Who needs a visa and why is residence permit necessary?

As a general rule all foreigners need a residence permit for staying in Germany. Before the entry they have to get a visa from the German agency abroad.

A visa is a endorsement in the passport, which authorizes an entry in Germany and a preliminary stay up to three months in Germany.

residence permit is a permit for dwelling in the area of the Federal Republic. As a rule a residence permit is given to foreign students and trainees with a special purpose, e.g. for studying or an internship. A residence permit is granted for a maximum or 2 years.

Citizens from the following countries do not need a visa:

citizens from the EU,
citizens from Island, Liechtenstein and Norway (European economic area),
citizens from Switzerland.