germany for 10 days, you'll need a total amount of €450 for the duration of your trip. You can present your bank statements, cash, or credit card statements to prove you have sufficient funds.

  • Valid Medical Insurance Obtaining valid medical insurance is another requirement for traveling to Germany. Your travel health insurance must be valid within the European Union and cover any medical expenses incurred during your stay. Furthermore, it must be valid for the duration of your trip and provide a minimum of €30,000 in coverage.

It's worth mentioning that these documents are subject to change. If you're still unsure about the requirements, contact your local German Embassy for the most up-to-date information.

What Are The Document Required For The German Schengen Visa

To ensure that your German Schengen Visa application is accepted, you'll need to submit a list of documents. Start your application through Atlys for a streamlined document process.

  • A Completed German Schengen Visa Application Form You must present a completed German Schengen Visa application form. The information you provide on the form must be accurate and correct. Always double-check the information you provide. Incorrect information may lead to your visa being denied.

  • A Valid Passport Your passport must be valid for 3 months beyond the date you intend to return to your home country. Additionally, your passport must be in good condition and not older than 10 years.

  • 2 Passport Photos Your 2 passport photos must meet the following requirements.

  • Copies Of Your Previous Visas If you've previously traveled to the Schengen Area, make copies of those visas and submit them with your other documents. This could help to speed up the visa application process.

  • Travel Insurance/Health Insurance You must get valid health insurance for your planned trip. Not only must your insurance provide medical coverage in Germany but also across the entire EU. In addition to this, it must cover all medical expenses that may occur during your trip. Also, it must be valid for the duration of your trip and have a minimum coverage of at least €30,000.

  • Proof Of Accommodation You must prove where you'll be staying during your trip. Proof of accommodation can include hotel reservations, Airbnb bookings, or a rental agreement. If you're planning to visit a family member or a friend who resides in Germany, you must present an invitational letter from them.

  • Proof Of Sufficient Funds To prove you have the financial means to support yourself during your stay, you can provide your bank statements, cash, or payslips. Note that you'll need a minimum amount of €45 per day when you visit Germany.

  • Civil Status Document When applying for your Schengen Visa, you must prove your civil status. To do this, you can either present a birth certificate or a marriage license.

  • An Itinerary Authorities will want to know the purpose of your trip to Germany. Therefore, you can present a complete travel itinerary. Your itinerary must include all your intended travel dates, what you plan to do, and where you plan to go.

  • Return Flight Tickets You must prove that you plan to travel back to your home country once your trip is finished. You can present a return flight ticket as proof. Use the Atlys tool to get a free flight itinerary.

  • A Clean Criminal Record You must prove to authorities that you won't be a threat to Germany. You can provide a clean criminal record that proves you're not involved in any illegal activities.

In addition to the documents mentioned above, you'll need to prove your employment status. To prove your employment status, you can present the following:

If You're Employed

  • An employment contract.
  • A letter from your employer that permits you to take leave from work.
  • Your bank statements for the previous 6 months.
  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form

If You're Self-Employed

  • A copy of your business license.
  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form.
  • Your company's bank statements for the previous 6 months.

If You're A Student

  • Proof that of enrollment at a recognized educational institution.
  • A letter from your educational institution that permits you to be absent from your studies.

If You're Retired

  • A document that proves you're a retired (or any similar document).
  • Pension statement of the previous 6 months.

Note, the document requirements for your German Schengen Visa may be different depending on your country of residence. Contact your local Embassy to learn about the exact documents you require.

What You Need To Know About The Germany Visa Travel Insurance

Because most Schengen countries provide public healthcare, travel insurance is required to obtain a German Schengen visa, so visitors don't become a financial burden on Germany's health system in the event of unforeseen issues. The insurance should explicitly meet these requirements:    

  • Coverage of at least EUR 30,000.
  • Cover medical emergency expenses and anything connected with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention, and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.
  • Be valid in all 26 Schengen States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
  • For those hoping to get a longer-term Schengen visa, it is advisable to provide travel insurance that lasts the whole year as per the EU directive     "Applicants for a uniform visa for more than two entries (multiple entries) shall prove that they are in possession of adequate and valid travel medical insurance covering the period of their first intended visit. In addition, such applicants shall sign the statement, set out in the application form, declaring that they are aware of the need to be in possession of travel medical insurance for subsequent stays."

Pro Tip: Check if your employer provides mandatory travel insurance coverage. Often that works if you present a letter/insurance card along with coverage details highlighting the coverage amount.

How To Easily Apply For Your German Schengen Visa

You now know about the required documents for your visa. Now you need to start your German Schengen Visa application process. Next, you'll find 6 simple steps you can follow when applying for your Schengen Visa.

Step 1 - Gather All The Required Documents

First, you'll need to collect all the required documents mentioned above. Ensure that you start collecting these documents as soon as possible. Some documents might take some time to get. Be sure to create a checklist when collecting your documents. This will help you see what documents you've already collected and what you still need.

Note that your documents must be submitted in English or German. You can get your documents translated and certified by a certified translator. Also, you may need to certify some of your documents.

Step 2 - Fill Out The Schengen Visa Application Form

Now that you've collected your documents, you can start filling out your German Schengen Visa application form. You can download your application form online and submit it later at your appointment.

When you start filling out your application form, ensure that the information you provide is correct and accurate. If you provide incorrect information, your visa might be denied. Check this guide if you want to learn more about the visa application mistakes you should avoid.

Step 3 - Schedule Your Schengen Visa Appointment

Once you've collected all the required documents and filled out your German Schengen Visa application form, you need to schedule an appointment at your local German Embassy or Consulate.

This can be done by using the convenient appointment tool at the top of this Atlys page. You can also opt to call your local Embassy to schedule an appointment. However, keep in mind that you may not always find an appointment slot to your liking. For example, your ideal time might be on a Saturday, but the only open slot available is Monday.

After you've scheduled your appointment, ensure that you store your documents and application form in a safe place. You'll need to submit them at your appointment.

Step 4 - Attend Your Schengen Visa Appointment

On the day of your appointment, you need to travel to your nearest embassy and attend an in-person interview with an embassy official. During your interview, you'll be expected to answer some simple questions surrounding your trip and the purpose of your trip. Be sure to answer all these questions honestly and truthfully. Also, you're required to submit all your supporting documents at your appointment.

After finishing the interview, embassy officials will collect your biometric data. Your biometric data consists of a digital photo and your fingerprints.

Step 5 - Pay The Schengen Visa Application Fee

After completing your interview, you'll need to pay the visa application fee. You can expect to pay around €80 per adult and €40 for children between the age of 6 - 12. Children under the age of 6 don't need to pay any visa fees.

Step 6 - Collect Your German Schengen Visa

You're finally finished with the German Schengen Visa application. Now all you need to do is wait for feedback from the German Embassy. You'll receive feedback via mail, email, or the preferred contact method you've selected. If the feedback you receive is favorable, you need to travel back to the Embassy to collect your new German Schengen Visa.

In some cases, a visa can be denied due to a small and simple mistake. If your feedback is not favorable, you won't be able to get your visa. But don't worry, you're allowed to appeal the initial visa decision. If you appeal and the decision is reversed, you can collect your German Schengen Visa at the embassy.

What Are The Germany Visa Photo Requirements

The photo requirements for a German Schengen visa follow ICAO standards.

  • Two identical photos. Not older than six months.
  • Photo size: 35x45mm or 2 in x 2 in
  • In color. No black and white.
  • Head should cover most of the photo. Germany may make exceptions for religious reasons. Exceptions to this and the other requirements may be made in case of a permanent medical condition.
  • White background.

How To Travel to Germany with Children

If you require a Schengen visa to travel to Germany, your children will also require a Schengen visa. Each child will need their own application. In addition to all the standard documents, you've to provide the following:

  • Application form signed by both parents
  • Birth certificate of the child
  • If a child is traveling alone, a notarized parental authorization is signed by both parents or guardians.

If the child travels with one of the parents, then there must be a notarized permission letter issued from the other parent. Furthermore, in case of the parents' absence (divorce, death, etc.), a relevant official certificate (i.e., divorce, death and etc.) must be presented.

Additionally, copies of IDs of parents are also required.

The visa photos requirements for children vary slightly. Children aged 5 and under do not need to have a neutral expression or look directly at the camera, and their heads do not have to be centered in the photo. Babies under one year do not have to have their eyes open.

Germany Schengen Visa Children Photo Requirements

Finally, Avoid These Common Mistakes

I stood outside the German consulate in San Francisco for 3 days to understand common mistakes that applicants make. Fortunately, one consular officer was kind enough to talk to me and go over some mistakes that she's regularly seen over the years.

  • Applicants forget copies of their passports. Yes! As easy as it sounds, many people forget two copies of their passports.- -
  • Expired H1B but a valid I-797. While this lets you legally stay and work in the United States, you're ineligible to get a Schengen visa regardless of how the United States interprets your status. A valid visa or Green card is a must.
  • Wrong consulate! She felt really bad that so many applicants visited the wrong consulate for their appointments. This is especially bad in California, where there are 2 consulates - San Francisco and Los Angeles. To find the correct consulate for you, make sure to enter the right zip code on Atlys.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mail-in Schengen Visa Application? Are you Eligible?

Germany lets certain travelers mail-in their visa applications. This saves travelers having to visit the German consulate for in-person appointments.

Only travelers that have obtained a Schengen visa in the past 59 months and have a valid United States residence status are eligible to mail-in their applications. There is no need to inform the consulate ahead of mailing in your application. However, mail-in applications have 2 additional requirements:

  • The filled Germany visa application and a copy of your United States residence status have to be notarized by a notary public.
  • The application has to be shipped to the appropriate consulate along with a pre-fixed return label addressed to you.

What You Need to Know About The COVID-19 Restrictions In Germany

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on travel worldwide, including in Germany. Many countries have implemented strict travel regulations to ensure the safety of their citizens and visitors. Therefore, you need to consider the COVID-19 restrictions of Germany before your trip. You can use Atlys to learn more about the COVID-19 restrictions in Germany or read more on Germany's government website.

Which income proofs can be submitted to show the ability to cover the travel and stay expenses?

Many qualify however showing a bank statement is the most straightforward. You can also use one of these:

  • invoices of prepaid travels and accommodations

  • Pay stubs

  • travelers’ cheques

  • attested documents showing spouse’s consent in covering the expenses, etc. Other types of visas and document requirements

  • Short-term work visa: Reference letter of the U.S. employer mentioning profile, salary, date of hiring, dates of vacation, and itinerary.

  • Self-employed: Your business existence proof and the client’s details you intend to meet in France. The proof of income from the business.

  • Foreign students on F-1 visa: A valid I-20, reference letter from an educational institution, education details, and expected date of the end of graduation course.

What Is The Proof of Employment For The Germany Visa

A letter from your employer is required as proof of employment. The letter should state:

  • Today's Date
  • Employer name
  • Position and title
  • A declaration that you will continue to be employed during your Germany visit
  • Contact and address information of the supervisor along with their signature.

For students, this is a letter from your university. For homemakers or those unemployed, a letter of support from any individual/organization. This includes but is not limited to your spouse or parents too.

How long is a short stay visa valid for? Can I leave the Schengen area and come back with the same visa?

The visa sticker contains information on the visa’s validity period and the duration of the authorized stay. A visa can be issued for one entry or multiple entries.

The maximum duration of stay is shown on the visa sticker, and it varies according to the reasons for your stay.

What you must remember

  • You must have left the Schengen area at the latest on the day on which the visa expires.
  • You must not exceed the authorized length of stay during the validity of the visa.
  • If you have an authorized stay of 90 days, you must not stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days in 180 days, this period not having to exceed the duration of the visa and the period of 90 days starting from run on the date of the first entry.

Can I apply for a visa on arrival?

No, Germany does not provide a visa-on-arrival.

Which country is responsible for processing my visa application?

The Member State competent to handle a request visa and decide on it is the one whose territory constitutes the sole destination (or main) or the trips.

Do I need a transit visa to Germany?

Nationals of the following countries are required to be in possession of an airport transit visa when passing through the international transit area of airports in Germany:

  • Afghanistan
  • Ghana
  • Lebanon
  • South Sudan
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Mali
  • Sri Lanka
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Iran
  • Nigeria
  • Sudan Eritrea
  • Iraq
  • Pakistan
  • Syria
  • Ethiopia
  • Jordan
  • Somalia
  • Turkey

Nationals of the aforementioned countries do NOT require an airport transit visa if:

  • they hold a valid visa for the United States of America, or
  • they hold a used valid or expired visa issued by the USA and return from the USA and travel to a non-Schengen Member State within 24 hours after the expiration of their visa
  • they hold a valid visa for a Schengen Member State, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Romania or UK,
  • they hold a used valid or expired visa issued by Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Romania or UK and return from the country of visa issuance and travel to a non-Schengen Member State.

Airport transit privilege does not apply and you will need a visitor visa if:

  • You have to pick up your baggage and/or have to check-in again (please verify with your airline) or,
  • You are transiting through two or more airports in the Schengen Countries (for example: Miami-Frankfurt-Paris-India or New York-Frankfurt-Munich-India) or,
  • You hold an open ticket.

I have a double/triple nationality. Which one should I enter in my visa application?

You must enter the nationality of the passport with which you wish to travel. When you complete your application form, you will need to indicate your nationality of origin and your current nationality (that of your passport).

Can I extend my visa while in Germany?

Only in exceptional cases. We do not recommend this path.

I am a visitor to the US with a B1/B2 visa and would like to spend two weeks in Germany after my trip to the US. Where do I apply for a visa?

Only legal resident aliens in the US can apply for a visa in the United States. If you are only visiting you need to apply at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

Atlys uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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