Freelance Visa

How to get a Freelance Visa in Germany

Obtaining a freelance visa in Germany can be a quite stressful process and many many papers are required and unfortunately the website of the Foreigners Office Berlin does not provide all the necessary information, which is needed, to actually be not denied at the visa appointment. This is unfortunate, but this article should help you through the obstacles and prepare you for the visa appointment.

One important thing right away: Be aware if you would be considered as Freiberufler (Freelancer) or Gewerbetreibend (self-employed business), because that makes a difference about which papers are needed for the application. You can find the definition of Freiberufler here.

Many people who are in Germany can be somehow considered artists and for them there are special regulations and luckily these regulations make things easier for them. Why is that so? There is a law in Berlin, which supports arts and culture. Artists, please look here.

If your freelance (or self-employed) work is not in the art field or of you are not a language teacher, the Chamber of Commerce will check your business idea or your existing business against the ‘economic needs’ of the German state and upon that decide if they will grant you the visa and give you business permission.

If you are not yet in Germany and do your visa application from abroad, you will have to do the whole process from your home country and deal with the German embassy there, but basically the process is pretty much the same. Citizens of the following countries can apply for the freelance visa while being in Germany:

Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Korea, USA

It is important, to be aware of the fact, that the process of gathering all papers is not going to take only a week or two, so better start even a few months before your current visa runs out, to prepare your documents and book an appointment around 2 months before your current visa is over.

Freelance Visa Requirements

There are three requirements, which you’ll need to meet, in order to obtain the freelance visa in Germany:

  1. Registered apartment in Germany

  2. Personal appointment 

  3. There must be an economic interest or a regional need for the type of work the applicant intends on doing

There is a list of papers and documents here (official website of the Foreigners Office on Freelance Visa) but you will need more and actually the ones which are not stated on the website are equally important as all the ones, which are stated on the website.

Visa Papers and Documents

  • Valid passport

  • Two biometric passport pictures

  • Official form filled in (‘Antrag’)

  • Written papers about: profile of your company, business plan, business concept, capital investment plan with investment sources (not for Freiberufler)

  • Finance plan

  • Projected income statement for three years

  • CV

  •  Proof of qualification (This can be either a university diploma and/or reference letters from past jobs)

  • Health insurance

  • Rental contract

  • In case you are older than 45 years: pension plan (not required for a couple of countries, contact me for details)

  • Letters/Contracts from prospective clients: Have as many letters (as official and as detailed as possible) from prospective or current clients. It’s recommended that the letters highlight your experience and expertise in your field too. Two contracts/job offers, from clients based in Germany, are the absolute minimum. If that will really be enough, depends a lot on the “quality” of the letters.

  • Bank statement, not older than a few days. Not less than 4000€.

Time Schedule

3 months before the appointment: Book the appointment.

2 months before the appointment: Start gathering the client letters, think about the money in your account.

2 – 4 weeks before the appointment: When you feel like you’re ready for the appointment and you have all documents and papers, have someone (for instance me :D) look over the paperwork.

The day of the appointment: Dress nicely, it doesn’t have to be extremely formal (like tie-formal) have a nice coffee and breakfast before, relax and believe in the fact that you will make it. Most important: BE ON TIME! I can’t stress that enough. if you’re 3 minutes late and they already called your number, you lost it and have no chance to be seen the same day.

After your appointment, your documents might be sent to the Chamber of Commerce and they will decide if your field of work needs more people and after approval they will send it back to the Foreigners Office and then you’ll get informed, if your visa got approved.

Is additional help needed?

There is a high chance, that the person, who will deal with your case, will not speak English very well, sometimes they will speak no English at all. It is highly recommended to take someone who speaks German very well with you, best, if it’s someone, who knows how the system works.

If you need assistance with the paperwork, someone to accompany you at the appointment or if you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.

-Johanna