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Apply for a residence permit to participate in the Federal Voluntary Service

The Federal Voluntary Service is carried out as a predominantly practical auxiliary activity in institutions oriented towards the common good, especially in social, cultural or ecological institutions in Germany. These are, for example, kindergartens, schools, care facilities, rescue services, forestry offices, theatres, museums, sports clubs and much more.

The Federal Voluntary Service lasts a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months. As a rule, it is paid for twelve consecutive months. Exceptionally, it may be extended up to a period of 24 months if this can be justified within the framework of a special pedagogical concept.

You will receive pocket money for completing your voluntary service (as of 2024: 453.00 euros per month).

Process flow

  • Before entering Germany, you usually have to apply for a national visa for Germany in your home country. In addition to EU and EEA citizens, citizens of Australia, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America do not need a visa.
  • Once you have entered the country, you will have to apply for a residence permit. The residence permit must be applied for before your visa or visa-free period of stay or your current residence permit expires.
  • Find out whether your Foreigners' Registration Office allows you to apply online or whether you have a special application form.
  • If it is only possible to apply in person, please make an appointment with the Foreigners' Registration Office in your place of residence. In the case of an online application, the Foreigners' Registration Office will contact you after receiving your application to make an appointment.
  • During the appointment, your identity and documents will be checked (please bring your original documents with you to the appointment). In addition, your fingerprints and your signature for the electronic residence permit (eAT card) will be taken.
  • You will receive a message by post that your application has been approved and that Bundesdruckerei has been commissioned to produce the eaT card, or that your application has been rejected.
  • You will receive the information by post that you can pick up the eAT card at the Foreigners' Registration Office. Since the eAT card is connected to an online ID function, you will need to pick it up in person.

Who should I contact?

The competent authority for processing the application is the Foreigners' Registration Office responsible for the applicant's place of residence.

Which one this is can be determined online here:


  • You are a citizen of a non-EU or non-EEA country.
  • You can secure your livelihood (including health insurance coverage) for the entire duration of your voluntary service without recourse to public benefits. The subsidization of the Federal Voluntary Service by the Federal Government is not an obstacle to the issuance of the residence permit.
  • Your stay in Germany is not precluded by reasons of public security and order. There is no interest in expulsion against you.
  • In the case of minors: the consent of the persons entitled to custody of the planned stay is obtained.

Which documents are required?

  • Recognised and valid identity document (e.g. passport or passport substitute)
  • In case of recent entry: visa if this was required for entry
  • In the case of a previous stay in Germany: Current residence permit
  • Recent biometric photo in passport format (45 x 35 mm)
  • Proof of intended participation in the Federal Voluntary Service (e.g. agreement with the sponsor of the Federal Voluntary Service or the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society Tasks)
  • Proof of securing your livelihood (e.g. equity, proof of income, blocked account, pension notice, proof of receipt of benefits such as parental or child benefit, maintenance payments, declaration of commitment)
  • In the case of minors: Declaration of consent of the legal guardians to participate in the Federal Voluntary Service

The documents and information must always be submitted in German. In individual cases, the Foreigners' Registration Office may require less or more proof.

What are the fees?

Fee amount (fixed):

  • 100.00 Euro for adult applicants
  • EUR 50.00 for underage applicants


Additional fees may apply for the issuance of the residence permit in the form of the electronic residence permit (eAT card), which can also be used as an electronic proof of identity.

The timing and form of fee collection and payment vary depending on the authority.

In certain cases, fee reductions or exemptions may be considered (e.g. for persons entitled to asylum or recognised refugees). Lower fees may apply for Turkish nationals.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

Application deadline: The residence permit should be applied for no later than 6 to 8 weeks before the expiry of your visa, your visa-free stay or your residence permit that is still valid – but in any case in good time before the start of your voluntary service.

Period of validity: The residence permit is issued for the duration of the Federal Voluntary Service, which can last between six and 18 months.

Processing duration

About 6 to 8 weeks

The processing time may vary depending on the workload of the Foreigners' Registration Office. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the Federal Printing Office to produce the electronic residence permit.

Applications / forms

Forms available: No
Written form required: No
Informal application possible: Yes
Personal appearance required: Yes


  • An appeal against a negative decision of the Foreigners' Registration Office can be brought before the competent administrative court.
  • A preliminary procedure (opposition) does not take place in Lower Saxony.
  • Detailed information can be found in the rejection notice.

What else should I know?

  • There is no entitlement to the issuance of a residence permit for participation in a Federal Voluntary Service. It is always a case-by-case decision.
  • The residence permit is only valid for participation in the Federal Voluntary Service. If the purpose of the stay changes, this must be reported immediately to the responsible Foreigners' Registration Office.
  • The procedure is usually conducted in German. If you do not have sufficient knowledge of German, it is advisable to speak to a person who can act as a translator.
  • All information provided to the Foreigners' Registration Office should be correct and complete to the best of our knowledge and belief, so that the request can be processed without major delays.
  • Incorrect or incomplete information can slow down the process and be detrimental to those affected. In the event of an emergency, incorrect or incomplete information that is not completed or corrected in time to the Foreigners' Registration Office may result in the revocation of residence rights already granted, a fine, imprisonment for up to three years or expulsion from the federal territory.
  • Due to the complexity of the right of residence, this description is for information purposes only and is not legally binding.

Technically approved by

Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sports

Professionally released on



The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)