In order to start studying abroad in Germany, international applicants have to keep a few things in mind. In addition to the timely submission of a valid visa and the guarantee of the statutory health insurance, proof of funding and the university entrance qualification are also required. Here we have compiled the most important documents for studying abroad.
To study in Germany, international applicants from non-EU countries have to apply for a visa for study purposes before entering the country. The application should be submitted to the responsible German diplomatic mission by submitting the following documents:
- Completed and signed application form
- Valid passport and two photocopies of the passport.
- Birth certificate and, if applicable, a marriage certificate and birth certificate(s) of the child(ren)
- Photocopies of previous German residence permits or visas
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of funding
- Proof of existing knowledge of German
- University entrance qualification recognized in Germany (for the student visa applications)
- Letter of admission from the university (for the student visa)
If there is no admission to study at the time of your planned entry, you have the option of applying for a so-called student applicant visa (“Studienbewerbervisum”). This special form of the student visa is initially valid for three months and can possibly be extended to a maximum of six months.
The issuance of the student visa only takes place after the approval of the responsible immigration authority in Germany. In principle, there are no fixed deadlines for applying for a visa. However, since a visa must be presented when entering Germany, the application should be made in good time. You can find more information on the recommended deadlines here.
Proof of health insurance
In contrast to many other countries, it is compulsory to have health insurance in Germany, which foreign students must also comply with during their studies here. The same applies to language students who, for example, only stay in Germany as part of a three-month language course. Proof of existing health insurance must be provided when you enroll at the university.
In general, a distinction is made between two types of health insurance in Germany – compulsory health insurance or public health insurance, on the one hand, and private health insurance, on the other. The good news: Due to the social security agreement, the state health insurance of many international students in their home countries also applies during their stay in Germany. In some cases, private health insurance from other countries is also recognized, but it is not possible to switch to state health insurance while studying in Germany. If you have any questions, we recommend that you contact the international office of your university or your health insurance provider in your home country directly.
Proof of funding
For a study visit to Germany, international students from non-EU countries* generally need what is known as proof of funding both for applying for a visa and for applying for a study program. To certify that you have the necessary financial means to finance your living and studying in Germany, there are several options:
- Blocked account
- Declaration of commitment and proof of the parents’ income and financial situation
- Scholarship from a recognized scholarship provider
- bank guarantee; that is, a recognized German bank issues the proof of financing
- Declaration of funding commitment from a German resident; that is, someone residing in Germany guarantees to financially cover their studies
In most cases, proof of financing is provided by means of a blocked account – a special bank account into which the amount of around 10,332 euros required to cover the cost of living in Germany is deposited. As a rule, applicants do not have access to the account until they arrive in Germany and only have limited access to the money during their studies.
* Citizens from EU countries (including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein) are generally exempt from the obligation to provide proof of funding if they do not need a student visa to enter Germany.
University entrance qualification
The university entrance qualification – HZB for short – is one of the most important documents for studying abroad at a German university and confirms that the foreign educational level is equivalent with the German Abitur. The HZB of applicants from the member states of the EU as well as from Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are usually also recognized in Germany. The same requirements apply to non-EU citizens, although a student visa is also required (see above).
If the foreign degree is not recognized in Germany, you can alternatively start studying at a German university after attending a preparatory course and passing the subsequent assessment test. A preparatory course lasting one year for studying in Germany is called a preparatory college (“Studienkolleg”). All information about the TUDIAS Preparatory College and the necessary entry requirements can be found here.
Proof of language proficiency
In preparation for studying abroad in Germany, foreign students require proof of German language proficiency. The following test formats are officially recognized:
- TestDaF and Telc C1
- Proof of language proficiency from the DAAD and BVMD
- German language diploma from the Conference of Ministers of Education, Level II (DSD),
- German language test for the admission of international applicants (DSH)
The TestDaF (German as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test in which the required language skills are tested both orally and in writing in four partial exams.
In some cases, proof of proficiency in English may also be required. TUDIAS offers the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for academic English and the TOEIC® (Test of English for International Communication) for business English.
You can find more information about the language tests and certificates offered by TUDIAS as well as the associated costs here.
High School Diplomas
When enrolling at a German university, the high school diplomas or officially certified (and complete) copies of the diplomas must be submitted in addition to the documents mentioned above. We recommend that international students submit officially certified copies in the original language as well as an English or German translation.
Certification of diplomas is usually possible in your home country as well as on site in Germany at any public office with an official stamp. This includes, for example, town halls / municipal offices or courts. An authentication contains the following features:
- Imprint of the official seal in the original
- Authentication note showing that the copy and the original match
- Signature (not a copy) of the notarizing person