Are you considering working independently in Germany? Or have you just moved to Germany and want to set yourself up as a freelancer? To save you some stress and time, we’ve compiled a guide to make it easier for you to become a freelancer in Germany.
Pre-warning: As anything concerning bureaucracy in Germany, filling out papers will be your best friend for a while! Do not fret – the process doesn’t have to be hard – let’s get started.
Benefits of being a freelancer in Germany
To start on a cheery note, when being a freelancer in Germany, there are benefits after the boring bureaucracy matters are done.
Here are a few:
- You aren’t required to pay trade tax or trade license.
- You are your own boss!
- You can enjoy working at multiple co-working spaces.
Freelance classifications in Germany
First things first, the beauty of freelancing is that there are many professions one can pursue. With that said, there are differences to determine before applying to be a freelancer in Germany.
There are three terms to take into consideration:
1. Freiberufler (freelancer)
You classify as a “freelancer” in Germany if you do not own a physical business and offer services based on your qualifications. Therefore, delivery services do not qualify here. In summary, you provide a service acquired through education such as writing, dancing, coaching, designing. The income tax law defines your profession as a creative or academic service.
2. Gewerbe (trades person)
From “gewerbe” meaning business in German, you are a tradesman. In other words, you sell products, not your services. If you have a website that sells physical products, then this classification would fit you.
3. Kleinunternehmer (small business owner)
You are a small business owner in Germany if you have a revenue lower than €17,500 in the first year. The years after will be less than €50,000. By earning lower than this amount, you will not be required to charge VAT to clients.
With those three definitions done, let’s focus on how to become a freelancer in Germany.
How to become a freelancer in Germany
Before we go further on how to become a freelancer in Germany, you must have:
- Registered at an address, otherwise known as Anmeldung.
- A valid visa (if you’re not an EU resident).
- Researched and registered with a private health insurance.
- A valid phone number – here’s the best mobile providers in Germany!
Now, the nitty gritty:
There is one form you are required to fill out when becoming a freelancer in Germany – the Fragebogen zur Steuerliche Erfassung. In this short questionnaire, you will outline what your plan is as a freelancer to register correctly. If your German is not the best, you can learn a language with us the fastest way with our Lingoda Sprint!
You can fill this form online or hand it in manually to your local Finanzamt (registration office) and wait for your tax number to be delivered by post a few weeks later. After that, you will use this tax number on the invoices you use as a freelancer in Germany.
Here’s some useful vocabulary for you to take into account during the process:
Freiberuflich – Freelancer
Gewerbetreibende – Tradesman
Finanzamt – Registration office
Steuernummer – Tax number
Ausfuellen – to fill out
Anmeldung – register
So, there we have it! Being a freelancer in Germany doesn’t have to take long if you know the steps, and this guide should give you the confidence to start your journey with ease.