Getting Health Insurance
Before you apply for the Freelancer Residence Permit, you likely have to get some sort of private insurance plan because statutory insurers might not accept to enroll you.
If you have applied for a visa to enter Germany, you should already have a health insurance plan, but it might not be sufficient to apply for the Freelancer Residence Permit. So for the period of time from entry to Germany and until you receive the permit, you have to get an expat health insurance plan for freelancers Germany, which is private.
Then, once you have gotten the residence permit and are considered a full, legal resident of Germany, you can enroll under whichever type of plan you choose, public or private.
Applying for the Freelancer Residence Permit
Once you have all the necessary certificates and tax numbers, you can finally apply for a Freelancer Residence Permit. The process is as follows:
- Book an appointment with the Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office).
- Collect all the required documents. Including your Residence Registration Certificate,
Freelance Tax Number, and letters from prospective employers.
- Show up on the date of your appointment and enter the interview.
- Wait to receive your visa. The processing time changes between states, so it can be anywhere from one to twelve months.
The Ausländerbehörde authorities will ask to see whether you have job prospects in Germany – at least two. Your potential clients will have to write a letter attesting to the fact that they plan to hire you for your services.
Once you have gotten the Freelancer Residence Permit (the last step on the visa process), you can start working.
Health Insurance for Freelancers in Germany: Statutory or Private?
There are two types of health insurance in Germany: public and private. Freelancers in Germany have the option to opt-out of public health insurance and get a private insurance plan instead. Private insurance is often an appealing option for self-employed individuals, especially if they are young and healthy because the cost can be lower than that of statutory insurance.
Why? Well, under German law, for public insurance, you have to pay a monthly contribution which is about 14.6% to 15.6% of your monthly income. If you are employed, you pay half the contributions and your employer pays the other half.
But, as a freelancer, you have to pay all your contributions yourself, to a maximum of approximately €400/month. This is why many freelancers opt-out of statutory insurance and get a private insurance plan, which will cost less.
Required Documents for Freelancer Visa
The documents you have to submit at the Ausländerbehörde when applying for a Freelancer Visa for Germany include:
- Your passport.
- Passport-size picture of yourself. It must be recent and follow the Germany visa photo requirements.
- Application form for Freelance Residence Permit (Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels).
- Your income estimation.
- Letter of Intent for Collaboration. Your prospective clients (you need at least 2) should write a letter, confirming they plan to collaborate with you once you get the visa. This is only necessary if you will work on a fee basis.
- If you will work as an artist and language teacher: Proof of regular income. Such as from your own savings, regular transfer, or by submitting a “declaration of obligation” from a third party.
- Health insurance. Statutory health insurers may not agree to enroll you without a visa, so you may have to get a private insurance plan initially.
- Certificate of Address Registration in Germany.
- Your rental lease and confirmation from your landlord (if applicable).
- Proof of home ownership (if applicable).
- Proof of retirement plan (if you are over the age of 45). This can be your own savings, pension rights, operating assets, or proof of a private pension or life insurer.
- Your CV.
- If you are a university graduate: Proof of degree from a recognised university or training institution.
- If you will work as a company/business owner:
- Your business plan.
- Your financing plan.
- Registration with the Trade Register.
- Letter from your university, confirming that the knowledge you acquired in university is relevant to your business idea.
- You will have to submit many of these documents to the German Embassy in your country as well when you apply for the entry visa.
- The documents have to be in German or English. If they are not, you must have them translated.
Freelance Visa Fees
You have to pay two visa fees when applying for a Freelancer Visa:
- The Embassy fee: €75
- The Ausländerbehörde fee: €100 (€28.80 for Turkish citizens)
Can Students Freelance in Germany?
International students (non-EU) cannot freelance as part of their Student Visa. However, if you find prospective employers and meet all the other self-employment prerequisites, then you can apply for a Freelancer Visa at the Immigration Office, following the same procedure as everyone else.
What If I am Already in Germany?
If you are in Germany with another type of Residence Permit or with a long-stay visa for working purposes, then you can apply for a Freelancer Visa at the German Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde). You have to meet all the prerequisites that make you eligible for freelancing.
However, you cannot apply for a Freelancer Residence Permit if you are in Germany with a tourist visa or other short-term visa. If you are in Germany as a tourist, you will have to return home and re-apply for the appropriate visa which is a National D-type visa for employment.