How to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa in Berlin, Germany

One of the most common stereotypes about Germany is the concept of “German efficiency”. While this is true in a lot of cases, there are some glaring exceptions – and few things are as slow and inefficient as the local bureaucracy. Add on the fact that Berlin is the most un-German city in Germany, and the end result is the absolute mess of an application process that new Berliners experience while applying for their Working Holiday Visa.

I personally went through this when moving to Berlin in July 2017. If it wasn’t for a few well-informed people that helped me out, I probably would have given up and settled elsewhere outside of the Schengen zone. Luckily for you, I’ve now put together all of my findings so that you don’t have to struggle (… as much). Trust me, Berlin’s worth it.

Also see: How to Apply for a Freelance Visa in Berlin, Germany

Note: there are some quick links in the sidebar that isn’t visible on mobile devices. For the full experience, be sure to check out this article on a larger screen.

Important Note: What’s Changed in 2019?

This guide has been updated on 16 September 2019, after learning that the visa application process has since changed. I hope this updated version helps with any confusion when you read older guides from before 2019.

Here’s a summary of what’s changed (or I’ve previously missed):

  • Previously, visa applicants used to get their Working Holiday Visa on the spot. Now, you’ll have wait about a month for your visa to be processed. In the meantime, you’ll receive a letter that states you are allowed to stay in Germany for this time. More on this below.
  • If you apply from outside of Germany, you get to skip the Anmeldung process, but you also are limited to working a maximum of 6 months at any employer. There are also some other pros and cons that are detailed below.

If you have any feedback or want to share your experience (which is greatly appreciated), simply head down to the comments section.

What is the Working Holiday Visa?

The “Working Holiday Visa Programme” is a bilateral agreement between Germany and a number of countries (Australia, Argentina, Chile, Israel, Japan and New Zealand). There are also similar arrangement with Canada (Youth Mobility Agreement) and South Korea (Working-Holiday-Agreement).

Update (10/12/2018): I’ve noticed that the list of countries has changed. Now, the Berlin website states “Foreign nationals from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada and New Zealand may apply for this residence permit in Germany… Foreign nationals from Korean Republic may apply for this residence permit only in exceptional cases (see below) in Germany.”

All of these Working Holiday Visas are for twelve months, with the purpose of allowing young foreign nationals to experience German culture, travel freely and work within Germany. While there is no obligation to work, this visa gives you the option should you need it – or run out of money.

Popular alternatives to the Working Holiday Visa (or if you’re over 35 years old) are the Freelancer Visa, Artist Visa, Language Course Visa. For a quick guide to what conditions apply for your country’s passport, check out Project Visa.

Requirements for a Working Holiday Visa in Germany

To be eligible for the Working Holiday Visa, you must:

  • Be between 18 and 30 years of age inclusive (up to 35 if Canadian).
  • Be a citizen of one of the countries listed above.
  • Not be accompanied by dependent family members (e.g. children).
  • Have the equivalent of at least 2000 Euros in savings.
  • Have your main residence in Berlin (“Anmeldung” or rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from your landlord).

You must also have all the documents listed here.

For more information on the alternative to getting an Anmeldung for your visa, that same link has all the information you’ll need under “Proof of main residence in Berlin” and “More information”.

Demystifying the German Jargon

While going through this visa application process, there are a few words and phrases that you’ll often hear repeated. The most common ones will be Anmeldung, Bürgeramt, Ausländerbehörde, and the names of a few forms you’ll have to complete.

What is “Anmeldung” and “Bürgeramt”?

Anmeldung is the process of registering yourself to a German address. This is a requirement of your visa (unless you apply from outside of Germany). The Bürgeramt is the local office where you can submit your Anmeldung forms.

To complete your Anmeldung, you’ll need two forms: the “Anmeldung bei der Meldebehörde” is the application form to register yourself at your primary residence, while the “Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers” is a form that your landlord – or main tenant – has to fill out to officially confirm that you now live at this address.

Both forms and more information can be found here (use Google Translate).

What is the “Ausländerbehörde”?

This is effectively the visa office that you’ll be dealing with. Here, you’ll need to bring the “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels” form, otherwise known as the “Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit”.

The Ausländerbehörde is located at Keplerstraße 2, through the gate on the right hand side and around the corner to the left.

How to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa in Berlin

I went through this process with an Australian passport, but the information is relevant to most other countries that have a Working Holiday Visa agreement with Germany. The official website for more information can be found here.

Here the short version on applying for a Working Holiday Visa in Berlin:

  1. Book your Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde appointments as soon as possible.
  2. Arrive in Germany using the 90-day Schengen visa (no application required).
  3. Find a house, flat or shared flat, also known as a “WG” (or “Wohngemeinschaft”).
  4. Go to the Bürgeramt and complete your Anmeldung.
  5. Buy travel insurance for a year (more on this below).
  6. Go to the Ausländerbehörde and submit your visa application.

Confused? I know. Let’s break this down into parts.

Step 1: Book Your Appointments

There’s such a shortage of public service officers at the Bürgeramt, that you’ll have to book your appointment at least a month or two beforehand. The Ausländerbehörde is even worse – it’s booked out for years in advance (no, you didn’t read that wrong).

Book your Bürgeramt appointment using this link.

The best thing you can do is check the Ausländerbehörde website early in morning, every day, until you find someone who’s cancelled. Don’t be picky, just take any appointment that’s within your 90-day Schengen window.

Book your Ausländerbehörde appointment using this link.

Get your appointments booked as soon as possible – the earlier the better!

Step 2: Arrive in Berlin

A lot of countries have an agreement with Germany that allows them to stay for 90 days out of a 6-month period without a visa. Project Visa has some useful links that shows each country’s eligibility. If your country’s passport isn’t eligible for this, you won’t able to apply for any sort of Working Holiday Visa using the method on this page.

Step 3: Find Accommodation in Berlin

This can be tricky. The rental market in Berlin is so high in demand that most listings will get dozens, if not hundreds of applications – especially in the more desirable areas. An extra layer of difficulty with this is that you’ll need to sort out your Anmeldung, which a lot of temporary flats or sub-leases often can’t provide.

Still, it’s not impossible. Put some effort into your application, and show the landlord (or your future housemates) why you’d be a good fit.

You can find accommodation using a few methods:

Also, try and ask around. Similar to job openings, a lot of WGs and flats don’t get advertised due to referrals. Obviously, this can be difficult if you’ve just arrived, but it’s something to keep in mind as you start making friends.

Step 4: Go to the Bürgeramt (Anmeldung)

Don’t be late to your appointment! While the booking process is a mess, the appointments tend to start precisely on time.

If you haven’t managed to book your Bürgeramt appointment, you can try and find last minute cancellations, or simply go to your local office and wait in line. It’s very possible to get a Bürgeramt appointment on the day, just by turning up.

Something to keep in mind is that while most officials at the Bürgeramt speak perfect English, they’ll resent the fact that you don’t speak German. Bring all the documents you need already filled out, and be as nice as possible. If you can bring a friend that speaks German, you’ll have a much easier time here.

Step 5: Buy Travel Insurance

Of all of the required documents, the most confusing one is the “Foreign travellers’ health insurance that is valid for one year”. In the eyes of the German bureaucracy, not all travel insurances are created equal.

The easiest way to get around this is to purchase the widely-accepted “Student” package from Mawista. Don’t worry about the “Student” label – it also says “Work & Travel” which is what the Working Holiday Visa is meant to be.

It doesn’t provide great coverage, but it’s cheap, has a cancellation period, and ticks all of the bureaucracy boxes (it’s even advertised inside the Ausländerbehörde) – which means you can use it to apply for your visa with confidence and switch insurance providers afterwards. Most do. I recommend (and personally use) World Nomads.

One more tip: buy your insurance a few days before your appointment date, as it can take a day or two for the documents to arrive in your email inbox. I’ve had friends who have missed their appointments after getting their insurance at the last minute.

Step 6: Go to the Ausländerbehörde

If you’ve made an appointment, this bit is easy – it’s a simple matter of arriving on time.

But if you haven’t managed to make an appointment, the harsh reality is that you’ll have to get to the Ausländerbehörde around 3am in the morning, write down your name, and wait until they open. Arrive any later, and you probably won’t get in at all. Also worth noting is that the office is only open on Monday and Tuesdays from 7am, and on Thursdays from 10am.

Step by step, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get to the Ausländerbehörde at 3am or earlier. Bring a jacket and some snacks.
  2. Someone will have a piece of paper with names on it. Write your name down, find somewhere to sit, and get comfortable. Make some friends if you can.
  3. In a few hours, someone will come around and start reading out names from the list. Line up as your name is called and you’ll get a ticket with your number.
  4. Around 7am, the doors will open and you’ll be able to go inside to the waiting room. Your ticket will be exchanged for another one.
  5. Wait.
  6. At some point, your number will be called out (probably in German, but someone should be able to translate). Line up at the visa office door and wait for your turn.
  7. Give your documents to the person behind the counter. Try and be as friendly as possible. If you speak German (or have a friend that does), that’s a plus.
  8. You’ll be asked to wait.
  9. Soon after, you’ll be given an official letter that states that your resident card will be ready in about a month, with an appointment date. It also states that you are allowed to stay in Germany until that date.

The visa application process used to end at #8, but this is no longer the case.

Step 7: Return to the Ausländerbehörde

If you’re within your 90-day Schengen visa exemption days, you can spend this waiting time by travelling for a while, otherwise just sit tight.

Technically speaking, you could travel inside Schengen during this time even if your Schengen days are finished. This is because the whole point of the Schengen agreement is that borders are open and unchecked. But technically,  again, you would be travelling illegally. All it takes is one overly curious police officer or for you to get into an accident to reveal that you’re not meant to be outside of Germany. All in all, I’d suggest holding back from booking any travel and just enjoy Berlin while you wait for your visa to be ready.

Head back to the Ausländerbehörde in time for your appointment, and you will receive your residency card. That’s it – you’re done! Buy yourself a celebratory beer from the nearest Späti 🙂

Applying for Your WHV Visa from Outside of Germany

One of the most-asked questions from applicants is whether or not they should apply for their Working Holiday Visa after arriving in Germany or from abroad. Here are some pros and cons.

Applying from within Germany:

  • Pro: No limit to your Working Holiday Visa
  • Pro: Lower amount of funds required for your visa (unconfirmed)
  • Con: Getting Anmeldung can often be quite difficult, although you might be able to get around this by getting a rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from your landlord

Applying from elsewhere (home country or German embassy):

  • Pro: Anmeldung not necessary
  • Pro: Appointments are easier to come by
  • Con: Maximum of 6 months of employment at any company
  • Con: Higher amount of funds required for your visa (unconfirmed)
  • Con: Exit flight for your departure from Germany required (unconfirmed)

At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference and what you plan to do during your time in Germany.

If you’re Australian, you can only make this application from the German embassy in Sydney – however I’ve also heard of some people who have applied at their own state’s embassy (e.g. Melbourne), who then in turn sent the documents to Sydney.

If you’re already in Europe and have some time left during your 90-day Schengen Visa, you could even head to another country. One of the expats in the comments below successfully applied from Vienna, Austria.

With either of these methods, I’d suggest giving your local embassy a call first. Make sure that it’s possible to go through the application process from there before making the journey over. I would also say that generally calling is better than email, as they tend to take a while to reply.

You can find more information and a list of foreign German embassies here.

If you have your heart set on applying for your visa in Berlin, just try to get everything organised as early as possible. It’s not impossible, but 90 days is shorter than you might think – and you really don’t want to be panicking as your Schengen time ticks down.

One last thing: don’t forget to cancel your Mawista insurance after getting your visa and switch to World Nomads afterwards. I’ve heard of difficulties claiming through Mawista while there’s nothing but good reviews about World Nomads. All you need to do is simply email Mawista with your policy details and state that you would like to cancel.

Other Things to Consider

Once you’ve finished the stressful process of settling in, you’ll probably want to set up a bank account and phone number. As far as bank accounts go, all expats (and even many locals) unanimously recommend N26, an online bank with no account fees and free withdrawals. Their app is easy to use, and more importantly for expats: it’s the only real English banking option in Germany. If you need to convert currencies, TransferWise is the  fastest and cheapest option (by far!).

If you’d like learn more, have a look at my article where I explain the steps of setting up a bank account in Germany.

As for setting up a phone number, I’ve written guide on getting a SIM card in Germany. I’ve also written an article about various apps and services to help you navigate Berlin, mostly about the best ways of physically getting around. Although intended for tourists, the same services apply for those who have decided to make the move a bit more permanently. There are even a few referral codes in there to help you save a bit of cash. Let’s help each other out 🙂

If you’ve found any of my writing helpful, please be sure to link it to anyone you think might benefit from it.

That’s it. Welcome to Berlin and good luck!

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68 Comments
  1. Hi, thanks so much for the helpful article. I just had a question re: applying for visa outside of Germany..
    So I am in Berlin right now on a 90 day tourist visa but due to difficulties getting Anmeldung, I am considering going and staying with a friend in Amsterdam and applying for my working visa from the German Consulate over there.. Is there any reason why this might not work?

    • Hey Zach, the expat that I met in the line did mention that it was much simpler (especially considering the Anmeldung issue) and I’ve heard similar stories from others who have received their visas from outside of Germany. That being said, I’ve never tried it myself so I can’t say that I’m absolutely sure – although I’ve successfully applied for other visas at foreign embassies around the world without any issues at all.

      I’d recommend giving them a call before you head over there – just to double check – and even make an appointment if it’s possible. Be sure to leave a week or two for the processing times, as they’ll likely take your passport and you won’t be able to leave the country. Good luck – I’d love to hear how it all works out for you!

  2. @Zach
    Hi guys!

    Also having Anmeldung issues but am currently in Amsterdam, wondering if you applied in Amsterdam and if this method worked?

    Thanks for the article, stressed Kiwi.

    • Hey Kim, I’d say the best thing you could do is just give them a call or just turn up to the embassy. In theory it should work – the embassy in Amsterdam is the same as any other in Europe – but you won’t know until you try. Information about this sort of thing can differ depending on who you ask, so it’s best to get it from the source.

      I’m curious to know how it goes, I also have a couple of mates who are about to go through the same process. If you could get back to me with your experience, I can update the article to help others who are also dealing with red tape. I’d also recommend joining the “Aussies and Kiwis in Berlin” Facebook group – we’re all in this together!

  3. A lot of information I’ve seen on applying for a YMV always refer to Berlin as the city of choice, can this process be undertaken in any other city in Germany, for example Munich?

    • Hey Brad, the Working Holiday Visa is for Germany (not Berlin). So yes, this process can be undertaken in any other city. Just Google “Ausländerbehörde München” or “Foreigners Office Munich” and you should find the Munich equivalent.

  4. Hey Chris,
    Really helpful article and blog thankyou!
    Im currently planning on moving over to Berlin at the end of October this year on the WHS – leaving myself a bit of time to organise things, some people mention its fine applying in Berlin but others suggest to skip the hassle – apply here in Aus before i go. I know this isnt whay you did, but wondering if you had insight into this from talking to others? Or, given i have a bit of time up my sleeve to book appointments with the departments, if you think applying when i get there would be fine….
    (I don’t speak german or know anyone that likes me enough to waste a day with the gov… I wouldn’t openly give a day up to join an acquaintance at centrelink either…)

    Mainly concerned if i have to apply here in Aus 2months before i leave, will it start cutting into my visa time?
    Also, the part about registering an address?
    Obvs i wont have found permanent residence when i first land on the ground in Berlin, but planning on staying at an airbnb or something till i find / can go to house viewings. Is there a time frame to register address?
    Im actually flying into Amsterdam on a One way ticket, then will get a train to Berlin ( and have proof of the onward travel to show )

    Lastly – I know, so many questions! Sorry.
    You can’t really earn much on the WHS visa, but im hoping to use it as a bridging to then try find a sponsored job in my field. Again something done better in person. Have you stayed on the WHS Or have you transferred to the working visa, and if so, is it difficult?

    Thanks for any advice.

    Cheers,
    Billie 🙂

    • Hey Billie, that’s a lot of questions but I’ll do my best to work through them!

      First off, I’m assuming by WHS, you mean “Working Holiday Scheme”… which I believe is technically only between Germany and Hong Kong. Australians get the “Working Holiday Visa”, also known as the “Youth Mobility Visa”. You might end up confusing people with “WHS” – it even took me a couple of minutes.

      1. You can always apply for your visa in Berlin, but the issue is getting your address registered – you need this before you can apply for a visa. The rental market in Berlin is notoriously competitive, with many people moving from flat to flat for 6+ months before finding somewhere they can register. Between that and the difficulty in getting an visa appointment is why a lot of people (myself included) suggest getting your visa in Australia instead.
      2. As for the visa time, you can specify the start date of your visa on the application form.
      3. There’s a lot of conflicting information about registering your address, but since permanent flats are hard to come by, the realistic answer is “as soon as possible”. I’d suggest joining all the Facebook groups and looking on WG-Gesucht to try and get at least a temporary flat organised as it’s far cheaper than Airbnb.
      4. There are plenty of people who start on a Working Holiday Visa and end up getting sponsored by a company. I’ve never gone through this process, but it’s fairly common. It’s also far easier as the company organises everything to do with the visa for you.

      Hope that helps!

  5. This is super helpful! I’m going to be applying in a smaller town so luckily there aren’t any crazy waiting periods, my question is if the “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels” is functionally the same as “Antrag auf Erteilung eines nationalen Visums”?

    I’m still waiting to hear back from the Ausländerbehörde here (probably will have to end up calling them) about which is the right form, but I thought you might know.

    • Hey Alex, sorry about the delayed response – your comment got caught in a spam filter for some reason.

      It sounds like they’re more or less the same thing, but I don’t know if there’s a nuanced technicality in there somewhere. I imagine residency (whether it’s permanent or temporary) is basically the same thing as a visa (which allows you to take residence). I hope your Ausländerbehörde appointment went well! 🙂

  6. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!! It was extremely helpful.

    I am planning to move to Berlin and July and stay for at least 9+ months. I currently live in Melbourne.

    I have one questions – What would be the absolute best way to apply for this working holiday visa from here?

    It is my understanding that the German embassy here in Melbourne have nothing to do with visas.. I am definitely up for a trip to Sydney if need be to lock everything in before I leave and avoid the headache.

    Apologies for the dumb questions I am just feeling very confused of where to start!

    Thank you again Chris 🙂

    • Hey Danni, sorry about the delayed response! Berlin life got a bit hectic over the last few days 🙂

      That’s not a dumb question at all! This whole visa business is pretty confusing. My understanding is that you will have to get in touch with the German Consulate in Sydney. Have a look at their website, but it looks like this is probably your first step:

      For visa and passport enquiries, you can call us on (02) 8302 4900 during the following times only:
      Tuesday from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
      Wednesday from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
      Thursday from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, and good luck!

  7. Hi Chris,
    I’ve just purchased some Mawista insurance but I would like to cancel it after I receive my visa. How did you go about cancelling your insurance.

    Thank,
    Olivia

    • Hey Olivia, it’s as simple as just sending them an email. Just make sure you’re specific about your details when getting in touch with them! Good luck and welcome to Germany 🙂

  8. Has anyone recently gotten an appointment in Berlin at the Ausländerbehörde for the Working Holiday Visa? I’m currently in Berlin and need to get the visa, but when I try to book there are NO dates available (I checked up to 2023).
    My partner needed an appointment for her freelance visa and got one in a couple of months.

    • This is classic Berlin Ausländerbehörde unfortunately. Just keep checking, especially early in the morning – appointments open up every now and again, seemingly at random. If all else fails (as it did for me when I went for me Working Holiday Visa), you’ll just have to go to the Ausländerbehörde and line up.

      I recently managed to get an appointment for the freelancer visa by regularly checking at 8 in the morning. It’s possible!

  9. Hey ya. Just letting you know that you technically dont need to register your address anymore as it states ‘Certificate of registration at the main residence or
    Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord’. The second option being much easier to obtain.
    Also as an Australian you can stay in Germany an extra 90 days under the visa exempt agreement if you do use the original 90 days in shengen (it really does take that long sometimes!) There is not much info on this but you can email the german embasy to get proof.

    Hope this helps

    • Hey Eli, thanks for writing in.

      You’re correct in saying that it’s possible to provide a “Rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord” instead. I’m not sure if I agree if that’s easier to obtain though. Landlords here typically ask for a lot of documentation (financial records, credit scores and some other documents that are difficult to get without a local job or residence permit) before producing a rental agreement. And if you manage to get a formal rental agreement, this typically also means you’ll be able to get the Anmeldung as well. If neither is possible, it’s potentially an illegal sublet. As it is, the Anmeldung is often difficult to obtain but not impossible, and you can get it without signing any formal contracts.

      I’ve also heard about the extra 90 days exemption before as well, but I personally wouldn’t risk it. The bureaucracy in Germany is so unpredictable and open to interpretation, that all it takes is one grumpy public servant to make your life difficult. Have you heard of anyone successfully pulling it off and getting the fine print in writing?

  10. Great article Chris. Interesting about claim issues with “Mawista Student” though. There’s a passage in the eligibility section that seems to include working holiday participants – that is definitely worth pointing out if any further issues arise:

    Ҥ 1 Who is eligible for insurance cover?
    1. The following are eligible for insurance cover:
    a) Residents of Germany who are travelling abroad as language
    pupils, students, scholarship holders, candidates for a
    doctor‘s degree, guest researchers, practical trainees, or who
    are participating in „work- & holiday“-programs as well as
    accompanying members of his or her family”

  11. Hey Chris,

    I think you answered one of my questions on the Australians in Berlin facebook page too. Could be wrong! Anyway,
    I’m about to purchase my health insurance before going in (early af) to the visa office tomorrow.
    1. Do you mean I can use World Nomads instead of Mawista to take as proof of health insurance to the visa registration office OR do you mean I have to use Mawista first (as cheap option) then ditch and change to World Nomads? What I’m asking is, can I just use World Nomads instead of any German health insurance like Mawista?
    I already have travel insurance which covers emergency medical care with World Nomads- it doesn’t last the full year though- only goes to May and I’d need it to go to Sep- could I a) add more time to my World Nomads insurance if its valid in your opinion or b) buy Mawista only to cover from the date in May that my World Nomads expires (e.g World Nomads until May then Mawista from May until September ) or b) would it be better to just buy a years worth of Mawista then cancel it??

    NEED HELP ASAP

    • Hey again Lina 🙂

      I used Mawista as proof of health insurance and ditched it afterwards in favour of World Nomads (which I’m on now). Like the other guy on your Facebook post said, you might be fine with World Nomads, but I thought it’d better to be safe than sorry. Mawista is recommended by the visa office itself as an insurer of choice. If your World Nomads insurance lasts for less than a year, it’s very possible that the visa office will issue you with a shorter visa. The Working Holiday Visa is one of the easier visas to get, but personally, I still wouldn’t mess around as Germany can be very strict with technicalities and paperwork.

      One more thing: it takes a little while (I think it’s a day or two?) for Mawista to actually issue the insurance policy, so it might be too late if you’re planning on buying it now in preparation for tomorrow morning.

      Whichever you choose, good luck and welcome to Berlin!

      • … I just read this, interview tomorrow morning. The insurance says:
        We will check your application and send you all of the documents by e-mail within the next several days.

        • Hey Aaron, yes it took me about a day and a half to get processed and have everything by email. This is why I mentioned in the main post:

          “One more tip: buy your insurance a few days before your appointment date, as it can take a day or two for the documents to arrive in your email inbox. I’ve had friends who have missed their appointments after getting their insurance at the last minute.”

          Hope everything works out for you!

  12. Update 01/10/2018:
    – Mawista student insurance was processed following next day (less then 24 hours).
    – I’m from NZ but live in Prague.
    – Booked appointment in Prague (showed them 9 days at a hostel in Berlin as proof of address).
    – Had to pay fees in Czech Crowns (2k / 75 euro)
    – At first they said I needed to go do this in Germany:
    As they can do the first part of the application, but I have to do the second part in Germany I think they meant the:
    (Anmeldung is the process of registering yourself to a German address.)
    THIS WAS NOT TRUE. After talking to them for a while, telling them that it said I could online – a younger girl who was there was like, wait you can just apply here (there were 3 people who kept confusing each other).

    7 days later, I could pick up my visa. Done, Super easy.

    I agree, don’t do it in Germany – it sounds like more work.

    Chris Lim – Thank you for your help. This page provided a lot of useful information.

    • Thanks so much for the update! You’re very welcome, I’m just glad to hear it all worked out for you. Also great to hear first-hand that it is in fact a lot easier to go through the visa process outside of Germany. Congrats and welcome to Germany 🙂

    • Seconding Aaron’s comment, successful appointment in Prague. I also used Mawista. Some important info:
      1) visa processing takes a week, minimum and you must collect your visa IN PERSON. This was slightly annoying as I’d been led to believe through other consulates that the visa could be mailed – my bad.
      2) One night in a hostel in Dresden was sufficient for the initial proof of address bit on the form – just print out your booking confirmation.
      3) Another thing that surprised me (that shouldn’t have in hindsight, given the same rules apply to Germans in Australia) is that you’re only legally allowed to work with a single employer for up to 6 months. Bear this in mind when considering your work options over here – you’ll possibly have to show your potential new employer your visa!

      • Thanks so much for sharing your experience! There are some great details in there, especially given that the visa is issued within a couple of hours in Berlin – useful to know that the processing time is different if done elsewhere. I agree that the 6 month thing is also really strange, but I believe it’s pretty common for working holiday visas in Europe (my only personal reference point being the Netherlands). Thanks again, Alec!

        • You’re welcome Chris. Thanks again for this helpful article.

          I have a question that maybe you can help with(?) In terms of health insurance, my understanding is that German employers will pay your premiums. What I’m still unsure of is whether you select an insurer, or are automatically registered with one, when you commence work for the first time in Germany, or whether you are expected to arrange this yourself in advance, before commencing work? Although we’re not citizens/permanent residents (yet!), we’re still eligible for the public system right? I.e. we can ditch our private insurers (e.g. Mawista) once we’re employed formally in Germany and have a contract?

          Vielen Dank 🙂

          • Hey Alec, I can’t help much here unfortunately. I’ve heard so many conflicting stories about how insurance works in Germany and haven’t yet needed any health check-ups (knock on wood), so I have no experience to draw from. However, my understanding is that having public/private health insurance is compulsory in Germany (i.e. you need to actively sign up), perhaps with the exception of WHV people who are able to get by with travel insurance. This means that if an employer offers you an official contract, the health insurance should be included and they should sort out the details for you.

            Also, technically speaking Mawista only covers “temporary stays” and is classified as “travel” not “health” insurance. It’s good enough for WHV visa purposes, but it’s not properly health insurance – that tends to cost upwards of 200 Euros a month.

            TL;DR – it’s complicated. ??‍♂️

      • Hi Alec,

        Thanks for your comment – very helpful. With regards to the 6 month employment rule, are you aware of any restrictions to how much you can earn per month? I read 400 euros somewhere…which doesn’t really seem viable if I have to pay for rent too..but I just want to check. Thanks for your help!

  13. Thanks for the advice! Just want to share that I applied for the insurance with MAWISTA and got all the documents in an email within 2 hours. That was a relief considering my visa appointment is in 2 days time.

  14. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for writing up all this info it has been super useful for my upcoming move. Quick question – when you entered Germany did you mention that you were entering to apply for the working holiday visa or did you just say tourism? I know as Australians we’re allowed to apply for the visa after entering, but just worried that mentioning anything remotely about working will cause issues at the border.

    Thanks,
    Catherine

    • Hey Catherine, thanks for your kind words. I moved to Berlin after living in Amsterdam so I was never asked this question. I wasn’t asked this question upon entry into the Netherlands either – the only time I’ve been asked this in Europe is at the various airports in London, for some reason. That being said, the Working Holiday Visa is a very common thing here and the border police would’ve heard it thousands of times. Just be honest about your intentions – it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Best of luck in Berlin!

  15. Can anyone please tell me if I can bring my non EU husband with me to germany on yOUTH MOBILITY VISA . I am Canadian and he is from non Eu country .
    I have been trying to get apointment for Auslanderhorde but it s booked up to 2023 .. so is it still posible to just show up there at 3 am and somehow get visa ?

    • Hi Amy, I’m not completely sure as I never had to go through this. However I’ve read about this being possible both on online forums and Berlin’s website looks very promising: Residence permit for spouses and children of holders of an EU Blue Card. Your Youth Mobility Visa counts as a “residence permit”, which means would likely mean that your husband would be eligible to come with you. But once again: I’ve never personally experienced this, so you would be best off asking your local German embassy directly or asking the Ausländerbehörde once you arrive here.

      As for your appointment, you can definitely get your visa by showing up at 3am. Just make sure you have all the relevant documents. I’d also suggest checking the booking page as often as you can, as cancellations are quite common and you might get lucky. Good luck!

  16. Hi Chris and the other posters who made an application in Europe but Germany: I find myself in the similar situation.

    I read this article, then I decided to apply for the visa while I am in Europe as Chris recommended. I successfully booked an appointment at the German Embassy in Vienna, but I am just wondering if I would have to flash an Austrian residence permit to get the German working holiday visa ..

    I noticed that the application form has a place where you have to fill in “Residence Permit No.” – I am not sure if it’s the one in my home country or the country where I make this application …

    I’ve called up and emailed them but no reply came, nor could I get through.

    Could anyone have any information on this? Hope all this makes sense! I know you all are busy but your prompt response much appreciated.

    PS: I’m from Japan

    • Hey Liz, my understanding is that the Japanese passport gets you 90 days of visa-free travel in the Schengen zone (which includes Austria). This means that you shouldn’t need to apply for any visas or permits to enter Austria. Simply turn up, get a stamp at the airport, and organise your German residence permit within 90 days. If they question you about “where you’re going next”, just tell them you have an appointment with the German embassy. Good luck! 🙂

  17. Hi Chris, thanks so much for the response.

    Yes I’m aware of that, the Japanese passport has 90 days visa free stay in the Schengen zone (FYI: the Japanese can stay in Austria for 6 months on a visa-on-arrival – this rule only applies to Austria not any other Schengen states, though).

    Actually I’m afraid I misunderstood your reply… So your point is that I could try applying for a German working holiday visa in Vienna, without having an Austrian residence permit? I have 6 months to try it in Austria?

    I know I should directly contact the German embassy but they still haven’t replied to my inquiries… 🙁

    • Hey Liz, that’s great that you can get 6 months on arrival! I’m afraid I don’t quite understand you as well. There is no requirement for having an Austrian residence permit to get a German one. All you need is to be legally in Vienna (which you will be, with either the 90 Schengen days or your 6 months on arrival) so that you can physically go to your appointment at the German embassy. Hope that makes sense.

      While I’ve had a lot of experience with the visa application process, I’m not a legal professional nor a visa consultant, so I can’t really give you advice tailored to your specific situation. But if I’m understanding your situation correctly, it’s actually a very simple process that you have ahead of you 🙂

  18. Hi Chris!

    Thanks so much for the warm words and tips. The German Embassy in Vienna finally confirmed that, as you said, there is no requirement for having an Austrian residence permit (and that I can leave out the residence permit section in the application form!).

    They even stated that the appointment will be conducted either in German or English so no German is required too ???? Then at the end of the email they stated “further questions will not be answered” ???? I think I bombarded them with a lot of questions already (it already took +10 emails to get what I wanted), I will just turn up with all the documents then ????

    Will keep you all updated on how it goes so future WHers can benefit from my experience. But as you said, it’s always the best to get the necessary information from the source.

    • Ah right, I didn’t realise there was a section about having a prior residency permit! I’m glad that you figured it out in the end, and also that you don’t have to fumble through with German during the interview! Well done on being persistent – I’d be happy to hear how it all goes for you. Viel Glück!

  19. Hi Chris,
    This article is amazing. In world where NO website gives you a straight answer about visas or immigration, this is so refreshing.

    I’m just wondering, I am an Australian applying for my German WH visa from Bern in Switzerland, and I’m wondering what I’ll need to provide at the meeting (I can’t get this info from them via email or phone) apart from the standard documents ie.

    my passport
    proof of funds
    35mm x 45mm passport photo
    health insurance

    As far as I can tell in your article, I don’t need to prove any kind of residence or address in Berlin when applying from outside Germany, is this correct?

    Any info here would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hey Zeina, thank you so much for your kind words! Without having done it myself, I can’t say from personal experience. But from what I’ve read and heard, yes, you don’t need registration (Anmeldung) at an address in Berlin if you apply from outside of Germany. Other than that, the documents you’ve listed (plus a form) should be all you need. One thing I’m not sure about though is the proof of funds – I think it’s higher than the amount you need if you’re applying from within the country. But I wouldn’t worry too much as the Australian passport is quite powerful (especially in Germany) so you should get through without too much trouble!

      I’d love to hear how you go with your application so I can add more personal experiences for future reference 🙂

      Good luck!

  20. Okay, great! Thanks for getting back to me so fast.
    Bern seems like a good option because they have many available appointments online, unlike most of the others that I’ve checked.

    I’ll be applying on Monday so I’ll keep you posted.

    One thing I forgot to ask – do you know how long these applications typically take from embassies outside Germany? And will they keep my passport in the meantime – and if they do, will they post it to me after?

    Thanks!

    • All great questions! I’ve never been in your situation before, so the most I can do is tell you what I’ve heard in the past.

      So:

      I would assume it takes different amounts of time depending on which city you’re applying in, but the general ballpark I’ve heard from others is less than a week. One guy I spoke to in the Ausländerbehörde queue (outside, at 3 in the morning) told me it took him 3 days in Poland. From memory, one of the official websites I’ve read had 1-2 weeks, but that’s probably them just being safe. If what you said is true about there being a lot of appointments in Bern, I would think that means your turnaround would be very quick as they’re not as busy.

      As for the passport thing: I’ve heard that people have had to post their passports to Sydney (when applying from Melbourne), but I’d say they’d simply just make an “official” copy since you’re applying in person. Seems rather unnecessary to keep your passport when you’re physically standing right in front of them.

      Again, I’ve never been in your position, so these are just educated guesses. But the government websites I’ve seen are either super vague or completely nonexistent, so maybe this helps somewhat.

      Good luck! Wouldn’t have even thought to apply in Bern, so that’s already a great tip for everybody else. Looking forward to hearing how it goes 🙂

  21. Update 19 Mar 2019

    – I GOT IT in Vienna, Austria 🙂
    – The appointment was so easy that I was positively surprised at it… The officer only checked my documents and asked a few questions (e.g. what currency is in my bank statement), She also took my fingerprints. The whole thing took only 10 mins or less. I expected some sort of job interview questions but there were no such things.

    – The reception guy was so nice!! Once he knew I’m from Japan he spoke to me in all Japanese he knows 🙂 Although he did keep my mobile for security purposes (oh my belongings also went through the security ), I didn’t feel like I was at the embassy due to his easy-going nature,,,

    – Less than 24hrs after the appointment they emailed me about the collection of my WHV!! Again I expected that it would take 1 week to get so again I was positively surprised at it. I am going to pick up the visa tomorrow!

    – Oh one last thing, the whole process was in English so no German was needed. I didn’t need to have an Austrian residence permit either. The Embassy staff told me that it was free for the Japanese applicants (i guess it usually costs you 75 EUR). Was able to save some money, too.

    I would like to thank Chris and all the other posters for the information here – it was a massive help!! My piece of advice is that, Like Chris said, you should communicate with the German Embassy you are applying for, even though this page provides a lot of things you need to know. Things may change from time to time

    • Congratulations! I’m so glad to hear that it worked out for you! And thank you for taking the time to come back and report your results 😀

  22. Hello Chris,

    I have a question about Mawista insurance. You suggested using the student package. Have you used this without being a student? I want to get the cheapest possible that I can cancel but I would hate to be in the visa appointment and then have them ask me questions about why I put I was a student. Ps. Im a 25 year old Australian who has just moved to Berlin to get the working visa!

    Thanks for any help you can give and this article has been a life saver!

    • Hi India, I had similar concerns when this was recommended to me as well. My guess is that it’s because the Student package covers people who fall under the category of “Work & Travel” – which is, in effect, the Working Holiday Visa. My experience was that they took one look at it, made a copy, and didn’t ask any further questions at all. I know quite a few people who have used the same insurance without any issues as well. If you’re really playing it safe, you could get a more expensive insurance package. They all have a 1 month termination policy (“Notice of termination: at the end of each month via e-mail or letter”), so it doesn’t really make a big difference either way.

  23. Hi Chris, a bit off topic but do you happen to offer services that help working holiday makers get a job in Berlin? If not, could you kindly recommend any company with that kind of service? I was considering using Nomaden Berlin but after consideration I just realised that this company is not the best choice for me to go for help,

    • Hey Liz, it’s an interesting idea that I haven’t thought of! I’m tentatively planning on putting together a service in the next few months to help new Berliners though – I’ll add this to the list. In the meantime, I can send you an email to connect and we can talk a little more there about what you’re looking for? I’ve been in Berlin for a little while and I might have some leads for you. Let me know 🙂

  24. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the very useful info. I am a Canadian, about to apply for the Youth Mobility Visa in Berlin (my appointment is in 3 weeks). I have most of my documents ready but I have a few questions. First, in terms of proof of funds, I’ve read elsewhere that the printout of your online banking balance may not be sufficient but I opted out of banking statements (to save the trees) a while ago and that’s the only option I have right now (especially given that I can’t personally go to my bank as I’m here in Germany already). The printout from my online account does have my name on it. Any ideas if that would suffice? Also, the Ausländerbehörde website mentions “an interview” but from what others wrote here it seems they mostly just check that all your documents are in order. So the question is was there actually “an interview” and if so, what type of questions did they ask?
    For those that are interested, I got my appointment today (and this was the first day I started checking) by checking the availability starting at 7am. The appointment appeared around 9:05am. It was only for one date in May but many time slots were available.

    • Hi Olga, I’m in total agreement with you about saving the trees! Unfortunately the German government doesn’t share the same sentiment, as they want everything printed and/or in writing. For proof of funds, a statement is definitely ideal – is there no way to get a digital version and print it out from your online banking? If not, a printout of your online account should be fine. I’d also edit it slightly if possible to make it look a little more official. And don’t forget to write a currency conversion to Euros on each statement!

      As for the “interview”, you’re right – it’s basically a quick look through all of your documents. There really isn’t any reason for them to ask any questions (or interview you at all) unless you’re missing a key document, or something is wrong with your paperwork. Seems like you’re well on your way to getting sorted – good luck!

  25. Thanks so much to Liz above. I tried to book a Youth Mobility Agreement visa appointment at the Embassy in Warsaw, but it’s for Polish residents only (I’m Canadian). I can, however, book the YMA appointment in Vienna. Gott sei Dank!

    • Hey Bronwyn, glad to hear you got yourself sorted! Do you have any more information about the “Polish residents only” point that you mentioned? Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but that doesn’t make any sense – Poland is in the EU, so Polish residents would never be in a position to need a Youth Mobility Agreement visa. Unless you mean temporary foreign residents in Poland? Bit confused 🙂

  26. Great article – I used your post & the comments when I was applying. However, just a few things to note in relation to Liz’s comments and applying abroad. I also applied abroad & a 6-month working restriction was put on my visa. After arriving in Berlin I realised I should have applied in Berlin (as everyone I spoke to who applied in Berlin didn’t have a working restriction on their visa) but I was worried about anmeldung so applied abroad. You need anmeldung anyway in order to get tax-ID & other admin tasks anyway. The 6-month working restriction has been a hindrance on my job hunt. Something I wish I had known about previously. Apparently, it’s quite a new thing for Australian & New Zealanders to have the 6-month restrictions on their visa when applying abroad.

    • Hey Simon, thanks for the feedback. I’m working on some updates across the board and will include your experience as well. Cheers!

  27. Hey – this is a great article, thanks so much! Just to confirm: if we apply for the Working Holiday Visa at the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin, is it processed straight away in the same appointment? The only appointment available for us is a few days before we head to the UK for a month, so we won’t be able to leave our passports there. We are NZ citizens, so if we are unable to get the WHV then, we will just apply from the embassy in London (thanks to the information in this article). Thanks!

    • Hey Jack, if your documents are all in order, typically it gets processed in half an hour or so. Mine took about 20 minutes, others have told me their took a bit longer. There shouldn’t be any need to leave your passports there. Best of luck! And bring a book, it can get a bit boring 🙂

  28. Hi Chris. I just wanted to give a quick update on our experience getting the WHV. We had our appointment in Berlin at the Ausländerbehörde on Keplerstraße this morning. We followed the tips in your article and the application was accepted.

    However, at the end of the appointment we weren’t issued our Working Holiday Visa card (the officer referred to it as a 1-year residents card, but confirmed it was the WHV when we asked. It also seems like it’s a card, rather than a Visa stamp on your passport). Instead, we were given an official letter telling us we could pick up our residents card at an appointment in about a month, and were allowed to stay in Germany until then. The impression we’ve had from our research is that the Visa is issued the same day, or is it standard that you get the letter first, then the physical card later? We haven’t read anything about the month delay.

    We are doing some travel to the UK, then back into the Schengen area before our appointment to get the card. We will be entering the Schengen area (Belgium) again on day 83 of our 90 days, travelling from Rome to Berlin on day 91, then picking up our card about a week later. We feel safe about being in Berlin after the 90 days is up, but are now wondering if we should rebook our Rome to Berlin flight to make sure we arrive back in Germany before our 90 days are up. We asked the officer about the letter, and they didn’t seem confident that it would be accepted as a Visa in other countries immigrations.

    Any thoughts or advice you have would be really appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Jack, congratulations on getting through! And thanks for coming back to give an update your experience. To be honest, I’m just as confused as you are – I’ve never heard of any similar experiences at the Ausländerbehörde like yours before. But I’ll try to help.

      Perhaps an area of confusion from the officer’s perspective is that expats from Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand always refer to this visa as the “Working Holiday Visa”, but more accurately, it – and all other “visas” – are technically a “residence permit” (Aufenthaltstitels). Even more confusing, Canadians go through the same process to get the same residence permit but theirs is labelled “Youth Mobility Agreement”. As for getting a physical card, I’ve never heard of anyone getting one for temporary residence before. The document that you get in your passport is sort of like a couple of thin cards – it takes up two full pages. Perhaps the officer was trying to communicate this by combining both and calling it a “residents card”?

      As for the turnaround times, you’re right. Everybody I know – including myself, obviously – had the visa within a couple of hours. The Freelance Visa can sometimes take days, weeks or even months as they need to pass on the documents to see if there’s an “economic need” in Berlin for your skills, but the Working Holiday Visa requires no such thing as it’s based on an agreement between Germany and your home country. So that’s also quite unusual.

      And finally: the Schengen question. Based on what you’ve told me, I have a suspicion that you’re misunderstanding the specifics of how the 90-day Schengen visa exemption works. Your visa exemption means you can stay in the Schengen area for a total of 90 out of 180 days – in other words, if you leave Schengen for the UK (which is not part of Schengen) and come back, those days that you’re away do not count towards those 90 days. Based on this, my guess is that you will be back within your exemption period and should be completely fine.

      Even with just a couple of days left, it is well within your rights to re-enter Schengen. Once you’re in, the I’d say that it’s unlikely that you’ll be checked at all, as the whole point of Schengen is free travel across borders. But if my suspicion about your understanding of the Schengen rules is correct, it sounds like you’ll be back in Germany within your 90 days anyway.

      As it often is with these sorts of things, the conclusion is: I’m not sure, and it’s hard to say. I’m very curious to know what happens though! I’d appreciate it if you came back with an update on things – especially if you get a shiny residency card, I’d like to see a photo!

      Best of luck and enjoy your travels 🙂

      • Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your quick and thorough reply!

        Thanks for the clarification on the Working Holiday Visa / Resident Permit semantics. They confirmed the same thing.

        We’ve done some research and posted on Berlin Facebook groups today. Everyone that replied who applied for the WHV in recent months has had the same experience as us. It seems that the Ausländerbehörde no longer issues Working Holiday Visas on the same day (as a passport sticker/stamp that takes up two pages, as you mentioned in your comment). Instead, you are issued a 1-year Alfenhaltserlaubtniss Karte (or Electronic Residence Title / Residents Card. See https://www.berlin.de/labo/willkommen-in-berlin/aufenthalt/elektronischer-aufenthaltstitel/artikel.597898.en.php). The card takes a month to be printed, so in the interim you are given an official letter that gives you an appointment time to pick up your card, and tells you that you are allowed to stay in Germany until that date. We were told we can only pick them up on Wednesdays. This must be a recent change, as the official German website still indicates that you get the Visa on the same day. The link above says the Electronic Residence Title has been around since 2011, so it’s possible it is only just getting rolled out in Berlin now. It is also possible that this change only affects Australians and New Zealanders, as this is the Facebook group we asked.

        Worse yet, some people replied and said they were told at the meeting that they were not allowed to leave Germany until they received their Resident’s Card (!). The officer we had however told us we are fine to leave, which is a relief as we have over a month of travel booked. It’s a bit of a worry, however we used Google Translate on the letter we were given, and it said that we could stay in Germany until our meeting to pickup the card, and that “Travel abroad, however, is only possible within the validity of the last issued residence permit”. We are taking this to mean that we can travel on the conditions of our previous permit, which is our 90-day Visa on Arrival for the Schengen area.

        Apologies, I might not have been clear with the Schengen question. We have been in Berlin since mid-June, which will be 82 days when we leave for the UK in a week. We are then flying from the UK back to Europe (Schengen area) in a month and a half, which will start our 90-day Schengen Visa again on day 83. We will then be in the Schengen area for 8 days before flying to Berlin. This means we will be on 91 days when we arrive back in Germany. Once we are back in Germany we will be fine, however we are slightly worried about being caught out on 91 days just before arriving back. We’ve been told that Visa’s are never checked for this type of travel. However, just in case – we will print off the Bilateral Visa Waiver documents that say New Zealander’s can technically stay in each Schengen country for 90 days. I’m sure we will be fine.

        I’ll post another update when we have the Working Holiday Visa! But it does seem like a lot has changed in the last few months.

        • That’s classic German bureaucracy for you! No one really seems to know what’s going on and things are constantly changing. And of course, visas are particularly frustrating and scary – it’s the reason why I wrote this article in the first place. I’m sorry to hear you’ve gotten mixed up in the latest mess at the Ausländerbehörde.

          I think you have the right idea, although the line “Travel abroad, however, is only possible within the validity of the last issued residence permit” actually refers to another residence permit you might have had – for example, if your Working Holiday Visa just expired and you’re moving onto a Freelance Visa. The 90-day visa exemption is just that – an exemption. I was also told by the Ausländerbehörde to exit Schengen and come back on the 90-day visa exemption when I was having troubles with my transition. But in your interpretation, it’s the same thing. Just being picky on my end, nothing to worry about 🙂

          As for the Schengen issue, I also think you’ll be fine. I’ve flown dozens of times within the Schengen zone and my passport was only ever used as identification. No one ever looked at my residency papers. I’ve heard of these bilateral waivers, but don’t really know how they work – but it’s a great idea to have them as backup. Hopefully you won’t need them and it’ll be a smooth journey.

          Thanks again for giving me an update! This is all definitely new and I appreciate getting new information from the ground – I’ll be keeping my ear out to hear how the last part of your visa application process goes.

          Here’s a tip in return: if you ever end up heading through Bruges in Belgium, be sure to drop by Waffle Van and Olivier’s Chocolate Shop. My local friend took me there – I’ve been around Belgium a few times and they were the best waffles and chocolates I’ve found. Not to mention the city itself is beautiful. Have a great trip!

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