Germany Schengen Visa (Tourist/Visit To Family & Friends in Germany)

The Old Town Hall in Bamberg, the Schwerin Castle, Nuremberg Christmas Market, Octoberfest, Cologne Cathedral, and many other places and events in Germany have been very alluring for travellers around the world.  In addition, the variety of beers, delicious bread and sausages, people’s hospitality and much more have 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 visa is required for many. Although Germany has reached visa facilitation agreements with many countries, there are still many more worldwide, the citizens who need to obtain a visa, even for short stays and tourism.

If you plan to visit Germany for a period shorter than three months for either visiting family members or friends or sightseeing, you may need a Schengen visa.

In this article, you can learn more about a Schengen visa for tourism / visiting Germany, the application process, requirements, fees, and much more.

What is a Tourist/Visitor Visa to Germany?

A Schengen Tourism / Visitor visa to Germany is a visa established by the Schengen states, which allows its holder to visit Germany and all of the 26 Schengen member countries. It is issued in the form of a sticker affixed to the passport of the traveller.

The Schengen visa for tourism purposes or visiting friends and family members limits you to only travelling and sightseeing throughout the Schengen area.

Please note that as a holder of a Schengen tourist visa, you are not allowed to work or study; thus, you must apply for a student visa or work visa (national visa) or other visa types according to your purpose of entry if you wish to enter Germany for other than tourism.

Who needs a Tourism/Visitor Visa to Germany?

Depending on the rules and policies established by the Schengen states, whether you need a short-stay visa to Germany or not, it all depends on your nationality/citizenship. Therefore, before starting a visa application, or getting a flight to Germany, make sure to check whether you need a visa to Germany or not.

Visitors that do not need a visa to Germany

The travellers who do not need a visa to enter Germany for either sightseeing or visiting family members or friends should belong to one of the following categories:

  • Citizens of the Schengen Area
  • Citizens of one of the countries that have established a visa-free regime with the Schengen states*
  • Citizens of a third-world country that doesn’t have a visa-free regime with the Schengen states but is currently in the Schengen Zone under a:
    • Schengen Visa valid for the whole Schengen territory
    • National Visa issued by one of the member states
    • Permanent residency of one of the member states

*Starting January 1, 2021, all travellers from this category will need to apply for an ETIAS before their travel towards any of the Schengen member states to be allowed to enter the territory.

Visitors that need a visa to Germany

On the other hand, travellers will need to obtain a Schengen visa before travelling towards Germany if they are citizens of third world countries that:

  • Do not have a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states
  • Have a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen countries, but the traveller was rejected from entering visa-free by border guards

How to obtain a German Tourist/Visitor Visa?

To get a German Tourist/Visitor visa, you will have to follow the application process steps listed below:

  • Collect the required documents. See the list below!
  • Figure out where you need to apply. For example, this could be the German embassy/consulate/visa centre in your home country.
  • Appoint an interview. You may appoint it online or in person at the German consulate/embassy.
  • Pay the visa fee.
  • Attend the interview. The interview may last around 20 minutes, during which the visa consular will ask you questions about your trip and require your documents.
  • Wait for a response on your application.

Germany Tourist/Visitor Visa Application Requirements

As for every other visa type to anywhere else globally, you will have to obtain a couple of Germany Visa required documents to complete your visa application.

The required documents for a Schengen Tourist / Visitor Visa to Germany are as follows:

  • 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
  • Passport size photographs. Please note that these photos should be identical and fulfil the Schengen states’ visa photo requirements.
  • Valid national passport. The passport should be no older than 10 years and have at least one blank page to affix the visa sticker on it and fulfil the other passport requirements.
  • Personal bank statements for the last three months
  • Schengen Travel Insurance. You should submit a confirmation letter from your health insurance stating coverage for emergency medical treatment with a minimum of €30,000. We recommend PROVISIT VISUM by DR-WALTER – It is very cheap, and it is accepted by German consulates worldwide. You can cancel it free of charge, subject to the presentation of proof that a visa has been refused! PROVISIT VISUM provides the mandatory insurance certificate required when you apply for a Schengen visa.
  • Proof of accommodation. This can be a hotel booking for your whole stay in the Schengen region or a letter of invitation from a family member or friend residing in any of the Schengen countries.
  • Proof of flight reservation. You can use the visa consultation services like this one or find one online.
  • Proof of financial means. This could be:
  • Leave letter from your company (if employed)
  • No-objection certificate.
    • If you are a student, your school or university should issue this certificate to you.
    • If you are an employee, your employer or the company where you work should issue this letter.
    • If you are not a student and you do not work either, this certificate is not required.
  • A Cover Letter. This personal cover letter should explain why you wish to visit Germany, how long you intend to remain there, and what you will be doing there, amongst others.
  • Invitation Letter. A letter of invitation from the person the applicant is visiting in Germany, which may take the form of sponsorship or private accommodation. The invitation letter should also include the address, period of stay and contact details of the host.
  • Proof of civil status. That could be a marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, spouse’s death certificate, ration card (if applicable), etc.
  • Your driver’s license and/or utility bill in your name. This is required as proof of residence in the consulate where you plan to apply for the visa.
  • For minors:
    • If travelling unaccompanied by the parent(s), a consent letter signed by both parents
    • The form signed by both parents
    • Copy of the parent(s)’ passports data page

Where to apply for a Germany Tourist/Visitor Visa

If Germany is your only Schengen destination, depending on how the German authorities have regulated visa application in your country, you may have to apply at:

  • The German embassy
  • The German consulate
  • Visa centre

However, if you plan to visit more than only Germany, you can apply at the German embassy/consulate/visa centre in your home country only if Germany is your main destination. That means:

  • You will visit other countries but will be spending more days in Germany than in any other.
  • You will spend equal days in every country you visit, but you will enter the Schengen through Germany.

If none of the above statements applies to you, despite that you plan to visit Germany, among other countries, you may have to apply at the embassy of another Schengen member state.

When to apply for a Tourist/Visitor 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 before your trip to Germany.

However, you are highly recommended to apply for a tourist visa at least 3 weeks before your travel date to avoid any processing delays.

Visa fees for a Tourist/Visitor Visa

You will need to pay a visa fee for your application to be processed. The cost of a Schengen visa as of 2020 is €80. However, some categories are exempt from paying the visa fee or have to pay a reduced fee. Make sure you check if you belong to any of them before you pay the fee.

Please note the visa fees will not be reimbursed in case of visa rejection, and the price is subject to change at any time.

Visa Processing Time

The processing of short-stay visas to Germany takes around ten days to be processed. However, when the embassy is processing many visa applications, tourism visas may take a bit longer since business visas or others are treated with more priority. This is the main reason why you are suggested to file your application for a German tourism/visitor visa as soon as possible.

Tourist/Visitor Schengen Visa Validity

The longest time you can remain in Germany with a tourist Schengen visa is three months. However, the German embassy in your home country is the one that decides how many days you can spend in Germany and within which dates. Therefore, please understand that there is a slight difference between visa validity and the duration of stay.

Visa validity is the first date you can enter the Schengen Area and leave the last day. Whereas the duration of stay is the number of days, you can spend in the Schengen within the validity of your visa. Therefore, the validity of a visa has been always longer than the duration of stay. Do not violate the validity of your visa nor the duration of stay; otherwise, you may face a ban or deportation.

If you still have questions about a visa to Germany, please read the Frequently Asked Questions about a Germany Visa and their answers, so you may find what you need.