Self-employment is a form of gainful employment in which a person manages a business/company independently. It also includes all the liberal professions.


To become a self-employed person you have to:

  • Be a citizenship of an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland or have a
    residence permit which allows you to settle as self-employed.
  • Have your residence in Germany.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a business license (Gewerbeberechtigung) that allows you to develop a
    commercial activity.
  • Have received a “certificate of suspension of deportation”, the so-called
    Duldung, and an express permission to be self-employed by the immigration


In the case of skilled trade activities, the Chamber of Skilled Trades (Handwerkskammer) must examine whether the skilled trade activity to be pursued must be entered on the ‘skilled trades register’ and whether the necessary requirements have been satisfied. The skilled trades register (Handwerksrolle) is a list of all owners of undertakings carrying out skilled trades for which registration is required who carry out their trade on a regular basis. Anyone who wishes to start up a business must register it with the Business Registration Office (Gewerbeamt)
of the municipal or local authority where the business is to have its registered offices. Self-employed persons are exempt. They are not registered with the business registration office but with the Tax Office (Finanzamt). People setting up undertakings in Germany can obtain information and advice from Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Chambers of Skilled Trades, professional associations and financial institutions.

Good to know

As founder, you must visit various authorities, offices, institutions, etc., make registrations and fill out forms. In order to help you make these first steps easier, the official guide of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy gives you orientation aid (in German):


München, Deutschland

Gewerbebehörde (Business Licensing Office)

Ruppertstraße 11

80337 München


If you are self-employed, you must arrange to pay tax on your income yourself.