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Residence Permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung)

In addition to the registration in Cologne, it is also necessary to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) from the Foreign Nationals Department (Ausländerbehörde). This is required by all foreign students from non-EU countries (with or without a visa).


Students from EU countries do not require a residence permit; they only have to register at the Residents Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).


If the appropriate documents are presented, you can apply for a residence permit up to two years.


Non-EU citizens must apply for a residence permit if they are going to stay in Germany for more than three months, in order to avoid being in Germany illegally.


Exceptions: countries of origin that do not make a visa necessary: EU states, Andorra, Australia, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and USA.
"Incomings" from these countries only need a valid passport.


A current list of all countries with visa requirements can be found here.


Under no circumstances you should apply for a tourist or a language course visa. Once you have entered Germany, neither of these can be converted into a residence permit for study purposes.


The following documents are needed to obtain a visa for study purposes:


  • Registration form from the residents registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) 

  • Passport
  • 2 ID photos
  • Student ID - you must apply for this and pick it up in advance at the International Office of the University of Cologne
  • Evidence of how you can pay for your living expenses / funding declaration from parents / scholarship etc.
  • health insurance certificate

Please keep in mind that it can take up to two months until your visa application is finally processed.