The Artist Visa

Every Artist who comes to Berlin with the intention to stay here longer and needs a visa for doing so, sooner or later hears about the mysterious Artist Visa. The start searching for it at the most obvious place, the website of the foreigners office – and they will find: nothing. Google search – nothing, or very little.

So here you are, here are the answers you were looking for: The ultimate guide to the Artist Visa!

Who can get the Artist Visa?

Duh, artists, obviously. Yes, but of course, it is not that simple. If you are an artist planning to work on a freelance base, coming from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea or the US, you can apply for that visa in Berlin. If your nationality requires a visa application from your home country, check with your local embassy. You must have your main residency in Berlin („Anmeldung“) and you must prove that you are an artist.

Which professions count as „Art“?

That’s a bit hard to say, as in some cases, you’ll have to convince the officers of your artistic identity. If you’re a painter, a musician, a photographer or a dancer it’s relatively easy. But you also can count as artist for being a graphic designer, DJ, writer etc.

What do I need to prove my artistic qualification?

First of all: Having a portfolio is nice, but don’t invest too much work into it. Nobody will judge the artistic quality of your work.

What is most important, is your CV. List all projects you’ve ever done or participated in, no matter if you got paid for them or not. This could be exhibitions, movie shoots, shows, book projects, publications and so on. List all types of formal education you went through like universities, art school, as well as short courses you might have done. I can’t stress that enough: Have a very elaborate CV and have someone look over it.

If you have reference letters from previous projects, which prove your qualification, bring them too.

There is a (small) possibility you’ll get asked for your website.

Do not bring: Your mixtape, your painting, your guitar.

Which Documents do I need (checklist)?

  • Letters from future clients: Letters or contracts from any person/company/project, intending to work with you in the future
  • CV
  • Diploma(s) (original)
  • Passport
  • Biometric photograph
  • Application form
  • Revenue Forecast form
  • Financing Plan form   -> all forms *here*
  • Bank statement proving that you have enough money to survive the first couple of month while you built up your network. Generally I’d say not less than 2500-3000€ but that strongly depends on your letters (better letters -> less money needed) and your rental costs. Here as well: The more the better.
  • Registration document („Anmeldung“)
  • Health Insurance (see below)
  • rental contract (sublease is okay)

What is adequate health insurance?

For freelance artists doing their initial application (not extension!) the cheap expat health insurances still work. Examples are Mawista, Care Concept etc. Note: This rule is an exception and there is a chance, it might change at some point. Until a while ago, all freelancers could go with those insurances, but now it’s only artists, applying for their first visa. Note II: Be aware of the fact, that latest, when you apply for your extension, you need a proper health insurance and the expat ones won’t be sufficient anymore.

What is the difference to the Freelance Visa?

Basically, the Artist Visa is a subcategory of the Freelance Visa. The difference is, that your application will not be reviewed by the Federal Employment Agency, which means, you’ll get your visa on spot, while other freelancers usually have to wait for a couple of weeks until their application has been reviewed. The regulations are generally a bit more lax compared to the „normal“ Freelance Visa and it’s easier to get accepted. But, it won’t happen, if you’re not an artist, unfortunately.

What do I have to do after I get it?

Step I: Open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Step II: Go to your local tax office and apply for a freelance tax number. It’s „just“ a long from and they will send the number to you within two weeks and then you can officially start invoicing your clients.

Can I do it alone or do I need assistance?

As said also in my other articles, there is a chance, you’ll meet an officer there, who speaks English and is willing to do the interview with you in English. But there is a good chance also you will not. In this case, they will just send you home and tell you to come back another day with an interpreter.

I offer two types of services for the Artist Visa:

  1. Prior consultation: I meet you and explain the whole process to you in detail and also review your papers, documents and letters and give advice on what should look different, how to improve the CV, how to convince potential clients to write those letters and fill in all the official forms with you. During the whole preparation process, I am available via email for any questions coming up between consultation and appointment.
  2. Interpreting at the appointment: I go with you to your appointment and assist you in explaining your case in the most beneficial way and interpret all questions that might come up.

I have two years of experience with helping people through their Artist Visa process, so I have seen a lot of different cases and until now, I have a success rate of 100% for clients, who were consulted by me before the appointment and whom I accompanied.

If you have questions or if you wanna book and appointment, get in touch through the contact form or directly via