Getting a German work visa

The German visa system is intricate and involves quite a lot of paperwork. In that sense, it’s the perfect introduction to life in Germany.

What type of visa do I need?

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals do not need a visa to work in Germany. For everyone else, there are essentially three main types:

  1. Transit visa: for stopovers at German airports
  2. Schengen visa: for short stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period
  3. National visa: for stays of 3-12 months

If you are moving to Germany to work or study and have not yet applied for a residence permit, you will need a national visa. If you are unsure what you need, the German government has created a handy online tool to help.

What documentation will I need for my visa application?

If you have an existing job offer – congratulations! You will need to submit your employment contract, your visa application signed by your employer, and proof of medical insurance coverage for the duration of your work visa. If your salary exceeds €64,350 (2021), you can opt for public or private health insurance.

Anyone moving to Germany looking for a job must hold a bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent, demonstrate 5 years’ work experience in their field, and prove their financial independence – including possession of health insurance for Germany.

Freelancers have to submit a business plan and proof of financial independence including – you guessed it – valid public or private health insurance for Germany.

Expats should at least consider private health insurance. Private policies often cost much less than in other countries and offer wide-ranging benefits, especially if you do not plan to stay in Germany permanently.

Top tips


ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.

We can help you write your cancellation letter for your current insurer and send it to you by email. You simply need to add your insurance number and signature and then send it to your insurer. We are unfortunately not allowed to contact your current insurer directly.

We are happy to schedule a call to find out your personal needs and provide you with an initial quote. We will then help you and guide you through our online enrollment.

In the next step you will speak with our medical underwriters regarding health topics and your financial situation. If you have already been insured in Germany for the last three years, we will then provide you with your finalized offer. Otherwise we will organize a medical check-up for you.

We work with a company called Medicals Direct that will send a private (English-speaking) nurse to come meet you at your preferred location. They will do a general check up and take a blood sample.

ottonova for Expats

You have so much to do when moving to Germany, don’t let your health insurance slow you down. Let ottonova make your life easier!

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