Do you want to leave your home country and embark on an exciting journey to set up a business in Germany? First of all, good luck! Second, if you’ve ever had cold feet about it, this day is your lucky day.

This article will give you some reasons ‌Germany is a good place to start a business and explain everything you need to know about getting your entrepreneur visa and being a step closer to achieving your dream.

Reasons to Start a Business in Germany

A Strong Economy

Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world. Its significant spending power and location at the heart of a dense transport network in the centre of Europe are advantages to starting a business.

Commitment to Innovation

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) published a report indicating that Germany is among the top ten most innovative countries in the world. It’s known for effectively translating research into practical applications and using science for economic benefit. It’s a good home for your ideas, as the German government funds research institutions, supports the creation of start-ups, and licences intellectual property.

It also offers a variety of public funding and incentive programs to help entrepreneurs such as interest reduction loans and GRW cash grants.

A thriving start-up culture

Germany has a strong start-up culture, as its start-up map has a sample of 2753 start-ups according to StartupBlink. The most popular industries are marketing and sales, software and data, and transportation. Germany’s most vibrant start-up ecosystems are in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, and Frankfurt.

Do you need an Entrepreneur visa to move to Germany?

Citizens from the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland

Citizens from these countries don’t need an entrepreneur visa to move to Germany or to start a business there. They can profit from the freedom of establishment and movement.

There are some exceptions where citizens from countries, other than the ones mentioned above, wouldn’t need a visa to enter Germany. However, they can’t remain on German territory for over 90 days in any six-month period and can’t take up employment there, like the U.S. and Iceland.

For more details about visa requirements and exemptions for entry into Germany, check out the Federal Foreign Office.

Citizens from other countries

You need to apply for a visa for self-employment at your local German mission to enter Germany. Processing your application usually takes from two to four months.

The entry visa is valid for three months. Once you’re there, ‌apply for a residence permit.

If you’re already in Germany, hold a visa or a residence permit for another purpose, and if you’ve planned your business and business plan in writing, you can apply for the residence permit for self-employment “Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur Ausübung einer selbständigen Tätigkeit.”

What documents do you need for your residence permit?

When you apply for your residence permit, ‌present the following:

  • Application form
  • Valid passport
  • Business plan
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Employment contract for researchers and academics
  • Copy of your degree certificate for graduates from German universities
  • Proof of adequate pension provisions for people older than 45

This list is not final. Contact your immigration authority for more details because the documents you need will depend on the circumstances of your situation.

Requirements for setting up your business in Germany

To obtain your residence permit, you must first meet these criteria:

  • Be of legal age: at least 18 years old.
  • You’re able to make a living for yourself.
  • Never been banned from practising the profession you intend to set up a business in.
  • Register your planned activity.
  • Not having a criminal record.
  • There is commercial interest or regional demand for your products or services.
  • Your business is likely to positively impact the German economy.
  • You have secured financing for your business. Read our EWOR post “6 Easy Ways to Raise Capital for Business” to know more about it.

However, before setting up your business in Germany, it’s important to know which type of entrepreneur you’re going to be to have the right paperwork. You can either be a “Freiberufler” or a “Gewerbetreibende,” a freelancer, or a self-employed entrepreneur.

Tips for Starting a Business in Germany

  • Take your time to do your research.
  • Share your ideas and welcome new ones.
  • Learn German.
  • Be punctual and meet your deadlines.
  • Network as much as possible.

Setting up a business is challenging, but it’s more challenging if you plan to do it in a foreign country. Every year, Germany witnesses a rise of expat-preneurs who are mobile entrepreneurs, for whom international borders are less relevant than access to markets and skills. Once you figure out your visa and residence permit, your real work as an entrepreneur begins.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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