Are you from a country that is not Switzerland and is also not part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA)? Are you living in Germany and studying for a degree or post-doctorate at a German university? As a member of a third country, you can become self-employed in Germany if you fulfil the following three conditions:
Your permit granting you the right to self-employment does not affect your legal right to work in an employed role as stated in § 16 para 3 of the German Residence Act. You are still permitted to carry out 120 days of full-time work, or 240 half-days.
"We recommend that you draw up a business plan for your part-time self-employment. Business plans do not just help to give you a better overview of the various steps and requirements required to set up your business, and to help you reflect on these; It will help your application for a permit to practise self-employment in line with § 21 para 3 of the German Residence Act. You can use your business plan to show the immigration authority (Ausländerbehörde) that your self-employment is intended to be on a part-time basis and that your studies will remain the priority."
In this case, seek support from a business adviser. If you do not have an adviser, then get in touch with one of our members of staff. They will accompany you through the following steps:
If you receive a positive decision to alter or extend your residence permit, the next step for starting your self- employment in Germany is to register the business or register your self-employment at the local tax office (Finanzamt). The latter applies to freelance professions.
Registering a trade
In order to register your trade, go to your local trade office (Gewerbeamt) – the office in the town, district or region in which you want to become self-employed. You can find the contact details for the trade office in your local citizen's support office (Bürgerbüro), or search online at: http://www.bmwi-wegweiser.de/suche/behoerden/. Select "Gewerbeamt" and enter the postcode of the town in which you wish to found your company. The contact information and opening hours for your local trade office will appear on screen. The trade offices' websites often feature forms for registering a business: Some offices expect you to have already completed these forms before coming to the office in person.
In order to register a business, you need:
Registering a freelance profession
If you want to become self-employed as a freelancer, you must register at your local tax office (Finanzamt). There is no form to be completed for the registration; instead, you must write a letter with a short description of the business that you intend to set up. The tax office will send you a "tax registration questionnaire" (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung) (Download) and will issue you with a tax number. Aside from registering with the tax office, most freelance professions require the fulfilment of certain qualifications, financial requirements and/or other conditions. You can find out which ones here.