As you might already be aware, in order to successfully apply for a visa to study in Germany, you need to provide proof to the local German Embassy/Consulate that you can financially sustain yourself while in Germany. One of the ways of proving the funds is through the Declaration of Commitment, which is commonly referred to as Verpflichtungserklärung in German. Is this THE proof of finances that you want to use for your German student visa application? In that case, this article is just FOR YOU, as here we address the core questions you might have regarding the Declaration of Commitment for study purposes in Germany.
It is our goal to inform you honestly and accurately, therefore, we need to add a DISCLAIMER:
You should use this text as a general guide, but it cannot be a legal consultation. The visa regulations are made and executed solely by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). Please be aware: Some rules and procedures can vary from embassy/consulate to embassy/consulate, even within one country. That is why we highly recommend you also consult the German representation abroad near you for information that applies to your case
Full Disclosure: We earn a small commission from Fintiba products sold via this link. However, this results in no additional cost to you!
Do I need a visa to study in Germany?
If you are not from the European Union or a small number of other countries, you will need to apply for a German student visa. In fact, except for the EU countries, there are only 18 states whose citizens do not need a student visa to come and study in Germany. These countries are: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the USA, the UK, Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino. The citizens of all of the other countries need a visa.
Group 1 (EU + 4)
No visa or residence permit needed.
Group 2 (USA, UK, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, El Salvador +8)
No visa needed, but residence permit (after arrival).
Group 3 (rest of the world)
Always need a student visa.
What is a German student visa?
A student visa for Germany is a type of visa which you can get if you have applied to a study program at a German university and received a letter of admission (also known as a letter of acceptance) from that program. The study course that entitles you to a German student visa might be offered by various types of higher education institutions in Germany, like Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and Academies of Arts, Music, and Film.
The application fee for the German student visa is 75 Euros (37.5 Euros for minors, i.e. those who are less than 18 years old). As long as the processing time is concerned, it might take around 12 weeks until your application for a German student visa is processed by the responsible authorities. The expected duration of the processing time depends on your local German Embassy/Consulate.
In order to apply for a German study visa, you will usually need the following documents:
Completed application form
Valid Passport and copy of its data page
Recent biometric photos
Acceptance letter from German university
Proof of financial resources
Proof of preliminary health insurance
Certificates of past academic achievements
How can I provide the proof of financial means for the German student visa application?
You will not get a German visa if you do not manage to provide proof that you possess adequate financial resources to sustain your livelihood in Germany. By "adequate", the German government means that you must have at least 934 Euros per month, which amounts to 11.208 Euros per year. Keep in mind that this number often changes. Hence, we suggest you to keep an eye on the webpage of the local German Embassy/Consulate and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.
In other words, by providing proof of financial means, you demonstrate that you are able to cover all your living costs while in Germany (e.g., accommodation, health insurance etc.). There are various ways through which you can do that. The most popular ones are arguably blocked account, Declaration of Commitment from the German resident, and scholarship.
Blocked account*. Known as Sperrkonto in German, the blocked account is a special kind of account that students who plan to study in Germany need to open at a German bank before arriving in the country.
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Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung, also known as a formal obligation or letter of commitment). Verpflichtungserklärung is a document with which the German resident assures that s/he will provide financial support to you during your stay in Germany.
Scholarship. If you want the scholarship to serve as proof that you can completely cover your costs while in Germany, you should have a full scholarship provided by German or EU public institutions.
So, the Declaration of Commitment might be a crucial document for your German study visa application. Below. we provide you with some details regarding this document.
The basics that you need to know about the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) for Germany
What is a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) for German Visa?
The Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) for the purpose of studies or a language course in Germany is a formal obligation by a resident of Germany to cover all the costs of the student for the duration of her/his studies. The costs to be covered include the money for food, clothing, medical treatment, accommodation etc. The Verpflichtungserklärung serves as proof that the visa applicants are able to finance their stay in Germany completely. Hence, the Declaration of Commitment is something that you, as a future student in Germany, might need for your successful visa application. Do not forget that your German student visa application will be rejected without proving that you have adequate financial resources at your disposal.
The requirements and procedures for applying for the Declaration of Commitment may differ slightly depending on the municipality. That is why you should always check the website of the local Foreigners' Office for information regarding your case.
How long is a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) valid?
The Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) can be valid for maximum 5 years. The usual case is that the document is valid for the duration of your studies (aka for 1.5-3 years). The good thing is that the Declaration of Commitment can be prolonged! For example, let's say you came to Germany to do your 2-years Master's, and the Verpflichtungserklärung was valid for exactly 2 years. However, because of some issues, you could not finalize your studies within the given timeframe, and you needed one more year. That is not a problem at all! Your sponsor can extend the Declaration of Commitment for that additional year. Keep in mind that this prolongation does not take place automatically. Instead, your sponsor must reapply for the Verpflichtungserklärung and pay the fee again.
Equally important to mention is the fact that the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) will stop working on several occasions. For example, the Declaration of Commitment is not valid anymore if:
The document has expired;
You left Germany;
You changed the purpose of your stay. For example, when you finalize your studies and convert your study visa to a job visa.
Geeky Stuff Box
If after graduating from a German university you want to convert your German student visa to a job-seeker visa, in that case, you can also use a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserkläng) as proof of finances. The same sponsor can do that for you, but s/he needs to submit the application for the document anew.
How much should I pay for a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserkläng)?
In fact, you are not the one who has to pay anything. The person who has to pay is your future sponsor. The fee for the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserkläng) is 29 Euros, which can usually be paid by cash or debit card. If your potential sponsor's application for the formal obligation letter was rejected due to her/his lack of creditworthiness, s/he still has to pay the fee. Moreover, the money will not be reimbursed if your student visa application is rejected.
Who can provide me with a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany?
To be eligible to apply for the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung), your sponsor needs to meet several requirements:
First of all, this person should be residing in Germany.
Second, s/he needs to be a citizen of Germany or the EU or to have an appropriate residence permit (e.g., valid for the duration of the student's stay).
Third, the sponsor needs to have sufficient creditworthiness. Put differently, s/he needs to have enough money to able be to cover your living costs during your stay in Germany.
Maybe you are asking yourself, "what does 'enough money' mean?" This is a fair question. It is of utmost importance to underline that the amount of money needed to serve as proof of sufficient creditworthiness of your sponsor depends on various aspects. For example, the required monthly net income to submit a Declaration of Commitment for a student visa depends on your sponsor's marital status and maintenance obligations (for instance, the sponsor has a child who has no or insufficient income and hence is supported by your sponsor). German authorities require the least amount of net income if your sponsor is single without children and has no maintenance obligations.
Moreover, the needed net income also depends on the purpose of your stay and on the city where your sponsor lives. Based on our research of the requirements in various German cities, to submit the Declaration of Commitment for the purpose of studies, your sponsor's net income should be at least circa 2.500 Euros. For instance, in Berlin, the sponsor needs to earn at least 2.450 Euros to provide a Declaration of Commitment for a person who wants to study in Germany.
It is also worth mentioning that your potential sponsor will not be able to apply for the Verpflichtungserklärung if this person:
is receiving social benefits, including unemployment benefits;
does not a have a relevant residence status (e.g., s/he has just a temporary residence permit like Fiktionsbescheinigung or Duldung);
is an asylum seeker.
How to apply for a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany?
Procedure for applying for a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany
The procedure for applying for a Declaration of Commitment for a study purpose might vary slightly from city to city. However, we can inform you about some general steps that your sponsor should undertake if s/he is going to apply for a Declaration of Commitment for your German student visa.
The first step is to book an appointment at the Foreigners' Authority. This can be done online, via phone or in person.
The second step is to visit the office and submit the required documents and data in person.
The third step is to pay the fee.
After completing these three basic steps, your sponsor will be informed whether his application was successful or not. If the answer is positive, s/he will receive a two-pager document signed by the authorities, which your sponsor will also need to sign. Hence, usually, it takes several minutes to process the application for the Declaration of Commitment for a student visa.
Other than the signatures, the Verpflichtungserklärung document also contains information regarding your and your sponsor's personal details (e.g. names, addresses etc.), your relationship to the sponsor, the date when the document enters into force, the expiry date, the purpose of stay etc.
Requirements to apply for a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany
In order for the Foreigners' Authority to consider the application for a Declaration of Commitment, your sponsor needs to provide the following data and documents:
Filled-out application form for the Declaration of Commitment.
Proof of income (original and copy). Depending on the type of income, it can be proved through various ways. For example, if the sponsor is employed, it can be an employment contract and the salary slips of at least 3 months; if s/he is self-employed or a freelancer, the sponsor can provide the most recent tax assessment and the document of the monthly income from the tax consultant.
Identity card or Passport (original and copy). If the sponsor is a foreign citizen, then it should be a passport with a residence permit.
Certificate of registration (original and copy). This is a document showing the address where your sponsor lives.
Rental agreement (original and copy). If your sponsor owns a flat/house, then the document showing the property-related costs.
Your personal details. For instance, your first name and surname, nationality, date and place of birth, and address in your home country.
Copy of your passport
Information regarding your purpose and expected length of stay. For example, your letter of acceptance from a German university.
Additional documents and data based on individual cases.
Your sponsor should attach copies to the original documents wherever applicable. If s/he does not do so, the Foreigners' Office will probably charge your sponsor an additional fee (circa 0.50 Euro) for each photocopy. Hence, s/he will end up paying a bit more than 29 Euros for submitting the application for the Declaration of Commitment.
How do I get a Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany?
Instead of sending the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) to you via email, your sponsor should send it via physical post (or hand it over to you, as long as it is possible). Why? Because the German Embassy/Consulate will not accept the photocopy of the Verpflichtungserklärung without the original document. Consequently, without the original, your application for the German student visa will be rejected. In a nutshell, you must apply for a German study visa with an original Declaration of Commitment.
Sample: Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) in Germany
Below, we present an example of the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) so that you have an idea of what the document looks like. Besides, you can download the pdf template of the Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) here.