Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

Residence Residence Permit for Self-Employment

Looking to set up a business in Germany as a foreign national? You'll need to apply for a residence permit that allows self-employment.

Self-employment - Hamburg Welcome Portal

If you're a foreign national and would like to set up a business in Germany, you'll need a suitable residence permit that allows self-employed activities. This does not apply to nationals of member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). They enjoy unlimited freedom of movement in Germany.

Residence permits for the purpose of self-employment are generally granted only if there is an economic interest or a regional need for your planned activity and if the business venture is expected to positively impact the economy. To evaluate this, the responsible immigration authority cooperates with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. Note: This does not apply if you want to carry out your profession as a freelancer .

The income that you gain from your self-employment must be enough to secure your livelihood, including adequate health insurance, without the use of public funds. Therefore, the economic viability of your business model must be given.

In addition, it is necessary to keep the respective requirements and approvals for your specific activity in mind to ensure the legality of your activity. Further information and contacts can be found in the Education & Career section.

If the planned activity is successfully implemented and your livelihood is secured by sufficient income, you may apply for a permanent residence permit after three years (as opposed to the usual five years).


  • Entry with a German visa for self-employment. This visa must be applied for in the German Mission Abroad in your home country.
    Exception: Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America can enter without a visa.
  • Your business is based on a viable business idea (proof e.g. by business plan, financing plan, revenue forecast). In addition, you should have the necessary experience and qualifications to implement your project
  • Sufficient health insurance (Annex 6)
  • Persons over the age of 45 must provide proof of sufficient resources for their old-age security.

Detailed informations on the required documents for an application can be found in section forms. You can apply for a residence permit to set up your self-employment activity at the Hamburg Welcome Center or at your responsible immigration authority.