If you apply for a German visa or residence permit, you need health insurance. This guide shows you how to choose valid health insurance for your German residence permit or visa application.

For a Schengen visa

When you apply for a tourist visa (Schengen visa), you just need travel insurance1. Your travel insurance must cover you for at least 30,000€1, 2, and it must be valid for the time of your stay. It must be valid in all Schengen countries, not just Germany1, 2.

For a job seeker visa

If you never lived in Germany before, you can get travel insurance or expat insurance. If you find a job and move to Germany, you must switch to public or private health insurance.

If you lived in Germany before, travel insurance is not accepted1. You must get public, private or expat health insurance. If you return to Germany, you will get the same type of insurance as before.

For a work visa or Blue Card

If you have job offer, you can apply for public health insurance before you come to Germany. If your salary is over 64350€ per year, you can also choose private health insurance.

Expat health insurance also works, but you must switch to public or private health insurance when you start working in Germany1. You can use expat health insurance as a temporary health insurance before you start working.

Travel insurance is not accepted for a work visa or Blue Card application.

How to apply for a work visa or Blue Card ➞

For a freelance visa

If this is the first time you apply for a residence permit, you need public, private or expat health insurance. Public health insurance often rejects freelancers from outside the EU, so it's not always an option. Expat health insurance works, but you should switch to something else as soon as you can.

If you had a residence permit before, you must get public or private health insurance. Expat health insurance is rarely accepted if you already had a German residence permit1.

Travel insurance is not accepted for a freelance visa application.

How to apply for a freelance visa ➞

For a Working Holiday Visa

If you apply for a Working Holiday Visa or Youth Mobility Visa, you can get expat health insurance1.

For any other residence permit

If this is the first time you apply for a residence permit, you need public, private or expat health insurance. Expat health insurance works, but you should switch to something else as soon as you can.

If you had a residence permit before, you must get public or private health insurance. Expat health insurance is rarely accepted if you already had a German residence permit1.

Travel insurance is not accepted when you apply for a residence permit.

How to choose health insurance

How to choose German health insurance ➞

If you are not sure, ask a health insurance broker. They will help you choose the right insurance for your visa application. Their help is free.

If you already know what you need, use Tarifcheck to compare health insurance prices.

If you just want health insurance for your visa application, try Feather or Ottonova. Many people confirmed that it worked for them. I got my private health insurance from Feather, and often work them. You can trust them.

Expat health insurance for German visas

If you apply for a work visa, a Blue Card, a student visa, a freelance visa, a job seeker visa or any other residence permit, pick one of these options:

  • Feather is accepted for all visa applications1. They offer public, private and expat health insurance. They get you the documents you need in 24 hours, and let you cancel the insurance if something goes wrong. I often work with Feather, and I trust them the most. I am insured with them.
  • Ottonova is a health insurance startup from Munich. They offer private and expat health insurance. They speak English. Many people have confirmed that they got their visa with their expat insurance1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I reviewed their service here.
  • Care Concept, is also accepted1, 2, 3, 4. A relocation consultant and many freelancers confirmed this.
  • aLC1, 2, 3, April International1 and Allianz Worldwide Care are usually accepted1.
  • Mawista Expatcare is sometimes accepted, sometimes refused. It's not the most reliable option.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Cigna Global should work1. There is not a lot of information about it.

How long can you stay on expat health insurance?

Expat health insurance sometimes stops working after 5 years. You must get public or private health insurance before it expires. If it doesn't expire, it gets more and more expensive1, much faster than public or private health insurance.

If you have expat health insurance, switch to public or private health insurance as soon as you can. You should switch at least 6 months before your expat insurance expires. It's better if you switch sooner.

If you are a freelancer, health insurers can refuse to cover you. If you get really sick while you are on expat insurance, no one will want to cover you. Any health problem that requires long term treatment can disqualify you. Even getting psychotherapy will disqualify you. Your expat insurance will expire, and you won't have any health insurance1, 2. Without health insurance, you can't renew your visa. You will have to leave Germany when your visa expires. Even if you find an insurer who wants to cover you, it could be very expensive.

If you are a student, public health insurance is very cheap. It's a little more expensive than expat insurance, but it's much better. Switch to public health insurance maximum 3 months after you start university. If you wait too long, you will be stuck with expat insurance.

Need help?

First, read my guide on German health insurance. If you need help to choose health insurance, ask a health insurance broker. Their help is free.