It is no secret that freelancers make up a large portion of the nomadic community. In a bid to attract them, Germany has created a visa specifically for them: the Freelance visa. In this article, I review it and detail how to apply.
The Freelance visa
The Freelance visa allows successful applicants to live and work in Germany for up to two years. It can be renewed up until one becomes eligible for permanent residency and is a path to German citizenship. It is important not to confuse it with the Artist visa which, as its name implies, is limited to artists (including writers and journalists). The application process for both visas is essentially the same but most will only qualify for the Freelance visa.
The citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States can apply directly in Germany even if they are there on a tourist entry. The citizens from other countries must apply at the German consulate nearest to where they reside.
There are not many requirements for this visa. You will need a resident permit (a strange German document confirming your rental agreement), a financing plan / revenue forecast, a CV, health insurance and in some cases, a pension plan.
It is important to note that Germany is NOT a tax haven and that as a resident, you will be subject to German taxation on your worldwide income. You can find the current rates and deductions here.
How to apply
1. Your first step will be to gather all necessary documents (except for the resident permit). You can find an up-to-date list on the Berlin government site here.
2. Your next step will be to sign a lease agreement. You will then be able to apply for a “Aufenthaltstitels” (Residence Permit) at your local Bürgeramt.
3. Once you have the resident permit, you will be able to open a German bank account. I recommend N26, their accounts have few fees and their product is excellent.
4. Once you have completed step one to three, you will be able to apply for the Freelance visa. This is done by appointment at the local “Ausländerbehörde” (immigration office). Bring all your documents along with a few € to pay the visa fee.
5. You will be notified within a few months of the German government’s decision regarding your application. If approved, your next and final step will be to apply for a German Tax ID.