Moving to Germany as a digital nomad is one of the best ways of verifying if this country suits one’s lifestyle. However, at the moment there is no program under which a foreign citizen can obtain a digital nomad visa in Germany. The country offers two other options, however.
Below, our immigration lawyer in Germany explains the main alternatives to the remote worker visa and their requirements. Should you want to move to Germany under a digital nomad visa, we are at your service.
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Alternatives for digital nomad visa in Germany
Germany is acquainted with the large influx of foreigners coming to work here, which is why it has adapted its immigration regulations to new relocation trends which imply remote workers. The following visas can be treated as alternatives to digital nomad visa in Germany:
The freelance visa in Germany is known as the “Freiberufler” or “Selbständige Tätigkeit” visa. This visa is designed for individuals who want to work as freelancers or self-employed professionals in various fields. It allows you to live and work in Germany while conducting your freelance activities. Here is some general information to know about the freelance visa:
Eligibility criteria: To be eligible for a freelance visa in Germany, you generally need to fulfill the following criteria:
- Have a concrete business plan detailing your freelance activities;
- Prove that your freelance work benefits the German economy;
- Show sufficient financial resources to support yourself without relying on public funds.
Application process: The application process for a freelance visa typically involves the following steps:
- Submitting a detailed business plan outlining your freelance activities;
- Demonstrating your qualifications and expertise in your chosen field;
- Providing proof of sufficient funds to cover your living expenses;
- Showing that your freelance work contributes positively to the German economy;
- Applying at the German embassy or consulate in your home country.
Duration: The initial freelance visa is usually granted for up to three months. Once you arrive in Germany, you need to apply for a residence permit at the local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) within those three months. The residence permit can be extended if your freelance activities are successful and you continue to meet the criteria. This type of visa can successfully replace a German digital nomad visa.
The German artist visa, also known as the “Künstler Visum” or artist residence permit, is designed for artists, musicians, performers, and other creative professionals who wish to live and work in Germany. The general requirements and process for obtaining an artist visa are as follows, and if you have any additional questions, please get in touch with our immigration lawyers in Germany:
- Proof of artistic activity: You need to demonstrate that you are a practicing artist or creative professional. This can include providing a portfolio of your work, exhibition history, performances, recordings, or any other relevant documentation showcasing your artistic activity;
- Invitation or contract: If you have been invited by a German cultural institution, gallery, or employer, you should provide an invitation letter or contract outlining the purpose and duration of your stay in Germany;
- Financial proof: You should show that you have enough financial means to support yourself during your stay in Germany. This can include bank statements, sponsorship letters, or any other evidence of financial stability;
Besides these, you will be required to show health insurance, valid passport, passport photos, artistic statement, housing accommodation, etc.
Additionally, it’s recommended to start the application process well in advance of your planned travel to allow sufficient time for processing. If you are thinking about moving about moving to Germany, please consult with our immigration lawyers.
Despite of not having a digital nomad visa, Germany offers a startup visa program known as the “Startup-Unternehmer-Visum.” This visa is designed to attract entrepreneurs and founders who want to establish and operate innovative startup businesses in Germany. The program aims to promote innovation and economic growth by facilitating the entry of international entrepreneurs into the German startup ecosystem.
You are advised to seek guidance from our immigration lawyers in Germany. They can help ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information on a well-suited alternative for a digital nomad visa in Germany. Furthermore, please note that to obtain a permanent German residence permit, a person must live here for at least 5 years. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens. Depending on your situation, you can get in touch with our lawyers and ask for support to benefit from the attention of a specialist who can help you obtain the desired document.
What does a digital nomad visa in Germany imply?
In order to establish if the freelance or self-employed permit is the best option for you, here are the main conditions a nomad visa for Germany should imply:
- it should enable you to complete your activity remotely;
- the activity must not be connected to a German employer or company, thus enabling you not to become liable for taxation in Germany;
- you should be able to stay in Germany for a limited duration of time.
From these points of view, both residence permits can help you qualify for them and move to Germany as a remote worker. However, there is one major difference between them:
- the freelance permit is issued to professionals in certain fields;
- the self-employed residence permit is issued to those working as sole traders, therefore, requires registration with various authorities in Germany.
This is why the most sought alternative to the digital nomad visa in Germany is the freelance permit. However, for this purpose, one still needs to register for taxation here. If you need a digital nomad visa in other countries, such as Netherlands or Malta, we can put you in touch with our local partners who offer business consulting and immigration services.
Germany’s digital nomad visa under the form of a freelance permit
A freelance permit can be obtained in approximately 5 weeks and is available for the following categories of digital nomads:
- accountants and other tax-related occupations;
- digital marketers and IT professionals;
In order to obtain such a permit, a foreign citizen must submit various documents. We remind you that if you are an EU citizen, you don’t need to apply for a nomad visa for Germany. This requirement applies to non-EU citizens coming to Germany for the first time.
Our immigration law firm in Germany is at the service of foreign citizens who want to work or become self-employed/freelancers here. We can help them gather and file the documents with the relevant authorities.
Documents required for German digital nomad visa
Please note that immigration policies and requirements can change over time, and we recommend checking the latest information from our immigration lawyers in Germany for the most up-to-date and accurate information. That being said, here are the general documents you might need to get an alternative for a digital nomad visa in Germany:
- Application form: Complete and sign the relevant application form for the freelance visa;
- Valid passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in Germany;
- Proof of travel health insurance: Provide proof of health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Germany. This should cover medical expenses, hospitalization, and repatriation;
- Cover letter: A detailed cover letter explaining the purpose of your stay, your plans as a digital nomad, and how you intend to support yourself financially;
- Proof of freelance work: Evidence of your freelance work or digital business, such as contracts, client agreements, or project proposals;
- Business plan: Outline your business plans and how you intend to generate income while staying in Germany;
- Language proficiency: Depending on the region and visa officer’s discretion, you might need to show proof of German language proficiency (e.g., by providing a certificate from a language school).
Please note that visa requirements and processes can vary based on your nationality and personal circumstances. It’s essential to consult our immigration lawyers for accurate information before applying for a German nomad visa.
Taxes to pay in Germany as a digital nomad
While a digital nomad visa in Germany should imply no taxes on your work, obtaining a freelance permit means registering with the Central Tax Office and payment of at least 2 taxes: the income tax and the VAT.
Here are the main tax aspects to consider as a German digital nomad:
- the personal income tax that must be paid for any income exceeding 9,169 euros and which is levied at a rate of 14%;
- the personal income tax rate can increase to 42% based on the freelancer’s annual earnings;
- the VAT which is levied at the standard rate of 19%.
If you want to apply for a digital nomad visa in Germany and need more information or support, please contact our immigration lawyer.
We can also advise on citizenship matters. Obtaining German citizenship by descent can go back to ancestors of 1938 before the Second World War. If you need guidance in finding documents that attest to your ties to Germany, our lawyers can advise and help you trace your great-grandparents and claim your own passport.