How to become a freelancer in Germany? First Steps for Expats

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We are here to tell you about the first steps you need to take to become a freelancer in Germany. As with everything else, there are bureaucratic steps you need to follow and suggestions that can make your job easier on your way to becoming a freelancer in Germany. For those who don’t know, I’m Serkan, I’ve been working as a freelancer in Germany for 2 years in the field of social media. In this guide, I will summarize the first steps you need to take to become a freelancer in Germany. Let’s get started!


  1. Who can work as a freelancer in Germany?

There is a distinction between the professions that you can freelance in Germany. The first thing you need to know before starting this is to check whether your profession is within this scope.

Freelance work includes self-employed scientific, artistic, literary, teaching or educational activities, self-employed doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, notaries, patent attorneys, surveyors, engineers, architects, commercial chemists, auditors, tax consultants, advisory people and business economists, sworn auditors, tax agents, naturopaths, dentists, physiotherapists, journalists, photo reporters, interpreters, translators, pilots, and similar professions.


Note, the list does not claim to be complete or exclusive.


Of course, your residence permit must also allow you to work as a freelancer in Germany. In general, spouses coming from Turkey with family reunification can be free in this regard, while those coming with a work visa, unfortunately, cannot work as a freelancer in the first two years.


  1. What can I do, if I am not eligible to work as a freelancer?

In case your service will not get accepted as freelancing, you’ll need to register a trade.


To do this, you need to register with the Chamber of Commerce in your city. However, it is the Finanzamt that decides whether you are a freelancer or not, and you can apply there and ask for an examination.


  1. Create your business model

Deciding to start a business and being your own boss is nice, but it could also be overwhelming. As if the German bureaucracy is not enough, it is not easy to establish yourself in a foreign market. So, plan your business before you even officially start. Make sure, that all aspects of your business model fit smoothly together. Go deep in every part of it and design your business to succeed. A business model consists of 9 parts, each of them should be well-thought-out, but make sure that all parts harmonize together. Planning all the details such as your income model, options that will make you money, your expenses for the next 3 years, and setting a course for yourself are very important steps in this business!


  1. Register with the Tax Office!


If you think that your profession and residence permit fit, the third step is to officially register. To do this, you must register with the tax office (Finanzamt). You can register online at Elster or by filling out the downloaded formFragenbogen zur steuerliche Erfassung” and physically take it to the tax office. Unfortunately, the form can only be filled out in German. It is very important to know what to do and how to do it. To handle the paperwork, you can get professional support from Birgit Heidenreich. She is the Founder of the Expat Business Club and an Expat Business Consultant with more than 12 years of business experience. That is how I also get started and got support for myself as well. She will guide you through the jungle of the German bureaucracy and explain to you all the options – pros and cons. Here is the contact link for your free first 15 minutes with Birgit. She provides support in English and German. Once you have submitted your application form to the tax office, the Finanzamt will send you a letter informing you whether you can do your job as a freelancer and will send you a new tax number.



  1. Learn to invoice in the right format.


You are eligible to become a freelancer, and you have registered. Now, you need to make sure, that you fulfill all legal requirements in Germany. One of the requirements is the mandatory information on your invoices. You need to learn the correct format of the invoice for your work. Let’s say you are established and registered as a small business. You are exempt from VAT on the invoices you issue until your earnings reach 22,000 euros. When you issue your invoices during this whole process, make sure that the invoice contains the following details:

  • Your full name and address
  • The full name and address of the recipient
  • Date of invoice date/time period you offered the service!
  • Your tax number and VAT number (if applicable)
  • Unique invoice number, assigned by you
  • Description of work undertaken, or service provided
  • Net amount
  • VAT / USt (if applicable)
  • Total amount
  • Payment details
  • Time frame to pay


  1. Choose the right insurance for you

When you become a freelancer, you will need to take out health insurance and a few other insurances that may be important for your work, and you will have to pay for it entirely on your own. If you are married and are covered by your spouse’s insurance, this will cease after you become a freelancer. Therefore, when deciding to become a freelancer, think about the money you will actually earn and your expenses and reconsider taking the plunge. In Germany, if you have an artistic job (writer, painter, content creator), I recommend you apply for the Künstler Sozialkasse (KSK), the state pension and health insurance program for artists. This will help you cover your expenses. In this way, half of your expenses will be covered by the state, and you will pay the other half. Private insurance for freelancers can also be an option. This way, you can reduce your health insurance costs.


In this article, we have listed the first steps to becoming a freelancer in Germany. But honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on what you do, your visa type, and even the city you live in, there may be different rules and advantages you need to know. So be sure to become a member of the EBC community and get support from Birgit for your questions. We hope that this new path you have chosen in Germany will bring you success! Don’t forget to follow us on our social media accounts!








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