Starting up as Self-Employed ("Freiberufler")

How can I register as self-employed?

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Many people dream of working as self-employed and being their own boss. Starting to work as self-employed is called "Existenzgründung”. As a self-employed person, you are the one who decides which jobs to accept or how and when to work. But self-employment also requires a lot of effort: you are personally responsible for everything and have to take care of many issues. Furthermore, you do not receive a regular fixed salary.

In this chapter, you will find essential information required for starting self-employment in a so-called Liberal Profession ("Freien Beruf"). If the job you practice is not categorised as a liberal profession and you are not a "freiberufler", visit our chapter "Starting up a Registered Business ("Gewerbe")" to find the essential information you need about self-employment for tradespeople.

What do I need to know?

Who is considered self-employed ("Freiberufler")?

Can I become self-employed?

How do I register as self-employed?

Which legal form should I choose?

What is the Small Business Regulation ("Kleinunternehmerreglung")?

Where do I have to register?

Which taxes do I have to pay when working as self-employed?

Where do I submit my annual tax return?

What about the bookkeeping?

When and how should I write invoices?

What does „Scheinselbständigkeit“ mean?

Can I be employed and self-employed at the same time?

Where can I receive financial support?

What kind of insurance do I need?

Can I hire?

Where can I find counselling and support?

How can I deregister as a freelancer?

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If you are self-employed on paper, but only work for a single company and are not, in fact, working independently, you are categorised under "bogus self-employment" or "Scheinselbständig", which is punishable in Germany. You can learn more about the relevant regulations on the website of the DGB.