Countries not Requiring a Visa to Enter Germany
Generally, foreigners need a visa, i.e. a permission, to enter Germany. For correct understanding, understand as "visa" the permission to enter the country – for a maximum of six months. A residence permit is the permission to enter and live in a country – for an indefinite period. Please keep this in mind because this is essential differentiation! Well knowing, that many countries do not distinguish between both terms in their legalese but here, i.e. in Europe, it is important. The topic of this page is about the privileged "visa waiver".
Citizens of member states of the European Economic Area do not need residence permits and do not need to obtain a formal “residency stamp” in their passports or certificate of their status in Germany. All they have to do is report their physical address at the competent registration office (Meldebehörde). This differentiation is related with §5 of the preamble to the Council Regulation (EC) No EC 539/2001 of 15 March 2001. it is "listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement". The determination of those third countries needing a visa to enter Germany are based on a mix of criteria to ensure or prevent:
- willingness to return – based on objective criteria,
- illegal immigration,
- public policy and security,
- the European Union's external relations with third countries,
- consideration also being given to the implications of regional coherence,
However, country citizens of "best friends" may apply for a residence and/or work permit after entry. This is the so-called "visa waiver" principle. These are exclusively:
- New Zealand,
- South Korea,
- United Kingdom,
All other citizens of countries generally have to apply from home or where they are living – regardless whether they need a tourist visa to enter or not!