The German visa application and paperwork required when moving to Germany will vary greatly depending on an Expat’s nationality and individual situation. The German bureaucratic system is known for being confusing, however when armed with all the necessary information with the required paperwork, the process of applying for a visa in Germany should be smooth and straightforward.
EU and EEA citizens or Swiss nationals do not require a visa or permit of any kind to live and work in Germany. For Uk citizens, the impact of Brexit remains unclear with regards to entry requirements in Germany. Upon arriving in Germany, once they have secured an address, citizens of these countries need only to obtain a registration certificate (proof of residence in Germany) known as a Meldeschein or Meldebestätigung.
Non-EU Citizens should make a German visa application at the German embassy of their home country. There are many different categories of visa corresponding to different purposes of stay. Once a visa has been obtained and upon securing a residence in Germany, newly arrived international residents from out with the EU must obtain a registration certificate (proof of residence in Germany) as above (this is the case for all foreign residents and German nationals alike). However those from outside the EU and EEA should also apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) from their local Foreigners’ Office.
There is detailed information on obtaining a German work visa on the German Government website (available in English and Arabic as well as German). The government have also launched a useful multilingual website for foreign people moving to the country, called Make it in Germany, with detailed resources on entry requirements in Germany, residence permits and various aspects of settling into life in Germany, including job-hunting and learning the language.
The registration certificate (Meldeschein or Meldebestätigung) is a legal requirement for all citizens living in Germany, whether German nationals or foreign. A new certificate must also be required upon each change of address, both when registering for the first time when moving from abroad to Germany (anmelden) or re-registering when moving internally from one German city or region to another (ummelden). Obtaining a registration certificate is crucial for almost every bureaucratic task in Germany, from opening a bank account to acquiring a tax code and health insurance.
Once you have secured accommodation (and within 14 days), you should undertake the “Anmeldung” registration process at your local Citizen Registration Office (known as a Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt). Depending on your location, you should either make an appointment online (particularly in larger cities like Berlin) or drop in. You should print out and fill in the registration form known as Anmeldung bei einer Meldebehörde (available on the website of your local Bürgeramt). This is only available in German unless you employ the services of an international relocation agency, whom usually offer translation services for this. You should also take the rental agreement signed by your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung), or if you are temporarily staying with a friend or relative, a signed letter from them declaring that you are staying there.
There are many exceptions to the above depending on an individual’s nationality and personal situation. If in doubt, always refer to the latest information from your own government or embassy regarding visas and your local town hall website regarding any relevant paperwork or Germany visa requirements.