British citizens may apply to the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) for their residence permits 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 to the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) for your residence permit within the first 90 days of your 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.
Please note that you may only pursue economic activities once you have been issued a residence permit explicitly authorising such employment. You 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.
If you are looking to start a business in Germany, you may obtain a residence permit for self-employment. The criteria include the following:
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 a loan.
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 financial 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 as to 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 designed to cover a wide range of individual and different cases and is 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 may therefore ask you for additional documentation. The submission of complete documentation does not guarantee in any way that your application will be approved.
Under German law, all residents must have sufficient health insurance cover. Please read our additional information on health insurance requirements.
How to apply for your D-Visa:
1. Complete the VIDEX online application form, print one copy of the form including the barcode page (page 7) and sign the form on pages 5 and 6. Separate application forms are required for each applicant; all children also require separate forms.
2. Compile your supporting documentation to bring to your appointment:
- Printout of the online application form including barcodes (as under #1)
Valid passport signed by the holder, issued within the last 10 years and valid for at least six months. The passport needs to have at least 2 consecutive blank pages (i.e. a blank double page spread).
Plus 1 photocopy of the passport biodata page
Current UK residence permit (BRP)/ visa (non-British applicants only).
Plus 1 photocopy of the permit/ visa
- 2 fully biometric passport photos, size 35 x 45 mm. Consult our FAQs for detailed requirements.
- Comprehensive information outlining the business/ start-up idea, such as business plan, finances’ and liquidity plans as well as your revenue/ profitability forecast
- 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)
- Academic/ professional curriculum vitae
- Prepaid, self-addressed Royal Mail Special Delivery return envelope (up to 500g) in order to return your passport after processing (not applicable for applications submitted to a Visa Application Centre run by our external service provider, TLScontact).
- 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:
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.