I'm from New Zealand which means I don't require a visa to stay in Germany for 90 days out of 180, and my husband and 2 daughters all hold German passports. We're currently travelling in Mexico and decided we'd like to move to be closer to the girls' grandparents. It would be much cheaper and easier to fly straight to Germany from Mexico and my husband thinks I should enter as a tourist and apply for the Family Reunion Visa [edit: Permit] when I get there, but usually you need a return ticket to enter a country as a tourist. Does anyone have experience with this? Will I need to buy a return ticket or will they accept that I'm eligible for a Family Reunion Visa [edit: Permit] even if I don't have it yet, and let me in? I do have the financial means to support myself and my family in Germany while my husband is looking for work.

  • @WeatherVane As a New Zealander, OP does not need a visa to enter Germany. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 20:37
  • 1
    You will presumably take the lane for EU citizens with your family. There may be brief questions why you are in that lane (point to your family) and perhaps a friendly reminder of the 90/180 rule (say truthfully that you are fully aware of it and that your plans are not definite yet). Ask on expatriates stack exchange about extending your stay. You should start those proceedings sooner rather than later.
    – o.m.
    Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 8:20
  • 2
    "usually you need a return ticket to enter a country as a tourist": this isn't as widespread a requirement as many people think, and it is not a requirement in the Schengen area.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 21:11
  • @phoog It is, I believe, mainly a requirement, (togeather with proof of travel insurance) of visa holders. Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 21:26
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    @MarkJohnson it is not a requirement. I know you've read both the Schengen Visa Code and the Schengen Borders Code. There are requirements to be able to show that you can afford your planned trip, including leaving the Schengen area before the end of your allowed stay, but there is nothing that says that you must have an air ticket in your possession. Having enough money to buy an air ticket is acceptable, as is a plan to depart by land or sea.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 16:51

4 Answers 4


will they accept that I'm eligible for a Family Reunion Visa

Citizens of certain countries may apply for a residence permit while in Germany.

New Zealand is one of these countries.

You enter Germany as a visa free citizen.

After your arrival, you will find a place to stay and togeather with your spouse, you will then register your residence.

You can then apply for a residence permit based on §28 AufenthG.

Depending on the state, the registry office may start the application process for the residence permit directly.

Otherwise you will have to make an (online, web) appointment at the Immigration Office yourself. The date that appointment was made will be considered the date of application and should be done before the 90 days period runs out.

Exceptions for certain countries
Special privileges apply to certain countries. You can apply for any residence title in the federal territory without needing to have a right to this title.

This applies to the following countries:

  • Andorra ¹
  • Australia
  • Brazil ¹
  • Canada
  • El Salvador ¹
  • Honduras ¹
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Monaco ¹
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino ¹
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America

¹ Residence titles for the purpose of economic activity are excluded. To obtain the latter, nationals of these countries must enter Germany with a national visa.


  • Legal entry without visa for nationals of certain countries - Berlin.de

    (1) Staatsangehörige von Australien, Israel, Japan, Kanada, der Republik Korea, von Neuseeland, des Vereinigten Königreichs Großbritannien und Nordirland im Sinne des § 1 Absatz 2 Nummer 6 des Freizügigkeitsgesetzes/EU und der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika können auch für einen Aufenthalt, der kein Kurzaufenthalt ist, visumfrei in das Bundesgebiet einreisen und sich darin aufhalten. Ein erforderlicher Aufenthaltstitel kann im Bundesgebiet eingeholt werden.

    (1) Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland within the meaning of Section 1 Paragraph 2 Number 6 of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU [right of abode] and the United States of America can also apply for a Stay that is not a short stay, enter the federal territory without a visa and stay there. A required residence permit can be obtained in Germany.

    (2) Dasselbe gilt für Staatsangehörige von Andorra, Brasilien, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco und San Marino, die keine Erwerbstätigkeit mit Ausnahme der in § 17 Abs. 2 genannten Tätigkeiten ausüben wollen.

    (2) The same applies to nationals of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino who do not want to work with the exception of the activities referred to in Section 17 (2).

  • §28 - Subsequent immigration of dependants to join a German national (AufenthG)
  • Ah... no, I did not read that correctly. I was applying the footnote to all the countries in that list, not just the ones with the [1] next to them. Never mind, carry on... :)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 15:51
  • Thanks very much for this info.
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 3:08

I can add my personal experience having been in a very similar situation.

My wife and I are US citizens, and she started a job in Germany a few months ago. She applied for an EU Blue Card while still in the US and received a Visa in her passport during that process. I did not apply for anything while still in the US, but set up an appointment with the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany for about a month after our planned arrival.

When we landed in Germany, the immigration officers at the airport asked us about the fact that my wife had a visa and I did not. I told them that I planned to apply for a residence permit in Germany and had an appointment set up already, which satisfied them.

I would advise you to try to set up an appointment with the immigration office as soon as possible. While I don't believe it's strictly necessary to have one already set up to enter the country, they are currently very hard to get, and if you wait until you arrive you may face significant delays.

Once I was within the country I successfully applied for a residence permit and received my residence card (Elektronische Aufenthaltstitel) a few months later.

  • 1
    Thanks, this is great advice to make an appointment with an immigration office before flying. Will definitely do that!
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 3:01

Probably nobody will check for the existence of your return flight, either at the airport in Mexico or at immigration in Germany. I've flown to Germany before (as a US citizen not eligible for any kind of longer-term stay) without having bought my return flight yet, and nobody cared. But, this can not be guaranteed, and, if you want to be extra-safe, you can buy a refundable ticket to somewhere outside the Schengen area to show to anybody who asks for proof of onward travel, and then refund it when it turns out you don't need it.

No one can apply for a German visa from within Germany, because a visa is only necessary to enter Germany, and you will have already done so.

However, citizens of some countries—including New Zealand—are allowed to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) from within Germany after entering on a short-trip visa exemption. Questions about the exact procedure for doing so are better suited for Expatriatates SE or your own research and/or lawyers, but you should be able to go through the procedure in a fairly straightforward way as a family member of a German citizen.

  • 2
    There is no requirement to have a return or onward flight arranged when entering the Schengen area. Being in possession of sufficient means to arrange one's departure from the Schengen area is enough.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 21:08
  • Thanks for the info.
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 3:09

Although there is no requirement to have a return flight from a legal standpoint, be aware that airlines do have their own policies and do their own checks when you check-in, and might require to see some proof that you are allowed to enter as a tourist when going with a one-way flight.

This is from first-hand experience: I am Brazilian, who is also visa-free in Schengen. I live in Schengen and go to Brazil every 1-2 years to visit family. When going back to Schengen, because that is my return flight (one-way), the airline has always asked to see proof that I have a residence card or some other supporting document — I know I do not require one, so the first times this happened I asked why they were asking, and they told me it was because it was a one-way flight which does not qualify as tourism so they need to check (or maybe they saw it was a returning flight and I came from there, something a tourist wouldn't normally do). As I have one, I end up just showing it and did not feel like pressing further.

If this happens to you it may be possible to convince them otherwise and let you board. Not saying otherwise. Just warning you to be aware that the airline is also a factor.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience.
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 3:12

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