History, culture, and natural beauty perhaps best describe the essence of touring Germany. The Old Town Hall in Bamberg, the Schwerin Castle, Nuremberg Christmas Market, Octoberfest, Cologne Cathedral, the corrugated, dune-fringed coasts of the north; the moody forests, romantic river valleys, and vast vineyards of the center; and the off-the-charts splendor of the Alps, carved into rugged glory by glaciers and the elements. All of these are integral parts of a magical natural matrix that have resulted to be very alluring for travelers around the world.
As a destination, it offers a clutch of truly lovely cities, culture served up in hefty portions, and rural scenery so pretty that the country attracted 459.6 million visitors to the Federal Republic of Germany in 2017 alone.
However, getting into Germany is not an easy piece of cake for everyone, since a Schengen visa for Germany is required for many. Despite the fact that Germany has reached visa facilitation agreements with many countries, there are still many more around the world, the citizens of which need to obtain a visa, even for short-stays and tourism.
If you are planning to visit Germany, for a period shorter than three months for either visiting family members or friends, or sightseeing, then you may need a Schengen visa, which not only allows you to visit Germany but also to travel across other Schengen member states enlisted in the Schengen Zone as well as other countries.
Germany Entry Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus
In early 2020, Germany was among one of the Schengen countries who closed their borders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Germany has since re-opened its borders back up for travel, but with restrictions that depend on your country of origin. Germany, like most other Schengen countries, updates its restrictions regularly depending on the current situation.
Germany is implementing the commonly agreed EU “traffic lights” approach to travel restrictions, which applies to EU and EEA countries.
Entry from EU Member States and Schengen Associated countries is allowed without restrictions, unless a country or region is defined as a ‘virus variant area’, a ‘high incidence area’, or a ‘risk area’ by the Robert Koch Institute.
You should check on the latest news regarding restrictions, quarantine or whether a test will be required either from reliable news sources, the German government website, or the UK government website one to two weeks before your trip to be aware of the latest requirements for travelling to Germany.
Who Can Apply for a Germany Visa from the UK?
Any UK citizen who holds either a full UK passport or a BOTC, BOC, BPP or BS passport can travel to Germany visa-free. On the other hand, many non-EU nationals who reside in the UK are still required to get a Schengen visa to travel to Germany. Before starting a visa application, or getting a flight to Germany, make sure to check whether you need a visa to Germany or not.
You should apply for a visa at the German Consulate General in the UK if:
- You are only visiting Germany in the Schengen area – This means that if you want to visit Germany only, you will not be allowed to apply for a visa for Germany. You must plan to visit Germany in order to qualify for the visa.
- You will spend most of your visiting days in Germany – If you are doing a tour around Europe and the Schengen zone countries, you will have to apply for the visa in the country you will be staying the longest. So, if you want to visit Germany for 5 days, Belgium for 4 days, and the Netherlands for 3 days, you are eligible to apply for the visa in Germany. If you are staying longer in another country, then you cannot apply for a visa in Germany.
- It is the first country you plan on visiting – If you have the previously mentioned tour of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, you can apply for the Germany visa only if Germany is the first country you will visit from your tour. You will need to first enter the country from which you have obtained your visa in order to be allowed to visit others in the Schengen area.
The main requirement is that you must have a UK residence permit valid for at least 90 more days following your departure date from Germany or any other Schengen Area. You can extend your visa for 3 more months from within the UK if you have a 3-month UK visa in order to be eligible to apply for a German Schengen visa from within the UK.
Please note that if you are not a resident in the United Kingdom you should apply at the German Embassy/Consulate or German visa application center in your country of residence.
Easy Steps to Apply for German Visa Schengen Visa from the UK
Step 1: Identify visa type and validity
To apply for a Schengen visa to Germany in the UK, you first need to know the type of visa you require and how long the visa will be valid. There are different German Schengen visa types depending on your purpose of traveling from the UK to Germany.
a) Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)
Uniform Schengen Visa allows the holder to transit or stay in the desired Schengen state for the duration of up to a maximum of 90 days every 180 days starting from the date of entry.
USVs apply to three different categories:
- Category “A” (Airport Transit Visa) — this visa allows for the holder to wait for a connecting flight from one non-Schengen country to another through a Schengen country airport. The holder is however only restricted to the airport and cannot leave, even if they desire to stay at a hotel outside the airport.
- Category “B” (Transit Visa) — this visa type allows holders to travel through multiple Schengen countries to a non-Schengen country by car, coach, or plane, as long as travel lasts no more than 5 days. This visa type would be helpful if you desire to stay at a hotel that is outside the airport before taking a connecting flight.
- Category “C” (Short-term Visa) — this is the most popular Schengen Visa. It allows its holder to visit and stay in a Schengen Area for a certain period of time depending on the visa validity. It is primarily issued for tourism, visiting family and friends, business, and other authorized purposes. It can be provided for single entry, double-entry, or multiple entries, depending on the purpose of your travel.
- 1-year multiple-entry visa – This visa allows its holder to enter the Schengen Zone multiple times, as long as they do not stay more than 3 months within this period.
- 3-year multiple-entry visa – This visa gives you the right to enter the Schengen zone multiple times within a period of three years. However, even in this case, you are only allowed to reside in the Schengen area no longer than 90 days within a 180-day period.
- 5-year multiple-entry visa – This visa allows its holder to enter 26 countries in the Schengen region as many times as they wish, within five years, as long they do not stay for more than 90 days within a 180-day period.
b) Limited territorial validity visas (LTV)
Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) Visas permit you to travel only in the Schengen country that issued the visa or in special cases, travel in the Schengen States specifically mentioned when applying for the visa. This visa is invalid in any other Schengen area that is not specified prior. This visa is usually issued in peculiar cases that fall out of the Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) category such as humanitarian reasons, international obligations, or in cases of some sort of emergency.
c) National Visa
The national visa (category “D”) is granted to individuals who plan on studying, working, or residing permanently in one of the Schengen countries. The national visa can either be:
- A single entry – allowing you to reside, work or study in the Schengen country for a certain period of time with the assurance that after which they shall return to their country, or
- A multiple-entry – allowing you to travel in and out of this Schengen country multiple times and also travel to other Schengen Areas without having to apply for a new visa.
Schengen Visa Types According to Purpose of Travel
On the visa application form, you will be prompted to indicate the purpose of your travel to the Schengen territory. Here are some purposes to help you apply for the correct visa.
- Tourism – This is the most popular purpose of travel to Schengen Countries. Applicants, who intend to travel purely for tourist purposes, i.e. sightseeing, leisure, and experiencing their culture, architecture, foods, and much more, need to indicate this on the application form.
- Business – If you intend to travel for business purposes, i.e. visiting a business/company for meetings, recruitments, training, or any other work-related activities, then you need to indicate Business the purpose of your travels.
Every Business visa application has to be confirmed by an invitation letter from a business/company based in Germany, if not, you will be required to apply as a Tourist.
- Airport Transit – Certain nationalities have to apply for an airport transit visa in order to be allowed to make a stopover at an airport in a Schengen Area, without entering the Schengen Country. You need to indicate airport transit as the purpose of travel on your application form.
- Transit – This is similar to the above-mentioned purpose of travel, popular among sea travelers that need to stop over at the seaport of one of the member states.
- Visiting Family or Friends – If you need to visit and stay with your family or friends that legally reside in the Schengen Area, you can then indicate this as your purpose of travel. You’ll, however, be required to provide a letter of invitation among other documents.
- Study – Students wishing to attend any type of educational institution in the Schengen area need to indicate this on their application. They can either choose to apply for a 3-month Schengen study visa or National Visa (category “D”) is they plan on being in the country longer.
- Medical – Indicate this as your purpose of travel if you are traveling to any of the member states of the Schengen territory to seek medical treatment. This visa will allow you to get the medical care you need at any medical institution for a period of 90 days within a 180-period.
- Official Visit – Tick this as your purpose of travel if you are travelling to the Schengen region in an official capacity.
- Cultural, Sports, and Film Crews – this visa is for people wishing to travel to a Schengen member country for the purpose of attending a cultural / sports / religious event or they are part of a film crew. The applicant should be part of the event, as i.e. a performer at a concert, or a writer presenting their book at a book event, or athlete participating in a sports event and not only as a mere audience.
- Other – If the purpose of your travel does not fall under any of the mentioned categories, you’ll have to choose the “other” option on the application form. You will, however, be required to specify the purpose of your visit in a few words.
Step 2: Identify Where to Make Application
Where should you apply for a German Visa in the UK?
Within the United Kingdom, there are several centres where you can submit your application. The two main ones are the Germany Visa Application Centers in London and Manchester. For residents of Scotland, you might need to apply through the Consulate General in Edinburgh.
How to choose where to apply in the UK?
If you reside in England or Wales then you should apply at the German Embassy London.
If you reside in Scotland or Northern Ireland then you should apply at the German Consulate General in Edinburgh.
All visa applications for Germany are processed by the Embassy of Germany in London, and they also make the decision whether you will be granted entry into Germany or not. If you are applying for the first time, you will need to go to the Visa Application Center operated by VFS in the UK.
VFS is the official processing company authorized by the German Embassy for this purpose. You need to physically hand in your visa application in person at this center in order for it to be accepted and processed.
When you go to submit the application, the attending staff will take your biometric information, including ten fingerprints and your photograph. Once this information is entered into VFS’s system called Visa Information System or VIS, it will be stored there. You can use this stored information for any visa application within the Schengen Zone for the next five years.
When to apply for a Schengen Visa to Germany?
The earliest you can file your Schengen visa application is at most six months before your intended trip towards Germany. Whereas, the latest you can do so, is two weeks prior to your trip to Germany.
However, you are highly recommended to apply for a tourist visa at least 3 weeks before your travel date in order to avoid any processing delays.
Step 3: Book an appointment at the consular office.
To apply for a Germany visa you must book an appointment with the German Embassy in London or German Consulate General in Edinburgh.
This can be done in different ways:
- By booking an appointment directly at the German Embassy in London or German Consulate General in Edinburgh:
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in London, England
Address: 23 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8PZ, UK
Phone: +44 20 7824 1300
Fax: +44 20 7824 1435
Email: [email protected]
Opening times: Monday – Friday only by appointment
Consular district: Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridge shire, Cheshire, Clwyd, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, Dyfed, Dorset, Essex, South Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan, West Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Gwent, Gwynedd, Hampshire, Hereford and Worcester, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Greater London, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Powys, Salop, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 16 Eglinton Cres, Edinburgh EH12 5DG, UK
Phone: +44 131 337 2323
Fax: +44 131 346 1578
Email: [email protected]
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 9:00 – 11:30 am
Consular district: Scotland and the following counties in North England: Cumbria, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton on Tees, Tyne and Wear (Tyneside), as well as North Yorkshire with the exception of Selby and York.
You can book an appointment every working day from 9 am to 10 am except on holidays.
- Through VFS Centres in London and Manchester. German visa applications for UK residents are to be submitted at the Germany Visa Application Centres in London and Manchester. All applications will be assessed by The Embassy of Germany, London.
Step 4: Complete your application form
The Schengen Visa application form contains questions about you including:
- Name and surname
- Date and place of birth
- Sex and marital status
- National Identity number
- Passport number
- Home address and email
- Purpose of trip
- Question regarding previous trips to Schengen, if any
- Intended date of arrival in Schengen area you are visiting, and the intended period of stay
- Cost of traveling and remaining in Schengen area you are visiting, who will cover them, etc.
Make sure your answers are correct and that they comply with the information in the rest of the documents. Complete the form, print it twice, and sign both copies at the end.
Find out more about how to complete a Schengen vis application form in this blog post.
Step 5: Prepare your documents
The following documents are required for any short-term German visa application in the UK:
- Your passport with at least two blank pages, make sure that:
- Your passport has been issued (not extended) within the previous 10 years,
- Your passport has 2 full blank pages, one for the visa stamp and an additional spare page,
- Your passport will be valid for at least three (3) months after the date you exit the Schengen Area.
- A valid UK residence permit or another form of Identity Card. The UK residency permit must be endorsed in the actual passport (or on a new biometric ID card)
- German visa application form completed in English or German. The form should be fully, honestly, and correctly completed, printed, and signed at the end.
- Declaration of Accuracy of Information
- A Cover Letter. This personal cover letter should explain the reason why you wish to visit Germany, how long you intend to remain there, and what you will be doing there, amongst others.
- Proof of travel arrangements. Round trip flight/travel reservations from the UK to Germany and back to the UK, or other proof of intended transport and complete itinerary of your visit to Germany (if the several Schengen States will be visited or if the trip covers the several Schengen States and non-Schengen countries).
- Travel health insurance which covers at least 30,000 Euros and is valid for all Schengen countries
- Your residence address in the UK from a utility bill, bank statement, or another form
- Proof of accommodation in Germany:
- Evidence of a hotel booking in Germany or rental agreement, or
- Invitation from your German host (family member, friend) along with a copy of their passport or ID (Proof of sponsorship if dependent)
- Proof of financial means. This could be:
- Any previous passports or visas that you have had
The documents listed above are documents required in all cases, regardless of the purpose of your visit in Germany.
Depending on your employment status, here is a list of additional documents that are required for your Germany visa application in the UK:
For UK employees:
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
For the self-employed:
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
For foreign students in the UK:
- Proof of enrolment
- No-objection certificate from school or university in the UK
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
If unemployed and married to an EU citizen:
- A recent (less than 3 months old) Confirmation of Employment letter from their spouse’s employer stating the position held within the company as well as the starting date,
- Spouse’s valid passport
- An officially translated marriage certificate. The translation must be in English or German and must be certified as a true copy by the Embassy of the country where the marriage took place or by the Legalization Bureau of the Foreign Office in UK
Requirements for children under the age of 18
Underage children must be accompanied by parents or an adult guardian at the application center at the German Embassy or Consulate-General. Also, minors who are granted a German visa are not allowed to travel to Germany by themselves. They should be accompanied by an adult during their stay in Germany.
Required documents for Germany visa application for underage children
- Original birth certificate among others.
- Signed travel consent from both parents
- If one parent is not located in the UK, they should submit their signed consent to the German Embassy/Consulate of their residing country
Note: All documents must be either in German or English or officially translated by a certified translator.
Step 6: Attend your appointment
The visa interview is a meeting between you and the consular officer/interviewer. During this interview, the consular officer will ask you several questions about you and your intended trip. You will also be submitting the required documents throughout the meeting, to the interviewer.
On the day of your appointment:
- Arrive at least 20 minutes early – if you are late and miss your appointment, you will have to make a new one
- Remember all your documents – check you have everything before you arrive at VFS Global. If you hand over an incomplete application, it could be rejected
- Give your appointment confirmation letter to security
- You will be given a number
- You will wait until your number is called
- When it’s your turn, the visa staff will examine your passport, visa application, and supporting documents
- Your biometric data will be captured (unless you have provided this data within the last 5 years)
- You will pay the visa fee and service charge
- You will be issued a receipt for the fees paid
- After the appointment, VFS will send your application to the embassy for processing. If the embassy needs any further information and/or they want any more documentation from you, you may have to attend an interview. During this interview, you may be asked questions about your application. If they do this, simply comply with their requests and answer any questions truthfully.
Typical questions include:
- Have you ever travelled to the EU before?
- Are you meeting anyone in Germany?
- What are you going to do in Germany?
- Can you show me your bank statements?
- How will you pay for your trip?
Don’t jeopardize your Schengen visa interview at the last minute. Use this comprehensive and thorough visa interview guide to crack the visa interview!
Germany Visa Fees for UK Residents
Since Germany is a Schengen state, visa fees are the same as any other Schengen visa.
These are the costs of a German Schengen Visa when applying from UK:
|Schengen Visa Category (by age)||Fee in UK Pound||Fee in Euro|
|Adult||73 £||80 €|
|Child between 6-12 years of age||36.5 £||40 €|
|Child younger than 6 years of age||Free||Free|
Germany Visa Fee Exemptions
The following persons are exempted from visa fees:
- Children younger than 6 years of age
- Family members of an EU/EEA national. You will need:
- Original Marriage Certificate, or
- Civil Partnership Certificate
- Original full Birth Certificate
- EU/EAA national’s passport.
- Persons travelling for the purpose of study or educational training and are accompanied by teaching staff such as school pupils and undergraduates and postgraduates. You will need:
- A letter from the school principal/dean that states that the trip is an obligatory part of the school/college programme.
Step 7: Receive your visa
Germany Visa Application Processing Time in UK
You can apply for a German Schengen visa up to 180 days before your planned trip. Usually the German visa application process takes a minimum of 5 working days.
However, for nationals of the following countries the application time takes at least 14 working days (Source: VFSGlobal):
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
*Note: except for diplomatic and service passport
After a visa application decision has been made, you can pick up your documents from the Visa Application Centre or have your documents returned to you by courier for an additional fee. For some Visa Application Centres your documents will only be returned via courier.
Collecting your documents in person: bring the receipt issued by the Visa Application Centre and a form of Government identification. If permitted you may be able to send a representative to collect your documents; they will need to present a letter of authorization signed by you, bring the receipt issued to you by the Visa Application Centre and their Government identification.
Please check with the Visa Application Centre at time of your appointment for the options available to collect your documents.
Please note that the time for passport collection is from Sunday to Thursday between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Visa application decision:
- Approved – Once your visa is approved, it will be stamped in your passport. Make sure to carefully check the visa sticker to make sure everything is correct and exactly how you need it.
- Rejected – if your visa has been rejected, it would have been for a specific reason, which will be stated on your rejection letter. You have the right to appeal.
Visa Application Rejection
There are a few common reasons why your visa application might be rejected. For example, if you provide illegitimate or insufficient documents, apply for the wrong type of visa, or fail your immigration interview.
If your visa application is rejected, you will not be refunded for your application. You will need to either appeal or file the application again. To avoid this hassle, make sure your documents are in order and you fill out the form correctly. With a service like IaM, we check your application before submission to ensure the highest possibility of having your visa application approved.
Common rejection reasons include:
- Marriage certificate missing – if you are applying for a visa for family reasons, you may have to prove family ties. This is why you must provide a marriage certificate
- You applied for the wrong visa – it is your responsibility to apply for the correct visa depending on how long you are going to Germany for and your reason for travelling there
- It is not clear that you plan to return to the UK – it must be clear that you intend to return to the UK before the visa expires. If the visa staff have doubts about this, your visa will be rejected
- Purpose of your trip cannot be established – the reason why you are planning to go to Germany must be made clear. You can do this by providing specific documents like a full itinerary, work contract or invitation letter etc.
What If My Germany Schengen Visa Is Rejected?
If you receive a negative answer in your German Schengen visa application, this does not mean you cannot ever travel to Germany. In fact, you have two options.
- File an appeal for German Schengen visa rejection if you believe that the decision to deny you a visa is unjust. You should have a strong basis for your complaint. You can appeal this decision by writing an appeal letter for a Germany Schengen visa rejection.
- Reapply by correcting the mistakes you did in your previous application. Or improve your situation in order to comply with the eligibility criteria for a German Schengen Visa.
A person visiting Germany on a Schengen visa is allowed by law to extend their visa if they have legitimate reasons. This could be either personal, professional, medical, emergencies or any other. The decisions to approve a Schengen visa extension request are handled case by case.
The duration you are allowed to stay in the country is stated in your Schengen visa sticker. It is important not to overstay during your trip to Germany or the rest of the Schengen Zone or risk facing penalties like a fine, deportation, being banned from travelling back to the Schengen Zone, and having difficulties in your future Schengen applications.
There are also cases when people do not get any penalties for overstaying, for example a child or a person that cannot travel without a caretaker because of an illness or disability or an unforeseen event that prevents you from leaving the country, like COVID-19.
Find out more about overstaying in the Schengen visa in our blog post.
The overall process of extending your German Schengen visa will involve:
- Determining whether you have a justified reason to request for an extension
- Submitting all the necessary documents. These include a valid passport that has the Schengen Visa used to get in the Schengen area stamped in it, one passport-sized photo, proof of financial subsistence, Schengen Visa Insurance that covers the extension duration, and all the documents that justify your reason for an extension
- Paying visa fees where applicable
- Attending a visa interview if necessary
- Waiting for the approval
You must apply for a Schengen visa extension before it expires. It may take a few days to a month for the authorities to process your visa extension request, during which you are legally permitted to stay in the country where you applied for the Schengen Visa but cannot travel to other Schengen Countries.
If your visa extension request is approved, you can extend your stay in the Schengen Area until the visa validity.
If your visa extension application is rejected, you will have to leave the Schengen area in a day or two.
So, are you ready to make your Schengen visa application for Germany? Comment below.
IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries
If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.