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D-Visa: Self-employed entrepreneurs/ starting a business

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We want to make it easier for innovative people from abroad to start their own business in Germany and help create jobs.

Visa-free travel

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. It is important to note that you may only pursue economic activities once you have been issued a residence permit explicitly authorising such employment. British and other citizens privileged as above may also choose to apply for a visa prior to travel, effectively permitting economic activities from the first day of visa validity.

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

General Information

If you are looking to start a business in Germany, you may obtain a residence permit for self-employment. The following are some of the overall requirements:

There needs to be an economic interest in or a regional demand for your product or service and your business needs to have a positive effect on the economy. You will need to be able to finance the implementation of your business concept with your own capital or through a loan commitment.

Approval of your visa application very much depends on a positive assessment of the viability of your business idea, your entrepreneurial experience, the level of capital investment, the effects on the employment and training situation and the contribution to innovation and research. In order to assess these prerequisites the authorities will consult with local and regional trade and industry bodies as well as other licensing and regulatory authorities. It is therefore important to provide comprehensive information on your project, such as your business plan, your finances’ and liquidity plans as well as your revenue/profitability forecast. Make sure that you have compiled sufficient information by consulting the Make it in Germany Portal and the Existenzgründer/ Start-up Portal. You may also want to consult with the local chamber of commerce whether they consider your project viable given the local circumstances. If in doubt, take legal advice from a business immigration specialist.

Please understand that this information is geared at a wide scope of individual and different cases and therefore provided as a guideline only. Each application is reviewed separately and will be decided on its individual merits. In order to take an informed decision we therefore may ask you for additional documentation. The submission of a complete documentation does not guarantee in any way that your application will be approved.

Should you be 45 years of age or older we will need to sight evidence that you have already made adequate retirement provisions. Contact us for details at the German Embassy London and the Consulate General Edinburgh.

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.
  • 2 photocopies of the passport biodata page
  • Current UK residence permit (BRP)/ visa (foreign residents only).
  • 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.
  • Comprehensive information outlining the business/start-up idea, such as business plan, finances’ and liquidity plans as well as your revenue/ profitability forecast - in 2 copies
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay
  • Confirmation of health insurance cover commensurate with the level of statutory German public health insurance (“gesetzliche Krankenversicherung”) - in 2 copies.
  • Academic/ professional curriculum vitae – in 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: In this visa category, processing will require several months even up to a year depending on the complexity of your project and/ or business idea.

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 for your Electronic Residence Permit with your local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”).

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

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