Formalities before your stay in Germany
International Students from the EU and Switzerland
As a student from the EU, you can enter Germany without a visa and you don't need a residence permit. However, you must register with the registration office of your place of residence and prove that your entry and residence are legal. Here you can find all neccessary information.
Students from outside the EU
A visa for Germany is always issued for a particular purpose. Students apply for a student's visa or for a visa as an applicant for a university place. To do this you have to contact either the German Embassy or the German Consulate General in your home country. Do not enter Germany with a tourist visa - you will not be able to convert it to a residence permit once you are in Germany!
In any case to get a visa you need a passport, a notification of admission or, as the case may be, a confirmation of your application from the university and, most importantly, proof that you can finance your studies. The German Embassy or the German Consulate General can inform you of any further requirements.
Often it can take several months for a visa to be issued, so make sure that you apply for it well in advance! If your arrival in Germany is delayed you might miss important deadlines and may no longer be able to enrol. Without enrolment you cannot get a residence permit for the purpose of studying.
The visa is valid for three months; once you are in Germany you must have it converted into a residence permit for the purpose of studying.