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GERMANY ENTREPRENEUR
VISA GUIDE
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GERMANY ENTREPRENEUR
VISA GUIDE
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GERMANY FREELANCE
VISA GUIDE
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VISA GUIDE
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GERMANY ENTREPRENEUR VISA GUIDE
GERMANY FREELANCE VISA GUIDE
The changes made in 2012 in the German Residence Act make it easier for innovative people from abroad to start their own business in Germany and help create jobs there. Depending on whether you are planning on setting up a business or working as a freelancer, different conditions may apply. This is a guide on how to apply for a visa as a self-employed business (Gewerbe). But we also have a guide on how to apply for a visa as a freelancer (Freiberufler).
If you’re in the relocation business and would like to partner with us to help talented specialists fulfil their potential, please let us know
I can help with relocation to GERMANY
Difficulty of relocation:
  • Path to permanent residency and citizenship in Germany;
  • No language requirements;
  • No investment requirements;
  • Short processing time;
  • Business access to large economies;
  • Travel freely in the Schengen area.
  • Age: 18+
  • No prohibition from practising the profession you intend to set up a business in (e.g. such a prohibition can be imposed by courts after serious criminal offences)
  • Clean criminal record
  • Path to permanent residency and citizenship in Germany;
  • No language requirements;
  • No investment requirements;
  • Short processing time;
  • Business access to large economies;
  • Travel freely in the Schengen area.
Benefits
MANDATORY
REQUIREMENTS
It can be extended in a residence permit form if the requirements are fulfilled. The permit expires if you leave Germany for six consecutive months.
3 years.
It can be extended in a residence permit form if the requirements are fulfilled. The permit expires if you leave Germany for six consecutive months.
VISA DURATION
3 years.
  • Age: 18+
  • No prohibition from practising the profession you intend to set up a business in (e.g. such a prohibition can be imposed by courts after serious criminal offences)
  • Clean criminal record
MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS

or at least €195,104 worth of assets by 67 years old
  • at least €1,340.47 per month for at least 12 years
  • or at least €195,104 worth of assets by 67 years old
at least €1,340.47 per month for at least 12 years
  • Proof of economic interest in Germany
  • Positive impact of the business project on German economy
  • Secure financial means (equity capital or loan commitment)
Adequate pension provisions. Private pension which guarantees:
For 45+ years old applicants

International entrepreneurs must fulfil the following requirements (should be included into the business plan)

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
VISA PROCEDURE
AND NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
VISA PROCEDURE AND NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
Step 1. Apply for a D-type visa at any German embassy or consulate

1. Prepare the following documents

  • Visa application form

  • Valid passport

  • Copy of your passport’s data page

  • 3 passport photos complying with biometric specifications

  • CV (translated) containing information on your career, qualification certificates, diploma, references/sponsors

  • Proof of qualification (translated and notarised), e.g. university degree, training certificate, experience certificates, reference letters

  • Business plan (in German) covering the following:
--✓ Business concept (e.g. information on products/services, legal form…);
-- Financing and investment plan;
--✓ Capital requirement plan;
--✓ Revenue forecast for the first three years;
--✓ Market and competitive analysis;
--✓ Marketing strategy;
--✓ (If applicable) Expected number of employees and trainees;
--✓ (If applicable) Explanation of the extent to which the areas of innovation and research will be positively influenced by the project.


  • (For 45+ applicants) Evidence of adequate retirement benefits

  • Health insurance

  • (If applicable) Proof of German language proficiency

  • (If applicable) Deed of association (Gesellschaftsvertrag) via a notary public

  • (If applicable) Excerpt from the commercial register (Handelsregisterauszug) or at least the application for registration in the commercial register via a notary public

  • (If applicable) Business registration (Gewerbeanzeige) via a notary public. People who want to set up a trade business are required to register their project with the Trade Office (Gewerbeamt) in the municipality in which the business is to be established. To do this, you will need:
--A valid ID document or passport;
--Depending on the activity (e.g. catering), a permit or approval;
--A crafts card if you are planning to set up a business in the skilled crafts sector;
--A trade card for activities similar to those in the skilled crafts sector;
--A residence permit that also allows you to pursue a self-employed commercial activity;
--A police clearance certificate or information from the Central Commercial Register may be required.

  • (If applicable) Employment contract of the managing director/s (Geschäftsführer/innen-Anstellungsvertrag) via a notary public.

  • (If applicable) Further supporting documents depending on the specific case, such as:
--✓ Rental contract, if already concluded;
--✓ Proof of existing business relations in Germany/Europe;
--✓ (If applicable) Degree from a state or a state-recognised higher education
--institute or comparable training institution in Germany.

2. Get your visa for self-employment in Germany. It can take several weeks to 3 months for your visa application to be processed.
Step 2. Enter Germany and apply for residence permit.

  1. Make an appointment with the relevant Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde)

2. Apply for residence permit for self-employment with the following documents:

  • Application for a residence permit form. Only required when applying for a residence permit for the first time

  • Valid passport

  • 2 passport photos complying with biometric specifications

  • Proof of residence in Germany (e.g. certificate of registration of the apartment (registration confirmation) or rental agreement and moving-in confirmation from the landlord).

  • Living costs. Evidence of the monthly rental costs (current bank statement) or costs of the occupied property.

  • CV.

  • Proof of qualification.

  • Business plan.

  • Financing plan.

  • (For 45+ applicants) Evidence of adequate retirement benefits.

  • Health insurance.

  • Excerpt from the commercial register (Handelsregisterauszug) or at least the application for registration in the commercial register via a notary public.

  • (If applicable) Business registration (Gewerbeanzeige).

Average time of processing the residence permit application is about 5-6 weeks. If possible, book an appointment 4 to 6 weeks before the entry visa or the previous residence permit expires.

€75
State immigration fees
Residence permit fee
FEES
up to €100
Trade Office Registration fee
between €10 and €40
between
€10 and €40
WHEN IN GERMANY
WHEN IN Germany

I. How to get a German taxpayer number

As someone setting up a business, you will automatically receive the "Questionnaire for tax registration" from your Tax Office (Finanzamt) after you have registered your business. The application costs between €20 and €60.

II. How to open a bank account

Documents usually needed for opening a personal bank account in Germany are:

  • Valid passport
  • Current German residence permit
  • Proof of registration/address
  • Proof of income/employment
  • Initial deposit (the minimum depends on the bank of your choice)
  • SCHUFA credit rating (some, not all, banks require it)

Documents usually needed for opening a business bank account in Germany are:

  • Valid passport
  • Current German residence permit
  • Proof of registration/address
  • Company registration documents
  • Lease agreement for a registered address of physical office
  • Proof of business in Germany

III. How to get medical insurance

There are two types of health insurance in Germany: public and private. Public insurance (freiwillige gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) is usually for employees. Self-employed individuals and freelancers generally get private insurance (private Krankenversicherung).

To register with a German health insurer, you need to take your passport and residence permit to a regional office and fill out the forms. Once you’ve become a member, your health insurer will issue you a card (Krankenversichertenkarte), which you’ll need to show each time you visit a doctor or specialist.

As a self-employed, you are allowed to switch to a private insurer. However, it is not always advisable.


PERMANENT RESIDENCE AND CITIZENSHIP
PERMANENT RESIDENCE AND CITIZENSHIP
After being a resident with an entrepreneurial activity for three years, the applicant can apply for Permanent Residency. The fee for the issue of the permanent settlement permit is €124. The additional documents needed for these are the following:

  • Integration course certificates. "Zertifikat Integrationskurs" (Integration Course Certificate) about the successful participation in the integration course or Certificate of the results obtained in the final tests of the Integration Course.

  • Completed audit report, e.g. extract from the Commercial Register. Must be completed by a tax consultant, auditor or tax agent.

  • Health insurance. If you are covered by statutory health insurance, a current confirmation of health insurance coverage from your provider, or if you are insured with a private health insurance company, the policy and proof of contributions paid (e.g. statements of account).

  • Proof of residence. Proof of living space and of monthly rent or cost of housing of own property (house or apartment) have to be supplied.

  • Proof of German language proficiency. You must have an adequate command of the German language (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

After legally residing in Germany for 8 years, applicants are allowed to apply for German citizenship. As a general rule, the fee due when applying for naturalisation is €25.
Depending on whether you are planning on setting up a business or working as a freelancer, different conditions may apply. This is a guide on how to apply for a visa as a freelancer (Freiberufler). But we also have a guide on how to apply for a visa as a self-employed business (Gewerbe).
Difficulty of relocation:
Depending on whether you are planning on setting up a business or working as a freelancer, different conditions may apply. This is a guide on how to apply for a visa as a freelancer (Freiberufler). But we also have a guide on how to apply for a visa as a self-employed business (Gewerbe).
Depending on whether you are planning on setting up a business or working as a freelancer, different conditions may apply. This is a guide on how to apply for a visa as a freelancer (Freiberufler). But we also have a guide on how to apply for a visa as a self-employed business (Gewerbe).
If you’re in the relocation or post-relocation business and you feel like your service would make a valuable addition to this list, please let us know! To partner with us, fill the form below:
I can help with relocation to GERMANY
  • Path to permanent residency and citizenship;
  • No language requirements;
  • Short processing time;
  • Travel freely in the Schengen area;
  • Consistent stream of lucrative projects;
  • High earning potential;
  • Rewarding tax policies;
  • Financial support during a financial crisis.
  • Path to permanent residency and citizenship;
  • No language requirements;
  • Short processing time;
  • Travel freely in the Schengen area;
  • Consistent stream of lucrative projects;
  • High earning potential;
  • Rewarding tax policies;
  • Financial support during a financial crisis.
Benefits
It can be extended in a residence permit form if your freelance business is successful. The permit expires if you leave Germany for six consecutive months.
3 years.
MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS
  • Age: 18+
  • No prohibition from practising the profession you intend to practice as a freelancer (e.g. such a prohibition can be imposed by courts after serious criminal offences)
  • Clean criminal record
VISA DURATION
3 years.
It can be extended in a residence permit form if your freelance business is successful. The permit expires if you leave Germany for six consecutive months.
  • Age: 18+
  • No prohibition from practising the profession you intend to practice as a freelancer (e.g. such a prohibition can be imposed by courts after serious criminal offences)
  • Clean criminal record
MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS
✓ Health sector (e.g. doctors, dentists, veterinarians, alternative practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists, graduate psychologists, massage therapists, naturopaths, midwives, pharmacists);
✓ Legal, Tax, and Management consulting sector (e.g lawyers, patent attorneys, notaries, auditors, tax consultants and officers, tax representatives, business advisors and economists, sworn accountants, and book auditors);
✓ Scientific/technical sector (e.g. engineers, surveying engineers, commercial chemists, architects, pilots);
✓ Linguistic and information-transmitting sector (e.g. journalists, photo reporters, interpreters, translators);
✓ Self-employed scientific, artistic, literary, writing or teaching work.
According to the German Income Tax Act (EStG), Germany recognises the following professions for freelance activity:












  • Positive economic or cultural impact. Meaning, a freelancer must have clients in Germany (e.g. letters of intent or contracts).

  • (If applicable) A licence/permit to practice the profession you are planning to do in Germany.

  • Proof of sufficient funds to finance your projects (e.g. bank statements, revenue forecast, profit and loss statements).

  • (For 45+ applicants) Adequate pension provisions. Private pension which guarantees at least € 1,340.47 per month for at least 12 years or at least € 195,104 worth of assets by 67 years old.
Freelancers must fulfil the following requirements:
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
  • According to the German Income Tax Act (EStG), Germany recognises the following professions for freelance activity:



















  • Positive economic or cultural impact. Meaning, a freelancer must have clients in Germany (e.g. letters of intent or contracts).

  • (If applicable) A licence/permit to practice the profession you are planning to do in Germany.

  • Proof of sufficient funds to finance your projects (e.g. bank statements, revenue forecast, profit and loss statements).

  • (For 45+ applicants) Adequate pension provisions. Private pension which guarantees at least €1,340.47 per month for at least 12 years or at least €195,104 worth of assets by 67 years old.
According to the German Income Tax Act (EStG), Germany recognises the following professions for freelance activity:














  • Positive economic or cultural impact. Meaning, a freelancer must have clients in Germany (e.g. letters of intent or contracts).

  • (If applicable) A licence/permit to practice the profession you are planning to do in Germany.

  • Proof of sufficient funds to finance your projects (e.g. bank statements, revenue forecast, profit and loss statements).

  • (For 45+ applicants) Adequate pension provisions. Private pension which guarantees at least € 1,340.47 per month for at least 12 years or at least € 195,104 worth of assets by 67 years old.
VISA PROCEDURE
AND NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
VISA PROCEDURE AND NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
Step 1. Apply for a D-type visa at any German embassy or consulate

1. Prepare 2 identical sets of the following documentation:

  • Visa application form.

  • Valid passport.

  • Copy of your passport’s data page.

  • 3 passport photos complying with biometric specifications.

  • Travel health insurance (so-called "Incoming Versicherung"). It should be valid for 90 days from your intended entry into Germany and cover payouts over €30,000.

  • CV (translated) containing information on your career, qualification certificates, diploma, references/sponsors.

  • Recommendation letters (translated) from previous employers.

  • Cover letter (in German) mentioning the following:
-- Description of your education and expertise;
--The reason/reasons for settling in Germany (for example, standard of living, economic stability, etc.);
--Your ties to Germany (clients, family and friends);
--How Germany will benefit from you moving there;
--How are you going to support yourself (what sources of income you have, the guarantee that the income is constant and sufficient in the following years);

  • Portfolio. Several printed samples of the previous freelance work, or regular work in the same profession.

  • (If applicable) Professional authorization. This is needed if your profession requires prior expertise in the field, i.e. health and law sector.

  • Certificates/diplomas of education. Must be related to your intended profession and be translated into German.

  • Means of subsistence. This can be one of the following:
--✓ Latest bank statements from a home-country bank, showing enough available funds.
--✓ Blocked bank account (with at least €10,332). It is a bank account for foreigners in
--Germany, to deposit the required amount of money to cover their living expenses for one year. The account serves as a proof of financial resources.
--✓ Revenue forecast must show your forecasts about monthly profits and losses from the intended freelance activity.
--✓ (For 45+ applicants) Proof of adequate pension plan.
--✓ (For artists and language teachers only) Proof of regular income.

  • Letters of commitments (at least 2) from future customers/employers in Germany. The letters must clearly show their intent to employ you. You would still be able to work for non-local clients if you get the visa, but you should really have local clients for the application process.

  • Current contracts.

  • (If applicable) Proof of German language proficiency.

2. Get your visa for freelancing in Germany. It can take several weeks to 3 months for your visa application to be processed.

Step 2. Enter Germany and apply for a residence permit.

1. Find an apartment in Germany. Make sure you get an apartment that will allow you to get a city registration (Anmeldung), you will need it to get your residence permit. 

2. Register your apartment (Anmeldung). You need to get an appointment at a Bürgeramt in your city. The required documents will be the following:

  • Passport.

  • Your temporary visa. 

  • The confirmation from the landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung). It is a document you get when you move into an apartment. 

  • The filled Anmeldung form. 

  • (If applicable) Marriage certificate.

3. Get a German bank account. 

4. Get your medical insurance. 

5. Register with the Tax Office.

6. Make an appointment with the relevant Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde) with the following documents:

  • Application for a residence permit form. Only required when applying for a residence permit for the first time

  • Valid passport

  • 2 passport photos complying with biometric specifications, not older than 6 months

  • (If applicable) Professional authorization

  • Proof of residence in Germany

  • Lease or proof of home ownership

  • Rental cost / expenses for property

  • Revenue forecast 

  • Means of subsistence

  • CV 

  • Recommendation letters 

  • Letters of commitments 

  • Current contracts

Average time of processing the residence permit application is about 5-6 weeks. If possible, book an appointment 4 to 6 weeks before the entry visa or the previous residence permit expires.

€75
State immigration fees
Residence permit fee
FEES
up to €100
WHEN IN GERMANY
WHEN IN GERMANY
I. How to get a German taxpayer number

When starting out as a freelancer, you have to go to your nearest Finanzamt office to declare your business or freelance activity and get your freelance tax number (Steuernummer). You have to do this before you apply for the freelancer residence permit and before you are allowed to start working.

II. How to open a bank account

Documents usually needed for opening a personal bank account in Germany are:

  • Valid passport
  • Current German residence permit
  • Proof of registration/address
  • Proof of income/employment
  • Initial deposit (the minimum depends on the bank of your choice)
  • SCHUFA credit rating (some, not all, banks require it)

III. How to get medical insurance

There are two types of health insurance in Germany: public and private. Public insurance (freiwillige gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) is usually for employees. Self-employed individuals and freelancers generally get private insurance (private Krankenversicherung).

To register with a German health insurer, you need to take your passport and residence permit to a regional office and fill out the forms. Once you’ve become a member, your health insurer will issue you a card (Krankenversichertenkarte), which you’ll need to show each time you visit a doctor or specialist.

As a freelancer, you are allowed to switch to a private insurer. However, it is not always advisable.


After being a resident for five years, a freelancer can apply for Permanent Residency. The fee for the issue of the permanent settlement permit is €113. The additional documents needed for these are:

  • Proof of German language proficiency. You must have an adequate command of the German language (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

  • Basic knowledge of the legal and social system and living conditions in Germany.

  • Secured means of support from own income.

  • Sufficient health insurance.

  • No criminal record. Even fines may prevent the granting of a permanent settlement permit.

  • Completed audit report. Must be completed by a tax consultant, auditor or tax agent.

  • (if applicable) Certificates showing participation in the integration course.

After legally residing in Germany for 8 years, applicants are allowed to apply for German citizenship. As a general rule, the fee due when applying for naturalisation is €255.
PERMANENT RESIDENCE AND CITIZENSHIP
PERMANENT RESIDENCE AND CITIZENSHIP
I WANT TO MOVE
TO GERMANY
I can help with relocation to GERMANY
If you’re in the relocation business and would like to partner with us to help talented specialists fulfil their potential, please let us know
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