To be able to work as a freelancer in some professions you have to meet specific clearly defined requirements. In addition to special professional qualifications, normally also professional obligations have to be taken into account.
Proof of training and other requirements
To exercise your profession, the special professional qualifications you need are a high professional and personal competence and also the corresponding qualifications.
You have to provide evidence of your qualifications by producing the corresponding certificates. For example, lawyers have to provide evidence to the Bar Association, when they apply for their admission to the bar. If a licence to practice as a doctor, dentist, etc. or professional experience is required to exercise the profession, evidence has to be provided during the application procedures at the responsible authority.
Note: Some freelancers (e.g. management consultants, journalists, artists) do not have to provide evidence to exercise their profession. You will find more detailed information on these professions in section "Liberal Professions without Licence Requirements".
Depending on the profession, the licence requirements which have to be met to exercise the freelance activity are different. The licence requirements for many liberal professions are regulated in legislation, with is specific to the profession. This applies for example to chemists, masseurs and balneotherapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, certified accountants, doctors, architects, vets, midwives, non-medical practitioners, consulting engineers, speech therapists, pilots, orthoptists, notaries, patent agents, lawyers, tax consultants, tax agents, environmental assessors, auditors and dentists.
Note: The licence is also closely connected with the permission to use a specific professional title. Specific professional titles many only be used if the specified requirements have been met.
Statutory regulations impose special professional obligations on freelancers. Many freelancers, for example, have to be conscientious and are sworn to secrecy when exercising their profession.
In addition, doctors, dentists, psychological psychotherapists/psychotherapists for children and teenagers, and vets also have a documentation requirement and are obliged to attend further vocational training.
Lawyers, tax consultants and auditors are obliged, for example, to keep files and to store them for a specific period of time.
Membership in trade associations
In addition, certain professional groups are obliged to become a member of the corresponding trade association. This applies in particular for architects, doctors, psychological psychotherapists and psychotherapists for children and teenagers, chemists, consulting engineers, notaries, lawyers, tax consultants, vets, auditors and dentists.
Other professional groups have the possibility to join a trade association voluntarily.
Tip: More information on these subjects can be found in the Business Start-up Portal of the Finanz- und Wirtschaftsministerium under "Special Issues when setting up a Company" ("Besonderheiten bei der Gründung").
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Sozialministerium released it on 21.06.2019. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts. In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.