Letters of intent for the German freelance visa

A letter of intent (Absichtserklärung) is a letter that says “I plan to hire this person to do this service for this price”. You need letters of intent to apply for a freelance visa in Berlin.

A letter of intent is not a contract. The person who wrote the letter is not forced to do anything.

Why are letters of intent important?

You need letters of intent to apply for a freelance visa in Berlin.4 They prove two things:

  • You can find work and make money in Germany.
    To get a freelance visa, you must make enough money to support yourself.
  • There is a regional demand for your services.
    You will not get a freelance visa if you don’t have any clients in Germany.1 You can’t only work for clients in other countries.

If you just moved to Berlin to start your business, you might not have customers yet. Your letters of intent convince the Ausländerbehörde that you will find clients and make money soon.

A better visa application can get you a longer freelance visa. Instead of 6 months or 1 year, you can get up to 3 years. It depends a lot on your letters of intent.

How to apply for the German freelance visa ➞

How many letters of intent are required?

You need at least 2 letters of intent from German clients or individuals, but more is better.2 You must convince the Ausländerbehörde that you will have clients and make money. More proof is better.

Signed contracts

Signed contracts are better than letters of intent. Letters of intent show that the company wants to hire you. Signed contracts show that the company must hire you.

Contracts are harder to get, because companies don’t know when you will get your freelance visa.1 In many cases, you can only work after you get your freelance visa.

Letters of reference from previous clients

You can also bring letters of reference from previous clients. They do not replace letters of intent, but they can help you get the freelance visa.

What goes in a letter of intent?

Your letter of intent should contain this information:5

  • Who is hiring you
    The letter must come from a real company who wants to hire you. Ideally, it must come from a German company. Put the address of the company is on the letter, to prove that it’s in Germany.6
  • Why they are hiring you
    The letter must explain what kind of work you will do. This must be the same job as the one on your visa application. If you apply as a freelance software developer, you must get letters of intent for software development work. It also helps if the letter explains why you are qualified for this job.
  • Your name
    The letter must clearly be about hiring you, not any person who can fill this role.
  • How much they will pay you
    Letters of intent must contain a clear amount or hourly rate.7

Letters of intent do not need to follow a specific format. Ideally, they should be recent. Some people just print emails from companies that are interested in hiring them.8

Remember that a letter of intent is not a contract. Companies who write your letters of intent are not forced to hire you.9 They only need to intend to hire you.

Who can write letters of intent?

You can get letters of intent from anyone, not only registered businesses. You must have at least two letters from people or companies in Germany. This is because the freelance visa is only granted if there is an “regional economic interest” for your business.10 The letters can come from anywhere in Germany, not just the city you live in.

How to get letters of intent?

This is where you must be creative. Getting letters of intents from people you have never met is very difficult. Even though I already lived in Germany, I found it very hard.

Here are some tricks:

  • Start networking.
    Visit your local co-working spaces, attend industry meetups, join local communities and online groups, and just ask for letters of intent. People are often happy to help you, even if they won’t always hire you.11 Freelancers often sign letters of intent for other freelancers, because they had the same problem before.
  • Ask your friends, family and colleagues.
    Even if they can’t hire you, they might know people who can write a letter of intent for you. Even if they don’t live in Germany, their letters of intent can help your case.
  • Ask your old clients.
    If you were a freelancer before, or if you currently are, you can ask your old clients to sign a letter of intent. You need two letters of intent from German companies, but those from other countries also help.

No matter what you do, do not fake letters of intent. Visa fraud is never a good idea.

Can you write letters of intent in English?

Ideally, letters of intent should be in German.1 If they are in another language, bring a translation. Some Ausländerberhörde interviewers only speak German. Use Lingoking to translate your letters of intent to German.

Can you write letters of intent yourself?

Ideally, the letters should always be written by the company. However, some freelancers draft the letters themselves, and ask the companies to sign them. This is also legal, but the letters should look like the companies wrote them.

No matter what you do, do not fake letters of intent.3 This is fraud, and it’s illegal.

Letter of intent examples

Need help?

Where to ask immigration questions ➞

Sources and footnotes
  1. essentialpackingchecklists.com 

  2. facebook.com, essentialpackingchecklists.com, medium.com 

  3. Touring Artists 

  4. berlin.de, berlin.de (archived), essentialpackingchecklists.com 

  5. facebook.com, facebook.com 

  6. essentialpackingchecklists.com, facebook.com 

  7. facebook.com, facebook.com 

  8. facebook.com 

  9. essentialpackingchecklists.com, medium.com 

  10. berlin.de (archived) 

  11. medium.com