What is an Aufenthaltstitel and how you can get it:
Getting a student visa is a very important, but far not the only step you need to keep in mind when preparing for your German adventure. The better informed you are about the upcoming process at the beginning of your journey, the more secure you would feel upon your arrival and settlement in a foreign country.
While many students tend to lie their focus on the requirements for the entry visa, having the next steps in mind is essential at this point to avoid unnecessary hassle and costs upon arrival.
One of the most important procedures one needs to go through when coming to Germany for studies is getting a student residence permit.
What does it mean? I am already getting my student visa at the embassy in my home country, cannot I stay in Germany with this document?
Not exactly. The student visa that you obtain allows you to enter the country for study purposes and stay there for the period of up to 3 months – until you get your Aufenthaltstitel (residence permit). It is a very important document that allows you to live in the country for the duration of your studies.
Oh wow, another permit 😲 I want to be prepared. Where can I apply for my Aufenthaltstitel?
To submit your application, you need to make an appointment at the foreigner’s office (Ausländerbehörde) of the city you will be living in.
💡 Tip: consider getting an appointment as soon as possible after arrival. It is common for the offices to be booked out months in advance, especially at the busy times right before the semester start.
Are there any special documents that I need to bring?
Yes. The exact list of required documents varies from one office to another, but you can always give the respective authority a call or check the information available on their website.
💡 Tip: make sure to check the site of the specific office you will be applying at – usually, each Ausländerbehörde has a different page.
However, we have collected the list of the most commonly required documents here, so that you have a better feeling of what you need to prepare. We cannot emphasise this enough – it is important to have those requirements in mind from the beginning of your journey to guarantee a smooth and easy start into your new life in Germany.
A list of documents required for your residence permit application in Germany
In most cases, local offices have application forms available for direct download on their website. Come prepared – print out and fill in the form in advance. If you are hesitant about how to answer some of the questions, leave them blank and use the chance to consult with a specialist at the time of your appointment.
Proof of financial means at a German bank
Yes, we know, it is starting to sound like the usual document list for a typical visa appointment. But make no mistake – you cannot just take the same folder of documents you have collected earlier. There are differences in the requirements on a very detailed level that you need to be aware of.
I am pretty sure it is going to be okay. I already have a blocked account for that purpose and it was accepted by the German embassy, so it should work for the residence permit application as well.
❗ Important! There is a certain administrative regulation (in German Verwaltungsvorschrift) for the residence act for the ministry of the interior, which states that the blocked account needs to be opened at a German bank in order to grant a residence permit. Meaning it cannot be opened at a foreign bank and neither by a financial service provider without a full banking license according to the German Kreditwesengesetz – KWG (the German banking act).
In fact, not only foreigner authorities in Germany, but also embassies abroad started to stick to this regulation when accepting visa applications.
Good to know: if you have opened your blocked account with Fintiba, you can rest assured that your blocked account will be accepted by local authorities. Our partner bank – Sutor Bank – is a trusted and long-established German bank and all the accounts are accepted by both embassies abroad and local foreigners’ offices with a 100% guarantee. The status of a German bank can be checked with the banking regulator Bafin in their database here (You can also see the approved activities for our Partner SutorBank displayed there – just search for “Max. Heinr. Sutor OHG”).
My blocked account for my visa application was opened with another provider, does this mean that I need to open a second blocked account just for the residence permit?
The Verwaltungsvorschrift states that the blocked accounts that should be accepted at foreigner authorities have to fit two of the following requirements:
- It has to be opened at a bank. Not a financial service provider without a full banking license. What counts is the licence the bank is operated under. It needs to be a full banking licence according to the German banking act (KWG).
- It has to be opened at a bank that is registered in Germany. Thus, blocked accounts opened at foreign banks (for example, banks in your home county) are at high risk of not being accepted. Neither is a German IBAN alone sufficient to fulfil this requirement.This point is due to the fact that the blocked amount is blocked for the benefit of the regional body under public law (“öffentlich-rechtlichen Gebietskörperschaft”) to which the foreign resident authority (“Ausländerbehörde”) responsible for the account holder’s current place of residence in Germany, is attributable (“Blocked Account Beneficiary”). In short, if the government as the blocked account beneficiary needs to legally grant access to the blocked amount, it wants to do so under German law, which is why you need a German bank to hold your blocked account.
We highly recommend that you select a blocked account provider that is in line with this regulation from the beginning so that you can use the same blocked account for both your visa and residence permit application.
We have noticed that those specific requirements are commonly overlooked by international students, which leads to a lot of inconvenience upon arrival. In many cases, students need to open a second blocked account and bear additional financial and time costs.
I needed to open another blocked account (a “Sperrkonto”) at a local German Bank and get the money from my blocked account in India transferred to this account. This was a mandatory requirement from the immigration office.
Ketu, an international student from India, has shared his experience of getting a residence permit in Germany. Learn more about his story and get some insights into the process here.
Good to know: keep in mind that we offer an online authority login that allows the authorities to check your current balance at any time (the credentials are stated in your Blocking Confirmation). You can also print out this page directly if you think that it could accelerate the process of your application.
The health insurance confirmation you need to bring is also different from what you have shown during your visa application. Usually, it is not the travel health insurance that only covers you for the first months of your stay, but a confirmation that you are insured for the whole duration of your studies. This can be done with either governmental or private health insurance.
💡 Tip for Fintiba users: if you have a Fintiba Plus package, you are properly insured for the whole duration of your stay in Germany. Depending on your situation, your package would either include:
- Governmental health insurance from DAK: in that case, you need to request the membership confirmation (Mitgliedsbescheinigung) for your residence permit appointment. Just write a short e-mail to the customer care of DAK after you have activated your insurance and they will send the document to you.
- Private health insurance from Mawista: as soon as you set up your payouts in the Fintiba account, the Mawista Student policy will become available in your Documents. The final page of the policy document includes the confirmation for authorities – this is the document you need to take with you to your appointment.
After your arrival in Germany, contact your university to learn more about the enrolment process. The enrolment certificate is an essential document that confirms your student status and is required for your residence permit.
💡 Tip: sometimes universities allow you to enrol earlier than the actual enrolment date of your studies. We highly recommend doing that, as having the document in advance gives you more flexibility and time resource.
Don’t forget to bring a recent biometric picture of yourself.
💡 Tip: apart from regular photo studios, you can also make use of special photo booths at train stations, drugstores like DM or Rossmann, etc. It is usually more convenient and cheaper.
You will most likely be asked to pay the fee for the processing of your application. Depending on whether your residence permit is going to be in the form of a sticker in your passport or a card, the amount might vary (as well as the processing time).
We hope that you will find this information useful! Moving to another country is not always easy, but keeping yourself informed from the start is the best thing you can do to simplify the process.
If you need any assistance or additional information, we are, of course, always happy to help!