Property buying guide for Germany
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Overseas property
Visas, residence permit and citizenship in Germany
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Visas, residence permit and citizenship in Germany

The presence of foreign citizens in Germany is regulated by the Law on residence, employment and integration of foreign citizens in Germany. Buying real estate does not grant foreigners the right to temporary residence.


Germany is a member of the Schengen Area. Nationals of certain countries must obtain a Schengen visa to enter Germany. A tourist (Type C) visa can be single, double or multi-entry and allows the holder to enter a Schengen country for a certain period, depending on the visa validity. Multiple-entry visa holders can stay in the Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days every 6 months.

Property buyers most often obtain tourist visas. During the tourist visa validity period, they usually have enough time to open a bank account, view the chosen property and collect all the documents necessary for the purchase and maintenance of the property.

Sofia Bulanova Sofia Bulanova Investment consultant
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Tourist visa applications are filed at German visa application centres or consulates in the applicant’s home country. Consular services process applications in 10 days and must justify a visa refusal if applicable. The visa fee is €35.

The number of entries and validity are indicated in the respective spaces on the visa
The number of entries and validity are indicated in the respective spaces on the visa katatonia82 / Depositphotos

National (Type D) visas are issued for work, study or family reunification. Applications for a German national visa must be filed at a German consulate in the applicant’s home country; the visa fee is €60. The minimum validity period for national visas is 3 months, but it can be extended in Germany at the Federal Foreigners Office (Auswärtiges Amt).

Are there visa benefits for property owners in Germany?

Not officially, though, it is easier for them to obtain a 5-year multi-entry Schengen visa.

Temporary residence

A temporary residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) gives holders the right to stay in Germany for more than 90 days in 6 months and can be extended in the country. The maximum validity depends on the purpose of stay. The most common grounds for residence include work, studies, marriage to a German citizen or a residence permit holder and humanitarian reasons.

Temporary residence applications are filed at the Federal Foreigners Office. The applicant must enter the country on a national visa issued for the same purpose of stay as the residence permit requests. The permit costs €100–110, while extensions cost €65–80.

Purchases of real estate purchase do not guarantee temporary residence for buyers. However, the ownership of a property used for personal residence for, even for less than 183 days a year, can make the German tax authorities identify a person as a tax resident. This risk does not exist for owners of rental real estate.

Julia Morozova Julia Morozova Senior investment consultant
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Purchase or registration of a business in Germany increases the possibility of getting a residence permit. Residence is granted to entrepreneurs, with the appropriate professional qualification, whose activity is beneficial for the economy of the region.

Temporary residence permits are issued for a maximum of 3 years and can be extended. A residence permit is revoked if its holder stays outside Germany for a continuous period of more than six months.

EU Blue Card

The Blue Card (Blaue Karte EU) is a special residence permit offered to highly qualified specialists arriving to an EU country for employment purposes. The Blue Card is issued for the period of employment (4 years max.), and can be extended or terminated.

Blue Card holders become German tax residents
Blue Card holders become German tax residents yacobchuk1 / Depositphotos

An individual can apply for a Blue Card if they have:

  • Qualifications from a German or recognized university;
  • University qualifications and 5 years or more of work experience;
  • Employment for at least 12 months or a job offer; or
  • An annual salary exceeding €50,800 for 2017 (€39,624 for professions in high demand like it and engineering).

Blue Card holders cannot stay outside the EU for more than 12 continuous months.

Permanent residence in Germany

Permanent residents enjoy all the rights of German citizens, except for the right to participate in elections and occupy public positions (e.g. join the poliсe or armed forces).

Requirements for the permanent residence permit include:

  • Temporary residence permit for the last 5 years;
  • A regular income, deemed sufficient if the applicant and his/her family do not qualify for state benefits;
  • Contributions to a state pension fund for the previous 60 months;
  • A basic knowledge of German;
  • A basic knowledge of the legal system and social policy in the federal state of the applicant’s residence; and
  • Accommodation in Germany – it is enough to have 12 m² of living space per family member.

Permanent residence applications are filed at the Federal Foreigners Office. The fee ranges from €135–250.

Blue Card holders can file an early permanent residence application after 21 months of permanent stay and employment in Germany if they have a B1 (Intermediate) level of German and after 33 months if their level is A1 (Beginner). Business immigrants have the right to apply for permanent residence in Germany after 3 years, if their company has been operating successfully and shows strong financial performance.

A German permanent residence permit is practically inalienable. The only ground on which it can be revoked is when there is conclusive evidence of a serious offence or government fraud when receiving the document.

Ekaterina Shabalina Ekaterina Shabalina Lawyer
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Citizenship of Germany

Applicants must have lived in Germany for at least 8 years to be eligible for citizenship (Staatsangehörigkeit). Applicants must also:

  • Renounce any other nationality (except ethnic Germans);
  • Not have been convicted for serious offences;
  • Have basic knowledge of German; and
  • Not receive welfare or unemployment benefits (except for individuals under 23 years of age and those unable to provide for themselves and their families due to circumstances beyond their control).

Spouses of German nationals can obtain citizenship after 3 years of residence in the country and at least 2 years of marriage. Germany does not grant citizenship by virtue of birth.

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