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Professional activities not classed as economic activities/ Work

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This page provides an overview as to what professional activities may be carried out without a visa or residence permit as they are not classed as economic activities/ work (“Erwerbstätigkeit”).

British citizens and nationals of all other countries with visa-free privileges do not require a visa for any of the following activities subject to the conditions and time limits stipulated.

In all cases the total stay must not exceed 90 days within a 180-day period.

Please note that the following lists are not exhaustive and are subject to individual interpretation. Both lists are meant as a guideline only and do not constitute legal advice. It is the responsibility of travellers to ensure that any activity conducted falls within the scope of permitted activities. If in doubt, you should take legal advice from an immigration lawyer or specialist. The German Missions in the UK are not authorised to provide legal advice on individual cases.

Additional exemptions apply to personnel employed in road transport or the goods transport sector and personnel employed in international air travel. Please contact us for details.

These exemptions apply to both employed and self-employed individuals.

Any economic activity not listed below and not exceeding 90 days within any 180-day period requires a C visa authorising such activity.

For any stay of more than 90 days within any 180-day period a D visa and/or residence permit is required. British citizens may apply to the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”) for their residence permits after arrival in Germany and do not need to have 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 your stay in Germany.

Click on the categories below to find out more

  • Academic staff at higher education institutions as well as research and development institutions,
  • Visiting academic personnel at higher education institutions or research institutions under public law or which are predominantly funded by public resources or run as a public enterprise in a private legal form,
  • Engineers and technicians working in the capacity of technical staff on the research team of visiting academic personnel,
  • Teachers at state schools or state-approved private alternative schools or recognised private complementary schools or
  • Language teaching staff at higher education institutions

The cumulative duration of the business activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Individuals employed within the framework of a voluntary service regulated by law or based on a programme of the European Union,
  • Individuals employed predominantly for charitable purposes,
  • Individuals employed predominantly for religious purposes or
  • Students and pupils of foreign institutions of higher education and technical colleges for holiday employment, provided that the employment has been arranged by the Federal Employment Agency.

The cumulative duration of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Interns fulfilling all requirements under REST directive (EU) 2016/801,
  • Interns within the scope of a programme receiving funding from the European Union or bilateral development cooperation,
  • Interns as part of an international exchange programme at associations, public-law institutions or student-run organisations for students or graduates of foreign higher education institutions by mutual agreement with the Federal Employment Agency,
  • Professional and managerial staff receiving a scholarship  from German public funds, European Union funds or the funds of international intergovernmental organisations,
  • Student interns on a degree-subject-related course of study at a foreign higher education institution after the fourth semester or
  • Pupils of German schools abroad for a duration of up to six weeks

The cumulative duration of these internships in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Skilled workers employed abroad by an internationally operating group or company for the purpose of in-company continuing education and training in the German part of the group or company.

The cumulative duration of this training in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Executive staff,

    Members of a body of a legal entity who are entitled to act as its legal representative.

The cumulative duration of these management activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a 180-days period.

Employed business travellers conducting meetings in Germany, fulfilling a contract, or establishing or supporting a German part of a company

  • Individuals employed abroad in the commercial sector by an employer headquartered in Germany,

    Individuals who conduct meetings or negotiations in Germany for an employer headquartered abroad, draw up contractual offers, conclude contracts or monitor the fulfilment of contractual agreements,

    Individuals who establish, supervise or manage a German part of a company for an employer headquartered abroad.

The cumulative duration of the business activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period. The business traveller must maintain their habitual residence abroad. This exemption does not apply to self-employed individuals.

Standard business travel usually includes activities such as:

  • attending meetings and conferences,
  • promoting sales/ services through presentations to potential clients or similar,
  • conducting business negotiations,
  • negotiating and signing contracts,
  • attending trade fairs/trade shows in order to promote products or services - not including direct sales activities,
  • attending a job interview.

The following activities are not classed as standard business travel activities:

  • providing consultancy services of any kind,
  • maintaining and repairing equipment,
  • touring as a professional speaker.

  • Journalists whose activity is recognised by the Press and Information Office of the German Federal Government,
  • Persons who work as journalists in Germany while maintaining their habitual residence abroad.

The cumulative duration of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

This category comprises individuals seconded by their employer headquartered abroad

  • to install and assemble, maintain or repair machines, equipment and programmes for electronic data processing which serve commercial purposes and which have been ordered from the employer, or to instruct other persons in the operation of such machines, equipment and programmes. The employer must have notified the Federal Employment Agency of such employment before it commences.
  • to take receipt of/ accept acquired machines, equipment and other items or to be instructed in their operation.
  • to dismantle used equipment acquired for the purpose of reinstalling it in the country where the employer is based. The employer must have notified the Federal Employment Agency of such employment before it commences.
  • to set up, dismantle and attend to the company's own trade fair stands or trade fair stands for a foreign company based in the country in which the employer has its headquarters,
  • to complete an in-house training course in the context of export and licence agreements.

The cumulative duration of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Individuals, including their support staff, who, while retaining their habitual residence abroad, engage in lectures or in performances of special academic or artistic value or in performances of a sporting nature in Germany,
  • Individuals employed in the context of festivals or music and cultural events or posted in the context of guest performances or foreign film and television productions,
  • Individuals performing in one-day shows or events, for up to 15 days a year.
  • Professional athletes or professional trainers designated to work at German sports clubs or comparable sporting institutions participating in competitive sport if they
    • have reached the age of 16,
    • the sports club or institution pays a gross salary in 2021 of at least EUR 3,550/month (2021 threshold, subject to change) in the Federal States (“Bundesländer”) of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig Holstein as well as the former Western part of Berlin and at least EUR 3,350/month (2021 threshold, subject to change) in the Federal States (“Bundesländer”) of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, as well as the former Eastern part of Berlin, and
    • the German national federation responsible for the sport, in agreement with the German Olympic Sports Confederation, confirms the person’s eligibility as a professional athlete or professional aptitude as a trainer.
  • Individuals who professionally practise eSports in the form of competition between persons and who are designated to work at German clubs or comparable eSports facilities participating in competitions if they
    • have reached the age of 16,
    • the sports club or institution pays a gross salary in 2021 of at least EUR 3,550/month (2021 threshold, subject to change) in the Federal States (“Bundesländer”) of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig Holstein as well as the former Western part of Berlin and at least EUR 3,350/month (2021 threshold, subject to change) in the Federal States (“Bundesländer”) of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, as well as the former Eastern part of Berlin, and
    • the German national federation responsible for eSports confirms the professional performance of eSports and the form of eSports performed is of considerable national or international importance.
  • Photo models, advertising models, fashion models
  • Tour guides who, while maintaining their habitual residence abroad, accompany foreign tourist groups into Germany.
  • Interpreters who, while maintaining their habitual residence abroad, take part in meetings or negotiations in Germany for a company headquartered abroad

The cumulative duration of any of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Domestic workers who, while retaining their habitual residence abroad, accompany their employer or their employer’s family members with habitual residence abroad to Germany

The cumulative duration of any of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

  • Individuals posted by an employer headquartered in a member state of the European Union or a contracting state of the Agreement on the European Economic Area to deliver services other than those mentioned here.
    The person must have the legal status of long-term resident in another EU member state. He or she must have been granted the legal status of long-term resident in a member state of the European Union pursuant to Article 2 (b) of Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the legal status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (OJ L 16, 23.1.2004, p. 44), most recently amended by Directive 2011/51/EU (OJ L 132, 19.5. 2011. p. 1), and this status must not subsequently have been revoked.
    A legal status conferred under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement does not suffice for this exemption.

The cumulative duration of these activities in Germany may not exceed 90 days within a twelve-month period.

Processing times:

The Schengen Visa Code requires you to file your visa application no later than 15 calendar days before your intended travel.

For C visas involving an economic activity, we may require approval from other German government agencies, such as the Federal Employment Agency (“Bundesagentur für Arbeit”) or the local immigration office (“Ausländerbehörde”). Once a decision has been made on your application, we will contact you.

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.

You may apply up to six months before the start of the intended visit.

 

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