How to go from a German work visa to a freelance visa

This is how you transition from a full time job to freelancing when you have a German work visa or Blue Card.

If you want to leave your full time job to become a freelancer, your visa situation can become tricky. This guide clarifies some common questions people have when making the transition.

First, your current visa might allow you to freelance. On your residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel), look for a line that says "Selbständige Tätigkeit gestattet" (self-employment allowed). If your residence permit has that line, you can freelance or start a business in Germany. This would allow you to find clients and build your business before you quit your full time job. However, your job should still be your main source of income.

Second, your work visa is only valid as long as you are employed by the company that sponsors it. This means that if you quit your job, your work visa expires. Even if that visa allowed you to freelance, it's not valid anymore, so you can't freelance until you get a new visa.

Third, you can't have a freelance visa and a work visa at the same time. You can't get a freelance visa, then quit your job. The German freelance visa will replace your current visa. The moment you get the freelance visa, you are not allowed to work at your old company anymore.

Fourth, you must inform your health insurance company. This is very important. Freelancers are charged differently. Your health insurance will be more expensive, because your employer does not pay half of it.

How to get a freelance visa?

We wrote a detailed guide on how to get a German freelance visa, and on how to start a business in Germany. These explain the application process in details.

Where to get help?

If you have questions about visas, you can call the "Working and Living in Germany" hotline. This is an official hotline, and they speak English. The Berlin Chamber of Commerce (IHK) also offers help in English by phone, by email and in person.

If you still need help, there are other resources. This Facebook group helps people with freelance visa issues, and the Berlin Freelancers Facebook group answers general freelancing questions.

You can also look at our list of English-speaking relocation consultants and our list of English-speaking lawyers to find professional help.

This guide was created with information provided by the "Working and Living in Germany" hotline, and with the helpful expertise of Kathleen Parker from Red Tape Translation.


  • Tricia S

    Hello there,

    Born and raised in Brazil. I have been living in Germany 5 years. I have studied here then I was granted of a freelance visa after I've finished my masters. Currently the company I'm freelancing show interest to hire me as fix employee. Is it possible to change the visa? From free lancer to work visa? Or I should apply for permanent resident? I'm a bit confused.

    Reply to Tricia S
    • Reply to Tricia S

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Of course! I don't know if you qualify for the permanent residence, but you might qualify for the work visa. There is no special process: you apply for the work visa like everybody else.

      Reply to Nicolas Bouliane
      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Finn Topzand-O'Rourke

    I have been working in Germany for the last few years on a visa tied to my job. My partner and I have decided to move back to New Zealand and need some time to tidy things up. My visa would expire at the end of November and I need until the 20th of december to leave. Do you think there is any leniency or solution to stay legal? Last time I changed job I was told that of I did not have a new job by the end of the my contract I would have to leave the country.


    Reply to Finn Topzand-O'Rourke
    • Reply to Finn Topzand-O'Rourke

  • Mel

    If my visa includes the line that says "Selbständige Tätigkeit gestattet" (self-employment allowed) I can just take in freelance work or is there a process I should know about?

    Reply to Mel
    • Reply to Mel

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      You still need to register your activity with the Finanzamt by filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung, and in some cases you might need to get a trade licence.

      See our related articles below for more information.

      Reply to Nicolas Bouliane
      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Sagar

    I am looking for german freelancer visa.

    Reply to Sagar
    • Reply to Sagar

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      The guide you are commenting on tells you exactly how to get the German freelance visa.

      Reply to Nicolas Bouliane
      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

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