GermanyGovernment Forms

Visa Application for Freelancers and Self-Employed Persons (Selbständigkeit) for Germany

1. What visa category do freelancers and self-employed persons apply for in Germany?

Freelancers and self-employed persons apply for a German visa under the “Freiberufler” (Freelancer) or “Selbständigkeit” (Self-Employed) visa category. This visa allows individuals to work for themselves in Germany, without being tied to a specific employer. To qualify for this visa, applicants must demonstrate that they have a viable business idea or a confirmed freelance contract in Germany. They must show financial stability and proof of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay. Additionally, applicants may need to provide a business plan, relevant qualifications, and evidence of professional experience in their field. Meeting all the requirements set by the German authorities is essential to obtaining a Freelancer or Selbständigkeit visa for Germany.

2. What are the requirements for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

To apply for a freelancer visa in Germany as a self-employed person (Selbständigkeit), there are several requirements that need to be met:

1. Proof of Professional Qualifications: You will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary qualifications or experience in your field to work as a freelancer in Germany.

2. Business Plan: A detailed business plan outlining your freelance activities, target market, financial forecasts, etc. is required to show the viability of your self-employed venture.

3. Sufficient Financial Means: You must prove that you have enough financial resources to support yourself during the initial phase of your freelance work in Germany. This includes evidence of savings, income from previous contracts, bank statements, etc.

4. Health Insurance: It is mandatory to have health insurance coverage in Germany. You will need to provide proof of health insurance that meets the minimum requirements for self-employed individuals.

5. Residence Permit: If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen, you will also need to apply for a residence permit alongside the freelancer visa to legally reside and work in Germany.

6. Registration: You will need to register your freelance business with the local authorities in Germany and obtain a tax number.

Meeting these requirements and providing all the necessary documentation will strengthen your visa application as a freelancer in Germany. It is advisable to seek guidance from a legal expert or immigration advisor to ensure a smooth application process.

3. Can freelance work be done on a tourist visa in Germany?

No, freelance work cannot be done on a tourist visa in Germany. Tourist visas are intended for individuals visiting the country for tourism or short-term purposes, and they do not permit any form of employment, including freelance work. If you are planning to work as a freelancer or self-employed person in Germany, you will need to apply for a specific visa that allows for this type of activity, such as a freelance or self-employed visa. These visas have specific requirements and eligibility criteria that must be met in order to obtain permission to work in Germany as a freelancer. It is important to follow the correct visa application process and provide all necessary documentation to ensure that you are compliant with German immigration laws.

4. How much money do you need to show for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

For a freelancer visa application in Germany, you will need to show proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself while working freelance in the country. The specific amount of money required can vary depending on individual circumstances and is ultimately at the discretion of the visa officer. However, as a general guideline, it is recommended to have a minimum of €8,640 in a German bank account or a bank account from your home country. This amount is meant to cover your living expenses for one year in Germany. It’s important to note that having additional funds beyond this minimum requirement can strengthen your visa application and demonstrate your financial stability as a freelancer. Additionally, providing a detailed business plan outlining your freelance work and potential earnings can also be beneficial in demonstrating your ability to support yourself financially in Germany.

5. Do you need a business plan for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

Yes, a business plan is typically required for a freelancer visa application in Germany. The business plan serves as a crucial document that outlines your freelance activities, including your business concept, target market, services or products offered, marketing strategy, financial projections, and other relevant details. Having a well-prepared business plan demonstrates to the German authorities that you have a solid understanding of your freelance business and are prepared to establish yourself in the country. It also helps assess the sustainability and feasibility of your freelance venture, which is important for the visa approval process. Therefore, it is highly recommended to include a comprehensive business plan as part of your freelancer visa application in Germany.

6. What types of freelance work are allowed under the Selbständigkeit visa in Germany?

Under the Selbständigkeit visa in Germany, a wide range of freelance work is permitted, including but not limited to:

1. Consulting services: Providing professional advice and expertise in various fields such as business, marketing, or legal matters.

2. Creative work: Engaging in artistic pursuits such as writing, photography, graphic design, or music production.

3. IT and technology services: Offering services in software development, programming, web design, or other tech-related fields.

4. Language services: Providing language teaching, translation, or interpreting services.

5. Coaching and personal development: Offering services in life coaching, career counseling, or personal training.

6. Event planning and management: Organizing and coordinating events, conferences, or exhibitions.

It is important for freelancers applying for the Selbständigkeit visa to demonstrate that their work is entrepreneurial in nature and that they have a viable business concept that will contribute positively to the German economy. Additionally, applicants must meet all other visa requirements, such as having sufficient financial resources and health insurance coverage.

7. How long is the freelancer visa valid for in Germany?

The freelancer visa for self-employed persons in Germany is typically valid for a period of up to three years. After this initial period, the visa can be extended if the individual continues to meet the requirements for self-employment, such as having sufficient funds, a viable business plan, and the ability to support oneself financially without relying on public funds. It is important to note that the exact validity period of the visa can vary depending on individual circumstances and the decision of the immigration authorities. Additionally, freelancers and self-employed individuals must also comply with other visa regulations, such as obtaining health insurance and paying taxes in Germany.

8. Can freelance work in Germany be done remotely for clients outside the country?

Yes, freelance work in Germany can certainly be done remotely for clients outside the country. As a freelancer or self-employed person in Germany, you have the flexibility to work with clients from all over the world without the need to be physically present in the same location. This is one of the benefits of being a freelancer, as it allows you to tap into a global market and expand your client base beyond national borders. There are a few key points to keep in mind when working remotely as a freelancer in Germany:

1. Legal requirements: Make sure that you comply with all legal requirements set out by the German government for freelance work, even if your clients are based outside of the country. This includes registering your freelance activity, obtaining the necessary permits or visas, and paying taxes in Germany.

2. Client communication: Since you will be working with clients from different time zones, it is important to establish clear communication channels and set expectations regarding availability and response times. Utilizing online collaboration tools and video conferencing can help facilitate smooth communication with your remote clients.

3. Payment methods: Consider using international payment methods such as PayPal or TransferWise to receive payments from clients abroad. Be aware of any currency conversion fees or taxation implications when transferring funds internationally.

Overall, remote freelance work for clients outside of Germany is a viable and increasingly common practice in today’s globalized economy. By leveraging digital technology and effective communication strategies, freelancers in Germany can successfully manage and grow their business on an international scale.

9. Do freelancers in Germany need to pay taxes and contribute to social security?

Yes, freelancers in Germany are required to pay taxes and contribute to social security. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Tax Obligations: Freelancers are responsible for paying income tax on their earnings. The tax rate varies depending on the freelancer’s income level and the type of services they provide. Freelancers are also required to file an annual tax return with the tax authorities.

2. Value Added Tax (VAT): Depending on the nature of their services, freelancers may also need to collect and remit Value Added Tax (VAT) to the tax authorities. The current standard VAT rate in Germany is 19%.

3. Social Security Contributions: Freelancers are generally not required to make contributions to the traditional social security system (such as health insurance or pension contributions) like regular employees. However, they may need to arrange for their own health insurance coverage and make voluntary contributions to a retirement savings plan (such as a private pension or a “Rürup” pension).

4. Trade Tax: Freelancers who are considered to be running a commercial business (Gewerbe) may also be liable to pay trade tax (Gewerbesteuer) to the local authorities.

Overall, freelancers in Germany must be diligent in fulfilling their tax obligations and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations to avoid any penalties or legal consequences. It is advisable for freelancers to seek guidance from a tax advisor or legal professional to ensure they meet all the necessary requirements.

10. Can a freelancer visa in Germany be extended or converted into a different visa category?

Yes, a freelancer visa in Germany can be extended under certain conditions. To extend the visa, the freelancer must demonstrate that they have been actively working and earning income in their freelance profession during their time in Germany. Additionally, they must prove that their freelance work continues to be economically viable and sustainable. The extension typically involves reapplying for a residence permit at the local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany before the current visa expires.

Alternatively, a freelancer in Germany may also choose to convert their visa into a different visa category if their circumstances change. For instance, if they decide to take up a full-time job with an employer or wish to start a different business venture, they may need to switch to an appropriate visa category such as a work visa or an entrepreneur visa. The process of converting a freelancer visa into a different visa category would involve applying for the new permit at the Foreigners’ Office and meeting the specific requirements of the new visa category. It is recommended to consult with a legal expert or immigration advisor to understand the options available and navigate the process effectively.

11. Are there any specific language requirements for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

In general, there are no specific language requirements for a freelancer visa application in Germany. However, it is important to note a few key points:

1. It is advantageous to have a good command of the German language, as this can help with communication and integration within the German business environment.
2. While not mandatory, providing documents in German can facilitate the processing of your visa application, as it can help the authorities understand your intentions and business plans more easily.
3. If you are engaging in a regulated profession in Germany, such as law or medicine, you may be required to prove proficiency in German to obtain a professional license.
4. Overall, while language proficiency is not a strict requirement for a freelancer visa in Germany, having a working knowledge of German can greatly benefit your application process and eventual success as a freelancer in the country.

12. Can freelancers in Germany sponsor family members to join them on a visa?

Freelancers in Germany can sponsor family members to join them on a visa under certain circumstances. The specific requirements and eligibility criteria for family reunification may vary depending on the type of visa the freelancer holds and the family member’s relationship to them. Generally, family reunification for freelancers in Germany is possible if the freelancer can prove that they have the financial means to support their family members and provide them with sufficient housing and healthcare. Family members who may be eligible for reunification include spouses and minor children. It is important to note that each case is considered individually, and it is advised to consult with a visa expert or immigration lawyer for personalized guidance on the family reunification process for freelancers in Germany.

13. Is health insurance mandatory for freelancers in Germany?

Yes, health insurance is mandatory for freelancers in Germany. As a freelancer or self-employed person, you are required to have health insurance coverage just like any other resident in Germany. There are two main options for health insurance in Germany for freelancers:

1. Public Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV): Freelancers whose income is below a certain threshold (currently around €64,350 per year in 2021) can opt for public health insurance through providers such as AOK, TK, or Barmer. The contributions are based on your income, with the freelancer typically paying around 14.6% of their income towards health insurance.

2. Private Health Insurance (Private Krankenversicherung, PKV): Freelancers with an income above the threshold have the option to choose private health insurance. The premiums for private health insurance may vary based on factors such as age, health condition, and coverage options.

It is essential for freelancers in Germany to ensure they have adequate health insurance coverage to comply with legal requirements and also to safeguard their health and well-being. Failure to have health insurance coverage can result in legal consequences and also expose the freelancer to financial risks in case of illness or accidents.

14. What documents are required for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

For a freelancer visa application in Germany, the following documents are typically required:

1. Valid passport: You will need a passport with at least six months of validity beyond your planned stay in Germany.

2. Completed application form: You must fill out and sign the application form for a national visa.

3. Cover letter: A cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip, detailing your freelance work, and outlining your plans while in Germany.

4. Proof of qualifications: Documents demonstrating your qualifications and expertise in your field of freelance work.

5. Business concept: A detailed business plan outlining your freelance activities, clients, services, and financial projections.

6. Proof of financial means: Evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Germany, such as bank statements or a letter from a financial sponsor.

7. Health insurance: Proof of health insurance coverage that is valid in Germany.

8. Residence permit: If you plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you may need to apply for a residence permit after arriving in the country.

9. Rent agreement: A copy of your rental agreement or proof of accommodation in Germany.

10. Proof of German language proficiency: Depending on the visa type and your planned activities, you may need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in the German language.

It is important to note that specific requirements may vary depending on your individual circumstances and the German consulate or embassy where you submit your application. Therefore, it is advisable to consult the official website of the German mission in your country for the most up-to-date information and guidance on the documents needed for a freelancer visa application.

15. What is the processing time for a freelancer visa application in Germany?

The processing time for a freelancer visa application in Germany can vary depending on various factors. On average, the processing time typically ranges from 4 to 8 weeks. However, this timeframe may be longer during peak application periods or if additional documentation or information is required by the authorities.

The processing time may also be affected by the workload of the German embassy or consulate where the application is being processed, as well as the complexity of the individual case. It is important for applicants to submit a complete and accurate application with all the required documents to help expedite the process. Additionally, staying informed and following up with the authorities or visa processing center can help ensure a timely decision on the application.

16. Can self-employed persons in Germany hire employees under the freelancer visa?

Self-employed persons in Germany who hold a freelancer visa are not allowed to hire employees. The freelancer visa is specifically designed for individuals who work independently without establishing a formal business structure or hiring employees. This visa is typically granted to freelancers, artists, writers, and professionals who work on a project-by-project basis and do not have a long-term employer-employee relationship with their clients. If a self-employed person wishes to hire employees and establish a formal business structure in Germany, they would need to apply for a different type of visa, such as a business visa or an entrepreneur visa, which permits them to employ staff and operate a business in the country.

17. Are there any restrictions on the type of clients freelancers can work for in Germany?

As a freelancer or self-employed person in Germany, there are generally no strict restrictions on the type of clients you can work for. However, there are certain regulations and considerations to be aware of:

1. Tax Considerations: When working with clients in Germany, it is important to comply with German tax laws. This includes issues such as invoicing, VAT (Value Added Tax) obligations, and keeping proper financial records.

2. Social Security Contributions: Freelancers must ensure that they are properly registered for social security contributions, which can be mandatory depending on the type and scope of their work.

3. Work Permits: Freelancers from non-EU countries may need a work permit or visa to work with certain clients in Germany. It is essential to have the correct legal status to carry out freelance work in the country.

4. Professional Licenses: Depending on the type of work you do, you may need specific licenses or qualifications to work with certain clients in regulated industries.

Overall, freelancers in Germany have the flexibility to work with a diverse range of clients, but it is crucial to understand and adhere to the relevant legal and tax requirements to operate within the parameters of the law.

18. Can freelancers in Germany apply for permanent residency or citizenship?

1. Freelancers in Germany who are self-employed individuals, also known as Selbständigkeit, can apply for permanent residency or citizenship under certain conditions. In order to be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship, freelancers need to meet the general requirements set by the German authorities, such as having a valid residence permit, sufficient financial resources, and a clean criminal record.

2. Freelancers who have been living in Germany for a specific period of time, typically at least five years, may be eligible to apply for permanent residency. This status allows them to live and work in Germany indefinitely without any restrictions.

3. For those seeking German citizenship, the requirements are more stringent and typically involve a longer period of residency, usually at least eight years. Freelancers must also demonstrate proficiency in the German language, a commitment to German values, and pass a citizenship test.

4. It is important for freelancers in Germany to ensure they meet all the necessary criteria and provide the required documentation when applying for permanent residency or citizenship. Consulting with an immigration lawyer or advisor can help navigate the process and increase the chances of a successful application.

19. Are there any specific regulations for freelancers in certain industries, such as IT or creative fields?

Yes, there are specific regulations for freelancers in certain industries in Germany, particularly in the IT and creative fields. Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Work Permit Requirements: Freelancers in certain industries may be required to hold specific work permits or visa types, such as the Artist Visa (Künstler-Visum) for freelance artists in the creative field.

2. Industry-Specific Regulations: Certain industries, such as IT, may require freelancers to meet specific qualifications or certifications to practice legally. For example, freelance IT professionals may need to demonstrate relevant experience or obtain professional certifications to work in Germany.

3. Tax and Accounting Obligations: Freelancers in all industries are required to comply with German tax and accounting regulations. This includes registering for a tax number (Steuernummer) and submitting regular tax filings.

4. Social Security Contributions: Freelancers in Germany are also responsible for paying social security contributions, which can vary depending on the industry and income level.

Overall, freelancers in certain industries, such as IT or creative fields, may need to navigate additional regulations and requirements to work legally in Germany. It is important for freelancers to research and understand the specific regulations that apply to their industry to ensure compliance with German laws.

20. How can freelancers in Germany deal with potential tax implications of working in multiple countries?

Freelancers in Germany who work in multiple countries must carefully handle the tax implications to avoid any issues with authorities. Here are some steps they can take to deal with these potential tax implications:

1. Understand international tax laws: Freelancers should familiarize themselves with the tax regulations of each country where they conduct business. This includes knowing the rules around taxation of income earned outside the country of residence and any applicable double taxation agreements.

2. Keep accurate records: Maintaining detailed records of income earned in each country, as well as expenses related to their work, is crucial for accurately reporting taxes. This includes invoices, contracts, bank statements, and receipts.

3. Seek professional advice: Consulting with a tax advisor who is knowledgeable about international tax issues can help freelancers navigate the complexities of filing taxes in multiple countries. They can provide guidance on how to minimize tax liabilities and take advantage of any available deductions or credits.

4. Make use of tax treaties: Germany has tax treaties with many countries to prevent double taxation. Freelancers should take advantage of these treaties to ensure they are not taxed on the same income more than once.

5. File tax returns on time: It is essential for freelancers to meet the tax filing deadlines in each country where they are liable to pay taxes. Failure to do so can result in penalties or legal consequences.

By following these steps, freelancers in Germany can effectively manage the tax implications of working in multiple countries and avoid any potential issues with tax authorities.