be self-employed in one of the liberal professions

The liberal professions include healing, scientific, technical or consulting activities (for example, doctors, lawyers, engineers, IT specialists).

To be self-employed in Germany in one of the liberal professions, it is recommended to get information about needed documents in advance, before you apply for a visa at the foreign representation of the Federal Republic of Germany in your home country. After having received the visa and having arrived in Germany, you will have to change it into a “residence permit to exercise an independent activity“ at the local foreigner’s authority. With this residence permit you are entitled to exercise one of the “liberal professions” in Germany.

Are you a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA? In this case you do not need to apply for a visa to enter Germany. After you have arrived in Germany, you have to apply for the corresponding residence permit at the local foreigner’s authority within three months.

To receive this kind of residence permit, you have to meet the following conditions, among others:


Prove that you can finance your project.


Prove that you are entitled to exercise that profession – for example, doctor.

Support yourself

You have to have the means to support yourself

Retirement insurance

You have to be able to provide proof that you have adequate old-age pension insurance if you are over the age of 45.

Moreover, to work as a self-employed professional the same conditions apply to you as to Germans.

There is a small number of general legal requirements you will need to fulfil before you can set up your own business in Germany. You need to be an adult, so at least 18 years of age. Another requirement is that you have never been banned from practicing the profession you intend to set up a business in. Such prohibitions can be imposed by courts after serious offences.

Before you start your own business, you need to register your planned activity. You do that either with the trade office (Gewerbeamt) or the tax office (Finanzamt), depending on whether you intend to work on a self-employed basis (gewerblich) or as a freelancer (freiberuflich). For some professions, you will need to prove that you do not have a criminal record. EU citizens resident in Germany can usually apply for a “European certificate of good conduct” at your local registration office. If you are from a different country, you will need to obtain a comparable document from the competent authority in your country.