In general, you will need a visa. In general, it is comparably easy and straight forward to get a visa for studying in Germany - so do not be afraid of this! The timeframe to get a German visa granted will vary from country to country and may take up to several months. Please ask the German embassy in your home country at the day you submitted your application about the procedure and make sure you apply early enough.
Citizens of certain countries can enter Germany without having a visa:
- EU members or the Schengen Treaty
- Citizens of Australia, Canada, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland and USA
All other applicants must apply for a student visa in their home country before departure. A short overview of Visa requirements/ exemptions for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany you can find here.
If you do not have a valid passport, you should immediately apply for one. The issuance of a new passport can take many weeks. Accepted students should submit their Acceptance Letter from the Abbe School of Photonics to the embassy along with the visa application as soon as you can. Ask the German embassy in your home country about the visa requirements and how long the entire process of visa application might take. Do not - under any circumstances - enter Germany with a tourist visa.
Nevertheless, to have a valid passport and an appropriate visa when entering the federal territory of the German Federal Republic is your own responsibility. Please double check the requirements for your personal case with the German embassy in your home country.