Visa for Self-Employment

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Update 10.08.2022

Can I come to Germany and start my own business?

A lot of people dream of starting their very own business or working independently as self-employed. If you would like to come to Germany to do so, you will need a visa or a residence permit for self-employment.

What do I have to know?

I want to start a business. What requirements do I have to meet for a visa?

If you want to start a business in Germany, you need a visa or a residence permit for self-employment per Section 21 (1) of the Residence Act. To obtain such a visa/residence permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must prove that there is an economic interest or a local need for your business idea.
  • You need to show that your business idea will have a positive impact on the German economy.
  • You must be able to secure financing for your business idea.
  • If you are over 45 years of age, you will also need to present adequate retirement savings.
    I want to work as a freelancer. What requirements do I have to meet for a visa?

    If you want to become self-employed as a freelancer, you need a visa/residence permit for freelance work per Section 21 (5) of the Residence Act. To obtain such a visa/residence permit, you must meet the following requirements:

    • You must be able to secure financing for your business idea.
    • You need to have a work permit for the job you want to pursue. You can learn more in this regard in our chapter "Recognition of foreign professional qualifications".
    • If you are over 45 years of age, you will also need to present adequate retirement savings.
      Where do I apply for the visa?

      If you need a visa to enter Germany, you must first apply for it at the German embassy/consulate in your home country (or a neighbouring country) and present the documents mentioned above there.

      Please note that your visa application can take several months to process.

      If you do not need a visa to enter Germany, visit the Immigration Office at your new place of residence after your arrival and present the required documents there.

      Whether you need a visa depends on your country of origin. On auswaertiges-amt.de, you will find a list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter Germany.

      What documents do I need for the application?

      In our chapter "National Visa", you will find a list of all documents that you generally need for a national visa.

      The additional documents you need for a self-employment visa depend very much on your specific case. Inquire at the German embassy and the Immigration Office at the place (in Germany) where you would like to work as self-employed.

      What happens after entering the country?

      After entering the country, you must visit the Immigration Office at your new place of residence within three months and apply for a residence permit there. To do so, you must submit the documents mentioned above (again) and also, in principle, the police registration and your rental contract. The authorities will check your papers and then decide whether you can obtain a residence permit.

      A residence permit for self-employment is usually issued for up to three years. If your business idea works successfully and you earn enough money to finance your living (and that of your family) in Germany, your residence permit can be extended.

      Where can I find more information?

      You can seek more information from the German embassy in your home country or the Immigration Office in the area where you want to start your own business.

      Important

      You can learn more about setting up a business in our chapters "Starting up a Registered Business ("Gewerbe")" and "Starting up as Self-Employed ("Freiberufler")".

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