Student Residence Permit Germany: A Guide for International Students

If you are an international student planning to study in Germany, obtaining a student visa or residence permit is a crucial step to ensure a smooth and legal stay in the country. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information regarding the German student residence permit, including the types available, application procedures, working rights, and possibilities for staying in Germany after completing your studies.

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What is a German Residence Permit for Studies?

Obtaining a student residence permit in Germany is essential for international students. It allows you to legally reside, study, and work in the country during your educational journey. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the application process, gather the required documents, and fulfill the necessary obligations to ensure a smooth transition and an enriching experience in Germany.

A German residence permit for studies, also known as a student residence permit, is an official document that allows international students to reside in Germany for the purpose of pursuing their education. It serves as proof of legal residence and is required for students from non-European Union (EU).

Do I need a Residence Permit to Study in Germany?

Yes, if you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you will need a residence permit to study in Germany. Initially, you will require a student visa to enter Germany, which must be converted into a residence permit upon arrival. The residence permit is issued by the local Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) or the local Residents' Registration Office (Bürgeramt).

Types of German Residence Permits for Studying

There are different types of residence permits available based on your specific educational circumstances:

Residence Permit to Attend University:

This permit is for students enrolled in a degree program at a recognized German university or higher education institution.

Residence Permit to Attend a Preparatory College:

Students attending a preparatory college (Studienkolleg) to fulfill academic requirements before enrolling in a degree program can apply for this permit.

Residence Permit to Attend Language Courses:

International students studying German language courses or participating in a language preparatory program can obtain this permit.

How to Apply for a German Residence Permit for Studies

Applying for a student residence permit in Germany is a step-by-step process that requires careful attention to detail. By following these essential steps, you can ensure a smooth application process:

Find the Foreigners' Authority in Your Area

The first step is to locate the nearest Foreigners' Authority (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for your place of residence in Germany. The Foreigners' Authority is the official government office that handles immigration matters and issues residence permits. You can easily find the contact information and address of the relevant authority online or by contacting the local German embassy or consulate in your home country.

Register Your Address

Upon arriving in Germany, it is crucial to register your address at the local Residents' Registration Office (Bürgeramt) at Kreisverwaltungsreferat (short KVR) within the first few weeks. This registration, known as Anmeldung, is mandatory for all residents in Germany, including international students. During the registration process, you will provide your personal details, such as your name, date of birth, nationality, and address. The registration certificate you receive serves as proof of your legal residence and is an important document for your residence permit application.

Obtain Health Insurance

Health insurance is a prerequisite for obtaining a student residence permit in Germany. You must acquire health insurance coverage that meets the requirements set by the German authorities. There are two types of health insurance options available: statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung).

As an international student that has a certificate of enrollment of a German university you are eligible for private health insurance, which offers comprehensive coverage at affordable rates. It is important to research different private insurance providers and choose a suitable plan that fulfills the necessary criteria. The ottonova tariffs study protect and study free offer a good price-performance-ratio.

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Prepare Your Documents

Gathering the required documents is a crucial step in the application process. Ensure that you have the following documents ready:

  1. Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in Germany. Make sure to have at least two photocopies of your passport.
  2. Proof of Financial Resources: You need to provide evidence that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your living expenses during your studies in Germany. This can be in the form of a blocked account (Sperrkonto) or a scholarship confirmation letter.
  3. University Admission Letter: A letter of acceptance from a recognized German university or higher education institution is required to prove that you have been accepted into a study program.
  4. Completed Residence Permit Application Form: Fill out the residence permit application form accurately and completely. The form can be obtained from the Foreigners' Authority's website or by visiting their office in person.
  5. Start your health insurance process: For your student residence permit you need to obtain health insurance. As a student you are eligible for private health insurance. With ottonova you can already apply before you move from your home country and have English-speaking support.

In addition to these documents, there may be specific requirements depending on your individual circumstances or the policies of the respective Foreigners' Authority. It is advisable to check the official website of the Foreigners' Authority or contact them directly for a comprehensive list of the required documents.

Submit the Application to the Foreigners' Authority

After gathering all the necessary documents, you should make an appointment at the Foreigners' Authority to submit your application. The appointment can be scheduled online or by contacting the office directly. During the appointment, you will submit your application form and provide the supporting documents. The staff at the Foreigners' Authority will review your application and may ask additional questions or request further documents if needed.

Pick Up Your Student Residence Permit Card

Once your application is approved, you will be notified by the Foreigners' Authority. You can then visit the office to collect your student residence permit card. This card serves as official proof of your legal residence in Germany and should be carried with you at all times. The card typically contains important information such as your name, date of birth, address, and the validity period of your residence permit.

By following these steps and carefully preparing your application, you can increase your chances of obtaining a student residence permit in Germany smoothly and efficiently.

Working Rights with a Student Residence Permit in Germany

With a student residence permit, you are allowed to work in Germany under certain conditions:

Mini Job

You can work part-time for example as a working student for a maximum of 120 full days or 240 half days per year or earn up to €520 per month.


Internships related to your field of study are generally permitted, and the number of working hours may vary based on specific regulations.

Student Assistants

As a student, you can work as a student assistant at your university, provided the job is related to your studies.

Freelancing and Self-Employment

Freelancing or starting your own business may be possible, but additional regulations and approvals might apply.

Staying in Germany after Obtaining Your Degree

Upon completing your studies, you may have the option to remain in Germany for further opportunities:

Switching to a Job-Seeker Residence Permit

You can apply for a job-seeker residence permit, which allows you to stay in Germany for up to 18 months to search for employment related to your field of study.

Switching to a Work Residence Permit

If you secure a job offer, you can switch to a work residence permit, which allows you to work and reside in Germany for the duration of your employment.

Frequently asked questions about student visa

Who needs a student visa to study in Germany?

Every Non-EU/EEA citizen who wants to study in Germany need a students residence permit. Which registration form you need and where you have to apply depends on your home country.

How Much is a Student Residence Permit in Germany?

The cost of a student residence permit in Germany varies depending on the location and administrative fees. Generally, the fee ranges between €56 and €110. It's important to check with the specific Foreigners' Authority in your area for the exact fee.

For how Long is a Student Residence Permit in Germany?

A student residence permit is typically granted for the duration of your study program, allowing you to stay in Germany legally during that period. The permit is renewable, usually on an annual basis, as long as you continue to meet the necessary requirements.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions and concerns regarding your individual situation, consult with the appropriate authorities or legal professionals.


Public health insurance:

  • Your premium depends on your (estimated) income, there are minimum and maximum limits.
  • Your premium can only be influenced by the “additional contribution” for each individual public health insurance fund.
  • There may be additional payments at the end of the year.

Private health insurance:

  • Your premium depends on state of health, age, and desired benefits
  • Your monthly premium can be adjusted with components such as deductibles.
  • No additional payments at the end of the year.

If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.

We have different full-insurance options at ottonova. All tariffs are solid and built to last. If you plan on staying in Germany for longer than five years, you can choose between Premium Economy Class, Business Class and First Class.

If you are here on a limited permit and plan to stay in Germany less than five years – or simply not sure how long you'll be here - we also offer a special Expat tariff, which provides premium coverage to keep you healthy and happy throughout your stay in Germany. For a full overview of the services offered in our Expat tariff, click here.

We help you find the best option for your personal needs – start with getting a consultation with our English-speaking experts now!

Many private health insurers offer so-called "cheap plans", which are particularly attractive for young people. They don't cost much when you are still healthy and fit. Such prices are made possible by significantly limited coverage. Not everyone knows what they are getting themselves into with this kind of plan. Often, cheap private plans do not even come close to the level of coverage you would get from public health insurance. In the event of a claim, it comes as a great surprise when the insurance company points out high deductibles or maximum reimbursement amounts in the policy. Switching to a better plan usually requires a new risk assessment and is, therefore, often not possible.

With ottonova, you can choose between different plans, each of which ensures excellent and comprehensive coverage. This includes a percentage deductible and comprehensive coverage in all relevant areas, such as therapeutic remedies and aids, health spa holidays and rehab, preventive care, and acute treatment. All of ottonova's comprehensive and supplementary plans ensure excellent all-around coverage.

Marie-Theres Rüttiger
HIER SCHREIBT Marie-Theres Rüttiger

Marie-Theres is online editor for health and insurance topics at ottonova. She designs the editorial plan, researches and writes mainly about (e-)health and innovation that make life better.

ottonova sales experts
HIER SCHREIBT ottonova sales experts

Our ottonova team of experts has over 40 years of experience in private health insurance and answers questions about it every day. What are old-age provisions and for whom does private health insurance make sense? What is the actuarial interest rate and which tariff is right for you? They know!

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