Germany: Residence Permit (Freelance or Self-Employed) (Remote Work)
Business owners, freelancers, and self-employed people can move to Germany and receive a residence permit.
Startup founders can also qualify, if their professional background and business meet all of the requirements.
These residence permits don’t suit remote employees of a company outside of Germany
- Bring family
- Path to Permanent Residence
- Renewable after 3 years
- Includes right to work
- Dynamic business environment
- E.U. member
Freelancers, self-employed people, and business owners choose Germany for its natural beauty, strategic location in Europe, and dynamic environment in one of Europe’s largest economies. Its livable cities and small towns are a great place to make your new home.
This flexible Residence Permit suits people in a variety of professions and business types, with a route to Permanent Residence.
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To qualify as a “freelancer,” your business must be in one of the following fields: “scientific, artistic, literary, teaching or educational activity, the independent professional activity of doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, notaries, patent attorneys, surveyors, engineers, architects, commercial chemists, auditors, tax consultants, advisory people-business economists, sworn accountants, tax agents, naturopaths, dentists, physiotherapists, journalists, photo reporters, interpreters, translators, pilots and similar professions.”. If you are working in one of these fields, you will apply for a Residence Permit for Freelance Employment.
If your business is not in one of these fields, you will be considered “self-employed,” and you will apply for a Residence Permit for Self-Employment. The process and documents required are slightly different.
In either case, you need the professional qualifications and funds to set up and run your business.
Approval is more likely if your business has German clients.
If you’re older than 45 years, you also need funds or a plan for retirement. By age 67, you should plan to have either a monthly pension of $1,581 or a lump sum of $238,000. People of these nationalities are exempt from this requirement: Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and U.S.A.
- Visa and residence permit fees vary, with a combined cost of around $189.
This visa can take a few months to process. Apply for this Residence Permit within Germany at the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) in the city where you will live. People of some nationalities can enter Germany on a tourist visa and then apply for a residence permit, while some nationalities must receive a different visa from abroad.
Make an appointment at your local Ausländerbehörde. You may need to schedule the appointment several weeks in advance, so consider starting the process before you enter Germany.
Prior to your appointment, you may need to complete tasks to begin your life in Germany, such as finding and registering your housing, getting a German bank account, and acquiring health insurance. Save all of the documents related to these tasks—you’ll need them at your appointment.
Bring all required documents to your appointment, in German if possible. You may not be asked for all documents, but if one is missing, it can delay your application.
If possible, bring an immigration attorney or German-speaking friend with you to your appointment, too.
After your appointment, wait several weeks or months for your permit to be issued. You will pick it up in person.
- Valid passport
- Passport photo (35 mm x 45 mm), on light background
- Completed application form "Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels" (Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit) (English, other languages)
- Revenue forecast
- Proof of other regular income or assets (for artists and language teachers), such as own assets, transfers from family members, or other sources of income
- At least two letters of intent from potential clients (including type, scope, and description)—Try to get letters from German clients if possible
- Active contracts, including fees and invoices
- Portfolio and examples of your work
- Resume/CV, including description of career, qualifications, certifications, diploma, and references
- Professional permits, such as a diploma, license, or certification if required for field (originals, not copies)
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of accommodation, such as lease or home ownership (original)
- If required, itemize rental costs and expenses (originals)
- Certificate of registration at your main residence (Meldebestätigung) or lease and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord
- Proof of adequate pension plan (for applicants older than 45)
Self-employed applicants may require all of the previously listed documents, plus:
- Original university diploma (if you have a degree)
- Statement from your university explaining your degree (if you have one)
- Excerpt from the Trade Register or application for registration in the commercial register, notarized original
- Business registration (Gewerbeanmeldung) (only if commercial registry entry is not required) (original)
- Business plan
- Finance plan
- Business concept
- Company profile
- Capital requirements plan
It is best to provide documents in German or translated into German. Bring all documents with you to your appointment. Provide original documents when required.