All Requirements for German Freelance Visa

Mar 28, 2021Get Started, Move to Germany, Work in Germany

German Freelance visa is a great opportunity to come to Germany and stay for a long period of time while being self-employed. A freelancer visa can be also used by digital nomads, who want to have a base in centrally located Germany.

Main requirements for a German Freelance Visa include:

  • An applicant must have enough money to support himself
  • An applicant must have a health insurance
  • An applicant must have clients in Germany

This residence permit will allow you to stay in the country for at least a year with a possible extension. Moreover, already after 3 years, you can apply for permanent residency there. So you are determined to become self-employed in Germany? In this post, you will learn which requirements one must fulfill and other useful information on a German Freelance visa.

Want To Become a Freelancer in Germany?

If you are planning to come to Germany from the third country and work as a freelance, you need to go through 2 step process. Firstly, one should apply for a D-type visa from the German embassy in their home country, and secondly, apply for a freelancer residence permit in Germany.

In this article, we will explain the process of visa application in your home country and all the requirements&documents you will face.

However, If you are from the USA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, or South Korea, you can simply travel to Germany, get your accommodation, health insurance, register at the tax office, and apply for a Freelancer residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) within the country. Therefore, you do not need an entry visa.

Be aware that Freelancers can be the only particular professionals (see below the full list), in all other cases a person must register the trade and become a solo-proprietor in Germany.

Overall, Freelancers in Germany are people who work in these sectors:

  • Health e.g. doctors, dentists, veterinarians, alternative practitioners, dentists, physiotherapists
  • Legal, Tax, and management consulting e.g lawyers, patent attorneys, notaries, auditors, tax consultants, tax representatives, consulting economists and business economists, sworn accountants, and book auditors
  • Scientific/technical e.g. engineers, commercial chemists, architects, pilots
  • Voice and information transmission e.g. journalists, photo reporters, interpreters, translators

Plus: Graduate psychologist, massage therapist, midwife

Moreover, liberal professions also include independent scientific, artistic, literary, teaching, or educational activities. All candidates will be examined before they will be considered as a liberal profession.

Main Requirements For a Freelance Visa in Germany

In order to get a freelance visa for Germany, one must meet certain criteria, which can appear difficult for the first time, but I ensure you, it’s all manageable. Requirements differ depending on if you are eligible to be a freelancer in Germany or need to register as a trade/business (become self-employed).

In both cases, main criteria remain to be the same:

  • You must make enough money
  • You have a health insurance
  • You must have clients in Germany
    If you don’t have clients in Germany, you will not get the German freelance visa. You only get a freelance visa if there is a “local economic interest” for your services.

If your profession falls into one of the liberal in Germany you need meet these criteria:

  • You can prove the financing of your freelance project
  • You have a permit to practice the profession you are planning to do in Germany
  • If you are older than 45 years, you must also prove that you have a sufficient pension

If it doesn’t fall into one of such professions, you still can receive a Freelance visa for Germany but only if you are a company founder, a sole proprietor, or managing director/legal representative of a partnership or corporation and:

  • There is an economic interest or regional need for your product or service
  • Business activities are expected to have a positive impact on the economy
  • You have secured the financing of the implementation through equity or a loan commitment
  • If you are older than 45 years you must provide proof of adequate pension

Read a full article about differences between freelance and self-employment in Germany. 

Below you can see the general documents to apply for a German Freelance visa:

  • Duly completed national visa application form.
  • Valid national passport.
  • Two recently made biometric photographs. (see photo requirements)
  • Payment of the visa application fee.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Recommendation letters from previous employers. 
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Cover letter.
  • Portfolio of your previous work. Several printed samples of the previous freelance work, or regular work in the same profession.
  • Professional authorization. You need to show a license or other authorization to show evidence of your expertise and relevance to pursue the intended profession. This is needed if you’re planning to exercise a profession that requires prior expertise in the field, i.e. Medicine, law, and similar.
  • Certificates of earlier education.
  • Means of subsistence. Evidence showing you have enough money to cover your living and freelancing costs. This can be one of the following:
    • Latest bank statements. From a home-country bank, showing enough available funds.
    • Blocked bank accountFintiba is one of the best banks in Germany that will open a blocked account for you quickly and at a low cost. The blocked account provided by Fintiba is accepted by German embassies/consulates all around the world.
    • Profit/loss statement. Which must show your forecasts about monthly profits and losses from the intended freelance/business activity.
    • Proof of adequate pension plan. Only if you are older than 45.
  • Evidence of a Freelance Plan.
  • Letters of commitments from future customers/employers in Germany. You should have at least 2 of them. These letters must clearly show their intent to employ you in Germany.

Documents regarding your profession (for freelancers)

  • 2 or more recommendation letters
    It’s advisable to have recommendation letters from your previous employers, clients, or professors that recommend you. The letters must be related to the profession you are getting a visa for.
  • CV or resume
    CV is surely a must for this type of visa, better to have one in German format and one in English.
  • Cover letter
    A cover letter plays a big role in Germany, make one in English and one in German. Don’t forget to sign the letter. If you need to translate documents, use Lingoking.
  • Portfolio/examples of your work
    You must demonstrate that you can do your job, for this you should bring printed samples of your previous work.
  • Professional permit (if applicable)
    If you need a permit to perform your profession (for example, law or medicine).
  • Proof of education (optional)
    If you have relevant degrees or certifications, they can prove that you are qualified. Provide original diplomas, and copies.
  • 2 or more letters of intent or contracts (Absichtserklärung)

These letters play an important role when you apply for a Freelancer visa for Germany. They must show that you have some potential clients in the country. The letter must show the intention of the company or individual to hire you. Surely, signed contracts will be better than letters of intent.

How Can You Provide Financial Proof for your German Freelance visa?

Financials are one of the most significant parts of your visa application. There are several ways applicant can prove his or her financial situation:

  • Bank statement (Kontoauszug)
    Must show how much savings you have. The more money you have in your account, the better. In general, bank statements from foreign banks are accepted, but better to have a German one. As I have heard, 3,000 EUR to 5,000 EUR in savings can be enough for them, to approve your visa.
  • Revenue forecast/profit and loss statement
    Make a spreadsheet with your expected monthly revenue and expenses for your business, without your own rent and expenses.
  • Proof of adequate pension plan
    If you are over 45 years old, you need to prove that you have adequate preparations for retirement.
  • Proof of regular income (artists and language teachers only)
    If you are applying as an artist or language teacher visa in Berlin, you must prove that you will have a regular income. This can be your own savings, regular bank transfers, or a letter from a guarantor.

Documents regarding your business (for self-employed)

In case your profession isn’t recognized as a liberal one in Germany you should become a self-emloyed, for this you need some additional documents when applying for a Freelance visa:

  • Business plan
    Germany must see that there is an economic interest or a regional need for your services/product. Describe how you plan to find work and grow your business in Germany. This document is a summary of the company profile, capital requirement plan, business concept, and financing plan. You can write your business plan in English or in German.
    • Company profile
      Includes official proof of its existence, names of managing directors, total equity, annual turnover, official business address in your city, official function.
    • Capital requirement plan
      All expenses you plan for starting the business: equipment purchases, real estate, licensing fees, vehicles, etc.
    • Business concept
      Your industry, the target customers, marketing & sales strategy, and the market forecasts.
    • Financing plan / Capital budget – Your financial situation. How and where will you acquire money for your business?

All these documents must include the following information:

  • Company profile
  • Business plan
  • Business concept
  • Capital needs plan
  • Description of the personal qualifications
  • Market and competitive analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Output preview; profit-and-loss account, the liquidity forecast
  • Description of the future plans and perspectives
  • Additional information on the number of jobs expected to be created and the number of jobs expected to be created the resulting training places (Ausbildung)
  • If possible: explain to what extent the areas of innovation and research are positive about the project

For People Over 45 Years Old

People with age over 45 years have it a bit harder, they need to prove an adequate retirement plan, which can be:

  • Private pension which guarantees at least 1,332 EUR per month for at least 12 years by the time you are 67 years old
  • Or at least 194,631 EUR worth of assets by the time you are 67 years old

However, proof of a pension plan isn’t required for applicants from these countries: Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the United States of America.
But you must keep in mind, that an adequate pension is always necessary for the issuance of a permanent residence permit – regardless of age or nationality.

Document Checklist for German Freelance Visa

Here you can see full checklist of documents for your visa application:

  • Address registration confirmation (Anmeldebestätigung)
  • Appointment confirmation from the Ausländerbehörde
  • Bank statement (Kontoauszug)
  • Business plan (for self-employed/business owners)
    • Company profile
    • Capital requirement plan
    • Business concept
  • Cash for the application fees, ~120€
  • Cover letter (Anschreiben)
  • CV or resume
  • Financing plan
  • Freelance visa application form
  • Letter of confirmation from your landlord
  • Letters of intent from German companies/customers
  • Passport
  • Passport photos x 2
  • Portfolio/examples of your work, printed
  • Professional permit (optional)
  • Proof of adequate pension plan (if you are over 45 years old)
  • Proof of education (optional)
  • Proof of regular income (artists and language teachers only)
  • Proof of health insurance coverage
  • Recommendation letters
  • Rent contract
  • Revenue forecast / Profit and loss statement

See the full list of documents for a freelance visa on the official website.

Germany Freelancer Visa Fees

The fee to apply for a freelance visa is 60 EUR after you will need to apply for a residence permit within Germany which costs around 140 EUR.

After you have submitted all documents it will take around 5–6 weeks to proceed.

Your Freelancer visa will be valid for 3 months, during which you have to enter Germany and apply for a residence permit, which then replaces the visa.

Berlin Freelancer Visa for Artists and Language Teachers

The artist visa has the same concept as the German Freelance visa. The only difference is that you get it instantly, without any processing time, and it’s only available in Berlin.

Be aware that everyone needs health insurance in Germany. One of the top-rated by German rankings insurance for international workers, expats, freelancers, and business owners is Ottonova. Check their offer here.

Health Insurance for a Freelancers in Germany

For your Freelance visa application, you will need to get health insurance, for this, you usually can use some kind of travel insurance.

However, it won’t be sufficient to apply for the Freelancer residence permit and to stay In Germany for the long term. For this reason, you must get a proper public or private health insurance plan, Ottonova is highly recommended for freelancers and expats.

The optimal private insurance provider in Germany can be also found on the platform Tarifcheck, but most freelancers, self-employed, and ex-pats opt for Ottonova

Benefits of German Freelance Visa

German Freelance visa has many advantages, firstly, we are lucky that its even exist, not many countries have this option! Read below all the benefits you will get when residing in Germany with this visa/residence permit.

Chance to get a permanent residency in Germany

Already after 3 years of living and working in Germany as a freelancer you can apply for a permanent residency, which will allow you to stay in the country for the unlimited period time. In many aspects permanent residency is similar to the citizenship, you can go, live and work in other EU countries for up to 2 years.

However, PR will expire if you leave EU for more than 12 months.

Read more about permanent residence in Germany here

Travel outside the country for 6 months in the year

Germany is located right in the center of Europe, this allows you to travel to any country on the continent without much hustle. Luckily, with the German Freelance Visa, you can stay out of the country for up to 6 months without losing its validity.

You can read the main requirements for permanent residence after a Freelance visa in Germany on this website.

Tax advantages

As a Freelancer or Business owner in Germany you will be able to benefit from taxation, for example, you can write off several expenses.

Submit your tax declaration in Germany online and at affordable price.

Taxes for Freelancers in Germany

As a freelancer in Germany, you’ll be excused from the business registration procedure and from getting the trade permit.

Traders (self-employed) are obliged to pay trade taxes, freelancers-freiberufler are exempt from this obligation but others aren’t and have to pay it together with the traders. 

Both of them have to plan ahead of the time how they will pay taxes next year to avoid a troublesome situations. 

Compare providers and rates for various insurances, debit & credit cards, credits & loans, tariffs for internet, electricity, much more to find a perfect deal for your situation. You can do it all on the platform Tarifcheck.de which will also allow you to buy from a selected provider. 

The following overview illustrates the tax difference between freelancing and self-employment:

  • Freelancers don’t have to register a business
  • Freelancers-freiberufler don’t pay a trade tax
  • Freelancers aren’t subject to trade supervision
  • Freelancers aren’t subject to trade law
  • Freelancers aren’t subject to commercial law
  • Freelancers aren’t subject to the obligation to be members of a chamber
  • Freelancers aren’t required to keep accounts (regardless of the amount of income)
  • Freelancers only have to submit a surplus income statement for the annual accounts

Read more about taxation in Germany on their official website

Einkommensteuer (Income tax)

In Germany self-employed are exempt from income tax up to an annual income of 9,408 EUR, anything earned beyond that must be taxed. The income tax is calculated depending on the annual income, the higher the income the higher the taxes. Overall, the tax rate is between 6% and 42%. 

For freelancers and self-employed people, the income tax will apply to everything they earn with their activities. The income tax has to be paid yearly before the 31st of May to the Finanzamt. It is a part of the Steuererklärung (tax declaration).

Gewerbesteuer (Trade tax)

This tax only applies to Gewerbetreibende (self-employed/trader), freelancers who fall into the category of liberal professions are exempt from it. Self-employed/freelancers only need to pay a trade tax if their annual revenue annual higher than 24,500 EUR.

Also, limited companies, partnerships, and joint-stock companies are all subjected to this tax.

Trade tax is a responsibility of each municipality in Germany, the amount varies from municipality to municipality (from city to city.

Landingpage (EN)

Umsatzsteuer (VAT)

Both self-employed and freelancers are obligated to pay VAT or Umsatzsteuer. Each self-employed in Germany needs to pay taxes on goods or services they sell. The good thing about VAT that at the end of the year you can claim a return in taxes on purchased items or services. 

However, you will be exempt if yearly revenue lower than 50,000 EUR and earning under 17,500 EUR. Also, if your VAT the previous year was less than 1,000 EUR you don’t need to prepare VAT declarations in the future, but you need to declare all revenue in your annual VAT return (Umsatzsteuererklärung).

There are two rates for Value Added Tax (VAT): reduced 7% and regular 19%. Which one applies to you depends on the type of service or product you serve in your business.

Solidarity Surcharge

Solidarity surcharge is the weird tax, which everyone needs to pay in Germany, even employees. It has a fixed rate of 5.5% of the income tax to be paid.

If you still have questions regarding visas in Germany, you can call the “Working and Living in Germany” hotline. It’s an official government hotline that helps people settle in Germany. They offer help in English and in German.

Find the job as a freelancer in Germany:

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