How To Apply For Permanent Residency In Germany

Credit: BAMF

Regardless of how long you have been in Germany one day you are going to contemplate applying for permanent residency, even if it is just so you can stop having to re-apply for your work visa every year.  So, how does one apply for permanent residency in Germany?

Just before we get started, please note that this is just a general guide to applying for Permanent Residency. Not everything written here is going to apply to everybody seeking Permanent Residency. Please ask your local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) for what you need to do to apply for permanent residency based on the visa you currently hold.

Ok, now that’s out of the way, what does one need in order to successfully apply for Permanent Residency otherwise known as an Niederlassungserlaubnis?  Well in true German style it requires a lot of documentation and the documentation you need depends on what kind of visa you currently hold.

All of the information below was gotten from the Hamburg Welcome Centre who have guided me through getting my very first work visa, my EU Blue Card and now my Permanent Residency (when it comes through *crosses fingers*).

General Documentation

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • A biometric photograph (max. six months old) which complies to the German standards
  • Confirmation of registration of place of residence
  • Rental agreement or evidence of property ownership and last annual billing for heating and operational costs
  • Sufficient German language skills / certificate Integration Course Level B1 *
  • Confirmation of at least 60 months (5 years) of contributions to the German public pension insurance or comparable private retirement arrangement. If you hold an EU Blue Card you need to only provide proof of 24 months.  This document must be obtained from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

* Note about language requirements: What you need to provide to prove your German language skills seems to change depending on which visa you have. I needed to prove that I had a B1 level of German.  At the very least you will need to prove that you speak around an A2 level of German whether that is via a certificate or a short interview conducted in German.

The further documents you need to provide depend on whether you have a salaried position or are self-employed/freelancer. You may be asked to provide some or all of the documents below depending on the type of work visa you currently hold.

Salaried Employment

  • Employment contract
  • Confirmation of employment
  • Last three salary statements (payslips)
  • Tax clearance certificate. This document must be obtained from the Finanzamt


  • Confirmation of employment
  • Tax clearance certificate. This document must be obtained from the Finanzamt
  • Last three salary statements
  • Calculation of profits from tax consultant/auditor
  • Excerpt of the Commercial register
  • Business registration
  • Audit report form filled in by tax consultant for Chamber of Commerce

The above checklist can be downloaded from here.

Once you have obtained all the documentation required by your local Ausländerbehörde depending on the visa you currently hold, you will need to make an appointment to submit the documentation and possibly undergo a short language test/interview, if required. Whilst I do have a B1 Zertifikat Deutsch, my application interview was held entirely German. I have no idea if this was to test my level of German or just done by default.  However, I was never asked if I preferred to speak German or English which is normally the case when I go to the Hamburg Welcome Centre to talk visas. So, please consider this a warning that you will be expected to demonstrate some German language skills.

After all of your documents are scanned and fingerprints taken, you will then need to pay the application fee which was €135 as of August 2014.

You will then need to wait a ‘few’ nail-biting weeks for a letter which will tell you whether or not your Permanent Residency has been approved.  Unlike other countries, you do not have to submit your passport at time of application, therefore, you will be allowed to travel out of the country during this waiting period.

Once you received your letter from Berlin stating that your Permanent Residency has been approved, you can pick up your credit card-like electronic visa from your local Ausländerbehörde office and go and celebrate your new status as a Permanent Resident of Germany.


For those of you who have already gone through the Permanent Residency application process, please let me know in the comments below how the above article compares to your experiences, especially when it comes to the German language requirements. Also, if you had another visa type, other than a work visa, please let me know what kind of documentation you needed to supply in order to apply.



13 thoughts on “How To Apply For Permanent Residency In Germany

  1. Pingback: The Week in Germany: Help With a Residency Permit, Castles, Moving Tips | Young Germany

  2. Thank you ,this is so helpful but if you could clarify to me if a student who hold a student visa and works part time could be qualified to permanent residence after 5 years or it can never be with part time work … if you have information on that too it would be great
    Thank you

    • Since you have a student visa you will need to comply with the conditions of that visa when applying for permanent residency. It doesn’t matter if you work part-time or not as you don’t have a work visa. I have no experience with applying for permanent residency with a student visa so please ask your local Ausländerbehörde about what is required.

  3. I have question about the 24 months .. Do you have to hold the blue hold card for 24 months .. as i worked as a full-time employee for 9 months with a job search visa .. the job search visa tell you can work with a job search visa but will this be counted in the 24 months ?

    • Yes, you need to hold the blue card for 24 months to be eligible for their special 24 month permanent residency acceptance. The time you spend in Germany on other visas is not counted towards this.

      • You may be able to back date to when you have met the requirements for the blue card. This will shorten the length of time that you have to hold the blue card. This linked [1] has more information. Look under the question “Can previous stays in Germany be credited towards the settlement permit?” for more information.

        In fact that is how I managed to get my settlement permit. I applied for a blue card, and my immigration officer suggested that the settlement permit be issued to me rather than a blue card as my prior conditions were valid for the blue card.


  4. Hi, thank you for this helpful post. I went to the foreigner’s office to seek some information. They asked me to fill in an application form, and then just to wait for a letter. I thought it would be for an interview/ appointment. The thing is I have not submitted any document unlike you; and I wonder why it has been taking so long? I live in Berlin btw. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Unfortunately, I am not an expert in this field, I’ve only written about my own experience. The best thing to do is to contact the Foreigner’s Office again and ask them why you haven’t heard anything back. Best of luck!

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