Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

Residence Residence Permit for Self-Employment

You want to set up a business as a foreign national in Germany? For this purpose, you need a suitable residence permit. This does not apply to nationals of Member States of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). They enjoy unlimited freedom of movement in Germany.

Self-employment - Hamburg Welcome Portal

If you wish to work self-employed, you may be granted a residence permit only if there is a superior economic interest or a particular regional need for your planned activity and if the business venture has a positive impact on the economy. To evaluate this, the responsible immigration authority cooperates with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. The prerequisite does not apply if you want to work as a freelancer.

The income from self-employment must assure your livelihood, including adequate health insurance, without the use of public funds. Therefore, the viability of the project must be presented plausibly and comprehensibly.

For further information and contact persons on the topic of setting up a business, please visit our section „Career & Profession“.

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 already (normally after five years).

You can apply for a residence permit to set up your self-employment activity at your relevant immigration authority or the Hamburg Welcome Center.


  • 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.
  • Submission of documents describing the business concept (e.g. business plan, business concept, financing plan, revenue forecast)
  • It is also useful to provide proof of your qualifications (CV, experience, qualification)
  • Sufficient health insurance (Annex 6)
  • Persons over the age of 45 must provide proof of sufficient resources for their old-age security.

The main forms for the application are available on our page “forms”.