How to obtain a residence permit as a student

Once you entered Germany on a student visa, you need to take a few more steps to obtain your residence permit for your studies in Baden-Württemberg.

You made it one of the beautiful cities in Baden-Württemberg on your student or student applicant visa and found a place to live in a dorm or an apartment. Now, you need to apply for a residence permit. “Isn’t my student visa enough to live in Germany?” you may ask. Actually, no.
Your visa allows you to enter the country to complete your university application, enroll in your classes a university or Studienkolleg and find a place to live. It doesn’t give you the right to live in Germany for more than the initial three to six months. That’s why you need a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). 

Who needs a residence permit?

Citizens from EU countries as well as from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland don’t have to apply for a residence permit. They will still have to register with the local resident’s registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) and receive a certificate (Meldebestätigung) that confirms their right to live in their new hometown.
Students from other countries will need both a certificate from their local resident’s registration office (Meldebestätigung)  in Baden-Württemberg and additionally a residence permit (Auftenthaltserlaubnis). The permit is usually valid for two years and can be renewed for additional semesters.

How to obtain a residence permit?

STEP 1: After you’ve enrolled at your university or Studienkolleg and found a place to live, you are ready to register with the city at the local resident’s registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). This is a first step in the process. The registration at the resident’s office is mandatory for everyone living in Germany, including German and EU citizens as well as foreign nationals.

Check with the resident’s registration office, which is called Einwohnermeldeamt and sometimes Bürgerbüro, whether you can make an appointment online. You will need to bring your passport and the rental agreement from your landlord or dorm. Find out whether additional documents are required.

Note: If you move within the city or two another city or town during your studies, you will have to register again to obtain a mandatory residence certificate with your new address.

STEP 2: Once you obtained your residence certificate (Meldebestätigung), you can apply for your residence permit at the alien registration office (Ausländerbehörde). Check with the office as well as with your university’s international office which documents are needed.

  • Your passport
  • The residence certificate from the residence registration office
  • Proof of enrollment from your university or Studienkolleg
  • Proof of health insurance and sufficient financial funds
  • 2 biometric passport photos

are usually included in the requirements. The application fee varies and can be more than € 100, so check in advance and have the money available.

Renewing your residence permit

Your initial residence permit is usually valid for one or two years. Make sure you make an appointment with the alien registration office for renewal before your permit expires. When you apply for a renewal of your permit, you have to show that you have been taking classes at the university. Also, you need to proof that you have the financial means for another year or two of study and that you have health insurance. Check with the alien registration office in advance to find out what documentation they require.

Changes in your status

When you change from a Studienkolleg to a university or when you complete your bachelor’s degree and continue with a master’s degree, you have to inform the alien registration office so that the change can be reflected in your permit. This is necessary to keep your permit up to date and ensure that you can study in Baden-Württemberg without unnecessary interruptions.