To enter and stay in Germany legally, foreigners usually require a residence title, such as a visa or residence permit.
Because of the special situation in Ukraine, an exception has been made: war refugees from Ukraine are temporarily exempt from the requirement to have a residence title. This exception currently applies to refugees entering Germany for the first time before 31 May 2023 and staying for up to 90 days. So the last date on which it is possible to be in Germany legally without a visa or residence permit is 29 August 2023.
This rule makes it easier for refugees from Ukraine to enter and stay in Germany and gives them enough time to obtain a residence permit if they decide to apply for one.
Because the authorities may need a long time to process these applications, it is enough for refugees to have applied for a residence permit within the 90-day period in which they can stay in Germany legally without needing a visa or other residence title. So you must apply to your local foreigners authority for a residence title, typically a temporary residence permit under section 24 of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz, AufenthG), within 90 days of entering Germany for the first time. Please visit the official website of the town or city where you are staying or the website of your local foreigners authority to find out if you need to make an appointment to apply for a residence permit in person, or if you can submit your application online within the 90-day period. After you have submitted your application for a residence permit, you can stay in Germany legally until your application is approved, even if this is after 29 August 2023. You will be issued a provisional residence document called a “Fiktionsbescheinigung”.
Germany has issued an ordinance making a temporary exception for refugees from the war in Ukraine: they do not need to apply to an embassy or consulate general for a visa to enter Germany.
Please note: registering your entry into Germany, the procedure of distribution, registering your address and applying for a residence permit are four separate processes. Depending on how things are organised at local level, they may be carried out at the same time or not. If you are unsure, please ask the relevant authorities.
We currently have no information about closed border crossings. You have to decide for yourself which border you want to cross to leave. Please note: Be prepared for long waiting lines. Make sure to bring enough water and food.
Information about transport possibilities from the borders: Information from the Polish rail operator PKP Intercity (www.intercity.pl), the Czech rail operator České dráhy (www.cd.cz) and the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de), which are currently transporting Ukrainian citizens free of charge.
As air traffic from Ukraine has currently been suspended, Ukrainian nationals are currently unable to enter the Federal Republic of Germany directly. How to enter the Schengen Area via a Member State of the European Union bordering on Ukraine is in general governed by EU law. However, the details are up to the Member State concerned.
Since 2017, Ukrainian citizens with biometric passports have been able to enter the EU without a visa for short-term stays in accordance with EU law. Ukrainian citizens with a non-biometric passport generally need a visa that is affixed to the passport before entry - before entering the country. However, a Member State may allow exceptions for entering its territory for specific reasons.
Germany has done this by way of an ordinance that also exempts Ukrainian nationals who do not possess a biometric passport from the requirement of a residence permit for entering and staying in the territory of Germany.
With the general decree of November 18, 2022, the Ukrainian ID card (2015 model) is – for a limited period of time until February 23, 2024 – still recognized as a substitute passport document for crossing the border and staying in Germany.
With a biometric passport, Ukrainian nationals can continue to travel inside the Schengen Area without a visa and stay there for a total of 90 days within 180 days.
The same applies if you have already been granted a residence permit, e.g., for temporary protection, even if you do not have a biometric passport. In such a case, you do not need a separate visa.
If you wish to continue traveling in order to apply for temporary protection in another EU member state, this is at this moment usually possible without a visa. In case of doubt, please ask about the entry procedures in the country to which you wish to travel. There is currently no European assignment procedure for persons wishing to apply for temporary protection. You then apply for the residence permit for temporary protection on site in the new member state.
There are currently no special pandemic-related requirements for entering Germany. This may change depending on the situation. If the requirements do change, the German authorities will inform the public through many different channels.
Please contact the Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate General to verify your identity and issue a certificate with your photograph. In addition, please contact the foreigners authority which is responsible for you: bamf-navi.bamf.de
The airspace over Ukraine is currently closed.
There are currently no plans for German authorities to evacuate German nationals or Ukrainian nationals.
German nationals in Ukraine are advised to leave the country immediately by a safe route and, if this is not possible, to remain in a sheltered place. The Federal Foreign Office has set up a crisis hotline at +49 30 5000 3000. Further information can be found at the Federal Foreign Office.
In Germany, please contact the nearest youth welfare office in your place of residence, which will handle all further steps.
In most cases, family members of persons who have been granted temporary protection may also be granted temporary protection as family members provided that they are not eligible for protection themselves due to their Ukrainian citizenship.
Family members who are only granted temporary protection as family members in line with Directive 2001/55/EC and are not beneficiaries themselves include:
- the spouse or life partner of the beneficiary of temporary protection,
- the beneficiary’s own minor, unmarried children or those of their spouse or partner, and
- other close relatives who were living within the family unit on 24 February 2022 and who are entirely or predominantly dependent on the beneficiary of protection, especially financially or factually, e.g. due to personal care.
The family unit must already have existed in Ukraine at the time of the circumstances triggering the need for temporary protection.
If a person is not entitled to their own temporary protection as described, the general regulations on the subsequent immigration of dependants do not apply. In this case, only section 29 (4) of the Residence Act applies. According to this provision, the spouse and minor, unmarried children of a beneficiary of protection may join the beneficiary in Germany. However, to be eligible for this family reunification, the family must have stopped living together in Ukraine as a result of fleeing the country and the family members must have been admitted to another EU member state or, if they are staying outside the EU, they must be in need of protection. Other family members may join their relatives in Germany only in cases of exceptional hardship.
The procedure is divided into four consecutive steps: initial registration, assignment to a place of residence (in case of social benefit receipt), registration of the residential address at the place of destination, and application for a residence permit.
Foreigners Third-country nationals, who resided in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and Ukrainian nationals who had a domicile or habitual residence in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 but who were temporarily absent from Ukraine on that date, are exempt from the requirement of a residence document until May 31, 2023.
For the entire EU and thus also for Germany, at least the following regulation applies: Ukrainian citizens can stay freely in the EU or move within the EU with a biometric passport for 90 days (combined for all Schengen countries).
However, latest from the moment that war refugees from Ukraine ask for state support in Germany in the form of accommodation, care or social benefits, registration is required. To be registered and receive government support, contact a reception center in your district.
When you register, if you are claiming social benefits, you will also be told where in Germany you should initially live. This assignment is necessary so that individual cities do not have the whole burden of providing for war refugees.
If you claim social benefits and have not found private and permanent accommodation, you will normally be assigned to a certain place so that not just a few cities and municipalities have to carry the burden. In this case, you should only apply for a residence permit when it is clear to which district you have been assigned. This is because the authorities responsible for this district are then also responsible for social benefits.
If, on the other hand, you can initially provide for yourself because e.g., you are living with friends or relatives, then normally only your data will be recorded during registration. You are then free to choose your accommodation and will not be assigned.
As proof of your registration, you will usually be issued with a so-called proof of arrival, which you can use to contact the local social welfare office responsible for granting benefits.
When you have arrived at your destination, please register at the registration office. If you are moving into a shared accommodation, you will also receive information there regarding the registration procedure.
Registering at a registration office or registering after which a proof of arrival is issued, is not automatically an application for a residence permit. That is the next step. Make sure that such an application is also made. Sometimes this can happen in combination with the previous steps. In case of doubt, please ask. If you have received a document called a “fictional certificate” or a receipt of an online application for a residence permit, you have in any case already submitted an application for a residence permit.
Important: The proof of arrival is not yet a residence permit. You must apply for the residence permit - once it is clear where you will be living for the time being - at the immigration authority responsible for this district. If you claim social benefits, an assignment decision is also necessary. Only then you should apply for the residence permit.
If you do decide to move after you have applied for a residence permit, please inform the immigration authority about your new address. Please inform yourself on the website of the respective immigration authority.
You can find the nearest immigration authority on BAMF-NAvI.
Municipal contact points have also been set up at many train stations, which you can contact if you need assistance.
Unaccompanied minors should contact the nearest youth welfare office, which will take care of all further steps.
For late repatriates from Ukraine, the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) has set up a special hotline which can be reached from Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and Friday until 3 p.m., and at weekends from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 0049 22899358-20255. For more information, please visit the BVA website: www.bva.bund.de
Please find further information on entry and residence on the website of the Foreign Office.