Germany Freelance Visa: All You Need To Know
Digital nomadism and freelancing have become popular kinds of self-employment because they offer more flexibility and less bureaucracy than traditional work.
You are your own boss when you work as a freelancer. There is a lot of freedom in terms of working days and hours. Furthermore, you have complete control over whatever clients and projects you wish to work on. You almost don’t have any working protocols to follow. It’s possible that you won’t need an office to get your work done.
A freelance visa may be required if you want to work for yourself in Germany. A freelancing visa is a sort of visa that allows you to work from home.
In this post, we’ll explain whether you need a German freelance visa and how to get one.
Eligibility for Germany Freelance Visa
- You are not a German, European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Swiss citizen or permanent resident. UK citizens now require a freelance visa as a result of Brexit
- You’re living in Germany, which means that you have an address in the country. You’ll need to prove this in your visa interview
- You have a health insurance
- You have the funds to support yourself
- You have clients in Germany
Apart from the requirements above, the key requirement is that you’re a freelancer, not a self-employed person.
Freelancer VS Self-Employed
Determining if you’re a freelancer, not self-employed is the key for a German freelance visa. In Germany, there is a distinction between freelancers (Freiberufler) and self-employed people (selbständig).
To be considered a freelancer in Germany, you must meet two key conditions. First, you must be engaged in a “liberal profession” (as defined below), as well as possess a recognized university degree or comparable education or experience. If you don’t have a degree, establishing that you have “equivalent education” can be tough.
If you don’t meet the requirements to be a freelancer, you are “Self-employed” (Selbständig/Gewerbe). This usually entails selling tangible goods and engaging in business activity. Basically, anything that isn’t derived from being an intellectual profession (e.g., selling your services based on your knowledge, such as advising) but is a commercial activity. Depending on how you do it, your freelance activity may turn into a commercial activity in many circumstances.
Approved Categories for Freelance Visa
- Healthcare provider
- Tax consultant
Germany Freelance Visa: Application Process
Step 1: Travel to Germany
Arriving in Germany is the first step. Before you can apply for a German freelance visa, you must first acquire German clients and a place to live. When you’re in Germany, it’s much easier to do so.
You can also apply from the comfort of your own nation. If you are unable to enter Germany without a visa, this may be a more convenient option for you.
Things to note:
If you’re a citizen of an EU country, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein, you will not need a freelance visa to freelance in Germany.
If you’re from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK, or the US, you can come and stay in Germany without a visa for up to 90 days and make your freelance visa application within the country. You’ll not be able to work during this process but at least you can do your preparations.
If you’re from a country except as we’ve mentioned above, you’re not allowed to enter Germany without a visa. Here are two different ways to apply for a freelance visa:
- Apply for a freelance visa at a German embassy in your country. The authorities will send your documents to Germany and they’ll be reviewed there. You can expect to receive your visa in around six months.
- You can apply for a job seeker visa at the German embassy in your country. This visa allows you to enter Germany and look for a job while you’re there. Once you find a job, you can directly apply for a freelance visa. A job seeker visa will be valid for six months. Note that you’re not allowed to apply for a freelance visa if you’ve arrived in the country with a tourist visa.
Step 2: Make Your Visa Appointment
Get an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde (the immigration office). It’s important that you book your appointment as soon as possible as in some offices it’s difficult to find an available appointment slot.
Step 3: Open a Bank Account
For all your transactions within the country, you’re going to need a bank account. Open a bank account to register your business, pay your taxes, and for other operations. Sometimes, the authorities want to see the statements from a German bank, not your bank in your home country. This is why you might need to transfer some funds to your new account in a German bank.
Step 4: Register Your Address
To register your address, book an appointment at the Citizen’s Office (Bürgeramt). Before the appointment, fill in the “Anmeldung” form and collect the required documents. When you go to the Bürgeramt, you’ll get a confirmation that your address has been registered. You’ll need this confirmation in your visa interview as proof of your residence in the country.
Things to note:
You need to submit a letter from your landlord; hotel room bookings are not accepted as proof of residence.
Step 5: Get a Health Insurance
Health insurance is crucial for freelance visa applications in Germany so get a valid health insurance
In Germany, everyone must have health insurance. You can’t apply for a freelance visa without valid health insurance that has good coverage. If you’re not familiar with the health insurance companies in Germany, it’ll be useful to speak to experts before you get health insurance.
Step 6: Start Collecting Your Documents
As there are many documents that you’ll need to submit, you’d better start collecting them as soon as you can. You can find the list of required documents in the following section.
Step 7: Attend Your Visa Interview as Scheduled
Show up at your visa appointment with all your documents. Note that the interview might be conducted in German. If you can, work with a local immigration lawyer who can accompany you to the interview. The interviews usually take around one hour.
Step 8: Get Your Freelance Visa
You might expect to get your freelance visa right after the interview. If not, you can get it after a few weeks.
Step 9: Register and Start Your Business
Once you have your visa, register your business at the tax office (Finanzamt). When you do this, you’ll get a tax number, a VAT number, and a trade register entry.
Voila! You can now enjoy your journey in Germany as a freelancer.
Validity of Germany Freelance Visa
Your freelance visa will be valid for six months to three years after you receive it. You can renew your visa when it is about to expire. The procedure for renewing a visa is relatively similar.
Required Documents for Germany Freelance Visa
- Freelance visa application form
- Appointment confirmation
- Two biometric photos (35mm x 45mm)
- Your passport – If your visa is approved right after the interview, you’ll get your visa as a sticker on your passport
- Health insurance
- Proof of residence – Also, add the utility bills and rental contract
- Application fee – Varies from €37 to €100, payable by cash (credit card is not accepted in every immigration office)
- Your résumé – Make sure your CV includes all your education and work details. To be on the safe side, prepare a résumé in German.
- Cover letter – This is not a strict requirement but having one (preferably in German) might be helpful
- Recommendation letters – During your interview, the officers might want to see some recommendation letters from your previous clients. If you can, get them signed
- Proof of education – This is required if you need a certification to perform your work, in accordance with the German law. If not, still add them as supporting documentation
- Letters of Intent (Absichtserklärung zur Zusammenarbeit) – You’ll need to get at least two letters from your prospective German clients who show an interest in hiring you. These letters prove that your work is valid in Germany. Note that having international remote clients will not suffice
- Current contracts – If you’ve already corresponded with prospective clients and have made contracts, submit them to prove your future earnings
- Your portfolio – Bring printed examples of your previous work to prove your profession. Online proof will not suffice, make sure you’ve printed copies of your work
- Professional permit: This is required only if you need a permit to perform your profession, such as law or medicine
- Bank statements – You’ll need to bring along statements from your bank (preferably a German one), showing your financial capacity to support yourself. In general, having €3,000 to €5,000 in your account is said to be sufficient to get approval.
- Financing plan – With this document, you’ll need to show how you’ll be financing your business. List your tangible assets, loans, or venture capital in this document.
- Revenue forecast – Explain your expected income and expenses for the following year. Also, add the costs of setting up your business and possible profits/losses.
- Pension Plan – If you’re above the age of 45, and from a country other than the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the US, you’ll need to prove that you have a solid plan for retirement.
There you have it. We’ve tried to give you the outline of the German Freelance Visa. This visa is a great opportunity for those who want to live in Europe and do their professions. Other than other digital nomad visas around the world, there is more bureaucracy involved, however, it can be handled with the help of a professional immigration consultant.
Have you ever thought of living in Germany on a freelance visa? Let us know. We’d be happy to hear about your journey.