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Residence permit for self-employment - application

You possess a foreign nationality and you wish to become self-employed in Germany? In this case you require a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment.

The residence permit for the purpose of self-employment is valid for a maximum period of three years. Atter the expiry of the three years, you can receive a settlement permit if

  • your company is successful and
  • your subsistence is assured.

Note: You have received a residence permit for a different purpose and you wish to be self-employed? This is possible if you have all the necessary permits or the authority has agreed to provide these.

Forms/Online Services

Responsible department

  • For issuing a national visa prior to entry into the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany: The German diplomatic mission abroad (embassy, consulate)
  • After entry: The authority for foreign nationals (Ausländerbehörde), where your primary residence is located
    The authority for foreign nationals is the city council (Stadtverwaltung) or the regional council office (Landratsamt) depending on your place of residence.

Useful tip: You can find a Directory of Diplomatic Missions of the Federal Republic of Germany Abroad on the Internet pages of the Federal Foreign Office.



Prerequisites for the residence permit are:

  • You satisfy the passport and visa obligation.
    With respect to the passport obligation, it is sufficient if you possess an alternative identity document.
  • Your subsistence is assured without having to claim public funds.
    Your subsistence is held to be assured if you generate
    • Income equal to the standard social assistance rate plus
    • The costs of accommodation and heating plus
    • Any health insurance contributions.
  • There are no grounds for your expulsion.
  • Your stay does not endanger or prejudice the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • If you are over the age of 45, you must have an adequate pension provision.
  • the following economic prerequisites:
    • There is a commercial interest in or a regional requirement for your activity.
    • Your activity can be expected to have a positive economic effect.
    • The financing of the business is secured either through personal capital or a loan undertaking.

If this does not apply to your project, the authority will obtain opinions from competent offices. These will clarify whether the planned activity is viable.

Note: In the following cases, you do not have to satisfy the economic prerequisites for self-employment:

  • You wish to become self-employed as a freelancer.
    You require
    • the necessary permits to pursue the freelance activity or
    • at least, confirmation that the permits will be granted.
  • You have completed your studies at a state or state-recognised higher education institute or comparable educational establishment in Germany.
    The self-employed activity must be related to the knowledge and skills you obtained in the course of your studies.
  • As a researcher or a scientist, you have a residence permit for the purpose of employment or for the purpose of research.
    The planned self-employed activity, however, must be related to your scientific activity or your research activity.


Before entering Germany, you must apply for a national visa in your own country.

After entry, you must apply for the residence title in writing to the authority for foreign nationals before your visa expires. The authority for foreign nationals is the city council (Stadtverwaltung) or the regional council office (Landratsamt) depending on your place of residence.

As of September 1st, 2011 the residence permit is the size of a credit card and it incorporates additional electronic functions. For more detailed information, see "Electronic residence title (eAT) – application".

Required documents

  • Proof that you satisfy the passport and visa obligation
  • Proof that your subsistence is assured
  • Proof that there are no grounds for your expulsion
  • Proof that you do not endanger or prejudice the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Proof that you satisfy the economic prerequisites, especially
    • Proof of the planned investment
    • Proof of financing
  • Depending on the activity: Proof of permits under employment law (for example, licence for restaurants, registration in the Register of Craftsmen)
  • If you are over the age of 45, also the following: Proof of adequate pension provision


  • Validity of up to one year: 100 euros
  • Extension up to three months: 96 euros
  • Extension of more than three months: 93 euros

Note: You may be exempted from the fees only in exceptional cases.

Processing time

Four to six weeks


Nationals of the member states of the European Union (EU) have access to the labour market in Germany due to their rights to freedom of movement. In exercising their right to establishment, they can be employed in Germany. This also applies to nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Justizministerium released the full description on 03.02.2022.
Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts. In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.


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