What is the German freelance visa?
The German freelance visa allows you to do freelance work in Germany. The freelance visa allows travel to Germany and gives you access to a residence permit for the same duration as the freelance visa.
The freelance visa is usually granted for three months but can be extended for up to three years.
You must apply for an additional freelance visa if you have already a work, student or other German national visa but want to freelance as a side business.
Who needs a freelance visa in Germany?
- EU citizens as well as citizens of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein do not need a visa to freelance in Germany.
- Non-EU citizens who have a work or other German visa which also allows freelancing does not need a freelance visa as long as freelancing is not the main source of income.
- Citizens from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the USA need a visa to work in Germany but do not need a visa to enter Germany for up to 90 days.
- All other citizens need a visa to enter Germany source and another visa to freelance in Germany. In this case, it is recommended that you apply for a freelance visa from your country before coming to Germany.
- Students on a student visa can work up to 120 days per year for an employer but need a freelance visa for additional freelance work. You can have a student visa and a freelance visa at the same time.
Requirements for the German freelance visa
- You don't need a German address to apply for the freelance visa but you need one later when applying for the residence permit source.
- You must have German health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Read more about your options in our review of the best health insurance plans for expats.
- You must make enough money and have clients in Germany. You must prove during the visa interview that there is a demand for your services. This can be done by showing letters of intent from German companies who want to work with you. It's important that your clients are actually in Germany and that your work is having positive effects on the local economy. You should have more than one client in order to avoid qualifying as a fake employee or Scheinselbständiger in which case the visa application is rejected.
- You must prove that you are self-sufficient. Any proof of savings is helpful to get a freelance visa.
- You must be allowed to do this job in Germany. Germany has about 150 regulated professions like teachers, lawyers, doctors and others. Check this EU database for regulated professions to see if your job is regulated in Germany.
- Proof that you have retirement savings if you are older than 45.
Students on a student visa applying for an additional freelance visa fulfill most of these requirements already. In this case, the freelance activity must only be related to their studies.
Where do I apply for a German freelance visa?
- Any German consulate or embassy in your home country can issue a student visa.
- The Foreign Office called Ausländerbehörde issues freelance visas inside Germany.
Follow these steps to get a freelance visa and a residence permit in Germany
- Step 1: Check whether your job falls into the Selbständiger or Freiberufler category.
- Step 2: Check all the requirements.
- Step 3: Get all the required documents. Read more about the required documents here.
- Step 4: Get health insurance. You do not get a freelance visa without health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Read our guide of health insurance plans for more information.
- Step 5: Travel to Germany or make a visa appointment at the German consulate in your country. Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea or the USA can enter Germany on a tourist visa and then apply for a freelance visa and a residence permit at the Foreign Office (Ausländerbehörde). Citizens from other countries need a visa to enter Germany but can apply for a freelance visa at a German consulate in their home country before relocating to Germany.
- Step 6: Make the freelance visa (if not done yet at the consulate in your country) appointment at the Ausländerbehörde if you are in Germany. Make the appointment early as it can take some months.
- Step 7: Open a German bank account. This is not required for the visa but it will be hard to rent a flat in Germany without a checking account and usually, companies transfer your fee into a checking account. Read more in our guide to opening a checking account as a foreigner. Some banks let you open a checking account without a registered German address. We have an overview of the best bank accounts for foreigners in Germany.
- Step 8: Find a place to live in Germany. You need a registered address before going to the Ausländerbehörde. You need a document called a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord in order to register an address. You don't get this document when living in an illegal sublet, a hotel or AirBnB flat.
- Step 9: Register your German address at the local Bürgeramt. You need a document called Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord for this and receive a document called Anmeldebestätigung from the Bürgeramt.
- Step 10: Make a residence permit appointment at the Ausländerbehörde. The residence permit is granted once you have the freelance visa.
These are the required documents to apply for a German freelance visa source.
- The national visa application form.
- Two biometric passport photographs.
- Valid passport.
- Proof of your German residence. The official document is called Anmeldebestätigung.
- Proof of health insurance. Read our guide to health insurance plans for more information.
- Proof of a pension plan in case you are older than 45. Proof that you have a monthly pension of at least 1.188 Euro after the age of 67 for at least 12 years or the same amount in assets. Citizens of the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United States of America do not have to provide proof of a pension plan source.
- Printed Curriculum Vitae or portfolio which shows your experience in the field.
- Diplomas, certificates or anything similar that proves your qualifications.
- Letters of intent or contracts from German clients in the German language. It is recommended to have at least two contracts with German clients source.
- Financing plan. A projection of your business's future revenue.
- Proof that you have enough money to live in Germany for a year.
- Proof of a clean criminal record.
- Proof of paid visa fee.