Is it true that foreign nationals can now come to Germany to start their own business?


We want to make it easier for innovative people from abroad to start their own business in Germany and help create jobs here. The changes in the Residence Act in force since August 2012 are intended to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to invest in Germany and give the federal states more leeway in assessing whether a given business project is likely to be successful.

If you wish to set up a manual trade or retail business, you can get a residence permit for self-employment (Section 21 (1) of the Residence Act) if you satisfy the following requirements:

    There is commercial interest or regional demand for your product or service.

    Your business activity is likely to have a positive impact on the economy.

    You have secured financing for your business by way of capital or loan approval.

If you are over 45 years old, a residence permit will only be issued to you if you can also provide proof of adequate provision for old age.

Freelancers (“Freiberufler”): If you want to be self-employed in one of the liberal professions, you can get a residence permit for freelance work (Section 21 (5) of the Residence Act). This residence permit is granted if you can prove that you have the means to fund your project, to support yourself and a permit to exercise that profession. If you are over 45 years old, you must also provide proof that you have adequate provision for old age.

If your business idea is successful and you are thus able to make a living for yourself and your family, you can have your residence permit extended, initially for a maximum of three years. If you set up a manual trade or retail business, you can apply for a settlement permit after just three years.

You can find out more at the internet portal “Make it in Germany” (http://www.make-it-in-germany.com/).

For more information on visa questions, please contact your local German mission.

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