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Apply for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment

You have a foreign nationality and would like to become self-employed in Germany?

In this case you need a residence permit for self-employment.

The residence permit for self-employment is limited to a maximum of three years. After the three years have expired, you can obtain a settlement permit if

  • Your business is successful and
  • Your livelihood is secure.

Notice: You have received a residence permit for another purpose and would like to become self-employed?
This is possible if you have the otherwise required permits, the authority has promised you these or your previous residence title already allows this.


The requirements for the residence permit are:

  • You fulfil the passport and visa requirements.
    For the passport obligation, it is sufficient if you have a substitute identity card.
  • Your livelihood is secured without you having recourse to public funds.
    Your livelihood is considered secure if you
    • Income in the amount of the simple social welfare standard rate plus
    • Costs for accommodation and heating and
    • any health insurance contributions.
  • There is no interest in deportation against you.
  • Your stay does not endanger or impair the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Persons over 45 years of age must have adequate old-age provision.
  • the following economic requirements:
    • There is an economic interest or a regional need for your activity.
    • Your activity is expected to have a positive impact on the economy.
    • The financing of the implementation is secured through equity capital or a loan commitment.

The competent bodyobtains Assessmentsfrom expert Institutions to clarify whether the planned activity meets the necessary requirements, e.g. from trade authorities, professional bodies under public law such as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Crafts and the authorities responsible for professional licensing.

Notice: In the following cases, you do not have to fulfil the economic requirements for self-employed persons:

  • You want to become self-employed in a liberal profession:
    To do so, you need
    • the necessary licences for the exercise of the liberal profession or
    • at least the promise that they will be granted.
  • You have successfully completed your studies at a state or state-recognised higher education institution or a comparable educational institution in Germany:
    The intended self-employed activity must have a connection with the knowledge acquired during your studies.
  • You hold a residence permit as a researcher or scientist for the purpose of research:
    The intended self-employed activity must have a connection with your academic or research activity.

Responsible department

  • for the issuance of a national visa before entering the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany: the German mission abroad (embassy, consulate)
  • after entry: the foreigners authority
    Foreigners authority is
    • if you live in a city district or in a large district town: the city administration
    • if you live in a town or municipality belonging to a district: the district administration office (Landratsamt)

Tip: The Federal Foreign Office provides a list of the representations of the Federal Republic of Germany abroad on its website.


Before entering Germany, you must apply for a national visa in your home country.

After entering the country, you must apply for the residence title in writing to the competent office before your visa expires.



Required documents

  • Proof of fulfilment of passport and visa requirements
  • Proof of secure means of subsistence
  • Proof that there is no interest in deportation against you
  • Proof that you do not endanger or impair the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Proof that you meet the economic requirements, in particular
    • Proof of the investment project
    • Proof of financing
  • depending on the activity: proof of professional permits (e.g. restaurant permit, entry in the register of craftsmen)
  • if you are older than 45 years of age: additional proof of an adequate pension plan


  • Period of validity for the first issue: EUR 100.00
  • Extension for up to three months: EUR 96.00
  • Extension for more than three months: EUR 93.00


They receive the residence permit in the form of a cheque card with additional electronic functions.

Nationals of the Member States of the European Union (EU) have access to the German labour market due to their right to freedom of movement.

Within the scope of their right of settlement, they can pursue self-employment in Germany. The same applies to other nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and nationals of Switzerland.


  • Objection
  • Action before the administrative court

Release note

17.07.2023 Justizministerium Baden-Württemberg