If you're a foreign national and would like to set up a business in Germany, you'll need a suitable residence permit that allows for self-employed activities. This does not apply to nationals of member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). They enjoy unlimited freedom of movement in Germany.
Residence permits for the purpose of self-employment are generally granted only if there is a superior economic interest or a particular regional need for your planned activity and if the business venture is expected to positively impact the economy. To evaluate this, the responsible immigration authority cooperates with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Note: This does not apply if you want to carry out your profession as a freelancer.
The income that you gain from your self-employment must be enough to secure your livelihood, including adequate health insurance, without the use of public funds. Therefore, the viability of your business project must be presented plausibly and comprehensibly.
If the planned activity is successfully implemented and your livelihood is secured by sufficient income, you may apply for a permanent residence permit after three years (as opposed to the usual five years).
You can apply for a residence permit to set up your self-employment activity at your immigration authority or the Hamburg Welcome Center. Contact the relevant authority directly or use the online tool of the Serviceportal Hamburg to submit your documents.
- Entry with a German visa for self-employment. This visa must be applied for at the German mission abroad of your home country.
Exception: Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America can enter without a visa.
- Submission of documents describing the business concept (e.g. business plan, business concept, financing plan, revenue forecast)
- It is also useful to provide proof of your qualifications (CV, experience, certificates)
- Sufficient health insurance (Annex 6)
- Persons over the age of 45 must provide proof of sufficient resources for their old-age security.
The main forms for the application are available in our Forms section.