Your start in Göttingen

Göttingen, with a population of over 120,000, is a city where tradition and innovation complement one another perfectly. The city dates back to the Middle Ages and still boasts a unique historic centre with beautiful half-timbered buildings. While the architecture breathes history, the spirit of Göttingen is young and vibrant – thanks to its 30,000 students, more than eleven per cent of them with an international background.

Popular annual events include the Nacht der Kultur, the Jazz Festival, the International Literature Festival and the European Film Festival.

In addition to the University, Göttingen also hosts five Max Planck Institutes and a number of other important scientific institutions, such as the German Primate Center and the German Aerospace Center.

The local economy includes many innovative technology-oriented enterprises in the sectors of measurement and control engineering, biotechnology, optics, medical technology and information technology. Several companies are spin-offs from university research projects.


Your visa for study purposes allows you to enter Germany, but not to remain for an extended period. You must apply for a residence permit at the immigration office in Göttingen. You must submit this application in person within 90 days of entering the country.

The application requires, among other things, a matriculation certificate, registration at the local residents’ registration office and German health insurance, which you should obtain before submitting the application.

You can arrange an appointment directly with the immigration officer responsible for your case. The officer is assigned based on the initial letter of your surname.

They may be reached during the telephone office hours of the immigration office*

Monday and Tuesday, 14.00 to 15.30.

  • Students A - G, J Junior Office, Tel. 0551 400-3202
  • Students H, I, K, R, S Ms V. Duntemann, Tel. 0551 400-2308
  • Students L - Q Ms Mathusczyck, Tel. 0551 400-2181
  • Students T - Z Mr Ische, Tel. 0551 400-2688
  • Goethe/Erasmus Ms Noll, Tel. 0551 400-2071
  • Students VEs Ms Rozeck, Tel. 0551 400-2163
  • *Note, if you live beyond Göttingen city limits, your immigration office is in the Landkreis Göttingen (County Göttingen) Offices, which is located across the street from the Göttingen immigration office.

For the residence permit, you will need documents similar to those required for a visa. The documents listed here are those that are typically required; however, your individual situation may require different documentation:

  • completed application form
  • certificate of matriculation from the University of Göttingen
  • proof of financial means
  • health insurance certificate
  • rental agreement
  • confirmation of registration by the residents' registration office
  • valid passport
  • visa for entry for the purpose of studies
  • health certificate
  • biometric passport photo
  • handling charge
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Much like a visa, a residence permit is issued for a specific purpose. As a doctoral candidate, if you have entered Germany with a visa for the purpose of studying, you will generally receive a residence permit for the purpose of studying in accordance with §16 of the Residence Act.

The residence permit is based on the assumption that you will devote the majority of your time to studying or working on your dissertation. Gainful employment and part-time student jobs are permitted for up to 120 days/240 half days per year. Exceptions apply to work as a research assistant at a German university in parallel with your doctorate. For specific questions, consult the immigration office.

A German residence permit according to §16 allows you to travel within the Schengen area to a limited extent - for example for conference and research trips or for tourist purposes. Your stay in other states of the Schengen area is limited to 90 days per 180 days.

The residence permit is typically issued initially for a period of two years. You can then apply for an extension at the immigration office. As a rule, this is granted if you resubmit the documents from your initial application with required proof (including proof of financing) and can also prove that you have been studying continuously or have made substantial progress since the last application. When making a decision on your application, the immigration office will also obtain a statement from the University confirming your progress. As a rule, you should complete your doctorate within 5 years.

Your residence permit is linked to the purpose of your stay.

A change of purpose (for example: the acquisition of a residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment) is not possible before completion of your doctorate: If you want to terminate your doctoral studies and pursue a profession in Germany, you must leave Germany and apply for a new visa for the purpose of gainful employment from your home country. Exceptions also apply here if you wish to accept a position as a research assistant at a German university. Please consult the immigration office for details.

As soon as you have successfully completed your doctoral studies, your residence permit can be extended for up to another 18 months. You then have the opportunity to look for suitable employment and, if you are successful, you can also obtain a residence permit for the new purpose of gainful employment without having to leave the country.

Further information on the subject of residence permits can be found here:


The Graduate Schools can advise you regarding questions outside your field of study, financing options, questions concerning the mentoring relationship - and in some cases also with the application for acceptance as a doctoral candidate. They are your first point of contact in all matters relating to doctoral studies and will be happy to help you.

In all matters relating to the enrolment process, the Incoming Office is happy to help you.

Familie in der Hochschule

If you come to Göttingen with your family or children to do your doctorate, you should endeavour to make childcare arrangements as early as possible. You can obtain advice and support from the contact person for questions regarding residence at Göttingen International and from the University's Family Service.