In general, every foreigner who is not a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, the USA, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea or New Zealand requires a residence permit to stay on German territory, and thus almost always requires a visa to enter German territory if he/she intends to remain longer than three months or take up employment. These visas are subject to approval, i.e. the department of foreigners of the future residence area checks before entry whether the requirements for a corresponding period of residence in Germany are fulfilled. The result is passed on to the German diplomatic representation, which then decides whether the visa is to be granted. The German diplomatic representation (embassy or consulate) in the respective country are responsible for granting the visa. After entering Germany, foreigners must fulfil their obligation to register, i.e. they must register themselves in the Central Passport and Registration Office, Theaterstraße 11, 01067 Dresden. The person entering Germany must apply for a residence permit from the Department of Foreigners of Dresden (see also General informations about right of residence for foreigners) by the expiry date of the entry visa at the latest.
Citizens of the following states are exempt from the obligation to apply for a tourist visa for stays of up to three months: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, Cyprus. Visitors from all other states require visas, even for visits for touristic reasons.
The German diplomatic representations are responsible for granting tourist visas. In general, an invitation (see also Inviting foreigners) and a formal obligation to cover any costs which may arise are required by a person resident in Germany. It is also recommended that a sufficient health insurance policy is taken out. Under certain circumstances, a tourist visa can be renewed in Germany. The decisive factor is whether it is a Schengen visa or a national German visa. Schengen visas can only be renewed in very special exceptional situations.