Your company is already operating in Germany and you would now like to export worldwide?

Residence Permit for Self-Employed Business Owners

Non-EU entrepreneurs and shareholders of German companies who manage a company on-site in Germany may require a residence permit for self-employment purposes. 

Who is considered to be self-employed?

Foreign business owners are typically considered to be self-employed if they are, for example:

  • Sole traders (including freelance professions)
  • Partners in a partnership
  • Majority shareholders of a GmbH who are also managing directors of the GmbH

Granting Requirements 

Self-employed persons may be granted a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis für die Ausübung einer selbständigen Tätigkeit). This can in general be granted where the following requirements are fulfilled: 

  • an economic interest or a regional need regarding the intended business activity exists,
  • positive economic consequences are to be expected from the investment project,
  • the planned investment has secure financing in place.

The local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) individually assesses to what extent these criteria are met. It takes into account the following aspects:

  • Viability of the underlying business idea
  • Investor's entrepreneurial experience
  • Level of capital investment 
  • Effects on the employment and training situation 
  • Contribution to innovation and research 

For the assessment, the immigration office consults the local trade office as well as local trade and business associations, e.g. the local Chambers of Industry and Commerce.

Settlement Permit for Self-Employed Persons

A residence permit for self-employment purposes is limited to a maximum of three years.

Where the business activity has been successful and is expected to have future sustainable development, a settlement permit may be granted after three years. Moreover, the livelihood of the foreigner must, for example, be secured by sufficient income.

This content belongs to

Log in

Please log in on this page with your log-in details.