D-Visa: Self-employed freelancers including artists


Freelancers such as artists (painters, musicians or writers) or in other liberal professions may apply for a residence permit for freelance work. This visa/ residence permit category requires you to have the means or the income to fund your project and to support yourself.

Visa-free travel

British citizens including freelancing performing artists do not require visas or residence permits if their activities are not classed as economic activities/ work, for details click here. This exception includes artists performing in the context of festivals or music and cultural events (Musik- und Kulturtage). The exception also applies to individuals posted/ seconded by a non-German employer in the context of guest performances or foreign film and television productions. Any visa-free stay in Germany may not exceed 90 days within 180 days and additionally the cumulative days of performances (including rehearsals) may not exceed 90 days within one year. Freelance fashion models, freelance travel/ tour guides and freelance interpreters also do not require visas within the timeframes indicated above. These privileges also apply to all other nationals that do not require visas for visits not exceeding 90 days.

In all other cases a visa or residence permit authorising freelance work is required.

British citizens may apply for their residence permits with the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) after arrival in Germany and without having obtained a visa prior to travelling to Germany. Please note that you need to register your new residence (Anmeldung) with the authorities (Meldebehörde) within 2 weeks of having moved in and apply for your residence permit with the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) within the first 90 days of stay in Germany. This privilege is also extended to citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Korea (Republic) and the United States of America. We strongly recommend contacting the local immigration office as soon as possible after your arrival in Germany in order to secure a timely appointment. It is important to note that you may only take up any economic activity once you have been issued a residence permit explicitly authorising self-employment.

All other nationalities require a visa prior to travel to Germany.

General Information

Some regulated professions such as medical doctors, nurses, teachers, architects, auditors, tax advisors and more require a formal license to practise their profession in Germany. Please consult the database on recognition in regulated professions.

How to apply for your visa:

1. Complete the online application form, print the form including the barcodes twice and sign both copies (application forms are required for each applicant separately; all children require separate forms).

2. Compile your supporting documentation:

  • 2 printouts of the online application form including barcodes
  • Valid passport signed by the holder, issued within the last 10 years and valid for at least 3 months beyond the validity of the visa applied for. The passport needs to have at least 2 subsequent blank pages.
    Plus: 2 photocopies of the passport biodata page
  • Current UK residence permit (BRP)/ visa (foreign residents only).
    Plus: 2 photocopies of the permit/ visa
  • 2 fully biometric passport photos, 35 x 45 mm, no older than three months. Digitally altered passport photos cannot be accepted.
    Please ensure that your photo adheres to German biometric requirements and is taken in front of a white/ bright background.
  • Detailed business plan outlining the project/ business idea and the projected revenue (if any) for the first year - 2 copies
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in case no sufficient revenue can be generated.
  • Confirmation of health insurance cover commensurate with the level of statutory German public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) - 2 copies.
  • Professional curriculum vitae – 2 copies.
  • Prepaid, self-addressed Royal Mail Special Delivery return envelope (up to 500g) in order to return your passport after processing.
  • Visa fees apply

  • Processing time: For some visa categories, we will require approval from other German government agencies, such as the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) or the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). If you have previously lived in Germany this will add to processing times, as the immigration office may need to look into your previous immigration record. Once a decision has been made on your application, we will contact you.

    In this visa category, most applications are typically processed within 4 to 6 months. This also applies to accompanying family members.

    Although we will provide you with a file number, please understand that we cannot respond to questions regarding the status of your visa application. Should we have any questions or should we require additional documentation to process your application, we will contact you.

3. Book an appointment to apply for your visa.

Where to book your appointment/ apply for your visa:

Please apply directly with the German Mission having jurisdiction for your place of residence.

Additional information

Accompanying spouses of applicants in the self-employment category are not generally exempt from the usual requirement regarding basic German language proficiency. Some exemptions apply.

If your application is successful, you will be issued a limited-validity entry visa - similar to a UK entry clearance. Once you have arrived in Germany please register your new residence with the local authorities (Meldebehörde) within 2 weeks of having moved in and apply to your local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) for your Electronic Residence Permit. We strongly recommend contacting the local immigration office as soon as possible after your arrival in Germany in order to secure a timely appointment.

Further information on living and working in Germany is available here.

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