Our 2021 step-by-step guide to a Blue Card and a permanent residence permit in Germany

Easy work and residence visas in Germany can be issued for anybody with a job contract and a salary of more than 55.200. Euro or 43.056 Euro for jobs in mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering or human medicine.

This post was last updated on January 24, 2021

In this guide

A small blue bird flying

What is the German Blue Card?

The German Blue card is a visa that allows working for an employer in Germany. The Blue Card is only for employee jobs and is tied to a specific job. You can change jobs but you need permission from the Foreign Office.

The Blue Card is valid for 4 years for jobs with an unlimited duration. Otherwise, the Blue Card is valid for the duration of your job contract plus 3 months but not exceeding 4 years.

Family members of a Blue Card holder are allowed to work in Germany source.

Requirements for the German Blue Card

  • You must have a university degree.
  • You have a binding job offer in Germany.
  • Salary requirements: An annual gross salary of at least 55.200 Euro or a job in mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering or human medicine with an annual gross salary of 43.056 Euro are required.**
  • You must be qualified for the job.
  • You must be allowed to do this job in Germany. Germany has about 150 regulated professions like teachers, lawyers and doctors. Check this EU database for regulated professions to see if your job is regulated in Germany.

Which institutions issue German Blue Cards?

  • Any German consulate or embassy when applying from your home country.
  • The Foreign Office is called Ausländerbehörde in case you apply for a Blue Card from within Germany.

Follow these steps to get a German Blue Card

  • Step 1: Find a job in Germany from your country. Read our guide to finding a job in Germany from abroad.
  • Step 2: Get all the required documents. Read more about the required documents.
  • Step 3: Apply for the Blue Card at the German consulate in your country. Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea or the USA might skip this step as they can enter Germany on a tourist visa and then apply for a Blue Card and a residence permit at the Foreign Office. Citizens from other countries need a visa to enter Germany but can apply for a Blue Card at a German consulate in their home country before relocating to Germany. A job seeker visa can be used to enter Germany to search for a job.
  • Step 4: Travel to Germany.
  • Step 5: Open a German bank account. This is not required per se for the visa but it will be hard to rent a flat in Germany without a checking account. Read more in our guide to opening a checking account as a foreigner. Some banks let you open a checking account without a registered German address. We have an overview of the best bank accounts for foreigners in Germany.
  • Step 6: Find a place to live in Germany. You need a registered address before going to the Ausländerbehörde. You need a document called a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord in order to register an address. You don't get this document when living in an illegal sublet, a hotel or AirBnB flat.
  • Step 7: Register your German address at the local Bürgeramt. You need a document called Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord for this and receive a document called Anmeldebestätigung from the Bürgeramt.
  • Step 8: Get health insurance. You need German health insurance if you are staying in Germany. Residence permit applications are rejected if you do not have German health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Read our review of health insurance plans for more information.
  • Step 9: Make an appointment at the Foreign Office called Ausländerbehörde in Germany for the residence permit and/or the Blue Card.

EU Blue Card holders can apply for permanent residence after 33 months unless they have level B1 German proficiency in which case they can apply already after 21 months. The Foreign Office will ask about documents from your employer that you contributed to social insurance, including pension payments. You receive them monthly with your paycheck.

Required documents

All forms can be downloaded here.

  • Form "Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels".
  • Form "Antrag auf Erlaubnis einer Beschäftigung" (Work Permit Application).
  • Form "Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis" (job description) filled by your employer.
  • Valid passport.
  • Proof of residence. The official document is called Anmeldebestätigung and is issued by the Bezirksamt.
  • Biometric photo.
  • Job contract
  • University diploma. Please submit an assessment to the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) if your foreign degree is not evaluated in the Anabin database.
  • Occupation practice permit if necessary.
  • Health insurance certificate. The certificate must state the type, scope and duration of the insurance. Please tell your insurance company that you need the certificate for a residence permit for the purpose of employment.
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