Entry formalities to Germany
After the signing of the Schengen Convention in Luxembourg in 1990, among the 22 European Union member states and the 4 EFTA member states, the concept of free movement started being implemented just 5 years after, allowing the population of the certain member countries to travel freely and start a life in any of them countries.
Schengen Area nowadays covers most of the European Countries with an exception made for the United Kingdom and the countries that are soon to be part of this agreement. Although not members of the European Union, countries like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also part of the Schengen zone enjoying the same freedom of movement policy as the others.
Who needs a Schengen Visa?
Nationals of most third countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are under an obligation to hold a visa for a proposed stay of a maximum duration of 3 months on the territory of the SCHENGEN States.
To find out more, consult the list of third countries whose nationals are placed under the obligation to hold a visa to cross the external borders of the SCHENGEN States and/or the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from that obligation: http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/who-needs-schengen-visa/
We recommend our GPLN members to apply for a tourist visa as this is easier to obtain.
Where to lodge your visa application?
As a general rule, you lodge your visa application with the German consulate with territorial competence for the country in which you legally reside. You present yourself in person, at the earliest 3 months before the planned start of your journey.
Go first to the consulate’s website for any information on the practical arrangements on the lodging of your visa application. The point is that it is possible that you might need to make an appointment. It is also possible that the consulate might cooperate with an external service provider entrusted with sundry tasks (information, making an appointment, receiving files, etc.). In that case, additional service fees will be charged. Bear also in mind that the consulate might invite you for an interview or ask for additional documents. Finally, look at when you will be travelling, because the period for the issue of an appointment and the time taken to process your visa application will inevitably be longer at certain times of the year.
In short, make sure you lodge your visa application in good time (but at the earliest 3 months before the planned start of your journey) to avoid any disappointment and unnecessary costs. If there is no German consulate in the country where you reside, contact the German consulate competent for that country. This is usually in a neighboring country. They will tell you whether Germany is represented by another SCHENGEN State in the country where you reside.