Establishing a Business with the Schengen Visa
For non-EU nationals, a Schengen visa is generally sufficient for most steps required to establish a business in Germany (usually called a "business visa" in this context).
A Schengen business visa is sufficient for most activities in the company formation phase. It enables its holder to stay in Germany for up to 90 days, during which time all fundamental establishment activities can be performed. These include:
- The conclusion and notarization of the articles of association
- Application for entry in the commercial register (Handelsregister) through a German notary
- Trade registration
- Other preparatory activities during the business establishment phase (such as opening a bank account or the conclusion of rental agreements)
- Negotiations and the conclusion of contracts with business partners
Citizens of certain countries may stay in Germany for up to 90 days (in any 180-day period) without a Schengen visa. Setting up a company in Germany using a Schengen visa does not alone warrant residence permit issue at a later date. If necessary, a residence permit for self-employment or employment should be applied for in due time. A residence permit must also be applied for if the incorporation phase exceeds 90 days.
What is needed when applying for a Schengen visa?
Schengen visa applicants (business visa applicants) will usually be asked to present certain documentation such as:
- a letter of invitation by the German business partner
- documentation of employment and salary certificate
- a letter from the applicant’s employer confirming the business purpose of the trip
- proof of travel health insurance
Where the entrepreneur personally applies for a Schengen visa (or business visa), documents such as a copy of the foreign company's entry in the foreign commercial register, articles of association, and bank statements from the last three months may also be required. German embassies and consulates, as well as Visa Application Center worldwide offer checklists and fact sheets with detailed information.
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