If you hold a South African passport and are considering a visit to Germany, it’s important to understand the German visa requirements. Depending on the purpose and duration of your stay in Germany, you may need to apply for either a Schengen visa for short-term stays or a national visa for longer stays exceeding 90 days.
Who needs a visa for Germany?
For South African tourists, a short-stay visa, also known as a Schengen visa, is typically required, unless you are a national of one of the 62 visa-exempt countries. The German Tourist visa allows a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period and grants entry not only to Germany but also to the other 27 Schengen countries.
Types of Visas for Germany
Germany offers various types of visas to cater to different purposes of travel. Here is an overview of the types of German visas you can apply for:
- Germany Airport Transit visa: For travelers transiting through a German airport.
- Germany Schengen visa: For visiting family and friends, tourism, medical treatment, official visits, cultural or sports events.
- Germany Business visa: For attending meetings and other business-related activities.
- Germany Student Visa: For prospective students in Germany or those already admitted to a German university.
- Germany Language Course Visa: For prospective students required to attend a language course before full admission to a university.
- Germany Student Internship Visa: For students participating in training programs or internships in Germany lasting over 90 days.
- Germany Researcher visa: For international scholars and researchers participating in scientific events in Germany.
- Germany Employment Visa: For individuals with a job offer in Germany, allowing them to work.
- Germany Job Seeker Visa: For those seeking job opportunities in Germany without a job offer.
- Germany Freelancer Visa: For foreign freelancers in various fields working in Germany.
- Germany Family Reunion Visa: For spouses and children of individuals already settled in Germany.
- Medical Treatment Visa: For international visitors seeking medical treatment in Germany.
Staying in Germany for over 90 days
If your stay in Germany exceeds 90 days and you are not a national of the visa-exempted countries, you will need a German long-stay visa. These visas, also known as National visas, are issued for stays exceeding 90 days and have different purposes compared to short-stay visas.
You will also need to obtain a German residence permit upon arrival in Germany, depending on the purpose of your visa. The types of German residence permits include:
- Germany Student Residence Permit: Issued for the duration of a student’s course.
- German Employment Residence Permit: Issued to those securing a job offer in Germany after a Job Seeker visa.
- German Family Reunion Residence Permit: For family members of German residents.
- Germany EU Blue Card: For highly skilled workers in their respective fields.
- EU Residence Permit: For individuals wanting to reside in Germany from another EU country.
- Germany Humanitarian Residence Permit: For those escaping challenging situations in their home country.
- Permanent Residence Permit: Issued for those settling in Germany.
Where can I apply for a German visa in South Africa?
The TLS Contact Visa Application Centre is the official processing company authorised by the German Embassy in South Africa. You must submit your visa application in person at this centre for processing. Biometric information, including fingerprints and photographs, will be taken during the application process and stored in the Visa Information System (VIS) for future Schengen Zone visa applications over the next five years.
Remember to apply at the TLS Contact Visa Application Centre that corresponds to your area of residence. There are application centers in the following cities:
- Cape Town
- Port Elizabeth
Required documents for a German visa
To apply for a German visa in South Africa, prepare two sets of the following documents:
- Application form (downloadable from the embassy website).
- Declaration of accuracy of information.
- Valid passport (with at least three months validity beyond your departure date, two blank pages, and issued within the last ten years).
- Two recent identity photographs, compliant with Schengen visa photo guidelines (not older than six months).
- Proof of residency in South Africa (utility bill, original and one copy).
- Schengen travel health insurance with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 (equivalent to ZAR 610,335.44).
- Proof of accommodation (hotel reservation, rental agreement, Airbnb, or an invitation letter if staying with someone).
- Travel itinerary with proof of a reserved flight ticket.
- Recent bank statements demonstrating sufficient funds for your trip.
- Declaration form for additional contact and legal representation information (two completed and signed copies).
- Letter of invitation (if visiting family or friends).
- Additional documentation for minor applicants, including signed application forms by both parents, proof of custody if applicable, original passports of parents, children’s birth certificates, and notarised travel consent letters if both parents/legal guardians cannot visit the embassy/visa center.
Additional documents may be required based on your employment status, such as:
- Work contract and a letter from your employer (if employed).
- Business license, recent bank statements, and income tax returns (if self-employed).
- Proof of student status (if a student).
- Proof of pension (if retired).
- Proof of relationship with your sponsor, a copy of their passport data page, their recent bank statements, and proof of employment (if applicable) for sponsored applicants.
Please note that the embassy may request additional documents not listed in the checklist. Documents that might commonly be requested include a Police Clearance Certificate, marriage certificate, and copies of your academic qualifications.
A note on document authentication
In South Africa, German authorities typically require an Apostille Stamp for document authentication, rather than setting up an appointment for legalisation. Ensure you check with the local German embassy or consulate to confirm the specific requirements and prepare your documents accordingly. Some documents, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates, may need to be translated and certified.
When is the best time to apply for a German visa?
It’s advisable to apply for your German visa well in advance, as the processing time can take up to 14 days or longer. Ideally, submit your application at least three months before your intended travel date. You can apply for your visa up to six months in advance, but ensure it’s no later than 15 days before your trip. Scheduling an appointment early is crucial to account for potential processing delays that might affect your travel plans.