Do you need a Visa when contracting in Germany?
All persons remaining in Germany for longer than three months must have a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), of which there are now two types. You can apply for one of them at the local Ausländerbehörde.
The rules for what you need to qualify for a residence permit vary from place to place and according to your status. You’ll certainly need a valid passport, proof that you have a place to live and proof that you can support yourself. Other things you may need to include is proof that you have a critical skill, proof that you are married, proof that you have independent means or a pension, and proof of health insurance (see below).
One person can handle the work on a residence permit for an entire family. Once the permit has been approved, an appropriate stamp is placed in the individual’s passport.
If you decide that you are going to stay in Germany you must have a registration certificate (Meldeschein). You get it at the Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) that is responsible for your community or your city neighbourhood. It’s often located at a precinct police station. Registering is a simple matter of going there and filling out a form. They may want to see your passport and lease, so have them with you. There is no charge for this registration.
Every time you change your residence within Germany, whether you move next door or across the country, you must report this to the registry offices at both the old and new place of residence. This isn’t an action directed at foreigners. Germans must keep the police posted when they move, too.
The two types of residence permits are limited and unlimited. Persons with limited permits must leave the country after a certain period, though they can apply for an extension. With unlimited residence permits there is no such restriction.
Which of these permits you get, and indeed whether you get a permit at all, depends on the circumstances. Perhaps you come from a member state of the European Union. In this case, your right to reside in Germany is all but unlimited.
With the exception of EU-nationals, citizens of Switzerland and nationals of privileged countries (i.e. USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, South-Korea, Israel and New Zealand), all foreigners require an entry visa for a stay of more than three months, or stays during which they want to take up employment – for which a residence permit allowing them to work is necessary.
Working in Germany
There are 3 main considerations for contracting in Germany:
Contractors in the EU are unlikely to need a visa when working in Germany.
How to get a German Residence Permit
There are a few options:
- Do it your self
- Pay an agency to do it
- Ask your client if they can help you do it, some companies have dedicated departments
Applying for and obtaining a visa does take time, so plan accordingly. Also, note that the type of visa you apply for can affect future residency rights. Thoroughly investigate your options prior to applying.
To locate a German Embassy/Consulate in your country, use the Deutsche Auslandsvertretungen search engine function (in German) on the German Federal Foreign Office website.
More information, application forms, and fees related to Visas and entry into Germany can also be found on the German Federal Foreign Office website.
Contracting Abroad Hub
You might also find our other country guides to working abroad as a contractor useful too: