How to get a freelance visa in Germany

Two months before my visa expired, I was already stressing out about obtaining a freelance visa in Germany. To be honest, I worried for nothing so let me share my experience and hopefully it’s useful to someone out there.

Firstly, some background info. I’m an Australian citizen, came to Germany on a working holiday visa. There was a technical error on my visa as I was granted permission to be a freelancer. That was super for me and made it easier to find work. I was registered as a Kleinunternehmerin and already had a tax number from the Finanzamt.

If you’re in Berlin, there are essentially two freelance visas you can apply for:

1. Work freelance visa
2. Artist freelance visa

The artist freelance visa falls under the usual work freelance visa, and is only applicable if you’re a resident in Berlin. So what are the main differences between the two?

Work freelance visa

  • You can be in any profession, such as web programmer, marketing, accounting, and so on.
  • It can take three months or more to process your visa application as it gets sent to the Bundesagentur Für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) to be reviewed. In the meantime, the visa you currently hold gets extended. If you hold a tourist visa, it will get extended while you apply for the visa, but in this period you will still not be allowed to legally work.

Artist freelance visa

  • Your profession needs to be related to “art” or journalism. It’s quite subjective and you might need to be creative with your job title. If I were to apply for this, I wouldn’t call myself a Marketing Consultant, but perhaps a Creative Director.
  • Your visa application is reviewed on the spot and you’d be approved (or rejected) on the day. This is good if you’re on a tourist visa and need to start working ASAP. Edit: Seems like if you apply for the artist freelance visa and they’re not sure if you really fall under the category, your application will be sent to the Bundesagentur Für Arbeit and it will take up to three months to review everything.

As I already had a visa that allowed me to work, I didn’t have a time constraint and didn’t need the freelance visa immediately. It actually worked in my favour as my working holiday visa got extended for for three months while I waited for my application to be processed.

Documents you need

Whether you apply for the work or artist freelance visa, you need to make a convincing case that you’re capable of finding work and supporting yourself. Think of the process as almost like a job interview where you’d be selling yourself to the interviewer through documents. Here’s what I was advised to take in:

  • Filled out visa application form (edit: residence permit form to be precise)
  • 2 biometric photos
  • Passport
  • Application fee (they have a machine that takes cash, EC card, and credit cards)
  • Anmeldung paper
  • Health insurance
  • Resume
  • Portfolio of your works (especially important if you’re applying for the artist freelance visa)
  • Mission statement: Your profession and what you do (think of this as a cover letter)
  • Business plan: How you’d be generating new clients and work. I listed networking events, learning German, setting up a website, and e-mailing potential contacts. I also wrote down KPIs to make these goals more tangible.
  • Profit & Loss statement: It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a simple cashflow of your revenue and expenses for the next 12 months.
  • Bank statement: The more, the better. This is probably the biggest deciding factor whether you get approved or rejected. A bank account with less than 3,000€ and no cash coming in would raise some eyebrows.
  • 2-3 recommendation letters. This is probably the hardest to do if you haven’t worked in Germany yet. You can get around this by asking your former employers to write you something nice, and also ask potential German employers that they’re willing to hire you or purchase your works. I had been freelancing with various clients already, so I got them to write me something in German, along the lines of “Yi has worked on these projects… she was awesome… will hire her again for future projects.”

It took exactly three months for my two-year freelance visa to be approved. Looking back, here are some tips to make the process less daunting:

  • Take a German-speaker with you. Nevertheless, do learn a bit of German beforehand such as greetings, what kind of work you do, and how your friend is here to help you translate. I think walking in with a bit of German shows that you’re trying already to be integrated into the country and it makes a good impression. Think about it, if you walked into the U.S. immigration office knowing zero English, they won’t be too impressed.
  • Have ALL your documents ready and marked. I labelled everything with a small post-it-note tab so when the interviewer asked for a document, I can quickly hand it to him/her without having to go through sheets of paper.
  • If your temp visa extension is about to expire and you still haven’t heard anything about your visa, book an online appointment. My temp visa was going to expire 1 August, and on 25 July, I still didn’t receive any news. Instead of rocking up to the Ausländerbehörde on 31 July and having to wait hours, I made an online appointment for 6 August. As long as your visa hasn’t expired when you make the online booking, it automatically gets extended until your online appointment.
  • Come prepared, be confident, and smile. Being friendly goes a long way and it never hurts to triple check things. I even made additional copies of the documents just to be safe. Yes, sometimes I’m TOO organised.

Just a disclaimer that I’m not an expert in this field and I’m simply reflecting on my own experience. I did see an immigration lawyer beforehand to go through the documents I needed and I can highly recommend Katja Ponert from VPMK in Berlin. For health insurance, I can also recommend Mike Woodiwiss from Spectrum International. If you need help with German documents, calls or meetings, get in touch with Redtape Translations (I haven’t used them personally but have heard positive things about them).

Comment below to share your visa experience, tips or if you have any questions. 🙂

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334 thoughts on “How to get a freelance visa in Germany

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  2. Hello everybody,
    I want to ask one question.
    If one have freelancer blue card for 3 years . He/She can do part time job also along with freelancer work.
    Thank you in advance.

  3. Hey Yi:)

    I read comments here and noticed that you don’t reply much:)

    I understand that you can’t give legal advice so I won’t ask either. Just one question though, have you ever met a Pakistani artist living in Berlin? Because I am a Pakistani female artist, 45 years old, married, and trying to find info on Artist Visa requirements for my region but none so far. I speak English, Urdu, French and now learning German and Turkish.

    I hope I get some response here.


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  5. Hey thanks for the information!

    I want to apply for a freelance visa as software developer, i already have a contract of a german company that gonna hire me as programmer and i have experience on this field. The thing is im cursing the second year of the engineery, its online, its in a real college and is my second degree (first one was nutritionist). I really want to take this job.
    Can i get the freelance visa even if i still dont get my diploma?
    Im 25 y.o , girl, mexican and i been working on this industry for 5 years.


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    desde los años 70’s que fue cuando comencé a adquirir mis propios juguetes, pero son más autos clásicos que modernos, invariablemente me han gustado más.

  8. Hi Yi, thank you so much for your information. I am having my interview in two weeks and now I am sorting out my health insurance and papers. Here I have two questions:
    1. Does the paperworks have to be all in German?My business plan and motivation letter and several other refence letters are in English… would that be a problem
    2. I am planning on get the insurance from Care Concept for 8 months, then I will apply for KSK. I noted it down in my motivation letter, however do you think it’s safe enough for the visa application to do so?
    Thanks again!

  9. Am I reading this all correctly? But is this Visa specifically for Berlin only? Not the rest of Germany? I ask this cause my registered address is actually in Hamburg not Berlin. Thanks

      • If your registered address is in Hamburg, then you need to apply for the visa at the immigration authority in Hamburg. I suspect, how each Bundesland (German state) applies Federal immigration policy may be slightly different. For example, Berlin would have more artists, so perhaps a more mature freelance visa process for artists. When I applied for a work freelance visa, they would have reviewed whether my skills were required in Berlin.

        Once you have the visa, then it wouldn’t matter if your customers are elsewhere in Germany or Europe.

  10. I have a 2 year aufenthalt erlaubnis to work in Berlin as a freelance artist/writer/editor. it expires in Feb 2017. I have made an appointment at the auslander behoerde for 1 Dec 2016. the information in their confirming email to me seems to suggest that they require far fewer documents for a renewal than for the initial application. For example, it said nothing about a CV, it did not give links to the forms I previously filled out showing my income and assets, etc.

    Does anyone have recent experience with renewing this kind of visa in Berlin? Am I misunderstanding something about the documents required? It did say that I had to prove sufficient income/assets, but there was no link to a form. I know how obsessive governments are about forms, so that’s why I’m asking. Thanks in advance. This website was very helpful when I applied for my initial visa in Feb 2015.

    • Heyy James, hope your visa extension went well! I have a question regrading the documents we have to hand in, is it ok if I write my business plan and motivation letter in English? as well as some reference letter in English? or does it have to be all in German? My appointment is in two weeks…

      • i got three additional years. The new visa begins on the day it is issued, not the day the old visa expires. Nearly all of my documents were in English for this appointment and for the original appointment. The exceptions were documents provided by my tax accountant, for example. The email for the extension is a bit ambiguous. You will need a “financial summary” certified by someone like a tax accountant. You will not need that long formal form the instructions mention, but you will need more than just a list of invoices, which is what the instructions suggest. Their primary concern is health insurance and whether you have enough money to support yourself.

  11. Hi, I’m a Mexican painter/sculptor, I’ve been living on Madrid the last five years, since the things aren’t quite good in here for the artists, I have on mind to move to Berlin. I want to apply for the Artist’s Visa, but I have some doubts, I have a strong portafolio, but I don’t have a degree, I did went to art school, but I left some subjects behind (lack of time cause of the shitty work schedules) and I don’t want that to be a problem for the applying, I really want to move to Germany, I love both the culture and the lenguage, part of my plan is to keep studying in Berlin, and earn a living based on what I love the most, if someone can help me out, I really need some guidance, thanks.

    • Hi Jose,

      For the Artist Visa, you don’t necessarily need to have a degree. What’s important that you need to show how you will have a healthy cash flow so you can sustain yourself in Berlin.

      A portfolio is definitely a great start but you will also need to show how you will be making money in Berlin.

      Hope this helps!

  12. Hey everyone, Thank you all for your information and consultant on the matter. I’m an Iranian musician. Me and my band members applied last December for a residency for one year as freelance musicians in Nuernberg. The process was so easy and we didn’t have to give them so much paperwork, cause they already know alot about us in the city and from the tours we’ve done over the years, and the press and the media coverage we have. But the problem is, in our residency it’s stated that we are here , on a freelance basis, as musicians, with the “name of our band” in relation to our label here in Nuernberg. And what they told us, is that we can only work as musicians, and the working license we have, doesn’t allow us to work in any other jobs expect related to music; We’re having a bit of difficulty financing our lives here, cause we can’t do any kind of side jobs to earn a bit money for our lives. Does anyone else have any experience on the same matter, regarding the working license you got, or regarding the title of your residency?
    any thoughts or experiences or ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks alot.

  13. re. health insurance….
    you question how much should a person visiting Germany take health insurance out for etc.
    I cannot answer this, but I can say that I read your article, left the house here in Germany, went to a cafe and noticed a staff person who served at the counter and who I would pay in a few minutes, leave the counter and walk over towards where I was standing while blowing her nose on a tissue very much.

    I threw your article away in the cafe bin then bought my coffee.

    I have recently had problems with an eye infection here, and a few months after leaving Germany last year, a nasty gum infection.

    I was not about to take any chances.

    • Dear Yi,

      Thanks so much for the post. I got my 2-year visa as well 🙂
      By the way, I’m freelancing at 2 companies now, but somehow maybe one company I could switch to Working visa. My question is if I got the working visa, can I still do freelance for other companies?

      I have read your comments, but I’m not sure if I read it, or I just forgot.

      Many Thanks,


  14. Hi YI,

    I have some inquiries about getting a German Freelance Visa. I hope you will help me to walk on the right path.

    Mostly around the web what I have read is as follows , “If I’m an artist then I can come over with a tourist visa and turn my tourist visa into German Freelance visa if I’m qualified enough.” I believe this info refers to the Americans or few other specific nations only. (a) I’m a Bangladeshi ( from Bangladesh ) and a freelance IT professional. Am I eligible to apply for the “German Freelance Visa”? (b) If yes, Do I have to apply from my home country or I can come to Germany with a tourist visa for 90 days and then apply for the German Freelance Visa ?

    How easy/ hard it is to get a Freelancing visa for an IT professional Freelancer ?

    Mostly I work on I have clients around the globe who can write me a recommendation letter or saying they are working with me currently and will hire me in future as well or is that have to be German clients only ? Is that good enough to obtain a freelance visa ?

    If I’m granted a freelance visa, for how long it’ll be valid for the first time ?

    Additionally , I would also like to know as a Bangladeshi if I’m eligible for language course visa. If yes, can anyone please provide me some links of some cheap language schools in berlin ?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!

    • Hi, I am from Morocco and I am in the same position. I only have a tourist visa at this moment. What did you end up doing?

      thank you for your help


  15. Dear Yi,
    Thank you so very much for all the information here. I’ve been searching the web and this is by far the most comprehensive I’ve found. It’s also nice to read about other peoples’ opinions and experiences.

    I’m a Canadian interior designer (now visiting Spain) with my boyfriend who’s an Aussie architect. We are both looking into getting the documents for the freelance visa in Germany. Basically, we don’t HAVE to work to support ourselves. We are both already doing freelance out of Vancouver Canada and have a monthly income as well as funds in banks. It’d be a bonus to be able to do contract work here as well, but mainly we’d like to stay in Germany/EU longer for a year (our main goal).

    I have a few questions, for you or anyone who might know about this:

    1. Could you tell me how much the consultation with Katja was? I’m thinking of getting some legal advice too considering our situation is a bit different and we might just be able to get an extension on our tourist visa, or another type.

    2. How long should we get the health insurance for? 2weeks? 1month? 1year? Not knowing if we will or will not get the visa, we prefer not to limit ourselves till we know better.

    3. Could we apply for the Freelance work visa in another Germany city? My uncle lives in Frankfurt and has a place for us to stay, so it’d be easier to get our Anmeldung and live with them for a while.

    4. Is it ok that we’ve been in Spain for a month now that we’re considering applying for the German Visa? Or do we have to have Germany as the first port of entry into Europe? We’re on the 3month tourist visa at the moment and want to travel around EU.

    Thank you so much again, this forum has been incredibly helpful 🙂

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  19. hello! i would like to know if someone have or pass or know something about the situation that i am right know. I have a student visa, for language school, but now i want to apply for the freelancer visa, I think i have all the docs already and my interveiw ll be next week, but heard that i can not change my visa from the studyvisa to workfreelancers, i should go back to my home town and apply from there, but this is a bit stupid, if I’m already here, and i have job offers … someone can help me? thanks a lot

    • Hello,

      I am in the same position that you were in. Could I ask what happened in the end? Did they grant you your visa to freelance and did you need to go back to Australia? If you managed to obtain the Visa from Germany, which city did you apply for it in?

      Thank you kindly in advance and I hope it all worked out for you.

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  21. Dear Yi,

    I have a question. I come from Taiwan, and I just got here with my working holiday visa. My field is massage, so I found jobs in hotels. They don’t need me as a employee, but they just want me as a freelancer. Therefore, my case is different. My visa is not going to expire soon. I just need to get a freelancer, but I’m wondering is there any freelancer for working holiday? Because I don’t have to switch my visa yet.

    Please let me know what I can do.



  22. Hi,
    I am currently working in a automotive company but on supplier payroll.
    I am working on a project which will finish in 2020 & i will get the same project though i change my current supplier for better salary options.
    But I am thinking to go for Free lancer option.
    Can i work for same company for 5 years as Freelancer ?
    Thanks in advance

  23. Does anyone know how to change/add to the visa restrictions? After obtaining a freelance visa, you are granted to do some work in one ore more specific fields (that were specified at the moment of application). However, how can these be changed, or what are the legal implications doing work outside of these restrictions? Changing/Adding with the Finanzamt is not a problem, you just have to notify them of the change. I have the possibility to obtain contracts that somewhat fall outside of what I was originally granted (but are still in relation with the field). Should I notify anyone specific? Any advice? Thank you!

    • I don’t know all the details of the process but I’ve been told you have to go to the Auslaenderbehoerde again and ask them to add the new activity/job category to your current visa. Just like for your first application, you’re supposed to provide details (contracts, letters of intent, etc) of who’s willing to hire your services and so on…

      That’s all I know. If someone has experience or more detailed information of the process, both with the Finanzamt and Auslaenderbehoerde, I’d be super thankful for any advice too!

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  25. Hello people. Do you know anything about getting a support from Job center (Harzt 4) and applying for an artist visa? I have a situation and I need to get support from Jobcenter to pay the health insurance debt about 600EUR but I’ve heard if I get a support form Jobcenter it’ll be difficult to get my visa application accepted.
    I searched all over but couldn’t find related post so I hope somebody here knows something.

  26. Hi – I am applying for my freelance residence permit next week and have most of my documents together, but I have a few questions about how to fill out the application: Where do I state that you were applying to be a freelancer? At the top of the first page of the application I was given it has you check what you’re applying for (residence permit) and then the second section is purpose of stay. Would I check “gainful employment” or “other” and fill in freelance work? In the section that asks for your employer should I put self-employed?
    Thanks for you help!

    • If you are confused, it is probably best to ask them when you have your interview. I did that with a few things and it was no problem.

  27. I have an appointment on Tuesday. I am a US citizen, age 64, with sufficient independent income, significant saving, and my own health insurance valid everywhere in the world except the USA and Canada. I also have credentials as a writer, editor, journalist (that was 10+ years ago but I have samples), and more recently a stand-up comic. My only difficult is coming up with “job offers.” I have some from outside Germany but I’m not sure they will count. I have made a second appointment for April in case I fail on Tuesday. Any thoughts?

    • I went to my appointment on Tuesday, asking for one year. After the interview, the lady asked me to wait in the waiting room. When they called my number again, I returned to her office to find that she had given me TWO years!

      • Hi James – I also have a similar situation. My appointment is March 10th and I was hoping you’d be willing to chat with me via email to answer some questions I have based on your experience. My email is I’d really appreciate the guidance. Thanks!

      • It’s not possible to pick the person you see there. The system simply assigns you to whomever is available. Government workers all love paper, so I came with copies of my entire health insurance policy plus the “certificate” and a summary and the invoice for this year’s premium. I also had copies of my undergraduate and graduate degrees and certifications, even though they were not strictly relevant to the artist’s freelancer permit. I had bank statements showing my savings balance, a document from Social Security showing my monthly income, and my 1099 showing how much I earned from writing and editing last year. The difficult part would be having two job offers from inside Germany. How is someone supposed to have that if they have only been here for two weeks? Freelance work rarely has job offers anyway. I had an email from someone in Munich who wants me to help her write the English version of her book and a screen shot of my first standup performance in Berlin (unpaid). I also had screen shots of Amazon listing of books I have co-published, photos of my stand up in other places, etc etc. The more the better. I also had “job offers” from outside Germany and references from companies for which have worked as a freelancer. This did not really comply with what they were seeking, but it helped.

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  29. Hello! My husband and I are going to Germany in 2 months, but we are going to Munich. I had never read anywhere that the freelance artist visa was only available in Berlin until I read your comments. Where did you hear this? I am panicking now because this might change all of our plans, and we already have so many plans set in the Munich area!!! Can we have an address in Munich but go to Berlin to get the visa?? Thank you!

    • Hi! I am in a very similar situation. I am moving to Wiesbaden though. Did you find an answer as to whether a Freelance Artist Visa only applies to Berlin? Thanks for the help!

      • Hi Dede, We are in the midst of the process, but it is my understanding that it is doable all over Germany. I had emailed Red Tape Translations (they help a lot of people in Berlin) about it and they had said so, which eased my fears. The only thing about Berlin is that it is expedited there. You can get the visa in one day. Whereas in our case, outside of Berlin, it might take a few months for it to get approved, so we would get an extension in order to stay while we wait. We have not turned in our complete application yet, only just gotten the process started. They sent us the wrong paperwork so we had to correct it. If you do this outside of Berlin, make sure you are specific about being a freelancer, and not just self employed. There are huge differences (google it!) Contact me in a month or so and I’ll be able to answer better than this! 😛

    • Hello Elisabeth, How is your visa going? I want to apply the freelancer visa in Munich as well, and wish to know how long it will take, and is it hard to get the visa?

      • It’s still going! We have an appointment next week where we have to confirm our health insurance (to see if they approve of it) and then our paperwork goes to the Institute of Freelance Professionals here in Nuremberg for their approval. Munich might not have this requirement. It’s just a Nuremberg thing as far as I know. I have a feeling the whole process would be easier in Munich since it’s a bigger city and their website even has English language pages. We also had a few travel interruptions that caused delays, and we have to make sure our translator is available whenever we have to deal with it so that also causes delays. So I’m not sure how hard it is to get… it is definitely a lot of paperwork and preparation and stress, but we don’t have it yet… so we’ll see.

      • Elisabeth, thanks for the reply. I asked AOK and TK insurance companies, but they don’t insure non EU self-employed people. Is it the same for you? Are you using private or statutory health insurance? And, how many weeks you submitted the application prior the visa expires? I have only 7 weeks now.

      • We can only use private insurance as self-employed individuals. Some private companies won’t accept you until you have a visa though. Your best bet is to contact an insurance broker here – they are free and will have the best advice. Try John Gunn at We signed up with Care Concept… but I’m not sure it will be accepted, will know soon! You can also look into ALC – it is a UK based company but is definitely accepted here I believe.
        Your timing is fine… we started as soon as we got here, but it has taken forever to get the process going. This appointment we are about to have is only a few weeks from when our tourist visa ends… I wanted it earlier but that’s the way it happened. So get started now! (:

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  31. Nice. I’m a web freelancer myself and want to live in the European Union for a while. I’m quite independent and don’t need to depend on the German welfare state to sustain myself. Will 1000 Euros per month be sufficient for now? I usually get paid by PayPal or Moneybookers by my clients.

    I’ll be coming over on a tourist visa issued by Netherlands and the first port of entry being Amsterdam. Since it’s a Schengen visa, I can move over to Germany immediately. Is a Schengen state authorized to extend visa issued by another Schengen state?

  32. Hello, I have a question about the free-lance artist visa for Berlin residents.
    I have been working for the Dresden Semperoper since August of 2015. I am American. My contract there (and therefore my residence permit) end 31 July, 2015. Ultimately, I would like to maintain 5 years continuous residency so i can eventually get permanent residency.
    I would move to berlin and keep an address there when my contract in Dresden ends, and I would like to apply for the Visa in May, as I will be away in the USA for much of July, August, and October.
    If I get do receive a free-lance artist visa, is there a residency requirement ? Could i spend time in Germany as well as in other countries? Is there a limit on how little time I could spend in Germany?Could i conceivably travel all around and just touch base in Germany every 6 months? Do you know who else I could contact to ask questions about this, before I come from Dresden to Berlin for an appointment? (I have one booked for the end of May.)
    Thank you!

  33. Hi there,

    Thanks for posting this! It has been very helpful for me. My appointment at the Ausländerbehörde is on Monday!

    Just wondering if the health insurance documents that you took them where in English or German? My certificate of insurance is in English so I’m wondering if I should get a translation done before Monday….

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this for all the other artists out there – it’s such an overwhelming process, and it’s good to know that you’re not alone out there!


    • Hi! First, I wish you good luck on your appointment. I just had mine a few weeks ago, still patiently waiting for an answer. I know how you can feel overwhelmed, surly I did, but you will feel very good once it’s over.

      As for your insurance, I am with aLC which is based in the UK. I brought mine in English. To quote my insurance broker, he said that:
      “Documents such as this must only be issued in the language of the country where they are established to avoid any misinterpretation. The German Justiz Ministerium state this.”

      So you shouldn’t have any problems

      Viel Glück!

  34. Hey there.. I really hope someone can help me out with this.

    My friend is from Israel and wants to start his life here in Berlin. So he wants to apply for a “Freelance Tattoo Artist Visa” which I guess is the same then the “Artist Visa”, no ?

    He got some recommendation letters, the registry of residence, his resume, a health insurance and a well filled bank account and some pictures of his work in his portfolio.

    Now he struggles because none of the studios wants to give him a propper joboffer what he should also have to get the visa, no ?

    They tell him to give him a place in a studio as a freelancer he needs to have a “Gewerbeschein” / trade license.. so how can he proove to be able to support himself without any job offer.. ? He does have some of friends that wrote a letter about they want him to make a Tattoo.

    Since he doesn´t even have a propper high school graduation nor a study or training, its quiet desperating… this is also the reason why he can not really apply for another kind then Tattoo Artist (but in german law tattooing is not a form of Art – its kind of handicraft…)

    I hope someone of you can help us somehow.. !!!

    thanks a lot 🙂

  35. It’s in reality a great and useful piece of info.

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    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey there.. I really hope someone can help me out with this.

      My friend is from Israel and wants to start his life here in Berlin. So he wants to apply for a “Freelance Tattoo Artist Visa” which I guess is the same then the “Artist Visa”, no ?

      He got some recommendation letters, the registry of residence, his resume, a health insurance and a well filled bank account and some pictures of his work in his portfolio.

      Now he struggles because none of the studios wants to give him a propper joboffer what he should also have to get the visa, no ?

      They tell him to give him a place in a studio as a freelancer he needs to have a “Gewerbeschein” / trade license.. so how can he proove to be able to support himself without any job offer.. ? He does have some of friends that wrote a letter about they want him to make a Tattoo.

      Since he doesn´t even have a propper high school graduation nor a study or training, its quiet desperating… this is also the reason why he can not really apply for another kind then Tattoo Artist (but in german law tattooing is not a form of Art – its kind of handicraft…)

      I hope someone of you can help us somehow.. !!!

      thanks a lot 🙂

  36. Hello, not sure if this has been answered yet or not but can the contracts that you use to help prove your income be from US based contracts or do they have to be from Germany? Thanks!

      • Yeah, I cannot find it anywhere 😦 I have 3 US based ones and some money in the bank…but would like to know before we move all the way over there lol!

    • Yeah, my situation is, I have a remote job, I work for a company in the US but I am based in Argentina and I am planing to move to Germany. So I want to pay taxes in Germany but still have my job for the US company, I have a full time contract with them (but remote). But as you said, I can’t find info about this anywhere… Maybe you can try to find some info at your local embassy? or on their website? If you do, please let me know.

      • Hi Juliana. I’m also from Argentina and looking to move to Germany. As I’m a graphic designer I can work remotely for my clients too.
        Maybe you can help me by telling me on thing: Once I’ve got the visa as independent worker in Argentina for Germany, what kind of procedure do i need to make once I’m in Berlin?. Do you have any useful link that i can read?

      • Pablo. Realmente no sé si te van a dar la visa de freelancing en Argentina porque en la embajada ponen muchos “peros”. Si realmente tenes muchas ganas poder reunir todos los documentos y probar. Mi proceso es diferente porque yo la visa la saco por matrimonio y ese visado me permite trabajar. En tu caso yo llamaria a la embajada y les preguntaria qué hay que hacer luego de tener la visa y luego de aterrizar en Alemania. Armate de paciencia y llama por las mañanas antes de las 11.
        Estamos en contacto! me podes buscar en facebook si queres para charlar. Buscame por mi nombre y mi apellido (lara)

  37. I’m sure this has been asked before, but do all the documents (ie Mission Statement, Business plan, references, contracts) need to be in German, or is it okay for them to be in English?

  38. Hi Yi,
    Thank you so much for your detailed information and all your replies to the posts here. I read most of them and they were really helpful in the matter.
    There’s something though that I need your thoughts on if possible! Me and my band come from Teheran, Iran. We’ve been touring around Germany for the past 3 years, during the summer times, with the schengen visa, type C. After our last tour in this summer, we got signed by a label, and we came back in the September to record our Album. Now we are thinking about applying for this artist residency visa from Berlin. But we talked about it with a lawyer, and they told us that we HAVE to go back to Iran, and apply for our visa from there! But what I saw from the people’s posts is that there were others from nationalities other than Americans, or Australians, who have done that, form here, without going back. So do you think it would still be possible for us to apply from here?
    And the other thing is that, how can we apply for a “Berlin freelance artist residency” if we’re not in Berlin, and we’re applying it from Tehran?
    Thank you so much for your time concern
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    All the best

      • You should go to the German Embassy in your country and they will give you all the papers that you need to fill in and also all the information about what other papers you need. They will be in charge of sending all those papers to Berlin, and after that you are notified if you got (or not) the visa. I am from Argentina and I am also one of the persons that would “send home” if I were to apply in Berlin. Argentinians must apply for a visa BEFORE leaving to Berlin, you cannot apply directly from Berlin, otherwise they will send you home, like you. Also, you are applying for a VISA, not a residence permit (as far as I know). So you apply from your country, the Embassy will help you with papers, and after you got the visa and you came to Berlin, THEN you will apply IN BERLIN for a residence permit.

        (source: I still haven’t applied for any visa, I am in Argentina and I want to move in April to Berlin, still trying to figure out how. My husband is Italian, he can live and work without any visa, but I need to apply either for a working visa, a freelancer visa or a family visa… the Embassy is not being helpful at all in my country, but I have gathered some info and what I wrote you is how it works for us in Argentina)

  39. Hey Yi,

    My Husband, our 1 year old son, and myself are planning on moving over to Germany next July! We are super excited about this, but nervous too! I had a few questions for you if you don’t mind me asking!

    We own a resell business, we sell a lot of stuff…like all the stuff you see at flea markets in Germany 🙂 We do know we would be applying for the freelance visa, regular one. Now, we both are owners of the company..would we apply separately or what? Also, how would the recommendation letters work for us when we own our own company and o everything ourselves?


  40. hi yi

    i am a pakistani and i have been an English teacher for 5 years here and i have written 35 poems in English so can i apply for an artist visa or an freelance visa.

  41. HI I have a question about insurance, it is usually hard to get a good (proper) insurance when you actually dont have a working visa. It is kind of a loop that they have. Or is it enough to start applying for incurance for the visa purpose. and when you actually get a visa you finish insurance process?
    Thank you in addvance

  42. Hi Yi,
    I need your help as how I can get a work freelance visa. I am an American and I got an extension of my visa. Can I apply for work/engaged to my boyfriend or go a head and apply for the work freelance visa? Can I change my application to freelance after filing first filling for work/engaged to my boyfriend? Please help!!

    • Hi Joanita,

      I don’t really understand your question. What is “filing for work/engaged to my boyfriend”?

      First, I suggest you to read up on resident permits and the different visa status Germany offers. Feel free to browse through the comments and hope that helps.


      • Hi Yi, I have a question for you, it would be great if you could help me. I am an Argentinian married to and Italian (we both live in Argentina, although he holds a UE passport -I don’t-). I recently got a job from a US employer, it’s a permanent job and I work online, because as I said, I am in Argentina and the company is in the US. My income is higher than the average income in Germany, and I really want to move to Germany (Berlin) next year. So I would like to know if I can apply for a freelance visa, so that I can pay german taxes, live in Germany but still have my full-time job with my employer in the US (note: my husband and I are both Artists, and the job is about graphic design). Do you know if that is possible? Or do I have to get a job with a german employer IN germany?

        Any help will be appreciated.



      • (Sorry Just posting again as my email address was incorrect on the previous post)

        Hi Yi, I have a question for you, it would be great if you could help me. I am an Argentinian married to and Italian (we both live in Argentina, although he holds a UE passport -I don’t-). I recently got a job from a US employer, it’s a permanent job and I work online, because as I said, I am in Argentina and the company is in the US. My income is higher than the average income in Germany, and I really want to move to Germany (Berlin) next year. So I would like to know if I can apply for a freelance visa, so that I can pay german taxes, live in Germany but still have my full-time job with my employer in the US (note: my husband and I are both Artists, and the job is about graphic design). Do you know if that is possible? Or do I have to get a job with a german employer IN germany?

        Any help will be appreciated.



  43. Thanks for writing this insightful blog post, Yi. (And for all you other amazing people who answered questions on here!) I am happy to say that I was approved for an Artist Visa on Thursday. 🙂

  44. Hi Yi,
    Thanks for your thorough post on this. I had a question regarding your ALC insurance and the requirement to have pregnancy coverage. I have heard from others (including you) that pregnancy coverage is required (and this basically doubles the monthly fee for me). However, the broker I am working with says that he knows other women who were able to get/renew their visa without it. Were you asked for this proof of coverage specifically when you applied?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Audrey, I also have ALC and was approved for my visa on Thursday. My case worker did not ask me about the details of my health insurance, she just took all of the paperwork and read through it herself. I recommend adding pregnancy coverage because you cannot change or add anything to your health insurance once you sign up. It’s a risk really. I went with Yi’s advice, as well as my broker’s because pregnancy coverage is actually required. And if someone else got by without it, it was luck. Better to be safe than sorry. Good luck!

    • Hi Audrey,

      The new policy that was rolled out in 2012/13 requires everyone to have pregnancy coverage (even if you’re a male, or you’re a female and not looking to have a baby). I guess those who don’t have the coverage were lucky and the administrator must have forgotten or didn’t know.

      I know in my case, the interviewer specifically asked me about pregnancy coverage and I had to highlight that on my health certificate.

      Hope that helps!


  45. Hi Yi, and everyone reading/posting on this amazing blog,

    Can any freelancers who have been approved already for their visa, advise about submitting Company Profile, Business Plan, Business Concept and Capital Requirement Plan? My checklist from the Auslanderbehorde says it is not required for freelancers but I’m not sure if I should do it anyway? My appointment is on Thursday and I want to make sure I do it all right!

    PS. I’m a musician, so I will be applying for the Artist Visa and putting english tutor on the side as well.


  46. Hello all! I am excited to say I received my Selbständig Aufenthaltstitel today!!! It took about 20 minutes and Baddah Bing there ya go welcome to Germany!

    Just wanted to share a positive experience. If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to help! 🙂

    • Ah, I just replied to your other comment without seeing this one. Haha.

      That’s great news Katrina! Enjoy being a freelancer in Germany 🙂

    • Congrats Katrina! I have a question for you: Did you submit Company Profile, Business Plan, Business Concept and Capital Requirement Plan? My checklist from the Auslanderbehorde says it is not required for freelancers but I’m not sure if I should do it anyway? I have read Yi write about the Business Plan… My appointment is on Thursday so I just want to make sure I have everything I need in order to be approved. Thanks!

      • I had created so many more documents than what I actually needed, profit/loss statement, income vorschau thing, a letter in German explaining how I will support myself with many details, a printed copy of my mom’s bank info as well as mine, my resume in both german and English, a copy of my uni diploma, OMG the list goes on and on. BUT, The woman simply asked for my job offers (I had about 12 emails from different people about Englisch tutoring or translating or something) and my passport and any relevant qualifications.

        Otherwise, I didn’t even show the other stuff.

        If it says it isn’t needed for Freelancers, it isn’t necessary. This is simply my opinion. 🙂 Good Luck!!!!!

  47. Hello Yi,

    First off, let me commend you for keeping up such a thoroughly informative outlet. It’s appreciated beyond words. Pardon if my following questions have been addressed in the past:

    1. Does anybody know whether it’s possible/advisable to change from a student visa to a freelance visa? And if so, would I need to go back to my home country (the states) in order to enact that switch, or can it be done easily within Germany?

    2. Is it possible to obtain two separate freelance visas sequentially? (i.e. applying for another 2-year artist visa right before your first 2-year artist visa is up?)

    Any help is much appreciated!

    • Hi. I am waiting on a response to my own post, but I think I can help you with your questions also. I am from the states too, and I think as a student, you would not need to leave the country and come back to change your visa. About it being advisable or not is dependent on your specific situation. And I wouldn’t say anything is “easily done” in germany….

      As for your second question, I would say it is absolutely necessary to apply for the next 2 years’ visa BEFORE the current one is up. Otherwise, and this is base on what the Auslänerbehöre told me in my situation, if you want your work visa to become a tourist visa where we are allowed to stay for 90 days, THEN you do have to leave the country an come back.

      Hope this helps a little

    • Hi Alice,

      Just to answer your question:
      1. No, you don’t need to go back to your country to apply for a freelance visa. You’re simply swapping the status of your resident permit > from student to freelancer. Just make sure that your student visa is not expired when you apply — it makes things easier.

      2. It’s fine to apply for an extension before your visa runs out. I had a working holiday visa and two months before this expired, I went to apply for a freelance visa.

      Good luck!


      • Thanks so much Katrina and Yi for the input! I guess I should rephrase my second question: do people often get approved for another artist freelance visa after their first one is up?

        Another query: is it possible to work independently on a student visa that doesn’t include work authorization? My meaning: I do outsource work (voice-recording) for my boss in China and was hoping I could work with him while I’m on a student visa. I just moved from China and won’t have proof of any income from him for several more months, so applying for the artist visa right now will be difficult. However, will it be a problem that I’m outsourcing with him while on that non-working student visa? Does that count as “working” or is it separate since it’s not within Germany?

        Help is so appreciated!

      • Hi Alice,

        Some student visas don’t allow you to work, while others allocate certain number of working hours. If your boss pays you under the table type thing, then it’s pretty hard to track number of hours you’ve actually worked.

  48. Hi Yi! First I have to say this is the most comprehensively helpful collection of awesomeness I have found on this topic so far!

    I am from the US and I will apply this week for a Freelance visa as an English instructor and as an English speaking host/guide for an event company here in berlin (Basically like airport meet and greet and stuff like that) I have already letters from all of my sources (like 7 in total).
    Basically, I have nothing impressive going on in my bank account. I am a little worried to even mention my bank account info, but it seems after reading all of this here, that its possibly very important. Would it suffice to show the bank statement of my mother and write something about her supporting me from the states, or should I have money in my own account?? Do you know if I could have money in a non-German bank account? That, I could possibly arrange.

    Thanks again! I look forward to your response. 🙂


    • Hi Katrina,

      The only reason why bank account is important is to show that you’re able to support yourself while you’re looking for a job. If you already have freelance work contracts, then you don’t really need an enormous amount in there as you will have healthy cash flow coming in.

      You can get your mum to vouch for you. I’ve known people who have had their parents deposit some money into their bank account as well.

      It doesn’t need to be a German bank account, but the bank statement needs to have your name on it.

      Good luck!


      • Thanks Yi!
        I went to the Ausländerbehörde yesterday to ask if I could just submit my application then, instead of waiting for the appointment I made for the week after next. The woman there also told me that if I have everything ready and all paperwork filled out, I should get my Visa in the same day… which I was very confused about. Do you know if that’s really true? I’ve only heard of these stories of waiting for months for a decision.

        Has anyone recieved their Selbständig Visa in the same day???

      • Hi Katrina,

        If you’re applying for the artist visa, and if it all checks out, then you do get the visa on the same day. You pay and they will print out the visa for you on the spot and stick it in your passport.

        If they feel that you don’t qualify as an “artist” then your documents will be sent to the work bureau to be reviewed. This can take weeks and up to months even (took me three months to be exact).

        Good luck!


  49. Sorry to add another comment here, but I have been searching for info about leaving the Schengen area during the extended visa period.

    After my appointment they extended my visa until December, and also asked for additional documents. I want to go to the UK before my tourist visa expires, and return after it expires but while my extension is in effect.

    From the way people keep saying that travel within Schengen is safe, I’m assuming that means that outside Schengen is not, and that I should cancel my plans…

    Any experience with this?

    • Hi there,

      Did you apply for a tourist visa? Or was it a landing visa?

      If they’ve extended your visa and gave you that slip, you should be able to travel as usual. Whether that’s within Schengen or overseas. Make sure you carry that slip with you when you travel. Perhaps double check with the immigration office just to be extra certain.

      Good luck!


      • I was on an automatic tourist visa being from the US (I didn’t apply, they just stamped it at the airport), and while here I applied for a freelance visa.

      • When I tried to return, they said the slip is NOT an entry permit and that I couldn’t enter the country (at first). But I talked to someone for awhile and they felt sorry for me and let me in. Definitely don’t try this unless you feel like a risk!

  50. Thanks, fantastic post, very informative.
    I’d really like to do this. I’m a musician/producer from New Zealand, and I run a small record label. I could put together an application as a freelance artist that might be OK (I have plenty of good reviews, a solid body of work, etc.) But I’ve also recently qualified as an English teacher (got the CELTA) and have a BA/English and MA/Creative Writing. I’d like to go there and do both music and teaching — realistically, supporting myself more with teaching than with music, at least initially.
    So would you recommend I apply as an artist or as a teacher? Or can I apply as both? Any reason not to apply in say Leipzig or Dresden?

    Danke schon!

    • Hi there,

      I’ve heard of a few people hesitant to apply in a “smaller German cities” — Personally, I feel that if you have all your documents ready, there’s no reason why they would want to reject you.

      You did mention that you want to apply for an artist freelance visa; this is only available for residents in Berlin. The rest of the country, you can apply for a freelance visa. You can certainly put down both profession: musician and English teacher. In your business plan, you can write how you want to concentrate on your music, but you will also support yourself in between with teaching and tutoring positions. Also make sure that you put the two professions down when you apply for a steuernummer (tax number at the Finanzamt).

      Good luck!


  51. Guys, I am panicking. I submitted my freelance visa document 2 months back and they reverted and asked me to rewrite my business plan. So i did and i personally went and met the person from IHK to submit it. Now, I already have one contract which pays me well, and I should find other contracts soon. I had about 3000 euros in my German bank account and my fiance also submitted a letter that he will support me incase of any mishaps, which won’t happen, since I will have enough of savings from freelancing. I applied as a consultant for Business development, sales and marketing for the Asian market since I speak several languages and have worked there long enough.
    My question is, what are the chances they will reject it? The fact that i have only one (1 year) freelance contract? or would there be anything else. I am quite worried. Will hiring a lawyer make a difference? Thanks

    • Hi Bobie,

      When I applied for the resident permit, I had the same concerns. I didn’t even have a proper freelance contract and just had two letters of recommendations with intent to hire. The wait can be very long and you can only hope for the best. Even if you do get rejected, you can always apply for it again.

      Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!


  52. Hello,

    Thank you for you valuable information

    I was wondering, Does this account where we show the money have to be a german account that you need to freeze, so they let you withdraw only a certain amount of money a month.

    I can show more than 3000 euros but borrow from parents or friends and give it back. Do u think that will work?

    I would apply for the visa from Czech Republic as i have been living here for 2 years.

    Please let me know what u think and if u had any experience in this regard.


    • Hi Vishal,

      It doesn’t need to be a German bank account, and you can certainly have your parents vouch for you. The bank just needs to show that you have enough money to support yourself while you’re looking for a job or if something happens.

      I’m not sure what the logistics would be if you applied in Czech Republic — you do have to show your Anmeldung, which is your housing registration.



    • Hi Nelson, congrats on getting your two-year visa. Did you get a freelance visa or an artist visa? Also, how long did it take you to gather all the materials you needed and were you pretty much ready to apply once you got to Germany?

      • Hi Emily, thanks! I got a freelance visa for teaching English and translating, but the lady at the Auslaenderbehoerde said I could change it to allow me to work in other areas as well. I was not at all ready when I got to Germany. I arrived, applied for a few jobs, got a few interviews, and then got a few contracts. I actually started working as an American freelancer in Berlin a few weeks before I went to the Auslaenderbehoerde.

      • That is so cool, that at least gives me hope. I am probably coming over to Berlin in December and I definitely want to start applying for writing jobs once I get to Berlin. Is it the most amazing place? Are you making lots of friends?

    • Congrats Nelson! I am currently in the process of getting an adequate health insurance provider for my freelance visa and have reached out to some insurers. Are you comfortable sharing what you used and is it affordable? Thanks, Heather

    • Hi Nelson! I am also American and considering applying for a Freelance Visa for english teaching and translating.

      I have a few questions. I have tried to call the ausländerbehörde so many times but nobody there is helpful.

      Did you have to already have paid for insurance? Or simply show that you have a Service Provider and a Versichertennummer?

      How long were you waiting? How many contracts should I have? I am already working for about 5 families teaching english privately and another 2 People via Skype and I am hoping for some kind of tourist guide Job also.

      Thanks for any help you can provide!!! 🙂


      • Hi Katrina,

        Yes, you should apply for health insurance as soon as you get here. I’m not sure about the Verischertennummer, I just brought all of the documents the insurance company had sent me.

        Are you already in Berlin? I had three contracts when I went to the Ausländerbehörde and that was fine. I had already made an appointment before getting any contracts because the wait is so long. I got the contracts within two weeks of arriving in Berln.

        Hope that helps! Good luck!


      • Thanks Nelson. I’m not sure if you will see this, and I can’t find how to reply to what you said.

        Yes I have been here for a year. I was an Au Pair for a while and was insured with the Family. I saw the post you sent earlier to lovealwaysheather. Which of the Options did you choose? I am assuming the Care Expatriot Option.

    • Heyyy Nelso! I hope you are well! I am wondering how long is your health insurance cover you for? I am having my appointment in two weeks and I am thinking of getting mine from Care Concept as well. Thanks in advance!

  53. Hi Yi,

    Thanks so much for this post. I have really tried to look elsewhere and spoken to others who also have the visa, as well as calling the Ausländerbehörde with no luck, so am just asking what your experience was.

    Did you ever try to travel with your visa extension, or did you just remain in Berlin? I applied for the visa and was given the 3-month extension and when I left Germany, was told I wasn’t allowed to travel with this visa, and that when I returned to Germany, I shouldn’t show it with my passport when I come back in. This confuses me because I know some people who waited 7 months for a decision, and others have told me they traveled with their extension with no problem.

    Did you travel with your extension?

    • Hi Kristin,

      You have an extension on your current visa as you wait to hear back from the Immigration office.What kind of extension is it? Are you waiting to hear back about your visa application, or is it because you didn’t have all your forms and need to go back at some point?

      I traveled around Europe when I was waiting to hear back regarding my visa status.They told me it was fine.

      Good luck!


    • I flew to the UK and back and they said I couldn’t enter Germany with that when I was at the airport (but eventually they let me in anyway), so I wouldn’t recommend traveling by plane.

  54. Hi Yi,

    Thank you so much for useful info! I am wondering now I just found out the earliest appointment for me to book(2nd Dec) is way past my tourist visa expiry date…(17th Oct), I still booked it online but does that mean I can stay in Berlin to wait the appointment?


    • Hi Ash,

      Yes, you get an automatic extension on your current visa until your next appointment. I think it says it somewhere on their site — if you are traveling, I would print out your appointment booking and the clause, just in case.



    • Hi Ash, Yi, or anybody who can help:

      I think we’re in the same boat, so could you please let me know what you experienced with this? My 3-month tourist visa expires on Dec. 30, but my booked appointment isn’t until Jan. 5th. I’ve read multiple times on blogs/forums (including Yi’s response to this question) that visas are automatically extended during the waiting time, but when I made the appt online the LABO website said this:

      If your residence permit has not been expired yet, the residence permit will remain effective in Germany at least until the appointment scheduled today. This also applies to all conditions stipulated on your residence permit, including the regulations pertaining to gainful employment. Please be aware, that travelling abroad is only possible within the validity of your last residence permit. **Schengen visa (type of visa: C) always expire with the date of validity. Appointments do not extend the legal stay with a Schengen visa.**”

      I’m on the 3-month Schengen tourist visa, so that means there’s no way I can extend it for just that extra week?

      Appreciate any feedback greatly,

      • I am also wondering this. I guess the issue is what is the difference between a residence permit and a Schengen visa?

        I have a tourist visa that was extended for three months, but I am wondering if I can extend it further by booking an appointment if my current application fails, so that I can try one more time.

      • Hi Alice,

        I’m in this position as well. What was the outcome? My Schengen expires in 18 days, but I’m unlikely to get an appointment prior to that.

        Many thanks,

  55. Hi Yi,
    Wow, this is such an incredibly helpful article. And it is much appreciated that you respond and continue to respond to questions and concerns. I am in the middle of getting all of my paperwork together for my artist freelance visa, (ONE month from now) and I’ve got some questions for you:
    -I am a musician, and have emails from venues that want to book me or have booked me already to play. However, I highly doubt that there will be any sort of revenue out of this. I’ve read quite a few of the replies on here and from my understanding, I am able to state that I will have a mini job to help support myself while I’m playing and booking shows, correct? So, my intent on being here is: to find exposure for my musical project and network with other acts like me… BUT I will also be nannying as a mini job. Would that be okay? Should I ask these venues to write me an official letter inviting me to play, or does email correspondence suffice? Also, should I be asking for the families that I’ll be working for, for letters as well? Are they responsible for paying my taxes and health insurance? And what about getting letters from other musical acts wanting to work with me?
    Your article has helped tremendously, and I feel like this will all work out for me. But I just want to make sure I have enough to show that I won’t be bumming around, singing for free.
    I hope to hear from you soon!
    All the best,

    • Hi Heather,

      Please don’t mind me jumping in. I’m a pianist and have successfully attained a one year freelance artist visa yesterday. Seems like the main things they asked for are: sufficient health insurance, diploma or some kind, job offers in Germany and bank statements which shows you have sufficient money to support yourself. Since I don’t really have any engagements just yet but luckily have contacted a Hochschule für Musik recently and have received a response which states, ‘we don’t have any opening at the moment but you are welcome to come play for me this semester.’ I printed out the email and it definitely helped. So I’d say anything you can bring (even emails) to show that you are ‘marketable’ would be great. I’m not sure showing that you will be a nanny will help as I presume you are applying for the artist visa.

      Just a side note, I have Blue Cross travel insurance before I left Canada. Perhaps they are not familiar with that and said normally they wouldn’t accept it (while they were handing me the visa). I explained that I had done some research on a few insurance companies mentioned on this blog. Those premiums are rather high and the coverage is actually not as good as the Blue Cross I have. After all, they are ok with it as well.

      What do you play and are you in Berlin?


      • Hi PD, congratulations on getting your visa! Thanks for your feedback. I asked Yi about the Nanny mini job because I read that it would help in comments below. Otherwise, how am I supposed to prove that I can support myself here if I don’t also have something on the side? Let’s face it, being a musician doesn’t exactly bring in the big bucks unless you’re in the spotlight. But then, I guess that’s why bank statements are so important… I will definitely print out emails, I figured that would suffice. Just wondering how to go about presenting my mini job as I have been going on interviews.
        I am currently in Berlin, (from NY) and I’ve signed a lease for a year. I sing and write synth pop.

      • Congrats on getting your visa PD!

        And Heather, just to add to PD’s comments, you’re not just limited to being a freelance musician. You can also put down freelance musician and English tutor. In your brief business plan, you can state how you will earn money at playing gigs but will also find other jobs such as English tutor or cafe waitress to support yourself too.

        I think the letter of intent from venues is probably enough. It’s always good to go in with a minimum of two letters of intent — if you have more, even better.

        As a freelancer, you’re responsible for health insurance and paying taxes. Having a substantial health insurance coverage is really important and I’ve heard of people getting denied because it wasn’t adequate. They seem to prefer a health insurance based in Germany or Europe and since two years ago, you will need to have pregnancy coverage — even if you don’t intend to have a baby anytime soon.

        Good luck! 🙂


    • Hi Heather, I wanted to let you know that your story of getting your Artist visa is really amazing to me. I am currently looking into moving to Berlin, since my boyfriend is trying to find a job there at the moment and I have been thinking a lot about the freelance visa, however, my funds are not super impressive. How did you go about reaching out to German employers from NY? Or did you wait until you got to Germany? Looking forward to your response.


      • Thanks Emily! I totally get that feeling, my funds are not impressive AT ALL. I am asking my family to wire some money to my bank account just so it appears that I have enough and then I’m sending it right back. From what I understand, and all the stories that I have read, bank statements are a huge deal breaker/maker. Perhaps you can do the same! Regarding reaching out to employers, I’m a nanny. So I wasn’t able to apply to any nanny jobs until I got here and felt comfortable around the city. However, you can start to reach out to perspective employers before you arrive. Doesn’t hurt, I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that as a nanny. I’ve got a month before my appointment, so I’m really just trying to soak up as much helpful information and tips as possible. Research, research, research! Anything is possible, and try and make yourself look as good as you can on paper!
        Best, Heather

  56. Greetings Yi,

    Thanks for all that you have written around getting a freelance work permit, it has been very helpful as I am in the process of getting it. I have a question around locations and getting the freelance work permit. I have four letters of intent from people who would like to hire me on freelance basis and I am working on compiling all the other documents that I need. I have heard that it is far easier to get the freelance permit in Berlin and I had thought to move there but my girlfriend lives near Friedrichshafen and ideally I would be based near Friedrichshafen. I have heard that in the smaller towns they may not have experience with the freelance permit and it can be much more difficult to get. Do you have any thoughts around this?

    Thanks, Greg

    • Hi Greg,

      I know that Berlin is more accepting of artist. In fact, the freelance artist visa is only available in Berlin and not in any other cities in Germany.

      I don’t think other cities outside of Berlin are going to be more harsh. I’ve heard of lots of bad experiences and denied visa applications in Berlin as well. I think if you’re going to be really organised and tick all the boxes, there’s no reason why they would deny your visa application.

      In addition, I don’t suggest going to Berlin just to get the visa. You will need to prove your residency in Berlin and that just adds more hurdles to the current process.

      As long as you’re prepared, I don’t think you will have any problems. Good luck with application and do let me know how it goes!



  57. Hi Yi,

    Thank you for your reply. I’ve drafted my ‘mission statement/business plan’ in one document in about 300 words 🙂

    A couple more questions for you if you don’t mind:

    – Is this where I should make an appointment for the Freelance Artist Visa application?

    – For the recommendation letters, can I have my previous employees in Canada provide that since I have not worked in Germany just yet? Do they have to be signed by the employees? Or would an email document sent by them and I print them out be sufficient because it might take a while for them to mail letters to me here.

    Thank you again.


  58. Hi Yi,

    Thanks again for this blog with such extensive information. I have a question on Mission Statement and Business Plan. I’m a pianist who would like to work for opera companies in Germany. Since I would need to speak German, I have just moved to Berlin so I can take an intensive German course which will start next week 🙂

    You mentioned that the Mission Statement is like a cover letter. Would my bio be sufficient? Or else, I’m thinking of combining the 2 into 1 document, which states my credential/training, the reason why I am here for the vast opportunities, learn German, and my plan to audition for companies as well as management agencies.

    What do you think? Do they have to separated? My experience and plan is rather straight forward. Does it matter how many words there are?


    • Hi PD,

      The mission statement can be your bio but do include the points on how you plan to make a living and get hired for performances. I think it would be great to get letters of intent from companies and agencies. Also attach your training and credentials, I know that it will be looked upon favourably.

      Keep it short (no more than two pages). I think mine was just two paragraphs 🙂

      Good luck!


  59. Hi there, I already have a good contract to work as a business consultant and i wanted to know how does the taxes work. My company is paying for the vat tax, and is there also an income tax for freelancers? Which website should i refer too for this?and would you mind sharing with me your profit and loss statement. How is works? Thanks a ton

    • Hi Bobbie,

      Your company doesn’t automatically pay for the VAT. That’s something you need to charge on your invoices and then pay the government on a monthly or quarterly basis.

      There’s only one income tax so freelancers don’t have a special rate.

      Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable sharing my P&L statement as it is something private.

      If you have questions about taxation, I recommend to get in touch with Ben:

      I’ve been with him for a while now and really happy with his level of service and expertise.



      • HI Yi, Thanks for the reply. Just one more question. Does this mean that i pay only one type of tax which is the vat? Yes, I will give the company an invoice of of the hourly rate + vat, which i can find out from a tax agent. Thanks a lot! I had actually sent my application and they reverted with a document which stated things that sounded like I was starting a business (which product will you sell? for example) I am confused and hope to clarify things soon. Will resend all my documents. Have a good day!

    • Hi Bobbie,

      Is it a freelance contract or a permanent full-time contract? If you’re freelancing, then you need to make sure that you’re setting enough money aside for the income tax. In terms of VAT, have you registered for a VAT number? If you have, then you also need to add 19% VAT on top of your charge. Usually, you have to do a VAT statement every month or quarter and the Finanzamt will send you bill. For the income tax, that can be paid annually.



      • Just to share the good news! I can now start working as a freelance consultant! Got the news today that its been approved! Thank you for being a good source.

  60. Hello Yi,

    You are very kind to answer these questions. If someone gets a freelance or artist’s visa in Germany can they then travel to other countries in Europe beyond the 90 day Schengen Agreement? For example, go to Spain for four months and then return to Germany?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Joseph,

      With a resident visa in Germany, you can go live and work anywhere (beyond 90 days in Schengen countries). Just make sure that you are in Germany for a bulk of your stay in a year and that you report your earnings, even if it’s outside of Germany.



      • Are you saying that the German visa acts as a work permit in EU countries? How about the UK? Does my German freelance visa for Computer IT help me get in and/or work in London?


      • Hi David,

        A German freelance work visa allows you to take on freelance jobs in EU and also outside of EU. It does not mean you can live and work in London. In addition, a lot of temp and freelance jobs in the U.K. would often require you to be an U.K. resident for tax purposes.



  61. Hi Yi,

    I really appreciate the post. I just stumbled upon it in a recent search. I am interested in the freelance visa but am not sure if it even applies to me at all. I have two main questions.

    First, do you know if there is a requirement for a college degree? I am sure it would help greatly but is it required?

    Secondly, I wanted to tell you about my work and see what you thought. I guess what I do is freelance, I have just never called it that. I provide a educational services to children with special needs, mainly to public schools who I bill for my time like a freelancer, and also for private families. I do a variety of related things, including working directly with the children on language, social skills, etc. to working with the parents on handling behavior and other issues. It boils down to freelance teaching I guess, but I’m not a “teacher” and I don’t have a 4 year degree. Do you think this is something that could ever get a freelance visa in Germany or is it outside of the scope?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Christopher,

      I’m not sure if you need a college degree to get the resident visa. However, for teaching jobs, a lot of the schools will need to see qualifications such as a Bachelors or Masters degree.

      You can apply to a freelance language tutor/teacher and there’s even a special visa for au pairs. As mentioned before, it might just be a bit tougher to work for schools as a teacher without the proper qualifications. Nevertheless, private families might be less strict and would rely on recommendations instead.



  62. Hi,
    I am an American who got a 2 year freelancer visa as a computer consultant a while back. It actually took them 1 year to decide on my visa! But in the end it worked.
    Recently this one expired and I was given a 3 month extension to sort some things out as it looked like I had been out of Germany for much of the initial 2 years.

    Anyway, was wondering about letters of intent. Do you have any template or suggestion for content? Or just x company is interested in having me work on a web site project. The project is projected to last 8 months, la de da…

    Must it be in German?


    • Hi David,

      The letters can be English but probably best in German if the company is based here. There’s no real template and just a short statement how there’s an interest to hire you in the future for potential projects. Make sure that it’s on the company’s letterhead or if it’s e-mail, then at least shows their work e-mail and signature.

      Good luck!


  63. Hi Yi,
    Fantastic blog, thank you so much for cutting the red-tape lingo with your straightforward explanations of what you learned 🙂
    I am a Canadian teaching English as a foreign language to businesspeople. I’ve been offered freelance work in Frankfurt as a Sprachlehrer so now that I’m well-armed with the steps you’ve mentioned, hopefully all will go well.
    My question is – I’ve not worked in Europe before so don’t have any other permits or visa’s, and I was wondering once I obtained the freelance resident permit for Germany if I could also use this permit to provide short-term instruction in English in other European countries like Spain, France and Belgium?
    Thanks for your thoughts on this,
    Cheers – Shelley

    • Hi Shelley,

      Congrats on he offer! Just make sure that your hours at the language school isn’t fulltime and that you do take on other jobs.

      When you do obtain a resident permit for Germany, you can work and live in other European cities. Just make sure that you’re in Germany for at least a total of 183 days in a year (although there’s no passport check between Schengen countries so not sure how they know this), and also that you’re paying taxes in Germany. So money earned overseas need to be reported in your annual tax income statement.

      Hope this helps!


      • Thanks for the reminder on the taxes and maintaining residency for a minimum 183 days in Germany. That won’t be a problem, the other offer I have is just for 60 days in Spain. Best to not mention this on the application for my Freelance permit though I guess.
        I was wondering, I’m 51 years old, and think I need to pay extra into a German pension fund. Do you know if my age will impact me negatively on my application? I couldn’t see any reference to age limits.

      • Hi Shelley,

        I know that some freelancers are required to set up a pension fund but I’m not quite sure what the minimum age is.

        I don’t think your age will be looked upon negatively as there’s no age limit for a resident visa.

        Good luck with your application!



    • Hi Yi,
      So sorry, I can’t believe I forgot this bit of info when asking my question, too many things I’m trying to get sorted out at once I suppose…
      As mentioned before I am Canadian and am on a student visa from France. Am I able to transition from this student visa to the German Freelance Visa, Residence Permit or do I need to end the student visa and go out of the Schengen area and then return to Germany to obtain the paperwork before starting the teaching work and getting the freelance visa?
      Thanks ever so much,

      • Hi Shelley,

        I think you don’t need to end your current visa but you can apply for a German resident permit on your current status. I was on a working holiday visa for Germany and transitioned into a freelance visa.

        I’m not 100% certain on the paperwork so best to consult an expert.

        Good luck!


  64. Hi Yi,

    I have a question for you?

    Is it necessary to have a German account if i am applying from another country?

    Also, Should it be an official document provided by the bank or an internet statement print out would do?

    Thanks for your support.


    • Hi Vishal,

      No, you don’t need to have a German account and showing enough funds from a non-German bank is also fine.

      You can simply print out the online statement and if you’re already generating an income on a freelance-basis, then do print out some monthly statements that show you have money coming in (highlight them if they’re not clear).

      Good luck!


  65. HI,
    what is Registered residence in Berlin
    A person is staying Frankfurt can they apply freelancer visa?

    now iam staying in frankfurt 3 month schengen visa for meet relatives. How can I apply 3 year freelancer visa. I belong to Indian national.
    Those who are ready to spocer for me freelancer visa employer company and residence is Frankfurt, then can they sponcer for 3 year freelancer visa. (not artist/ jeornalist)
    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    thanking you,

    • Hi Niyas,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, you can apply for a freelance visa in Frankfurt, which then allows you to live and work anywhere in Germany (as it is a German resident application). However, you will still need to go through the process of Anmeldung when you’re in Frankfurt.

      Please be aware that potential employers don’t necessarily need to “sponsor” you but only give you letters of recommendations or with the intent to hire you for future projects in the future.

      If an employer is offering you a permanent full-time contract, then you need to specify this in the resident application.

      Hope this helps!


      • Hi Yi,

        If an employer is offering a full-time contract, is it still possible to receive a freelance visa? I hear you need to prove that you work for at least two different employers. If an employer offers you a full-time contract, would it be possible to say that you will be earning supplementary income doing something else sometimes as well?



      • Hi Nelson,

        Unfortunately, you can’t be a freelancer when you’re working full-time for one employer. If a employer offers you a full-time contract, then you can still apply for the resident visa but write down that you have a full-time job and not just going to freelance. You need to also make sure that your employer will:

        1. Sort out your income taxes for you.
        2. Provide adequate health insurance.
        3. Legit employment contract (so not something written in an e-mail).

        If your employer doesn’t provide all three, then it’s not a permanent full-time offer.

        When you’re working full-time, I think you’re allowed to pick up “mini jobs” but you need to report them in your annual tax income statement. I’m not sure what the limit is or if you need a freelance tax number to do this.



  66. Hi,
    Iam an Indian citizen now staying Germany for 3 month visit Visa family meet purpose. Recently I came to know there is a Freelance visa. I would like to know some more details about it.
    Is there any age limit for Freelance visa? My age is 42, doing Software Profession in India as Freelance Web Designer.
    Need University Degree?, I have only undergraduate University certificate(10 +2)
    Diploma in Computer Application private Diploma.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Niyas ahamd.

  67. Hello my fiance and migrating from the US trying to relocate in Berlin. We believe we have everything handled except insurance, we tried getting in contact with the person via the email provided but received no response. By chance do you have any other recommendations for Insurance or where to look to find this information? Her situation is unique too because she is a lymphoma survivor.

    Thanks for any information you may provide, the guide was very helpful.

  68. Hey Yi – the link doesn’t seem to be working. I was hoping to contact with Mike about health insurance.


  69. Hallo Yi,

    Thanks for the great post. Is it possible for a freelance visa maker (§ 21 Abs.5 AufenthG) to pick up some mini jobs like working at a cafe or so? I can’t really support my living by doing only freelance work within my profession since I have no connection here……. would it be a problem if I work as a freelance tattoo artist and a part time waitress at a cafe with the freelance visa?

    look forward to your reply 🙂

    • Hi Dan,

      With the freelance visa, you can have other jobs, just be sure to list them on your visa application and also tax application. For example your job title could be: Artist and Customer Service

      You just have to ensure that neither of the two jobs seem full-time on paper. And just to add, your business plan should focus on how you will grow your clients as a freelance tattoo artist and perhaps also mention that you will work in cafes to support your goals.

      Hope this helps!


  70. Hi Yi,

    That’s a very informative article.

    I am an Indian artist (singer, composer) and want to apply for freelance visa. As you mentioned about Berlin, same can be apply for any other city? Hamburg, Bonn etc? I am also visiting Germany for few months on cultural visa so can I apply for freelance visa in Germany when my visa is about to expire?


    • Hi Amit,

      The freelance visa can be applied in other cities. However, the freelance artist visa is only applicable in Berlin — but that doesn’t mean your client need to only be based in Berlin.

      You can apply for the resident visa (freelance) when you get here.



      • Awesome POST ,, really interesting .

        i am a DJ / PODUCER from MOROCCO
        wondering just if i can apply from outside of Germany for an Artist freelance visa ?

      • Hi Younes,

        Because the freelance artist visa requires an Anmeldung, you need to be in Berlin first to register your address.



  71. hello Yi,
    thanks so much for the information! I just got my two-year work freelance visa in berlin today 🙂 your post is a great help!

  72. Hi Yi, great post. I’m an American citizen currently working work-exchanges in Spain. I am going to be staying in Spain until next summer with leaving and re-entering every 85 days or so. This, I’m told will work if going to England. I was told this by the Spanish Consulate in Phoenix “off the record,” so I take it well. I wouldn’t mind going to Germany next year. Problem is, I’m a self employed, private English tutor for kids, and other than being able to give them references from the people I have worked with here, I will have nothing to prove what my profession is, and will have no references from Germany. What would you suggest for me?

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment. Are you planning to visit Germany or live here next year?

      With regards to the resident permit, you can state that you’re a freelance English tutor/teacher. You can provide the references you have and also see if you can get any potential German clients (maybe it’s a student wanting to learn English, or a company that would be interested to have you host a business English workshop).

      Depending on your age, you can also look at the au pair visa. Here’s something I found:

      As for this visa-run you’re going in Spain, it’s not just about leaving and coming back right away. Read this forum thread here:

      Hope this helps!


      • Hi Yi, thanks for the response. I plan on visiting Germany next year, not living there until I complete my schooling in a couple years. Just so you know, I did leave to Scotland and returned to Spain without a problem. All they do is open your passport and stamp reentry when you come back. They don’t ask you questions, and don’t really seem to care, especially if you are a US citizen. But the key is, you have to fly right in to Spain, not through any other Schengen countries, because they will look at the dates in the passport. My Spain reentry stamp was even stamped right above my first entry stamp to Spain and the exit stamp from Germany where my flight went through, and he didn’t even look at them. So I think what the consulate in Phoenix told me was correct.

        I was thinking once I get my TEFL I would try to get some clients before I go there, so I have money waiting for me, and that would look good for getting the visa. I really don’t want to work for a company teaching English because from what I’ve heard, they pay pretty badly. I am 30, so I am generally too old for most Au Pair visas and programs, even though that’s what I’m doing privately to live in Spain for “free.” Again, thanks for the response and help.

  73. Hello, i am from egypt, and i am freelance photographer, i ‘m going to visit germany for a month should i add in work field in the application that i am freelance photographer *but i don’t have any documents to prove that i am a photographer* what should i do ?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Moe,

      Firstly, if you’re visiting Germany for a month, why do you feel the need to apply for a freelance visa? In your case, I think it should be just a tourist visa.

      If you do want to live and work in Germany, then perhaps you will look at the freelance visa. You don’t need documents to state that you’re a photographer, however, you do need a portfolio. In your portfolio, you should showcase some of your best works.

      Hope this helps!


  74. Hi Yi,

    This post and your answers to everyone’s questions have been incredibly helpful – thank you. I wanted to confirm something with you – in order to apply for an artist visa, you need to apply to be a resident of Berlin (a separate appointment). To do that, you need a signed lease for an apartment in Berlin. What happens if you do not successfully receive a visa, but have signed a lease? I’ve scheduled my visa appointment online, instead of submitting it through the mail because I was under the assumption that I needed proof of a permanent address in Berlin, and as this is my first time going, I won’t have that until a month or so of being in Germany.

    Thanks again so much for your help,

    • Hi Alex,

      In a nutshell, the process is:

      1. Find an apartment in Berlin (even if it’s short-term).
      2. Go to the Bürgeramt to get your Anmeldung.
      3. Go to the immigration center with all your documents.

      If you do not successfully receive the visa the first go, it’s usually because you’ve left out a document, don’t have adequate health insurance, or don’t have enough proof that you can support yourself (not enough money in your bank account). In either of these cases, the person at the immigration will let you know what you need to do to meet the requirements.

      I don’t know anyone yet who were denied on the spot without given a second chance to amend their application.

      Hope this helps!


    • Hello Yi,
      Thank you so much for the link! You´re so kind to take the time to reply to all of us so thoroughly!

      One more question. Will they keep my passport after my interview in order to apply the visa (if i am approved. of course) or is the visa issued to a card? I was reading somewhere that said they´re no longer added to the passport. If they do take the passport do they mail it back to you or do you retrieve it yourself? ok, looks like I had 2 more questions. 🙂

      Thank you!!

      • HI Amber,

        If you’re applying for the artist visa, they will usually stick the visa on straight away, so no need to wait around.

        However, if they do need to process the documents (which can take up to 3 months or longer), then they will give you a visa extension card to put in your passport. There’s no need to give up your passport so you can still travel and stay on your current visa.

        When the visa is ready, you will be notified via mail to go pick it up at the immigration office. Just make an appointment, bring along your passport and money (or EC/credit card).

        I’m not sure if this has changed — if you get a resident card or a visa sticker. But I really don’t think they will take your passport away as processing the documents take a long time.

        Hope this helps!


  75. Hello!!!
    Thank you for all the information. I am about to begin this process myself and this has been very very helpful. I am a makeup artist from the US and I’m hoping to get a shot to stay here longer than I’m “allowed” at the moment.
    I am sorry this is silly, but where exactly do I make the appointment to go? Is it an Embassy of some sort or a consolate or what?! I’ve been trying to figure it out, and I figured why not just ask! Thanks again!

  76. Hi Yi,

    THANK YOU for this. I am in the weird position of working in freelance Japanese-English translation to support myself while also pursuing artist activities that don’t earn much money.

    I am wondering if translation could count as an “art.” If so I will go with the artist visa, but I’m afraid the variety of activities I am doing will be confusing. Maybe I should go for a normal freelance visa and just present myself as a simple freelance translator?

    I can’t seem to find anyone with a similar situation.

    Thank you for the information.

    • Hi Zack,

      Depends how quickly you need the visa. If you’re not in a hurry to start writing invoices, best to go for the freelance work visa and present yourself a translator.

      However, if you need a visa on the spot, then best to present yourself as an artist and mention that you will have small jobs on the side such as translating.

      Regardless of which visa they process you as, it’s important that when you apply for your tax number, you should state your occupation as artist and also as a translator.

      Hope this helps!


      • I wonder if there is any downfall to applying for immediate artist visa, and then if I’m rejecting, applying for the freelance visa… Can you just keep applying endlessly??

      • Hi Zack,

        If you don’t meet the requirements of an artist visa but you have all your documents in check, they will automatically process it as a usual freelance visa.



  77. Hi Yi,

    Thanks so much for the post!! Quick question – I’m a freelance interpreter and have no steady income, and only a few grand in my bank account. What if I cannot prove that I’ll be making enough income to support myself? Is there an option to have someone be “responsible” for you, in case sh•t hits the fan? The French have a document called “prise en charge”, which means just that.

    I’d appreciate any pointers you might have!



    • Hi Nelson,

      This I’m not so sure. I know that when you’re renting an apartment and need to show your credit score and income, you can always have your parents write you a recommendation and show their bank statements instead.

      However, in the case of the visa, I know a few people who got their parents to deposit money into the bank account and then they wire the money back once they have the bank statement.

      Or, if your parents are dropping money into your account on a regular basis, then that could also be somewhat of a proof of income.



  78. Hi,

    I am a Professional designer having bachelor degree in design. working in Dubai… Just needed to ask is it fine if I took Artist freelancer visa? because my field is creative? What steps should I need to take?? can I do odd jobs also to meet my daily expenses? is there any kind of work history and certain amount I have to meet in order to secure my Freelancer artist visa? I mean any regular incoming amount other requirements???

    Do I have to come on tourist visa first in order to get Artist freelancer visa? or any other better track?

    • Hi Nadeem,

      Please note that the freelance artist visa only applies in Berlin.

      What kind of design do you do? I know a few graphic designers that didn’t initially get the freelance artist visa and was processed as a freelance work visa instead (which took longer). The tip is to make yourself sound like an artist and your portfolio should demonstrate this — sketches, drawings, artworks etc.

      You should have enough money in your bank account to show that you can support yourself when you’re job hunting. On average, it can take 2-3 months or even longer to find your first client. You can take on odd jobs, such as working in cafes and restaurants.

      I’m not sure what kind of citizenship you have, but you will need the right documents to come to Germany in the first place. You can then apply for the freelance artist visa when you’re in Berlin.

      Hope this helps!


      • Hi Yi,

        Thank you for your reply. Actually I have 4 years bachelor degree and Basically I am a graphic designer but during my 4 years studies I study everything, textile’s fine arts, architecture as a basic… I am a Pakistani National living in Dubai.. I do have my hand drawing, sketches, Illustrations and computer generated designs…. So mostly I am working in Advertising but where needed I do illustration and sketches as well….

        Regarding The Bank account.. will it has to be German Bank or even I can show my Dubai Bank accounts as well?? So being on Artist visa is it legal to do café jobs when I have nothing in my hand?

        So your mean I have to come to Germany on tourist visa then I can apply for the freelancer Artist visa?

        Is it possible to sponsor my wife on freelancer visa? in that case I have to show extra money in my account?

        what is the minimum cost of living there???

        DO I have to show while applying for a freelancer Artist visa that I already have clients in Germany? If so then how it can be possible?? are there any friendly people who give reference letters for the visa requirement??

        DO I also need to have health insurance before applying for visa?? If so then any idea initially how much I have to pay for insurance to fulfill the requirement???

        Is there any agency who help artist apply for this visa?

        Do I have to get my documents Notaries before coming to Germany? Can you tell me the document checklist ?

        Thank you so so much YI, I am so happy to see your reply…..

      • Hi Nadeem,

        Just to answer your questions to my best ability:

        1. You can show your savings from a non-German bank account. Thus, your Dubai bank account statement is fine.

        2. On either freelance visas, you can take on mini-jobs in hospitality and customer service. You should also note this down when you apply for a freelance tax number so your job title might be Designer and Customer Service. Or Designer and Assistant Chef etc.

        3. I’m not sure if you can apply for an artist freelance visa outside of Berlin. Because you need an Anmeldung paper first, it pretty much means you need to come to Germany first before you can apply for a resident visa.

        4. I’m not sure if you can also sponsor your wife on a freelance visa. Best to check.

        5. Depends on your lifestyle, cost of living can be anywhere between 700-1200 Euros.

        6. You will need to find people who can give you a reference, at least, a letter of intent that they will hire you for future freelance jobs.

        7. Yes, you will need to have health insurance before applying. Please contact Mike from ALC for further info about this.

        8. Please see the contacts at the end of my post for contacts regarding health insurance and immigration lawyer.

        9. I have listed the documents you need to take to your appointment in the post.



  79. Excellen post. Can the cover letter/mission statement be written in English or does it have to be all in German? This is probably a silly question, but if I need to write it all in german, I will need to get a translator. Thanks, asia

    • Hi Asja,

      My documents were a mix between English and German. For example, the recommendations were in German and my business plan was in English.

      I think if you write some things in German, it shows an effort that you’re trying to integrate. However, if you do submit everything in English, it’s not going to be a deal-breaker.



  80. HI Yii,

    Its a great post and really appreciate your patience in replying to multiple questions,

    I am a Cinematographer from India and i just finished my studies in Prague.
    I would like to apply for the Freelance Artist Visa in Germany. Since i lived here for a little less than 2 years, i found out from the embassy that i need to apply for the visa from here.

    Do u have any info on weather for an Indian Passport, I can apply directly in Berlin or should apply either in CZ or from India.

    What exactly are the contracts? Is it just like a promise or it should be a signed contract giving information about the exact amount of money?

    They told me at the German Embassy In CZ that i need to show atleast 980 Euros a month on my account, which is nearly impossible in my situation.

    Also, Since i dont live in Germany yet, Do i need to show my residence agreement?


    • Hi Vishal,

      Unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with your situation and probably best to get in touch with an immigration officer.

      I think one big concern would be your savings. As with any international move, you will need to have savings unless you land a job before coming to Berlin. You need to have a profit and loss statement and show that you can support yourself financially when you’re here and looking for freelance contracts (that means you’re able to pay the rent, health insurance and living expenses, which all can add up to around 700-1000 Euros a month — depending on your lifestyle).

      As for the contracts, they need to be recommendations that your skills are looked upon favourable. It can be a short letter from a potential employer that they’re impressed with your current work and will hire you on a freelance basis for future projects. It doesn’t need to be an official work contract.

      Hope this helps and best of luck!


  81. Hi Yi,

    Thank you so much for writing such a well-versed article. I must admit that I can already see the work ahead of me. I am an American wanting to join my boyfriend of 3 years in Berlin this fall. He is a German citizen.

    Besides showing that I have sufficient funds to support myself, he has also offered to support me and house me during my 2 years in Berlin. Would I need to make some sort of written contract that he would sign to show his level of financial support to me? Do I need to be on the lease of the apartment? Is that possible if I am not a German citizen?

    My skill-set is writing. I have my Bachelors degree in it, I have taken on multiple writing projects for individual business owners in the US and I would like to continue to write on a freelance basis in Berlin. Would starting a content writing website be a good move to show initiative of having my own business or at least showing my legitimacy as a writer? How else would you suggest I convince German companies to try me out so that I can at least show that I am capable of gaining employment? I do plan on taking German language courses when I get over there to help my case as well and also I have always wanted to become fluent in German. Thank you for listening to my concerns and I greatly look forward to your response.

    Danke Schun,


    • Hi Emily,

      Unfortunately, I’m not so sure if it’s possible to say that your boyfriend will be sponsoring you. I know that a letter from your own parents can sometimes suffice as proof of income, however, income from your boyfriend probably won’t be seen as stable enough.

      For the freelance visa, best to make a case for your profession and that you can make money out of it (as a freelance writer, not as a company). Show enough money in your bank account. You can also have your parents or boyfriend transfer across some funds to your bank and print that statement out, before transferring the funds back.

      As for finding a job in Berlin, best to start looking when you’re here as it’s all about networking rather than so much applying via a job board or website. Between now and your arrival, work on your resume and portfolio (both will be important for employers and also the immigration office).

      Hope this helps!


  82. Hi Yi,

    Thank you for your kindly reply.:)
    Yes, in this letter, I was asked to transfer the money directly to IHK in order to process the application. I have paid it already. Just now I received the email from the foreign office indicating that I got a refusal from IHK and I was invited to another meeting on 30 June. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of material. For example, my insurance is validated until 31 Oct., 201l4.( I sent the new insurance validated until 1 Nov., 2016. to the foreign office today and got the reply. ) I forgot to give the resume and the officer didn’t ask for it when I went for the interview. So now, in this case, do you have any suggestion? Should I enquiry an immigration lawyer?


    • Hi Dan,

      This seems very odd. Could be the lack of material and also health insurance. Which health insurance are you with?

      I would try to clarify why you got rejected and what pending documents you need.

      Sorry that it has become such a hassle!

      Best of luck,


      • Hi Yi,

        Thank you for your kindly reply.
        I talked with the foreign office people and got the letter from IHK. Their reasons for refusing my freelance visa are as follows:
        1. The company I work for as a Chinese language trainer is not the only one in Germany.
        2. There are many people in Germany who can do the same job as me.
        3. My master in culture studies doesn’t help a lot in the job.
        Recently, except for this freelance job I got another freelance job as translator.( I have freelance work contracts for both jobs.) So I am planning to reapply for it in Berlin or Dresden. Maybe because the town I am living in is a small town and it is difficult to get a freelance visa here.
        Do you have any suggestions?Do you think the chance is bigger if I apply for the visa from Berlin or Dressden?

        I am looking forward to your reply!

      • Hi Dan,

        Sorry to hear about this. Living in a small town shouldn’t affect the outcome if you have all your documents ready. How would you apply in Berlin? Would you move there? Because you will need to show your Anmeldung that has a Berlin address.

        Out of curiosity, what was the title of your position that you had put on your form?



  83. Hi Yi,

    Thank you very much for your kindly reply!:)
    I prefer to wait and see if IHK ask for additional documents from me.
    Now I have another question. Could you please kindly answer it?
    Yesterday I came back from my one month’s stay in Frankfurt, and found out that I got a letter from IHK. In this l letter, IHK asks me to pay 25 euros in order to process my visa application.
    My questions are:
    1. Does this indicate that I will get my freelancer visa soon?
    2. The letter came one month ago (the date of the letter is 29 April). But I just came back yesterday and saw the letter. Is it still OK if I pay for it now?

    I look forward to your reply!

    • Hi Dan,

      Sorry for the late reply as I was overseas.

      If IHK sent you a letter to pay, then most likely you should go and pick up your visa at the Immigration Center. I would actually call just to be safe.

      Usually, you pay after you’ve collected the visa (at the pay machine in the Immigration Center). What does the letter say? Does it ask you to wire them the money?



  84. Hi Yi,
    Your article was really nice and very helpful as well. I also would like to share my concern here as well! I am IT professional from India and currently working in IBM Poland from last two months. Yesterday i revived a call from one German Employer and she was offering a freelancer position in Munich. its was extremely nice position and she was also willing to hire me! but when it comes to the legal clause, she found, i need a work permit to perform my operation in Germany but they cant provide sponsorship help !
    today i found this article, and i guess that put light up to my situation as well. so my question here is as IT Professional and being in Poland can i apply for the Freelancer permit in germany!

    Thanks in advance


    • Hi Simer,

      If you have a contract to show that this is freelance work, then it will help with your application. Things to note:

      – No sponsorship means that you have to pay for your own insurance and also manage paying taxes. Take this into account when calculating your salary.

      – Be careful that this isn’t a permanent full-time position disguised as a freelance position. As a freelancer, you have to ensure that not all your work and income comes from just one employer. You and the company will be fined if you manage to only invoice them for the whole year.

      Hope this helps and good luck!


  85. Hello Yi,

    I’ve just been reading your post and it is very helpful. I would just like to clarify a few things if possible,as I would like to apply for a similar thing.
    You said you were on a work and travel visa ( is that correct) and you were able to change that to a work freelance visa?

    I am also Australian, came over on a W&T visa, but I am currently looking at online freelancing positions. (US company, with payments through Aus PayPal account, to a uk or german bank account)( I know, apparently I like to be complicated)
    I was under the impression that this can not be done on a W&T visa.( was that because yours had the error?)

    Im not located in Berlin, so some of your recommended contacts may not be able to help me. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I just want to make sure that I am complying with german regulations and will be able to pay tax ( no one wants to pay tax but better to be safe right).

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Bec,

      On a Working Holiday Visa, you’re not allowed to freelance — unless there’s been a stuff up and they print “Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet” or “Selbständige Tätigkeit gestattet.” Which was the case for me.

      Whether you’re on a WHV or just a tourist visa, getting a freelance visa is easier if you have a steady income or have potential clients lined up already.

      Technically, you should report all income you make as a German resident (doesn’t matter where the client is from or whether the money is going into your German bank or your Australian bank). Nevertheless, PayPal always creates a blurry line. Your best option is to speak with an accountant who knows something about international taxation too. Which city do you currently live in?



      • Hi Yi,
        Thank you, I thought i wouldn’t be that lucky. Unfortunately they haven’t made a mistake on mine. And I don’t have an existing income or potential clients, I would be working for just one firm in the US. But I think to be safe, I will skip it all together (sometimes easy work is not as simple after all) and continue to look for local jobs( the money locally is better).
        I live in münchin so there are a lot of opportunities here. But before anything,I think I will take your advise and speak with an accountant. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially in the land of endless paperwork.
        Thank you again

      • Hi Bec,

        I heard from a friend that if you freelance for just one company, it’s sometimes fine — as long as the company is not based in Germany. The friend of mine lives in Germany and has been freelancing for just one company in the U.K. and hasn’t gotten into trouble. I don’t know if she’s just been lucky so always good to check with an accountant.

        Sorry I can’t help you out more, but good luck with the whole process! 🙂


  86. Hey Yi! Awesome report, very informative and I will be basing my visa application off this blog!
    I have a small question though, I am currently working for an large clothing store in Berlin as a sales assistant. I am also an artist and seeking more freelance work with painting, graphic design etc etc.

    Would I be able to keep my current employment with the ‘work freelance’ or ‘artist freelance visa’ ?
    Because the work I have now is not so freelance, it is a part time contract, and not exactly in the creative field.
    I also earn around 700€ per month with this job, are there monetary confinements with these freelance visas?
    I read in your previous responses that to be considered freelance you must have at least two employers in a year 70/30 or something like that. That doesn’t sound hard but does the foreigners office know or check that it is in this ‘artistic field’ or not.
    Because of course I would be seeking smaller creative freelance jobs but would probably want to keep my current job to keep food on the table.


    • Hi Joel,

      Thanks for your question! Do you currently have a residence permit in Germany?

      You can approach this in two ways:

      1. Get a freelance artist visa and say that as you’re starting off, you will support yourself through retail/cafe jobs.

      2. If the retail job is currently a permanent part-time position, then the company should be paying your taxes and health insurance. This essentially means that you can have a work visa but can also freelance on the side. To freelance, you will need to apply for a tax number (steuernummer) and I think there’s a limit to how much you can make for freelance projects when you hold a permanent position.

      If you do go down the first option, you will need to make sure that no more than 70-80% of your income comes from just one company (I forgot the exact percentage split but an account could tell you this).

      Hope this helps!


      • Hey thanks for the reply!
        Yes I am currently on a 1 year working visa here and have my Anmeldung and steuernummer, German health insurance and paying tax regularly. So hopefully going to go for the freelance working visa opposed to the freelance artist because of the limits on how much you can earn. You wouldn’t know how much these limits are? You said that as the working freelance visa there are no limits? As long as you are paying tax it’s all good?

        Thanks again

      • Hi Joel,

        There are no limits to what you can make on the freelance visa (for both the regular work and also artist). There’s only a limit if you are on a working visa, have a permanent job, and wish to have additional freelance jobs. Sometimes these are called “mini jobs” and I think the amount is 400-450 Euros a month (I’m not entirely sure).

        If you are on a freelance visa, you can make as much as you can — provided that you report your taxes on time, and pay VAT if you exceed more than 17,500 Euros a year.

        Hope this helps!



      • hey Yi, endlich my visa termin came and they sent me home because of a lack of Finanzierungsplan and said I either need that, or a letter of intent. From the sheet that the gave me (which is the same as the one you can get from their website) I don’t know what I can really do. The chart reads
        Liquid funds
        Tangible Assets
        Venture Capital

        All of which I don’t have any, only the very little money in my Sparkasse account!

        Then leads me to research a Letter Of Intent, and in this situation I don’t think this is such a letter saying that a company will employ me in the future. I had two of these. From what I understand this is a letter from someone who has money and assets and will take control if the situation arises that I run out of money?

        Also the lady wouldn’t tell me how much money I need to have for the 2 years? She said I need ‘enough’ for one year but wouldn’t say any more.

        I think from my current Working Holiday Visa, I needed 400 euros per month that I intended to stay.

        Do you know anything about this kind of showing of funds? And can it be from someone else’s bank account?

        Thanks again!


      • Hi Joel,

        Sorry to hear that you didn’t have a positive experience at your appointment. The P&L statement is a bit confusing on the web and mainly applies to someone starting a business. You can come up with a more basic one which mainly shows your cashflow — so money coming in (income) and money going out (rent, food, utilities, expenses etc). Show this for the next two years.

        In terms of letter of intent, it’s actually a letter from a potential employer that they’re interested to hire you for the skill set you have. This is to show that you are employable and that you made the initial effort in job search.

        Unfortunately, I don’t think 400 Euros per month is enough. You should do a budget plan and see how much you need per month. Then, factor in how many months you might be unemployed. If you don’t have enough in your bank, then perhaps get your parents to vouch for you — just a letter to say that they will give you money if needed and possibly a bank statement for their account.

        Hope this helps!


  87. Hi! I’m American, met a German guy and now trying to be able to stay in Germany while my boyfriend finishes med school. I would like to start a career here for the time being and am learning German.

    I’m going to be applying for a freelance visa and I already have a job lined up with a company for part time marketing work in the summer (with potential full time hire and help with a visa in October) and one other assistant job. I’m just wondering what exactly I should have the companies write up in their letters of intent (I know I for sure have both jobs if all goes well with obtaining the visa)?

    Should there be how much I will be making, how many hours I will be working and for how long they plan on having a contract with me?

    Is there anything else I’m missing?

    Thanks for your help! I really appreciate it!


    • Hi Bryanna,

      Congrats on getting the jobs! I think that’s probably the hardest part 🙂

      For the letters of intent, I’ve known people who have gone in with something very vague. Such as a company saying how adequate the person is and how they’re likely to hire him/her in the future if something comes up.

      If you have something that’s more like a contract (specifying the salary, hours, and project duration), then it will probably make a better stance than the letters of intent. Keep in mind that the contract should specify that you’re a freelancer and it’s for a project-based position. If it looks like permanent work, they might have you apply for a resident work visa instead where then your employer must take care of your health insurance, social payments, and taxes.

      Good luck! 🙂


      • Thanks girl! Just sent the main company all the info to write something up! Ha! I feel like finding someplace willing to hire me was hard, but the visa seems even more agonizing!

        I’m going in with my American health insurance to see if that will cover me, but if this doesn’t…do you have any recommendations of cheap health insurance here?

        I’m looking into this:

        Thanks again!


      • Hi thanks! I’ll check that out! Ran into a bit of an issue at the visa office in Wiesbaden. The woman had never heard of a freelance visa!! Even with my German boyfriend explaining it. She didn’t want my resume, insurance nothing….she just gave me a paper to have the companies fill out- it’s basically a contract between the two of us. I’m pretty sure she completely misunderstood and has me applying for the wrong visa. A bit frustrated! Thanks for all your help so far!!!


      • Hi Bry,

        Sorry to hear this. If it helps, the visa you’re applying for is called the residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) and on the form you specify your employment as freelance. Technically, there is no visa called ‘freelance visa.’

        Here’s an example of the form from LABO Berlin. I’m not sure where you can download the form for Wiesbaden:

        Good luck!


  88. I have a few questions and maybe you can help. I was living in Germany on a one year working holiday visa and tried to extend it and but couldn’t happen in time. I am Canadian, so now I am back here trying to come up with a game plan of how to return to Germany, since my boyfriend who is Germany lives there.I just recently came across the free lance visa and am wanting to come to Germany to work. I am a junior web developer/web designer and wanting to get work there. Do I have to be in Germany to apply for the freelance visa? And were you able to network and get clients in Germany without speaking German?

    • Hi Rachna,

      If you have a Canadian passport, you don’t need to be in Berlin to apply for the freelance visa (which is essentially the resident application form).

      There are lots of tech startups in Berlin where English is the primary language. Take a look at Soundcloud as they’re one of the bigger startups and always on the lookout for new staff.

      A lot of startups, companies and creative agencies are on the lookout for web developers and designers. Often, you would only need basic knowledge of German (Say A1/A2 level).

      There are lots of networking events in Berlin for expats. Checkout and also as a start 🙂

      Good luck!


  89. Hi Yi,

    Thanks for the extensive information. I don’t seem to be able to find any official website about the freelance artist visa. I even emailed the German consulate in Vancouver and they said they are not aware of such visa. Here are a few questions:

    1. Is it possible to attain such visa before I leave or I have to apply when I move to Berlin?
    2. Do I have to work in Berlin only?
    3. Are there any official website about such visa?

    Thank you.


    • Hi CS,

      Just to answer your questions to my best ability:

      1. Yes, you can apply for the visa before you leave for Germany. Citizens of certain countries are allowed to apply when they’re in Germany.

      2. You have to be a resident of Berlin (meaning you must obtain an Anmeldung with a Berlin address). However, with the visa, you can obtain work anywhere in the world. Just make sure you read up on tax limitations beforehand.

      3. The freelance artist visa is only a thing in Berlin and is part of the resident visa application. Most information tend to be in German, but here’s something official in English:

      Hope this helps and good luck! 🙂


  90. Hi Yi,,thanks so much for your reply.. pls try to understand me,, The visa is valid for 3 month but the duration of days on the same visa is 6 days..It was how it was written. You know my country of citizenship does not permit visa free movement that could allow me to stay up to full 90 days in a given 180 day period.. So i want to know if my tourist visa can be extended for more days in order for me to get at least a 2 weeks trial in germany… Or are there any posible means for me to extend my stay in germany like taken up a german language course.. Pls help me ,,,thanks regards


    • Hi David,

      Firstly, I wrote this blog post to share my experience and help out as much as I could based on what I learned through the whole process. As stated in the post, I’m not an immigration lawyer or a specialist in this field.

      Secondly, I understand your problem, however, I don’t know how I can help as I haven’t been in the same situation or know anyone else who has.

      Regardless if you can or cannot extend your visa, your efforts should go into contacting either an immigration lawyer, or the immigration center from your current city and ask for clarification. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a point to be deceptive about your reason of staying by taking up a language course in Germany. It will cost you more money and more effort in the end than just calling up the immigration center and asking.


  91. Hi Yi,,i really apreciate your reply. And am glad.But there is this one question that bothers me. On the visa they write visa valid for 3 months then on the second line they wrote Duration of stay 6 days. It seems confusing to me and i am eager to stay in germany for my trials and play for the club..And i will be given a football contract. So my question is can my documents to remain in germany be done. thanks Regards


    • Hi David,

      I’m not sure why they wrote this and if it means it’s only valid for the six days.

      I think your best option would be to contact the immigration center in Georgia and make an appointment to see them.

      Sorry that I wasn’t much of a help!



  92. Hi Yi,,my name is David and am a nigerian by citizen but i currently reside in eastern europe Tbilisi Georgia…Your post are awesome. I am a profesional football player currently playing in Georgia and am having a resident permit of Georgia. I applied for a Lithuania schengen tourist visa and am having 6 days duration to stay. The issue is that am having a football trials in German football club. I want to know if the club or my agent can extend my visa just incase they offer 2 weeks trial. Or is it better to apply for a freelancer visa. I really need your assistance. Thanks in advance. Regards ..David

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for your question. Firstly, I don’t think you should apply for the freelance visa as it does not fit with your case.

      If you have a Schengen tourist visa, you should be able to stay in Schengen for up to 90 days. If you need to extend this, best to do it in Georgia and explain your situations. Usually, a visa can be given or extended due to a sporting competition/match.

      Firstly, best to check your passport and see what your given visa states.



      • Hi Yi,,i really apreciate your reply. And am glad.But there is this one question that bothers me. On the visa they write visa valid for 3 months then on the second line they wrote Duration of stay 6 days. It seems confusing to me and i am eager to stay in germany for my trials and play for the club..And i will be given a football contract. So my question is can my documents to remain in germany be done. thanks Regards


  93. Hi there,

    I’ve been offered a freelance position with a Berlin-based company but I’m toying with the idea of staying US-based. Do you have any experience with this or known anyone that might be able to give me insight? Everything I read is on getting a visa when you are in Berlin, but I can’t seem to find anything on being based elsewhere and working remotely.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Kate,

      Congrats on the freelance position! As the freelance is a resident visa, it means you need to be in Germany for a certain period of a year to qualify.

      I think perhaps your biggest concern would be taxation. Whether you should get taxed in Germany, USA, or both. I think best to speak to an accountant before you decide on anything. I can highly recommend Benjamin:
      benjamin.gruschla [at]



  94. Hi Yi,

    I am a photography student in Canada with a Canadian passport. I am on an exchange program for one semester in Czech Republic since February 2014 until June 2014 for a period of 4.5 months. However, I did not apply for a student visa for this time period since I could stay with my Canadian passport visa-free in Schengen for up to 90 days. I figured before the 90 days I will travel to somewhere out of Schengen (for example Croatia, Ukraine…) and then re-enter Schengen and would be able to stay another 90 days (I do not need the whole 90 days, I just need to more 30 more days to finish my final exams). But, I just have been told that is not the way the 90 days rule works and I can only stay 90 days within 180 days!! So now I am in a big trouble. I have to leave Schengen territory by May 6th. I tried to find a way to get a temporary visa in Czech Republic, but they do not have it except for immigration cases. Even a study visa permit takes 60 days to be processed which does not work for my case since I am illegal after May 6th in Schengen and the 60 days is beyond the time that I need to stay in here.
    I was desperately looking for some sort of longer Visa possibilities in other Schengen countries and I came across this freelance artist visa… Which I am thinking of applying . But I am not sure if I will be 100% qualified (you mentioned the review it on the spot and give you the visa same day, right?) So, does that mean if I am not 100% qualified I will get rejected right away too? Or they will need more time to review it and meanwhile I can get a temporary visa to wait for the result while my 90 days visa-free time expires?
    I have a bank account in Canada which has regular deposits of around $2000 each month and I have another one in a Czech Bank with something around $2000-$3000 in savings account. Plus I have a travel insurance until June 15th from a very well-known company. Do I need to extend it before I apply for the freelance visa to a year? (I rather not to pay such a huge money if I am not going to stay for more than 30days in Schengen).

    Do you think I could apply for this as a photographer with no job offers? Just to say that I want to work on personal projects, or School thesis? or not mention the school at all and just say I am a photographer and interested to take photography assignments in Berlin?

    Please let me know what you think. I tried many things with in the last 4 days that I have noticed I can not stay in Schengen for my exams, but non seems to be working…


    • Hello Nikki,

      Firstly, I think there are better workarounds to your situation than to apply for a freelance artist visa in Germany when you actually still live in Czech Republic as a student.

      The best solution is to apply for a student visa in Czech Republic. There’s usually someone you can talk to from your university that handles international student relations, such as visas.

      The second best solution would be to apply for a working holiday visa since your Canadian:

      You can only do this once per country, so I’m not sure if you want to waste this opportunity for essentially a one-month extension.

      Hope this helps and good luck!



  95. Pingback: The German tax system for freelancers: 8 tips | Rapt Cat

  96. Hi Yi,

    I am so happy to hear from you! Your reply is really helpful. 🙂
    Today I went to my visa appointment. My visa officer told me that my application for work permit as freelancer need to be approved by IHK first and it might take up to 11 months. The visa officer didn’t ask me for resume, business plan, mission statement, and profit & loss statement. And I forgot to give these documents to her. Should I write to her to ask if I need to send these documents to her via email?

    Thank you again for your great assistance!

    • Hi Dan,

      Sending it to the IHK is standard procedure… but an 11 months waiting period?! I was told up to three months and I thought that was already too long.

      What kind of visa are you on at the moment?

      If the visa officer didn’t ask you for the documents, then don’t stress, maybe she didn’t see the need in your case.

      If the IHK feels that you are missing important documents, they will request those from you first rather than bluntly deny your application. However, I think it doesn’t hurt to e-mail or call her just to clarify.

      Good luck and keep me posted! 🙂


      • Hi Yi,

        Thank you very much for your kindly reply!:)
        I prefer to wait and see if IHK ask additional documents from me.
        Now I have another question. Could you please kindly answer it?
        Yesterday I came back from my one month’s stay in Frankfurt, and found out that I got a letter from IHK. In this l letter, IHK asks me to pay 25 euros in order to process my visa application.
        My questions are:
        1. Does this indicate that I will get my freelancer visa soon?
        2. The letter came one month ago (the date of the letter is 29 April). But I just came back yesterday and saw the letter. Is it still OK if I pay for it now?

        I look forward to your reply!

  97. Yi, thank you for sharing your experience in the application freelance visa!~ Hope I can also get a two years freelance working visa!

    Could I inquiry you about the recommendation letters?
    1. Are there any difference between recommendation letter and letter of intent?
    2. How many recommendation letters should I show to the visa officer? At least one or two?
    3. What should be written in these recommendation letters (or letter of intent)? Should the predicted salary and working hour be included in these letters?
    4. Should the letters written in English or German?
    I look forward to getting your reply!~

    • Hi Dan,

      To answer your questions to my best ability:

      1 & 3. A recommendation letter would just be glowing reviews about you. Whereas a letter of intent would be more like a job contract with the employer having the intention to hire you. I only submitted recommendation letters where my previous clients in Germany wrote positive things about my work ethics and how they would engage with me again for future projects. Nevertheless, I didn’t have any official contracts, which the interviewer did ask me for but looks like it wasn’t such a big deal in the end.

      I did have a bank statement to show how regular income was being deposited into my bank account just to show that I still had work going with the clients and that I had enough money coming in to support myself.

      2. The immigration lawyer told me to have two recommendation letters. I guess if you had more than two, it wouldn’t hurt.

      4. I had the letters written in German but I have heard of people going in with letters in English. I just think German would be better as it seems like a lot of the admin red tape require things to be in German.

      Hope this helps and good luck! 🙂


    • Hi Barbara,

      That’s fantastic news that you got your freelance visa on the first try! Congrats and glad to hear that the blog post helped 🙂


  98. This is an amazing article, thanks so much for writing it.

    One question: you said that you will get an extension on your tourist visa while you wait for the freelancer’s visa. Do you also get a new stamp with that extension that makes it possible to travel across the EU?

    • Hi Jeremy,

      If your application does need to be sent for review, they will give you this paper fold-out slip on the spot which you carry along with your passport if you need to travel. You can travel internationally, although I only just travelled around Europe.

      Good luck with your application!


  99. Pingback: Getting a Freelance Visa in Berlin | Barbara Woolsey

  100. Hi Yi,
    first of all, thank you for this post, it is very helpful. I am an artist and already live in Germany with a work permit visa that is bound by a contract I have in my current company. I have couple of questions and they may seem silly but here they go anyways…
    Where do I need to go exactly to fill out “artist freelance visa” form?
    Could I find that exact form somewhere online?
    Do you know if “artist freelance visa” is limited to people of certain countries?(I am from Croatia.)
    Is it possible to have a working contract and be a freelancer at the same time? For example, I want to work on some freelance jobs in my free time outside my regular job.

    If you know at least any of the answers to these questions that would be really cool.

    Thanks for your time,

    • Hi Bunka,

      The freelance application should be the ‘residence permit form.’ I remember looking for it online and I was only able to find something very outdated. Eventually, I went to see a lawyer who gave me the updated form. I wish I had scanned it beforehand :/

      On the residency permit form, you can tick what kind of residency you’re applying for. For example, employment, study, marriage etc. I don’t think there’s a restriction of which countries you need to be from.

      You can be a full-time permanent employee and also a freelancer. However, you need to be aware of how to report your income taxes and there might be limitations to how much you can earn as a freelancer. I’m not quite sure about this area so don’t quote me on this.

      Good luck!


  101. Awesome post!
    A couple of questions are floating in my mind though:

    1. What happens if during the time I work as a freelancer for companies outside Germany? say my home country, or UK based companies? Is anyone checking me on that? What if my business plan is based on these outside jobs? well basically i’m asking if i have to have german based income or just income.

    2. What happens if i want to travel for a few months and stop working? any idea?

    • Hi Dan,

      Just to answer your questions:

      1. As a freelancer in Germany, you can engage in projects from anywhere around the world. Just note that when you’re no longer a kleinunternehmer, you need to charge VAT on certain invoices and not on others depending on where the company is based.

      2. The freelance visa is basically a category of the resident visa, so you can stop work to travel, but I think you need to be in Germany for more than six months in order to be considered as a German resident.

      Hope this helps!



  102. Reblogged this on Planes, Trains & Dreams and commented:
    I have been doing much research to obtain a Visa to return to Berlin for a while now. And although I had found the information I needed in bits and pieces, here and there… this post is by far the most simplified and thorough post on the subject.
    Now, for anyone looking to move to Berlin and sees this as an “easy” way to make that dream a reality…. Obtaining a Visa is only the start. Finding a job, income opportunities, and residence is an entirely other subject. Berlin is saturated with Ex-pats from around the Globe seeking the same dream, along side fluent speaking Germans who are dealing with a high unemployment rate. So I would suggest that what ever the goal or reason, that you have done you full research, networked as much as possible, consider being your own boss, and even consider some part time “remote work” with people in your home country if possible. Like graphic design, web design, SEO, emarketing, Social, Search, writing, commissioned art. etc..
    Best of luck to all and hope to see some of you in Berlin soon. 🙂
    (Full credit for blog: How to get a freelance visa in Germany. Written by: Yi, Chen)

  103. Thank you so much for this very informative post about the Freelance Visa. After spending my summer in Berlin last summer and spending valuable time with friends and boyfriend there, all have convinced me to come back for an extended stay. But in all of my research, this is the most simplified and detailed review of what I need to do. Thank You!! Thank You!! My boyfriend especially will wants to thank you I am sure. 🙂

  104. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Freelancers in Berlin (Part Two) | English Yoga Berlin

  105. When you say “filled out visa application form”, do you mean the residency permit application form? I’m failing to find a form specifically for the freelance visa. Thank you 🙂

  106. i have a question.

    You mentioned that you already had worked on some German projects which helped your case. However, i believe that you are not allowed to work as a freelancer on a working holiday visa.

    I only say, because i am in a predicament. I have multiple project offers both of an urgent nature but legally cannot start them until after i have my freelancer visa.

    Any suggestions?

    thanks in advance

    • Hi Quinn,

      On my working holiday visa, it stated that I can be an employee or a freelancer. I’m not sure if that was a mistake or I was a special case when I applied. Well, I took advantage of that and the tax office said it checked out when I applied to be a freelancer. You should check your visa again just to be sure.

      If you urgently need to obtain a freelance visa, then your best bet would be the artist freelance visa as you would get approved on the spot and on the day (which also means you might be rejected on the spot too). I’m not sure what your occupation is and if it has a creative or artist nature.



      • Hi Yi,
        Thanks for sharing some of the information on your blog! I’ve been going through just for information purposes as what to expect. I am currently on a Working Holiday Visa here as well. What would be specifically written on it that would NOT allow me to freelance (ie: how did you know you could, at the time with the WH visa do some freelance work?). I would like to be able to freelance myself right now. Thanks!

      • Hi Jean,

        Does your visa say “Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet” or “Selbständige Tätigkeit gestattet”?

        Legally speaking, you aren’t allowed to freelance while on a working holiday visa. Nevertheless, sometimes the people who work there make a mistake and print that you can.

        Hope this helps.



      • Hi Yi,
        Thanks for your quick reply. I don’t have exactly that, however I have
        ” Jede Beschäftigung gestattet “, which to me means every employment is permitted, maybe it doesn’t include freelance work?

      • Hi Jean,

        That I’m not too sure. You can either double check with an immigration lawyer (which will cost around 80 Euros). Or, if you have the time, see if you can wing it at the Finanzamt and apply for a Steuernummer to freelance. The worst that could happen is that they reject your application and you lose a few hours.

        When I first came to Berlin in 2012, I wasn’t sure if I could freelance on my WHV and just took a stab at it. The Finanzamt recently just approved my annual income tax report for 2012 so I guess it all checked out in the end.

        Good luck! 🙂


  107. Hi Yi,
    Thank You very much for all of the information you have have provided. Im getting my documents together for the freelance work visa and wanted to know, what should the job offers contain… I assume it should be on company paper, with an explanation of what the company does (record label in this case) and what they need me for. and how much salary. do you know if there is a limit on how much I can earn with the freelance visa? I was told something like 400/euro per month….

    • Hi Solana,

      Firstly, there’s no limit to what you can earn on a freelance visa. You can early 200 euros a month, to 2,000 a month. The 400 euros per month sounds like the number when companies (GmbH) who pay their interns the bare minimum to avoid paying additional taxes and insurance.

      Please don’t see the freelance visa as a way to work for only one employer. It shouldn’t be a job offer, but rather a contract for a project. As a freelancer, you have to make sure that within a year, your total income comes from more than just one source. I’ve seen posts that it should be a 70/30 split, to 80/20 split. If 100% of your income comes from one organisation for the year, you will be fined by the government.

      Hope that helps!


  108. Hi Yi,
    Thanks so much for sharing all that information. I’m also an Australian applying for the freelance visa as a content writer/editor/photographer (Unsure if one or all of those are considered ‘art’ for the visa purposes or I’ll be forced to wait it out) I just have a question about the Letters of Intent we need to provide. I haven’t begun paid freelance work yet obviously but have found some Berlin-based businesses who would like to offer me a couple of projects. I also have letters of references from Australian clients for previous freelance projects. With the German based businesses does it help to mention the agreed hourly rate they’ll be paying me? Should these letters of intent be written in German? Were any of your clients/references followed up? I’m just wondering how accurate they need to be, so more a general letter of interest rather than a full-blown freelance contract. I already have a detailed Income/Expenses report (both in English and German) to give them as well as enough savings to support myself for a year or so, plus the other requirements, so I’m hoping this will be more than enough. Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
    ps. I love Berlin so all this stress will be SO worth it, right? 🙂

    • Hi Fiona,

      Firstly, being a writer/editor or photographer definitely falls into the artist category, so that’s one less thing to worry about!

      I know at the visa office, they asked me to show contracts, which I didn’t have any, so I showed them my bank statement to highlight regular income being deposited into my account. I had letters of recommendations written in German as I had already picked up a few projects when I was on my working holiday visa.

      I know it’s a little bit harder when you haven’t worked in Germany. I guess it would be better if the client letters looked more like a contract as it would show that you can get a job. During my interview, I was asked about projects I was working on (the very rough portfolio I mocked up helped).

      If the client isn’t willing to hire you, then the letters could be more along the lines of a testimonial of how you’re great at what you do and if there was a opening, they would hire you.

      The documents I submitted was a mix of German and English. So if you have reference letters completely in English, I don’t think it would be a problem.

      Overall, you just need to prove that you’re hirable and your skills are needed in Berlin and you won’t find yourself living off the German welfare system. For me, it really felt like a job interview where I also had to show that I had enough savings and will be making enough money to support myself.

      Hope that helps and good luck with your application! 🙂


      • Hi Yi,
        Thanks so much for the info.
        I didn’t get an on-the-spot visa but they didn’t say no, either. They just took most of my paperwork and are now ‘looking into it’. I have a temporary visa to tide me over….. ahhh don’t you just love red rape 🙂

      • Hi Fiona,

        I take it that you applied for the freelance work visa and not the freelance artist visa? Because the usual freelance visa gets sent to the work council to be reviewed, which can take up to three months (this is what I went for).



      • I think based on my work experience/qualifications (Comms and copywriting and no visual arts quals) they decided it wasn’t applicable for the artist visa, so I guess I’m waiting for the actual freelance one. It’s a grey area and of course they need to be conservative about it and follow procedure. I guess I’m a little anxious as she only asked for *some* of my forms to be sent off. No looking at my financials or the translated letter explaining what I did and what my intentions were. I guess this isn’t the end of it! Did you have to chase them or did they get back to once it had been reviewed? Thanks Yi 🙂

      • I did wait exactly three months before I got a notice in my mail that my new visa was ready to be collected. I did try calling them a few times beforehand but no one answers the phone! I did make an appointment to go in and see them, but my visa was ready by then so the appointment was perfect timing.

  109. Hey Yi!

    This has been really helpful. I have set up my appointment for the freelance artist visa in Berlin in about a month and I’m making preparations. I seem to have everything, but I am concerned about the “Profit and Loss Statement.”

    General things like rent and water expenses I understand, but I am unsure about how much monthly income I should put down as my expectation. Obviously, I don’t want to be too over-the-top, but I don’t want to put down an amount which they see as too little. If you don’t mind me asking, what did you estimate as your total profit for the year?

    Your help is greatly appreciated!


    PS: I used to live in Brisbane and totally loved it there!

    • Hi Samantha,

      I did a simple P&L statement for three consecutive years, which included my yearly income, expenses, and how much I would get taxed. Finally, showing my total savings.

      I would say to be realistic with how much you intend to make. Start with the expenses and see how much goes out the door every month and year. Then, work out how much you want to save and calculate how much you need to be making every month/year. If for the first few months you’re making a loss, it’s ok, as long as you have money saved on the side already.

      The P&L doesn’t need to be super accurate or professional — you’re not applying for loan. They simply want to see that you’re making enough to support yourself and you won’t need to go on government welfare.

      Hope that helps and good luck with your appointment!


  110. Hi Yi, nice to meet you. Your post its awesome… I’m a freelance UI developer, I’m living on Argentina and i want to leave my country NOW because we have a lot of problems (economist and society). I have three questions and maybe you could help me:

    – I didn’t finish my school, this is a problem for FreelanceVisa?
    – My wife will get the same visa or she will get a permission to stay with me?
    – It’s necessary to be in Germany to start all of this papers?

    Thanks for your time!

      • thanks. im preparing for my appt on tues.. which is a day after my visa on arrival expires. im a bit worried that if i apply for my artist visa which is what i want and they say no that ill have to leave the next day or something.. which isnt possible. also im trying to figure out what to really say. since i do a ton of different things. all in the arts and the technical aspects of it and plan on making money in as many ways as possible. for instance. i play drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, sing, and am a singer songwriter and composer. as well as a poet. and to do all that i had to learn how to record music. so i know every aspect of that. proper mic technique, recording, mixing, mastering, both in the studio and live. also ive made my own videos so had to learn how to be a video editor. so my real plan is to make money by performing live in my current project as a live drumming dj with my own light show. no one else is doing this and its dificult to explain even with the videos. i also just volunteered as a stage hand for a small tour around europe. and was told i could make 50 – 100 eu a day doing this. i also did my first spoken word poetry with my lyrics to standing ovation and have decided to actually try and publish the 100’s of poems and lyrics ive written. finallly since ive been playing instruments for over 20 years. i want to give lessons. so i have mulitple sources. live shows. poetry readings, stage hand. session musician. music teacher. and more. no single one is currently giving me enough income but together i think i can make enough. especially if ican get picked up by a label and sell some of my music, or go on tour as my act or as a stage hand. or if my poetry gets published and i make royalties. but all of this is uncertain. and my capital is not what it should be. im confident that i will get the jobs. but i think that it will be confusing to the interviewer to explain all this. so should i just focus on the arts? and performing and not mention the other freelancing options. or should i go ahead and drop it all on them and go for a regular freelance visa and wait. i dont really want to wait. id rather know up front. thanks. as you can tell im a bit confused and stressed out over what i should or shouldnt say… thanks… but put me on stage and i know exactly what to do!! lol

      • Hi Trevor,

        If you’re applying for the freelance artist visa in Berlin, you can simply state that you’re a musician and artist. You can list how you intend to make money, for example:

        – Performance
        – Music lessons
        – Stage assistant
        – Writing lyrics and poems

        You don’t have to list everything, but you will need to explain to the interviewer how you’re going to make a living. If you have examples of what you already do, then it won’t hurt to put them in your portfolio.

        You pretty much can say whatever you want, as long as it relates to music and arts. I think it helps if you have one big goal (for example, make it as a musician in Berlin) and have supporting jobs/activities to help you reach this goal (work as a stage hand, giving out lessons, working in restaurants etc).

        Good luck your interview! 🙂



  111. Hi there, thanks for all the information herein. I’m a software developer from Australia in Berlin and I’ve found this article quite useful.

    I’ve got a couple of questions. Regarding bank statements – does the 3000€ or more have to be all in a German Bank account !? The thing is, I’ve already opened a German bank account but only have about a 1000€ in there. On the other hand I’ve got money and can produce statements from my Aussie bank accounts.

    Could I produce a combination of the two ?

    Also, if I don’t have any German job offers, will the prior recommendations suffice ?

    Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Gaz,

      I’ve heard that it does help if you have the money in a German bank account as it shows that you’re serious about settling here. I think in your case it’s fine as I also just showed my account statements from Germany and Australia.

      I went in without any contracts of job offers, which the interviewer kept asking for. But I had written recommendations from my previous German clients that included a few lines saying how they will definitely hire me again for future projects. If you currently have a client, it wouldn’t hurt for them to write that you’re currently freelancing for them and the timeline of the project could be XYZ weeks/months.

      My tip is to just over prepare and really make a case for yourself that you’re employable, have the money, integrated into the community, and have health insurance. If the interviewer likes what you’ve presented and you’ve ticked all the boxes, everything you bring gets shoved in an envelope and is sent to the work council for final review and approval. For the freelance artist visa, the interviewer can approve or deny your application on the spot.

      Hope this helps! 🙂


      • Hi Yi,

        Thanks for your tips. I went overly prepared like you suggested and walked out with a freelancers work visa for 2 years.

        I guess my applying for a Job Seekers visa in Australia helped heaps. They had already checked my certificates, documents, etc., there (took 6 weeks or so).

        So I guess it just streamlined this visa application process.

        Plus I was lucky to have a nice person who spoke English.

        Thanks heaps.

        Cheers Gaz.

      • Hi Yi, hi Gaz!

        Thanks for all the tips! It’s my turn now, I’m going there on December.

        My questions are: when you say “walked out with a 2 years visa”, you really get out right at the moment with the visa on the passport?

        Or do you get a protocol while waits for these three months of process?


      • HI Pedro,

        If you apply for an artist visa (Berlin), you can get the visa on your passport the same day as your appointment. However, if you’re applying for the normal freelance visa, then you have to wait 1-3 months before the application is processed.

        Hope this helps and good luck with your appointment!



      • I wonder how is this Artist visa appointment, is it like a The Voice? haha
        You enter a stage and have 30 seconds to convince you’re an artist or not.

        Well, thanks for the tips. I was initially applying for a student visa, but this fits better on me.

        Hope to meet you in Berlin someday.
        See you, Pedro

      • Yi, last 2 questions:
        – The resume, portfolio, recommendation letters, cover letter, business plan and everything else, all were translated to German? Or you presented it in English?
        – About the profit/loss and business plan, you’ve download that (weird) examples they offer in the website, or used one of your own?

        Thanks again!

      • Hi Pedro,

        I had everything in English, except for the recommendation letters where I asked my German bosses to write in German.

        For the P&L, I made up my own in Excel and kept it really simple. The business plan was just a 300 words to explain what I do and how I intend to develop new business.

        Hope this helps!


  112. Dear Ms.Yi:

    Thank you for your really useful article!!
    I came Taiwan and also working holiday here at moment, and would also like to apply for Freelancer Visa as well.

    I truly hope you can kindly help me with the following question:

    I have an question about the “time” problem,

    If my WHVisa is valid till Dec.2013, and I apply for freelancer Visa on October.
    The day when your freelancer visa begin, if base on the day when you get the Visa? or base on your insurance date?
    I am just wondering if that’s possible to choose the time, for ex sample start from January 2014…

    And, could you please share the tips that how you get the 2 years Visa for your first freelancer Visa?

    Because usually it’s start from 1 year….

    I am also think of to provide my degree certificate as reference,
    but I don’t know if they only need copy or the real one (those document are in Taiwan).

    Thank you sososo much!!!

    • You wouldn’t usually apply for a new visa so early. If you apply for the freelance visa in December, your Working holiday visa automatically gets extended.

      Unfortunately, you won’t be able to pick a start date. With the freelance working visa, the processing time is around 2-3 months, while the freelance artist visa you will know on the day if you’ve got it or not.

      You should have insurance already for your working holiday visa. If that expires in Jan, you will need to apply for valid one before you go in for the visa.

      As for the two-year visa, there’s an option on the form which you can tick the duration of the visa you would like to receive. I simply ticked the two years because I felt confident about my portfolio and also my financial situation. I don’t think there’s a clear distinction between a one-year and two-year visa.

      I think it’s fine if you just have a copy of your certificate. However, you should also bring the real one in case they want to verify it.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  113. Hello! This is such a useful post. I’m a New Zealand designer in the same position, and am trying desperately to get a freelance visa.

    I have one question about the health insurance – does it have to be “German”? I believe that with the working holiday permit it is permissible to have comprehensive travel insurance. Do you know if it is the same with this, the freelance visa?

    • Hi Danny,

      The health insurance doesn’t have to be from a German provider, but it can’t be just a travel insurance as you need a more comprehensive cover. I dealt with Mike Woodwiss from Spectrum — he’s an underwriter for AXA. He was very professional and helpful:

      Good luck! 🙂


  114. Pingback: EU Blue Card: The working visa that sounds too good to be true | Rapt Cat

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