Freelancing In Germany – Part 1


The article is about how to start freelancing in Germany being a foreigner. You’ll learn about the requirements, how to register, and the tax deductions.

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We are here in the 21st-century generation and experiencing new technologies every day. If I talk about freelancing, it is becoming more every day. Many people are choosing to work in their profession. People are switching to freelancing instead of getting a traditional whole or part-time job and a remote position.

There are multiple reasons why freelancing is becoming so popular, particularly among millennials. It gives people more control over freelancers’ lives. They can decide the time they want to spend working and the volume of work they want to do. Another reason is that people are not forced to work with the people they do not want to. Also not forced to do things they do not like and go against their principles. They are not feared of losing their job.

Freelancing in Germany is also a way of professional functioning on the rise. Germany has updated its laws and created new rules, especially for freelancers. Now freelancers would also be included and calculated in Germany’s work system. Moreover, no one could misuse the laws by finding loopholes in the absence of rules.

Germany has opened its doors to foreigners who want to move to Germany and work as freelancers. However, freelancing is a straightforward way of working. To work as a freelancer in Germany, one must meet the German Federation’s rules. However, their rules are not the simplest to understand.

Freelancing In Germany

A freelancer is defined as a being who is an expert in one of the free professions independently in Germany. A freelancer work without functioning as a business, a partnership, or being a full-time and part-time employee and remote contract.

List of Liberal Professions as Freelancing in Germany

The German Income Tax Act and the Partnership Companies Act have approved the following liberal professions as freelancing in Germany. Under the sole conditions, the freelancer acts on their own expertise and works independently. There are also other skilled independent professionals according to §18 EStG.

  • Accountants
  • Advisory Bodies & Business Economists
  • Architects
  • Artists
  • Certified Accountants
  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Engineers
  • Image Reporters
  • Interpreters
  • Journalists
  • Lawyers
  • Lecturers
  • Naturopaths
  • Notaries
  • Patent Attorneys
  • Physiotherapists
  • Pilots
  • Scientists
  • Surveyors
  • Tax advisers
  • Tax Representatives
  • Teacher & Educators
  • Trade chemists
  • Translators
  • Veterinarians
  • Writers 

The other similar jobs may also qualify as freelancing work if they meet the conditions given above. However, even a person who is an expert in one of the liberal professions but uses the help of technically trained workers is no longer recognized as a freelancer. His work is known as self-employment.

Freelancers Vs. Self-Employed in Germany

The people willing to work as freelancers in Germany should ensure their work does not fall under the self-employed category. There is a fragile line between freelancing and self-employment. Both indicate that you are not working as an employee of anyone. You are the sole decision maker for the services you provide. Still, there are some differences between both terms.

The significant difference is that freelancers work in their name, and self-employed people conduct business under a brand name. Moreover, some professions may categorize as freelancing even if they are not listed as liberal.

Regarding mandatory legal procedures, the difference is that freelancers do not register with the Business Registration Authority in Germany. The people who are categorized as self-employed cannot operate without registering there. Moreover, freelancers are required to pay fewer taxes as compared to self-employed.

Who can Work as Freelancers in Germany?

All foreigners meeting the legal requirements can work as freelancers in Germany. However, most of the world’s citizens would need a visa.

Let’s look at the main criteria for a person to move to Germany and work as a freelancer.

  • The profession a person wants to choose as a freelancer in Germany must be listed as a liberal profession. Or the profession should be similar to what the German Tax Office may consider to be okay for freelancing.
  • There must be an economic interest, and a regional need for the profession the freelancer intends to do in Germany.
  • The freelancer must have the financial capacity to support himself while staying in Germany. 

Germany Visa For Freelancers

The European Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, and Liechtenstein passport holders don’t need any visa or residence permit to work as freelancers in Germany. They just need to register with the Foreigner’s Office nearest their place in Germany. They should follow the other legal requirements, such as getting an identification number for their legal work.

The nationals of Australia, Israel, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States of America can move to Germany without any visa. However, they need to get a Residence Permit once they arrive. They also need to register with the Foreigner’s Office nearest their place in Germany. They should follow the other legal requirements, such as getting an identification number for their legal work.

The nationals of other world countries must first get a German Freelance Visa. Then follow the remaining steps to work as a freelancer in Germany. You can get a good graphic of the process here, provided by the German government.

Registering the New Home Address in Germany

Every freelancer, including EU passport holders, must register their home address at the nearest German Foreigner’s Office within the first ninety days of arrival in Germany.

You need the following documents for the registration.

  • A rental contract is signed by the freelancer and their landlord.
  • A fully completed registration form which you can get at the office.
  • The passport or national ID of a freelancer. 

In a Nutshell

We have covered the central part about freelancing in Germany for foreigners. It will help you to understand how you should begin your journey. There are other essential parts that we’ll explain in our next piece. You can refer to our article Freelancing In Germany – II for more information about it.

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