Formalities when Entering Germany

This page will help you understand what formal requirements have to be met by everyone when wanting to live in Germany.

What does it mean to have assured means of subsistence for a residence permit? Don’t tell me I have to have as much money as a Rockefeller! You know not even my cousin belongs to the Rothschilds.

Your means of subsistence are considered to be assured if you can meet the cost of living yourself, and have sufficient health insurance coverage without having to make a claim on public funds. In numbers this means: € 345 in Berlin and Germany’s older states of Germany and € 331 in the newer German states (former GDR). In other words, you are renting an apartment for € 400, you must be able to show in Hamburg € 745 and in Dresden € 731. Please understand these limits as a minimum – if you can show that you have/earn more the better it will be.

Requirements for your passport picture:

format of passport pictures Face size as shown

Don't smile!*







  • Two identical photos need to be submitted. One must be pasted on the application form, and the other photo should be submitted loose.
  • The photo needs to display a full frontal view of the face. The size of the face from the bottom of your chin to the hairline must be between 1 ¼ inches and 1 3/8 inches. Please look directly into the camera with a neutral expression and without smiling.
  • The image of your face must be sharp, clear, and with sufficient contrast. Please avoid photos with reflections or shadows on the face or with red eyes. The background should be neutral and light, providing sufficient contrast to the face and hair (best a neutral gray). Reflection from glasses, sunglasses, or tinted glasses is not permitted. The eyes cannot be hidden by the glass frames.
  • The photo needs to be printed on high-quality paper with at least 600 dpi resolution; the colors must present a natural appearance and skin tone. The photo must not have kinks,scratches or stains.
  • Only color photos are acceptable.
  • Photos must be of a high quality.
  • Photos must not have any stapler pin marks disfiguring the face or the background.
  • Photos should have a light background.
  • Proportion of the head in the photo must be 70-80% of the complete photo.


How do I show that I have assured means of livelihood?

This can be shown via bank statements, credit cards, tax auditor's statement of interest, dividends, income, etc. Best will be to have a tax consulting lawyer or tax consultant (from home) issue an income statement on a certain form provided by foreigners office. (Don't forget to submit the original and a translation in German!)

What does it mean to have sufficient health insurance?

Health insurance is considered sufficient if it includes such benefits as medical treatment by a doctor, dentist treatment, treatment in a hospital, and treatment for childbirth during pregnancy - and all this inside of Germany.

May I continue on my insurance from home?

Generally, it is of no concern where you insurance company is located; but when your policy is in English it would be best to supply a simple translation. The policies of all foreign insurance companies will be checked with more scrutiny. Do reckon with some trouble or worst a denial. A denial will be guaranteed when your policy has some kind of financial limitations – even if only in the millions.

What is better statutory or private insurance?

Your insurance may not have greater exclusions and provide for your bigger co-payments, as well as no limitations of coverage of the costs to be covered in case of sickness, no determination clause relating to age / giving up an employment / change of residence purpose / loss of legal status. When you are in the statutory health insurance system as a mandatory (§5 SGB-V), family member (§10 SGB-V), or voluntarily member (§9 SGB-V), then you are always sufficiently insured. You will only have to produce a membership certificate. To know more about the health insurance system in Germany, click here.


Formalities when Entering Germany

Need an insurance? Check out the LG2G directory on "insurances"!!

I was supposed to receive my residence permit and was told I have to register with the police. What is meant by this? Does not having a residence permit mean that I am registered in the town where I live?

Receiving a residence permit does not mean you are registered with the "police". It only gives you the right to stay here. Your permit was granted by the foreigners authority (Ausländeramt) and not the police. These are two very different authorities. Everybody who lives in Germany must register at the "police station" having jurisdiction over his or her neighborhood. This applies to everyone – Germans as well as foreigners. Police registration means simply to declare your address (residence) in the city in which you are living. A fine can be imposed for not registering with the police.

At which "police station" do I have to register?

Though the formal requirement is sometimes still called "police registration (polizeiliche Anmeldung)", be aware that at most municipalities, you do not register at the police but at the “Meldestelle” or "Einwohnermeldeamt" in your city hall. Even in this case, you register at the “police”. The easiest way to find out where to register is to consult the municipality's website. Do not delay registration because you only have two weeks to get it done – by law. Practical experience, however, shows that the administration will be happy as long as if you claim to have a rental contract no older than six months, and as long as you tell them you moved in within the past week.


Relevant Articles Previously Published:

Photo Requirements for Visas



Additional information