Good business ideas are in demand, however, one hurdle entrepreneurs from outside of the European Union will have to take is obtaining a residence permit to do business in Germany.
Every long-term (more than 90 days) stay in Germany for business purposes requires a residence permit. Centurion Plus connects you with legal experts that guide you through the immigration process.
Visa and residence permit for start-ups
There are two documents that are necessary for a long-term stay in Germany, a (national) visa and a residence permit. Since each long-term stay in Germany is tied to a specific purpose, there are different visa types for each determined purpose.
The national visa allows the holder of such a visa to enter Germany for a long term stay with a specific purpose – for example to take up employment or study. One must apply for a visa in the country of origin prior to entering Germany. After entering Germany the visa must be converted to the according residence permit, which requires an application with the competent local foreigners office in Germany. Although the visa and residence permit are two different documents they must match when it comes to the purpose of the stay because each stay in Germany is tied to a specific purpose. Only once you obtain the relevant residence permit you are allowed to conduct business in Germany.
Visa for entrepreneurs
Citizens from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa or residence permit since the freedom of establishment applies to them. Citizens from non-member countries that want to set up a business in Germany need a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Ausübung einer selbständigen Tätigkeit).
There are two ways of setting up your own business in Germany: you can either work as a freelancer (Freiberufler) or set up a business as a self-employed entrepreneur (Selbstständige/r Unternehmer/in), which is also considered as the classification of your work.
First, a determination must be made as to the exact classification of your work. Rules and regulations may vary depending on what sort of business you plan to engage in.
In general, freelancers (Freiberufler) are those who have specific academic training such as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, architects, engineers etc. Other professions may be considered as “trades” (Gewerbe) and will be performed as a self-employed entrepreneur.
The classification of your work is not only important with regards to the relevant work permit but also because it may influence your tax liability, certificates and licenses required and whether or not you are required to be a member of a professional association or other “chamber”.
Consult with one of Centurion Plus on-demand lawyers today for legal assessment of your qualifications and for which type of residence permit you might qualify.
If you would like to set up a business as a self-employed entrepreneur (Selbstständige/r Unternehmer/in), you will need to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (Section 21 (1) of the Residence Act). In addition to several general criteria that must be met to obtain this permit you must fulfil the following requirements, which you should ideally explain convincingly and comprehensively in your business plan:
- There is commercial interest or regional demand for your products or services.
- Your business activity is likely to have a positive impact on the economy.
- You have secured financing for your business by way of capital or a loan commitment.
The on-demand lawyers of the Centurion Plus network will help you to assess whether your business fulfils the requirements listed above. Moreover, Centurion Plus provides a network of consultants that assist you in drafting a business plan.
Should you wish to conduct your business as a freelancer in one of the liberal professions (Freiberufler), you will need to apply for a “residence permit for the purpose of freelance employment” (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Ausübung einer freiberuflichen Tätigkeit”) (Section 21 (5) of the Residence Act) at the authority responsible for you. Such a residence permit can be granted if you can prove that:
- You have the means to fund your undertaking.
- You will be able to make a living for yourself.
- You have the permission to practise in your profession, where required.
Applicants older than 45 years of age, also require adequate pension provisions.
The visa application process for start-ups and entrepreneurs
If you fulfil the requirements for a visa, you must gather all the necessary documents for your visa application. The list of necessary documents can generally be found on the website of the German Embassy or the German Consulate in your country of residence. The visa application must be submitted to your local German Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence and has to correspond to the purpose of your stay in Germany.
Your visa generally remains valid for up to 6 months. During this time, you will need to apply for a residence permit with the local foreigner’s office to be able to stay in Germany for a longer period of time. When you apply for a visa, a residence permit, a settlement permit or an extension of these documents, you will have to pay a fee. The amount of the fee depends on your location, the duration and the purpose of your stay.
Contact Centurion Plus for immigration advice
The importance of getting expert advice about being self-employed or conducting a freelance business in Germany cannot be stressed enough. Laws, rules, regulations, and procedures are continuously undergoing change. You should get professional assistance in immigration matters to avoid misunderstandings that may result in trouble with the authorities.
Contact Centurion Plus today to get connected with an immigration expert guiding you through the application process and assisting you with all related questions.