Freelancing has become a very popular way of functioning for different professionals in the last couple of years, who do not have an employer in the traditional sense, but rather work for themselves or for a company on a contract basis.
Many countries, allow foreign freelancers of different fields to enter the country and work there. Such thing is also possible in Germany. The western European country welcomes freelancers from all around the globe to come and work.
Many of them, are not even required to obtain a residence permit, let alone a visa. Others, even though they don’t need a visa, they must obtain a residence permit upon their arrival in Germany. The rest, have to follow the visa procedures which often can seem complicated at first.
Applicants who are nationals of one of the member states of the European Union, of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein do not need any visa in order to be able to work as a freelancer in Germany. On the other hand, applicants who are nationals of the Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, United States of America and South Korea can apply for a freelance visa upon their arrival in Germany.
Meanwhile, applicants who are nationals of other countries of the world, not mentioned above, must apply for a Germany visa, and obtain one in order to be able to enter and work as a freelancer in Germany. If you belong to this group you will have to get the Freelance Visa while in your country of residence. However, if you have entered Germany with e tourist visa you can switch to a Freelance visa if you fulfill the requirements.
With a freelance visa in Germany, you can work with different startups, businesses or individuals on a need-based and part-time contracts. There are no field restrictions, you can be in any profession, such as web programming, accounting, writing, marketing and so on. You can also work with clients outside the country, through different platforms.
Types of Germany Freelance Visa
Germany offers two types of freelancer visas for those wishing to work inside its borders:
- Work Freelance Visa
- Artist Freelance Visa
The Artist Freelance Visa falls under the Freelance Visa, and is offered only to artists who are planning to reside in Berlin, and not other cities of Germany. The difference between Work and Artist Visa is that in order to be eligible for an Artist Freelance Visa, your profession has to be related to “art” or journalism.
While the Work Freelance Visa usually takes up to three months or more to process your visa application as it gets sent to the Federal Employment Agency to be reviewed, your visa application for an Artist Freelance Visa is reviewed on the spot and it can be approved or rejected on that same day.
It might happen that if they are not sure your freelance profession really falls under the category of Artist Freelance Visa, your application will be sent to the Federal Employment Agency and it will take up to three months to review everything. Therefore, make sure to apply under a profession title that is very clear.
Germany Freelance Visa Requirements
Aside of nationals of one of the member states of the European Union, of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein all other citizens of the world must firstly get a Freelance Visa in order to be able to work as freelancers in Germany. There are a few steps one must follow prior to scheduling an appointment for a visa. Among all other requirements, there are four main that if you do not fulfill, they will probably not issue a visa to you. Take care to fulfill these requirements and then gather all the required documents.
Prerequisites for a German Freelance Visa
Registered apartment in Germany
This is the very first step you should take. Find and rent a room, a flat or a house, depending on your choice. Within two weeks of moving to Germany, you need to register, or at least get an appointment to register, your address at a local registration office, known as Bürgeramt.
Make an appointment, bring every document you have with you: passport, home/apartment rental contract or a letter from your roommate proving that you live there). They will issue you the so called Anmeldung, which is the essential document for you to start doing anything official in Germany.
If you will be staying with relatives, a partner or friends in Germany, then you will have to provide the address and a letter of confirmation from this person who proves that he or she has enough room for you.
Personal appointment at Foreigner’s Office
Schedule an appointment at the Foreigner’s Office in the city which you are staying. You can book an appointment online and you should do it as soon as possible since there might be no free time for four to eight weeks. You can also try your luck and just show up without an appointment, but you might have to wait for several hours then. Be careful to gather all of the required documents so when you show up at the appointment you have everything ready.
There must be an economic interest or a regional need for the type of work the applicant intends on doing
If the persons handling your application think that there is no economic interest in issuing you a visa, and you will not anyhow contribute to the economy of Germany then you will not get a visa. The reason behind this is that Germany wants people who will support and pay into the system without taking away from it.
Your financing is secured
You must have the capacity to maintain yourself financially during the whole stay. You will have to prove that by handing in a bank statement that confirms you have enough money.
Germany Freelance Visa Required Documents
- Application Form (Antrag) – They have these forms in English, but if you know German you can also fill it in German as well. Answer the questions honestly and be careful not to make any technical mistake. If any of the information you have given in the application form do not comply with the information in other required documents then your application might get refused.
- Valid passport – it should not older than 10 years, and it must have at least 6 months of validity beyond the end of the visa period requested, with two blank pages available for the visa.
- Two current biometric passport pictures – 35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera and light background. You can get these pictures at local shops.
- CV & Cover Letter – You need to prove your experience in the field. In Germany, the Cover Letter needs to be very specific. Through cover letter you have to show why you wish to work as a freelancer in Germany, why it is in the interest of German authorities to issue a visa to you. Try your hardest and be very convincing!
- Health insurance – you have Public and Private to choose from. Those with private health insurance should be of the same value as a public health insurance would be, approximately 100 Euros per month. And even if you have travel insurance you will still have to get health insurance.
- Rental contract of the home or flat or room you will be staying.
- Copies of your degrees to show your educational qualifications.
- In case you are older than 45 years you must submit a pension plan, a monthly pension of 1,188.92 euros after the age of 67 (for at least 12 years). Citizens of these countries are not required to provide proof of a pension plan: Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United States of America.
- Recommendation Letters and 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. Note that letters from German companies, written in German, are preferred.
- Bank statement, not older than a few days, to prove you meet a minimum of 9,000 euros per year, which is considered enough to live on in Berlin for one year. The more money you can show, the more chances you will have. Financial security is vital.
- Financing Plan – this is a sheet of your detailed budget, how much money you have and how you plan to spend it. Remember that Financing Plan is only a projection so just fill it in with numbers that you expect to spend and receive.
- Capital Budget – this is the form to explain what capital you have to start your business. Here you only need to fill in the capital that you already own. If you do not have all the forms of capital merely strike a line through the box. Don’t forget to include your health insurance.
- Printed Portfolio: Bring at least 6 samples of your work. The samples have to be printed. Do not take a laptop or any other gadget hoping that you can turn it on and show your work to the consul.
- Pay the fee: There is a fee you need to pay for the interview. The fee ranges between 50–110 €. For Turkish citizens, the fee is a maximum of 28,80 €.
After you get your visa, if you do not know any German it would be nice if you tried to learn a bit, so you can at least speak simple phrases as greetings once you arrive in Germany. If you have any friend in Germany who speaks German well take that friend with you during the procedures since this might be very helpful.
Throughout the whole process, take care to submit all of the necessary documents without delays or mistakes. For any difficulties contact the consulate or embassy in your country of residence and they will help you with your application.