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South Africans in Germany

One of the requirements for both short-term and long-term (National) Schengen Visas is Proof of financial status and sufficient funds.

When you want to sponsor someone’s visit, for example, your parents or other family members, and they cannot prove their own financial means, you need to complete a legalised letter of obligation or “Verpflichtungserklärung”.

This form can only be obtained from the Ausländerbehörde or Bürgerbüro you are registered at.
They will have an interview with you to get all the relevant information, then fill in the form online, and print it out for you.
The current cost (April 2023) is €29. A quick search for “wieviel kostet eine Verpflichtungserklärung” will give you the latest price

You can send an email copy to the person you are sponsoring, for them to add to their Visa application.
The embassy (according to many members) will accept an email copy.
You can only submit a declaration of commitment if you have a sufficient income of your own and do not claim any financial support from the state. As a rule, you will have to provide appropriate proof (e.g. proof of accommodation, income and insurance). If your income alone is not sufficient, a Declaration of Commitment can also be submitted jointly by two or more persons. 


The requirements might differ for each Federal State (Bundesländer) so always ensure you have the latest requirements. An internet search for “Verpflichtungserklärung + the name of the town you live in” should give you the relevant information. Some bigger cities also have the information available in English, search for “Letter of obligation, or Formal Obligation, declaration of commitment, or letter of commitment” and of course the name of the town you live in. More info can be found on the Germany-visa website.

As an example here are the requirements for a short-term visit to Hamburg.

As a host, you need to appear in person and supply the following documentation:

  • Filled out  “Angaben zur Verpflichtungserklärung” Form. This can be filled out at the Behörde and they will print it out for you
  • Your valid passport. Or, a national ID card
  • Copy of the passport of the persons you are sponsoring, personal details like first and last name, date and place of birth, and their address abroad
  • Proof that you are a legal resident in Germany. For example your German residence permit.
  • Proof that you have sufficient income or savings. This can be one of the following
    • Salary statements for the past 3 months, or
    • Contract of your employment, or
    • A formal letter from your employer, issued in the past 2 weeks. It must confirm you are still employed by them.
  • Proof of your accommodation This can be any of the following.
    • Confirmation of registration.
    • Rental contract. It has to be supported by a letter of confirmation from the landlord of the rented place.

* All documents must be presented both in original and in copy.

More information on the web


The Verplichtungserklärung is a formal obligation whereby you commit towards the total cost of the guest’s visit, including accommodation and medical expenses if they do not have medical cover. It also includes any repatriation fees and legal fees.

It is by default valid for 6 months for a Schengen visa and 5 years for a National D Visa, but you can request to make it shorter for just the period of their visit.

Here is the link to the documents required to get a tourist visa for Germany:
Checklist for a Short-Term Visa

The requirements for the National Visa will depend on the type of visa you apply for.

Also, be aware of possible fines for illegal downloads by visitors

Downloading Music, Movies etc

Copyrights in Germany are governed by GEMA, a government-mandated collecting society and performance rights organization. GEMA:  The Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, or in English, the society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights. Germany has stringent copyright laws.Do not violate copyright laws by illegally downloading a film, music, or other web content.  Inform yourself about what is allowed and what the penalties are for not adhering to the rules.You can also be held responsible for any downloads in your household, also from visitors using your internet connection. Article from Deutsche Welle about illegal downloads and what to do

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