The Federal Republic of Germany is the world's largest venue for trade exhibitions. Two-thirds of the world's leading trade events are held here. The country hosts more than 100,000 foreigners per year who enter the country solely to visit for trade shows and exhibitions, while another 20,000+ come to the country as exhibitors and trade show participants.
Although a significant number of these people do not need permission to attend a trade show or exhibition, citizens from more than two-thirds of the world's countries require a visa to attend a trade show or exhibition in Germany.
Who needs a visa to participate in trade fairs and exhibitions in Germany?
Germany, as a member state of the Schengen area, allows nationals of 62 countries participating in the visa waiver program to enter its country without first applying for a visa.
Under Germany's short-stay regulations, residents of 62 countries are allowed to enter Germany without a visa and stay there for a period of 90 days within a 6-month period. During this time, visitors are not allowed to work, but they can do business.
The following countries are part of the Schengen Agreement and are exempt from the visa requirement:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
For many, the process is stressful and often frustrating, as many people do not understand what exactly the embassy wants in order to grant them a visa. This article clearly explains all the requirements, criteria and other parts of the application process and provides important details you should know for a successful visa application.
Requirements for a visa to Germany
As with any other type of visa, German immigration authorities require applicants to submit some documents to the German embassy or consulate in their home country to prove their identity and other information regarding their background as well as the purpose of their intended trip to Germany.
Basically, the requirements for a visa to attend a trade show or exhibition are the same at any German embassy worldwide. However, depending on your nationality, there may be fewer or additional requirements. For this reason, you should contact the German Embassy in your country for an updated checklist of required documents before gathering them.
Documents for the visa application for Germany
The first documents that the applicant must always present are those that prove his identity and other basic information about the applicant. These are the documents that are generally required for all types of visas:
- Application form - completed in full, printed twice and signed in both copies at the end. Note that the information in the application form must match the information in the other documents.
- Two identical pictures - taken within the last three months in accordance with the strict picture requirements in this article.
- Statement of accuracy of information
- Valid national passport - Note that your passport must not be older than 10 years and must be valid for at least three months after your intended stay in Germany and the entire Schengen area and in compliance with the other passport requirements.
- A copy of the data page of your passport (A4 copy).
- Old passport - If you have an older passport at home with visa stamps and stickers on its pages, you should also submit them to the Embassy. If you have more than one old passport at home, submit them all, but do not staple the passport. Instead, simply tie them together with a rubber band.
- Incoming travel medical insurance - a document confirming that you have travel medical insurance that covers not only the territory of Germany, but the entire Schengen area and provides coverage for emergency treatment or hospitalization of at least 30,000 euros.
- Proof of financial means:
- If employed: Salary slips for the last three months / employment contract.
- If self-employed: certificate of ownership or other proof of ownership (proof of ownership, proof of income from farming (sales form), etc.)
- Personal bank statement for the last three months with sufficient funds
- Income tax return (ITR) or Form 16 (income tax return deducted at source of wages).
- Means of subsistence - Proof that the applicant has the means to cover expenses throughout their stay in Germany.
- Proof of Accommodation - This can be either a hotel reservation or an invitation letter from a friend or family member confirming that you will be staying with them throughout your stay in Germany and that the host has enough space for you.
- Flight Plan - includes flight reservations, train tickets, or other means of transportation you plan to use to travel to Germany. You can use visa advisory services like this one or find one online.
- Specific visa requirements for participation in trade fairs and exhibitions.
- On the other hand, the applicant must also submit some other documents that show the reason for their trip to Germany:
Documents proving the purpose of the applicant's planned trip:
- An invoice of the paid receipt for participation in the fair - for a fair exhibitor.
- The official invitation as a visitor or a paid ticket as a visitor to the fair
- Marketing material of the fair to be visited - with information about the concerned part of the applicant in such event
- Documents proving the relationship between the company profile and the theme of the fair / exhibition (i.e. products / services of the company related to this theme)
- Cover letter from the host stating the reason for the trip and the detailed itinerary of the trip
- A document stating whether the company is authorized to do business (trade license).
- If the applicant is an employee, they must submit the following requirements:
- Bank statements for the last 6 months
- The employment contract (with detailed information about duration, job, salary level)
- Income tax return from the salary
- An approved leave of absence from the employer, which must be signed, stamped, and include the leave of absence dates
- A letter of commitment from the employer to cover the applicant's expenses
- If the applicant is a business owner/employer, he/she must submit the following documents:
- Bank statements from the company for the last 3 months showing the applicant's right and limits to withdraw money from that account
- Certificate of ownership - showing that the candidate is an owner
- Certificate of ownership of real estate in his home country
- Profit tax return of the company
Visa application procedure
You should apply for a visa to attend trade fairs and exhibitions in Germany at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. In some countries there are visa application centers that accept visa applications.
It is strongly recommended to apply for a visa at least 3 weeks prior to travel to avoid processing delays.
The application process is very similar to all other German visas. There are some specific steps you should follow to apply for a visa to Germany, as listed and clearly explained in this article. Do not make an appointment if you have not collected all the required documents.
German embassies usually process visa applications within 10 to 15 days. However, there may be exceptions when it takes more time to process an application, depending on the specific situation of the applicant.
On the other hand, there may be delays in processing your application if the embassy receives many applications at the same time. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you apply as early as possible.
As of February 2020, the visa fee for Germany is 80 euros. Each applicant must pay the visa fee in order for their application to be processed. The fee can be paid in local currency at the exchange rates approved by the embassy. Reduced visa fees apply to some categories of visa applicants, while other categories are exempt from paying the visa fee.
Please note that visa fees are not refundable if the visa is refused or the application is withdrawn and the price may change at any time.
When applying for your visa, be sure to check the visa validity on the sticker affixed to your passport. The validity of your visa depends on the embassy that issued it. However, your visa can be submitted only once, i.e. you may enter Germany only once and stay there for the number of days specified in your visa, i.e. 7 days.
On the other hand, you can also obtain a multiple entry visa, which means that you can enter Germany more than once without exceeding the number of days indicated in your visa sticker, i.e. 16 days. It also indicates the period from which you can spend these days in Germany, i.e. From May 15 to July 31.
If you are lucky enough to get a multiple entry visa valid for more than six months, you should know that the rule for 90 days per 6 months also applies to you. You should be very careful. Always check that you have not stayed in Germany or the Schengen area for more than 90 days in the last 180 days.
Learn More About German Visa Pathways
Connect with Stephan to discuss more about Trade Fair and Exhibition visas or acquiring other visa types to Germany.