The EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte) is a residence permit for skilled workers.
With a Blue Card, you can…
- Live and work anywhere in Germany
- Bring your family to Germany14
- Visit other Schengen countries without a visa13
- Become a permanent resident after 33 months (21 months if you speak B1 German)10
This guide explains how to apply for a Blue Card in Berlin or in your country.
Who needs a Blue Card?
Blue Card requirements
To get a Blue Card, you need…18
- A job offer in Germany
You must find a job before you apply for the Blue Card.15 The job must have…
- A German employer
You must work for a German employer, or an employer with an office in Germany.30 It can be a remote job. You must be an employee, not a freelancer.
- A high salary
Your salary must be over 43,800€ per year (before taxes, without bonuses).3 If your job is in the list of shortage occupations, your salary must be over 39,682.80€ per year.21 If you graduated less than 3 years ago, your salary must be over 39,682.80€ per year.32
- A long term contract
Your job contract must be for at least 6 months.24
- A German employer
- Qualifications for this job
You must know how to do your job. For example, to get a programming job, you must know how to program.
- Permission to do this job
You must have all the permits and special qualifications needed for the job.12 For example, doctors, engineers and lawyers need special qualifications. – Find the requirements for your job
- A university degree
Your university degree must be recognised in Germany. Use Anabin to see if your school and degree are recognised. – How to use Anabin
You do not need a university degree if…31
- You are an IT specialist
- and you have at least 3 years of experience
- and your salary is over 39,682.80€ per year
You do not need to speak German to get a Blue Card.27
Blue Card alternatives
If you can’t get a Blue Card, there are other residence permits that let you work in Germany:
- ⭐️ Work visa
No salary requirement. No university degree required. In some cases, you might need professional training. – How to apply
- Working Holiday Visa and Youth Mobility Visa
For young people from certain countries. Work in Germany for 1 year. No salary requirement. No education needed.
- Job seeker visa
For looking for work in Germany. It gives you 6 months to find a job. When you find a job, you can apply for a work visa or a Blue Card.
- Internship visa
For university students. Do an internship in Germany for up to 6 months.
- Au pair visa
Work as an au pair. Minimum income: 280€ per month. No education needed.
- Family reunion visa
For spouses and children of German residents. You can work, study or freelance in Germany.16 No income needed. No education needed.
How to apply in Berlin
You can apply for a Blue Card after you move to Germany:
- Come to Germany
- Apply for a Blue Card at your local Ausländerbehörde. You must apply at the Ausländerbehörde where you live. You can’t apply in another city.
You can apply in Germany if…
- You are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom or the United States9
- or you already have a German residence permit, and you want to change it or renew it
- or you already have a Blue Card from another EU country
- or you have a job seeker visa
- or you have a National Visa. You just need to convert it to a Blue Card.
If you can’t apply in Germany, you must apply in your country.
Usually, you can’t work before you get your Blue Card.35 It can take time. You might wait a few months with no income. It’s cheaper and safer if you apply in your country, then come to Germany when you are allowed to work.
1. Come to Germany
- If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom or the United States
You can come to Germany without a visa. You can stay 90 days in Germany without a residence permit. You can look for a job, and apply for the Blue Card in Germany.9 You can’t work before you get your Blue Card.
- If you have a German residence permit
Your current residence permit stays valid until you get your Blue Card. If your residence permit expires while you wait, you don’t need to leave Germany.
- If you have a Blue Card from another EU country
You can come to Germany without a visa.38 If you have your Blue Card since at least 12 months, you can already start working in Germany.33 When you arrive in Germany, you have 1 month to convert your Blue Card to a German one at the Ausländerbehörde.41
- If you have a job seeker visa
You can come to Germany and look for a job. When you find a job, you can apply for the Blue Card. While you wait for your Blue Card, you can work 10 hours per week for your new employer.11
- If you have a tourist visa
You can’t apply for a Blue Card with a tourist visa. Your application will be rejected. You must apply in your country.25
2. Find a job
3. Prepare your Blue Card application
Before you apply for the Blue Card, you must…
- Find a place to live
It’s really hard to find an apartment. Start looking as soon as you can.
- Get health insurance
You need valid health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Ask a health insurance broker to help you choose the correct health insurance. Their help is free. – How to choose health insurance
- Prepare the required documents
If you bring your family to Germany, you can apply for their family reunion visa at the same time. You must prepare these documents too.
While you wait for your Ausländerbehörde appointment, you should also…
- Register your address (Anmeldung)
When you register your address, you get a tax ID and a registration certificate. Your employer needs your tax ID when you start working. You might need a registration certificate to open a bank account, get a SIM card, find a Kita for your children, and use government services. – How to register your address
- Open a bank account
You need it to pay your rent, pay your Blue Card application fee, and get paid by your employer. You can choose a bank from any EU country. – How to choose a bank
4. Apply for the Blue Card online
Apply for the Blue Card – berlin.de
After you pay and send your application, you can download a PDF. This is a proof of application. Save it for later.
The Ausländerbehörde will process your application. It takes a few weeks to get invited for an appointment. After your Ausländerbehörde appointment, it takes 6 to 10 weeks to get your Blue Card. If you wait more than 3 months after you apply, you can sue the Ausländerbehörde for inaction.20
If you already have a residence permit, it stays valid while you wait. You can keep your old job. You don’t have to leave Germany. You must wait for your work visa to start working at your new job.
6. Go to your Blue Card appointment
Later, the Ausländerbehörde will email you. They will invite you for an appointment.
When you go to your appointment, bring…7
- Your appointment confirmation
You can’t enter the Ausländerbehörde without it. They check at the door.
- Proof of your online application
You get this document by email after you apply online.
- 1 biometric photo (35 × 45 mm)
You do not need to cut the photos yourself; they have a tool for this. The photo should be less than 6 months old.36 – Where to get passport photos
- A translator (optional)
Many Ausländerbehörde employees only speak German. If you don’t speak German, bring an interpreter or a German-speaking friend. It’s not required, but it helps. If you need an interpreter, I recommend Red Tape Translation.
The appointment takes around 15 minutes. During the appointment, they take your fingerprints for your Blue Card.
7. Get your Blue Card
6 to 10 weeks after your Ausländerbehörde appointment,22 you get 2 letters:
- The eID activation code
This letter arrives first. Save it for later. You need it to activate the eID function of your Blue Card.
- Your Blue Card
Around 2 weeks later, you receive your Blue Card, or an invitation to collect your Blue Card at the Ausländerbehörde.28
Your Blue Card is a plastic card. The expiration date is written on it. It’s usually valid for 4 years.17 If you have a limited work contract, your Blue Card is valid for a shorter time. For example, if you have a 2 year work contract, your Blue Card is valid for 2 years + 3 months.3
You also get a Zusatzblatt that describes the conditions of your work visa. For example, it can say that you can freelance, or that you can only work for your current employer.
Check if the information on your Blue Card is correct. The Ausländerbehörde sometimes makes mistakes.
8. Start working in Germany
How to apply in your country
To apply in your country:
- Get an appointment at the German embassy or consulate in your country.
- Go to your appointment and give your documents. The required documents are different in each country. The list is on the embassy or consulate’s website.
- Receive a National Visa. It lets you to move to Germany and start working.
- After you arrive in Germany, convert your National Visa into a Blue Card.
1. Find a job
2. Get an appointment at the German embassy or consulate
Get an appointment at the German embassy or consulate in your country. It can take months to get an appointment.
3. Prepare for your interview
Before your embassy or consulate appointment, you must…
- Find a place to live in Germany
Some embassies and consulates ask for it.44 It’s really hard to find an apartment before you arrive in Germany. Find a temporary place like a hotel room or a furnished apartment to get your National Visa.43 After you arrive in Germany, find an apartment where you can register your address. – How to find an apartment
- Get health insurance
You need valid health insurance. Ask a health insurance broker to help you choose health insurance. Their help is free. – How to choose health insurance
- Prepare the required documents
The required documents are very different at each embassy and consulate. Find your German embassy or consulate, and use their list of required documents.
4. Go to your National Visa appointment
Go to your appointment at the German embassy or consulate, and give your documents. If you have all the required documents, it only takes a few minutes.
5. Receive your National Visa
6. Come to Germany, start working
7. Convert your National Visa into a Blue Card
In Berlin, you must convert your National Visa 8 weeks before it expires, not sooner.39
To convert your National Visa into a Blue Card:
- Book an Ausländerbehörde appointment
Look for an Ausländerbehörde appointment 3 to 4 months before your National Visa expires. It’s really hard to find an appointment.
- Go to your appointment
During the appointment, they take your fingerprints for your Blue Card. It takes around 15 minutes.
- Wait for your Blue Card
6 to 10 weeks, you get a letter. It’s your Blue Card, or an invitation to collect your Blue Card at the Ausländerbehörde.
- Activate your eID (optional)
Your Blue Card is a plastic card. It’s valid for up to 4 years. You can renew it before it expires.
- 1 biometric photo (35 × 45 mm)
The photo should be less than 6 months old.36 You do not need to cut the photos yourself; they have a tool for this. – Where to get passport photos
- Job contract or job offer
Bring the original, not a copy.
- Job description form (Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis)
Your employer should fill this form and sign it. Download the form here or on Berlin.de.
- Proof of health insurance
You need valid health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Ask a health insurance broker to help you choose health insurance.
- Health insurance card
- or proof of public health insurance
Get a Mitgliedsbescheinigung nach 175 SGB V from your health insurer or your health insurance broker.
- or proof of private health insurance
Bring your insurance contract, bank statements that show health insurance payments, and a Bescheinigung über Umfang und Kosten der Versicherung (§ 257 Abs. 2 a SGB V). You can get it from your health insurer or your health insurance broker.6
- Proof of housing
You need a place to live where you can register your address.
It must show the size of your apartment. Your apartment must be big enough. You must make enough money to pay your rent.
- and tenancy confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)
Some temporary apartments and sublets don’t give you this document. You might not get a Blue Card without it.1
- and registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung)
If you already registered your address, bring this document. If you don’t have it yet, it’s okay.5
- University degree
If you are an IT specialist with at least 3 years of experience, you don’t need a degree.31
- Statement of comparability (Zeugnisbewertung)
If your university degree is not recognised in Germany, you must get a statement of comparability (Zeugnisbewertung) from the ZAB. If you are an IT specialist with at least 3 years of experience, you don’t need this. – More information
- Occupation practice permit (Berufsausübungserlaubnis)
If you need specific qualifications to do your job, bring all the required diplomas and permits. For example, doctors, engineers and tax advisors need specific qualifications. Use the recognition finder to know if you need specific qualifications.
- Certified translations
If your documents are not in German, bring certified translations of them. They sometimes accept untranslated documents, but don’t take the risk.
Use PDF files or photos. Word documents and other formats are unreliable.37
After you get your Blue Card
Bring your family to Germany
The family reunion visa lets you bring your family to Germany. If they have a family reunion visa, your family members can work, freelance or start a business in Germany.
Activate your eID
You can use your Blue Card to log into online government services. For example, you can use it to apply for unemployment benefits. You must activate this feature at the Ausländerbehörde. Activate your eID before you need it.
Renew your Blue Card
Your Blue Card is valid for up to 4 years. You must renew it around 8 weeks before it expires.
If you change jobs
When you change jobs, tell the Ausländerbehörde. You might need their permission to work for a different employer.
If you lose your job
While you are unemployed, you can get unemployment benefits.
If you travel with a Blue Card
Your Blue Card lets you visit other Schengen area countries without a visa.
Self-employment with a Blue Card
If you have this line on your Blue Card, you can freelance or start a business. You must keep your main job, but you can freelance part-time. To become a full-time freelancer, apply for a freelance visa.
Make a tax declaration
Where to get help
Sources and footnotes
Multiple relocation consultants (October 2023) ⤴
It depends on your case worker (October 2023) ⤴
It depends on the case worker. Multiple relocation consultants (November 2023) ⤴
Multiple relocation consultants (November 2023) ⤴