Your In-Depth Guide to Germany Digital Nomad Visa

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Working remotely as a digital nomad is a fantastic opportunity to explore the world while continuing to work at a job you love. With this lifestyle, you can live and work wherever you want, provided that place has fast internet and affordable living costs.
Germany is one of the top hotspots for digital nomads due to its rich culture shaped by its cuisines, literature, aesthetic art, and warm and friendly locals. The German people also provide free education to both citizens and foreigners, which is one of the most inviting things about the country.
If you love German culture, perhaps from a previous business trip or a study abroad experience, and want to live in Berlin for a while, getting a German digital nomad visa could be an excellent way to combine your passions and grow personally as well as professionally. After all, there’s no better way to learn about another culture than living in it!
This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about the digital nomad visa for Germany.

Understanding the Germany Freelance Visa

A German freelance visa is called an "Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit." The German digital nomad visas are specifically designed for digital professionals and freelancers who want to work remotely from anywhere in the world.
To qualify, you must have a current permit to work in Germany. Next, you must have relevant freelance experience and skills marketable to potential employers. You must also have access to an internet connection at home or your place of work.
Finally, you must pass an online test and provide proof of qualifications, such as evidence of your salary and previous work experience from an online portfolio or LinkedIn profile. Once approved, you can begin working as a freelancer in Germany immediately.
According to recent research, Germany has the world's longest-lasting visas for digital nomads. The German digital nomad visa allows you to stay in Germany for up to 30 months per five years, although several other factors can affect this period, such as your income.
In addition to these significant perks of working remotely in Germany, the German digital nomad visa also offers several other benefits. For example, you can apply for family reunification immediately after obtaining the visa without waiting for five years.
Finally, you do not need a job offer when applying for the digital nomad visa as long as you are willing to take on a remote contract with no start date.

Types of Germany Freelance Visa

There are two types of german freelance visas, also known as freiberufler visas. The artist freelance visa, and the work freelance visa.

Artist Freelance Visa

People with professions that will improve the German culture, such as artists, writers, language teachers, interpreters, or architects, are typically granted this visa. It is a special residence permit obtained only in Berlin.
It is easy to get this visa if you are a painter, musician, photographer, or dancer. Still, in some other circumstances, you may need to persuade the case manager of your artistic identity.
You can do this by supplying your CV and any letters of intent or contracts with potential clients or business partners. You might also include reference letters from previous projects that attest to your qualifications if you have them.
One major benefit of the artist freelance visa is that the Chamber of Commerce will not examine your application. This means you will receive your visa immediately. Other freelancers typically have to wait a few weeks for their applications to be approved. Compared to the "regular" Freelance Visa, the rules are a little more lenient, and it's easier to get your application approved. Unfortunately, if you're not an artist, it won't happen.
Additionally, you must be well-prepared and have the necessary paperwork. Once your visa is approved, you must visit your local tax office to request a freelance tax identification number. The number will be sent to you within a month, at which point you can formally begin billing your clients.

Work Freelance Visa

Most of the time, this type of visa is given to people whose line of work or business will favor the German economy and if the funding comes from equity or loan commitment. Business founders, sole proprietors, managing directors/legal representatives of partnerships and corporations, and startup entrepreneurs are all eligible for this form of visa.
To get your application approved, you must submit evidence that clients are interested in working with you. You must receive letters of intent from potential clients stating their purpose to hire you. This letter expresses interest in your work or services; it is not a contract.
You'll need to show that you have the resources to live comfortably in Germany so you won't be a burden to the German government. An amount of at least €9,000 annually will suffice.
You also must be legally residing in Germany. The Bürgeramt, or local registration office, is where you must find lodging and register your address.
You must have a sufficient pension plan if you are above 45 years of age. And before the age of 67, you must have a monthly pension of €1,332.36 for a minimum of 12 years or have assets totaling at least €194,631.
You do not need to apply for an entry visa if you are from the USA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, or South Korea. You can easily fly to Germany, a rrange for housing, health insurance, and tax office registration, then apply for a Freelancer Residence Permit at the Ausländerbehörde.

Who Can Qualify for Germany Digital Nomad Visa?

To qualify for a digital nomad visa in Germany, you need to meet the following requirements:
  • You are not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of Germany, the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland. Due to Brexit, UK nationals now need to have a freelancing visa.
  • You must legally reside in Germany, which requires that you have a local address. In your visa interview, you'll have to prove this.
  • You must have health insurance.
  • You must be capable of supporting yourself financially and,
  • You must have German clients.

If you reside in the U.S. and you’re considering Germany for your remote work location, you may want to learn more about the requirements for American citizens traveling in Europe.

How to Apply for the Germany DNV?

If you are traveling from a nation without a 90-day Schengen visa, you need to apply for a visa before visiting Germany.
You can apply for a freelance visa at the closest German embassy. Submit your completed visa application form with all of your supporting documentation. After you’ve done that, it is then sent to the immigration office in Germany for examination. In this situation, the time it takes to get the visa can range from two to six months.
The alternative is to apply for a National visa at a nearby German consulate. You can visit Germany with a national visa to look for an apartment, clients, and other requirements for the freelance visa. You can start the visa application process as soon as you enter the country. Note that only holders of the National Visa may do this . Your application will be denied if you enter Germany on a tourist visa and apply for a freelance visa.
After getting your National Visa, you should schedule your visa appointment as soon as possible as there is a very long waiting time for visa appointments in Germany.
You need to get health insurance, an essential requirement for a freelance visa in Germany. If you intend to live in Germany permanently, you can get public insurance. You pay into and contribute to the public system via this type of insurance. Going private can be better if you wish to lead a digital nomad lifestyle.
You need to open a german bank account and find a legal residence in Germany too. It may be challenging to find a home depending on which German city you want to stay in, and without a bank account, renting an apartment might be very challenging. Therefore, it is best to make lodging arrangements before traveling to the country.
Get a valid contract in your name because you'll need documentation to establish where you live. Additionally, your landlord must fill out a confirmation form. It will be required at your address registration appointment.
After registering your address, you should join a coworking space to network with other digital nomads who were successful in obtaining visas.

Application Requirements for the Digital Nomad Visa for Germany: The Checklist

It can take some time to compile the necessary paperwork. Obtaining letters of intent from potential clients might be particularly challenging. So, before you leave for Germany, we suggest you start assembling these documents.

The Basic Documentation

  • Application for Issuance of a Resident Permit
You can download this form to fill out your application.
  • Appointment Confirmation
This contains all the details regarding your appointment. Bring it with you to the interview, as you might be asked to present it.
  • Biometric Photos
You can take these pictures at the German immigration office. Remember not to smile in your biometric photos.
  • Valid Passport
Your interviewer would need this to officially identify you. And if you manage to get your visa right away, you will need your passport because the sticker visa is generally placed in there.
  • Proof of German Health Insurance
  • Proof of Home Ownership or Apartment Lease
You also have to include the costs of rent and utilities in this document.
  • Residence Registration and Landlord Confirmation Form
If you have not yet received your registration, you can bring documentation showing you have made an appointment.
  • Application Fee
Depending on the immigration office you visit, you can pay these fees with cash or a debit card. For example, the Berlin Immigration Office only accepts cash. You might also have to pay more if you want copies of your documents.

Professional Documents About Your Work and Character

  • CV/Resume
Highlight all relevant prior employment, experiences, and education on your resume. While English-language CVs will be accepted by interviewers, we recommend you have one in German too.
  • Cover Letter
Although this isn’t a necessary document, explaining why you wish to live and work as a freelancer in Germany can bolster your application.
  • Recommendation Letters
These can be from former customers or employers, and they need to endorse you for the profession you’re interested in. Letters of recommendation are frequently requested by interviewers. It's a good idea to keep two or more on hand in case you need them.
  • Academic degrees and certificates
Having evidence of these enhances your resume's credibility.
  • Letters of Intent
These are necessary to demonstrate that there is a market for your work in Germany. The letters must be from German customers who describe the kind of job you are going to be hired for as well as the scope of the project.
  • Professional Permit
A professional permit is required for freelancers working in the legal or medical sectors, for instance. Remember to bring your permit to your interview if your work requires one.
  • Present Deals or Contracts
Bring these with you to show the work you will do and the potential income you will receive.
  • Portfolio
Find a means to bring a physical copy of your work, even if it is available online. A website URL alone is insufficient. These will help persuade the interviewer that you can perform the task.

Financial Documents

  • Financing Plan
You must describe in this form how you want to finance your company. List any liquid funds, assets, loans, venture capital, and anything else you feel is important to describe your financial situation.
  • Bank Statement
This will help back up the figures in your financing strategy. Even though foreign bank statements are acceptable, most interviewers ask to see German bank account statements. Most of the foreigners who were granted the Freelance Visa in Germany believe that you need savings of between 3.000€ ($3,370) and 5.000€ ($5,615) to be approved.
  • Profit and Loss Statement
This document will help prove that you've done your homework and created a budget that will enable you to support your line of business and clients in Germany. Your projected income and expenses for the upcoming year should be included. The document should also include the costs associated with starting your firm and your expected profits or losses.
  • Proof of a Decent Pension Plan
You must submit a guarantee from a private pension or life insurance plan that you will receive at least 1.188,92€ ($1,336) per month for 12 years or a total of 175.068€ ($196,750) when you turn 67. Typically, only applicants over 45 are subject to this rule. This is necessary for anybody who wants to live permanently in Germany, regardless of country. The US, the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Iran, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan applicants will also need this.

Business Strategy Documents (for Business Owners Only)

  • Business Plan
This should describe how you intend to operate and expand your business.
  • Business Concept
This should specify the goods and services you'll offer in Germany. It must also describe your market conditions, target market, and industry. You can also put your sales and marketing strategy here.
  • Company Profile
The most important details about your business must be included here. This document should contain information on the company's name, registration, contact details, management details, board of directors, assets, licenses, and worldwide income. You must also include information about your parent firm if your business is a daughter company. Additionally, you should include particular information about your job within the organization, your career, your educational history, and your English and German language proficiency.
  • Capital Requirement Plan
This document must contain information about your startup expenses and working capital requirements. You can also include details here about licensing costs, recently purchased equipment or vehicles, and real estate.

Processing Time: How Much in Advance Should You Apply?

Your visa application may take up to three months to be processed after your appointment. In Germany, however, there is an extremely long waiting time for visa appointments. We urge you to make an appointment with the immigration office as soon as you can because it can take up to two months to get one. The closest office to your future residence can be found here.

The Costs of Obtaining Germany DNV

The typical visa application fee is about 60 euros ($60), but it could reach up to 100 euros ($100). Turkish nationals, however, only need to pay a charge of 28.80 euros ($29). There can also be a fee for producing copies of your documents. A residence permit also costs around 100 euros ($100). We advise you to set aside roughly 220 euros for the entire expense.
Additional expenses may be incurred if you are required to pay for any of the supporting documents. The payments are also non-refundable if your visa application is rejected. Therefore, ensure you supply the required documentation and adhere to the rules.

Do Digital Nomads Have to Pay Taxes in Germany?

Foreign freelancers must register with the tax authorities in Germany. As a result, you must pay a few taxes if you're a digital nomad.
  • Income Tax
Your income will determine your tax rate. For specified levels of income, the tax rate is fixed. You are not required to pay income tax if you earn less than $9,744 annually. If you make between 9,744 and 57,918 euros per year, you must pay income tax, ranging from 14% to 42%. If you make between 57,918 and 274,612 euros a year, you are qualified to pay 42% of the total. And if your income is over 274,612 euros, you must pay 45% in income tax.
Income tax is paid every year in the months of March, June, September, and December. You file an income tax declaration at the end of the year. If the amount you paid is greater than what is shown on the statement, the difference will be refunded to you.
  • Value Added Tax
Value-added tax in Germany is typically paid at a rate of 19%, but it is occasionally as low as 9%. This depends on the amount of money you make.

The Benefits of Becoming a Digital Nomad in Germany

Every traveler can find something to enjoy in this culturally rich country. As a digital nomad, you can choose to live in Berlin's bustling heart, Hamburg's harborside neighborhood, or the heights of the snow-capped Bavarian Alps.
Numerous bilingual co-working spaces and workplaces are available, and the nation boasts quick, dependable, and efficient public transit. In addition to offering the best advantages and resources for a leisurely lifestyle, it also supports freelancers and business owners. The nation's Wifi speed has risen to 136.66 Mb (broadband speed) and 83.06 Mb (mobile speed).

The Cost of Living in Germany

Germany is one of the most powerful economic nations in Europe, yet living there need not be expensive. In comparison to other European nations, Germany is very inexpensive. The same goes if you compare it to the US . However, the cost of living differs based on the city or location.
The cost of lodging is influenced by a number of variables. While residing in the inner city center may put you nearer to the main attractions, it will invariably cost more than doing so in the suburbs or on the outskirts. You can also reduce your lodging expenses by sharing an apartment or a home. In Germany, you can expect to pay the following expenses for housing:
  • Private 50 sq m flat in the heart of Berlin: 650 Euros
  • Private 50 sq m flat in the heart of Cologne: 800 Euros
  • Private 50 sq m flat in the heart of Munich: 1100 Euros
  • Berlin room in a shared apartment: 400 euros
  • Cologne room in a shared apartment: 450 euros
  • Munich room in a shared apartment: 500 Euros

What and where you eat will have a significant impact on the price of food and drink in Germany. You can get some of your favorite German foods for about 10€ ($11) each meal if you know where to look. No matter what city you live in, restaurant costs often don't change.
Another great way to save money when living in Germany is to cook at home. Food purchased at supermarkets or grocers is significantly less expensive than eating out. Germany also has an effective public transportation system that makes traveling around the country quick, easy, and in many places, moderately priced. Using the rail, bus, or subway is a great option for bar hopping between different neighborhoods or traveling cross-country in Germany.
A ten-minute cab ride costs 10 euros. A Berlin bus/subway one-way ticket costs 2.80€ ($3.10). In Cologne, a one-way bus or subway ticket price is 2.50€ ($2.75). Munich bus/subway one-way costs 2.70€ ($3), and 80€ ($88.50) gets you a train ticket from Berlin to Munich.

Top Places in Germany for Digital Nomads

Berlin

Berlin is considered one of Germany's most cosmopolitan and progressive cities. It is also among the least expensive cities to live in. Additionally, it is the city with the most English-speaking residents and a reputation for housing a diverse population of creatives and businesspeople. It is also easy to locate several coworking spaces and start-ups like WeWork.
Whether you’re traveling from the U.S. or another country, here are the top places for remote workers in Germany:

Munich

The capital of Bavaria is a pristine, business-friendly city that is perfect for any digital nomad or freelancer. One of Germany's largest cities, it is teeming with young people, foreigners, and residents looking to have fun. Its central area features a stunning collection of Gothic, Neo-classical, and Baroque buildings. Munich is also home to one of the best coworking spaces in Germany, like Base Coworking, a strategically located coworking space.

Cologne

Many people who live in Cologne think of it as a more tranquil, charming version of Berlin. Beautiful parks, contemporary neighborhoods, and multicultural communities surround the city. Cologne is home to the magnificent Cologne Cathedral in addition to all these lovely characteristics. The world's highest twin-spired edifice, which also provides a panoramic view of the city, contributes to its aesthetic appeal. Make Cologne your next vacation location if you want to experience classic German culture.
CoWork-Lab, a coworking space in Cologne, is situated in the city's core and provides high-speed WiFi, as well as all the desks and offices you could possibly need with a friendly neighborhood of remote workers.

Getting Your Germany Digital Nomad Visa

The German digital nomad visa is an excellent way to freelance remotely in Germany and experience the German culture and way of life. The long processing time for this Visa means that you need to be organized and have all the necessary documentation before applying for it. You also have to be persistent. It can take anywhere from two to six months to get the visa, so make sure to book an appointment at least two months in advance.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

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