Germany Digital Nomad Visa: All You Need to Know

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Germany is one of the European countries that has been attracting a lot of digital nomads in recent years. Neighboring with other beautiful Western European countries such as Belgium, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, working in Germany provides access to some of the best European experiences!

As one of the economic superpowers in the EU, Germany is a hotspot for anyone looking for work and entrepreneurial opportunities. Thus, Germany’s Digital Nomad Visa allows travelers and freelancers to explore numerous opportunities for work and life-based interactions.
While living costs will not be comparable with most digital nomad destinations, it is a fair trade for the high living standard the country provides.

Germany is a developed country known for its bureaucracy. Thus, applying for a digital nomad visa for Germany may not be as simple as applying to other destinations like Dubai, Indonesia, and even Georgia. Any loose ends in your application may cost you a couple of weeks of setbacks.

The following will be a complete guide on everything you need to know about the Germany Digital Nomad Visa or, as they call it, the “freelancer (Freiberuflich) permit.”

Visa overview

Although Germany doesn’t have a designated digital nomad visa, it does offer a residence visa program(s) for remote workers and self-employed individuals.

Germany currently has two programs for non-EU citizens seeking to live and work there.

Germany Digital Nomad Visa requirements

Germany has a comprehensive tax law on who qualifies as a freelance worker. The categories for a freelance worker in Germany include:

  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Artist
  • Doctor
  • Educator
  • Engineer
  • Guide
  • Healthcare worker
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Scientist
  • Tax consultant
  • Translator
  • Writer

Other jobs not fitting the above categories will have to apply as a business owner, which is standard as you can register as a one-person business.

Once you identify your job category, it is best to prepare the required documents before applying, as there are a lot of documents that the German government will ask from you. Here are the required documents:

Basic documents

  • Resident permit application (click here)
  • Appointment information: to be given to your interviewer
  • Biometric photographs: regular biometric photos as the one in your passport, can be taken at the German immigration office for $6
  • Passport: should be valid at the time of your application
  • Health insurance: proof of health insurance with international coverage, including Germany
  • Homeownership/lease documents: proof that you have a place to stay during your time in Germany, including the cost of rent and utilities 

Professional documents

  • Resume: past work, experience, and education
  • Cover letter(CV): not necessary but encouraged to boost your chance of getting accepted for the freelance visa
  • Recommendation letter: often asked by interviewers during the interview, it is ideal to have at least two recommendation letters at your disposal
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Work documents

  • Letter of intent: you should have a minimum of 2 letters of intent to show that your work has demand in Germany
  • Contracts: show contracts of the current job you are working on
  • Portfolio: proof for your interviewer to know that you can do your job
  • Permit: you need to show a working permit whenever your work requires one, usually needed for workers in the fields of health and law

Financial documents

  • Financing plan: to give the interviewer an idea about how you will finance your life in Germany
  • Bank statement: necessary to support the figures written in your financing plan
  • Profit and loss statement: including your expected income and expenses for the following year
  • Proof of pension plan: required for people looking for permanent residence regardless of nationality

Business documents (for business owners)

  • Business plan: comprehensive plan on how you want to grow your business in Germany
  • Business concept: explaining the products and services you are planning to provide in Germany
  • Company profile: name, registration, contact information, management details, licenses, assets, and income
  • Capital requirement: including startup cost and working capital required

Cost of applying

Applying for a Germany Digital Nomad Visa will cost you $62-$112. You can pay the fee in debit or cash, depending on the immigration office you are applying to. We suggest bringing at least $140 in cash just to be prepared. 

How to apply for the Germany Digital Nomad Visa (steps)

The required documents above may be daunting, but applying for the German freelance visa is not as complicated. You can follow these steps:

  1. Make visa appointment

    Germany has a long list of visa applicants, it may take up to 2 months to get an appointment. That is why it is best to make your appointment way ahead of time.

  2. Registering your address

    Once you are in Germany, you can register your address at the closest local administration office.

  3. Visa interview

    Remember to bring all your documents for the interview. In Germany, there is no such thing as too many documents! Make sure to make a good impression, it is an interview after all. 

Living and working in Germany

Releasing digital nomad visa programs is usually an effort by the government to attract foreigners to their country. However, the program alone has never been enough to attract foreigners successfully. 

For the program to bear fruits, the country has to have supporting factors that vary from living standards, tourist attractions, cultures, and many more. Sure enough, Germany, the country, has it all!

Germany is one of the developed countries experiencing a declining birth rate, and releasing the freelancer permit is an effort made by the government to tackle the problem. The program proved successful as Germany faced an increasing birth rate for the first time in decades.

How did the program become such a big hit, and why should you consider Germany your next working destination?

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Diversity

Germany has always been open to accepting immigrants and foreigners into the country. Amongst more than 80 million people living in the country, you will experience the rich diversity that people in Germany peacefully share. 

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Culture and people

The culture in Germany deserves its own article. From exploring historical sites and attending Oktoberfest, there are plenty of things that you can experience while living in Germany. Also, the country is home to a diverse population, all extremely welcoming and helpful.

From the sports culture to the beer gardens and delicious food you can find around the country, the list of reasons is pretty much endless. If you decide on Germany as your next destination, be sure you will have the time of your life!

Atmosphere 

With diversity and rich culture comes a great atmosphere. Why? The city architecture in Germany is heavily influenced by their history and culture, which often becomes the main appeal for foreigners visiting the country.

Natural Beauty and location

From the mesmerizing black forest to the different mountainous regions, Germany is blessed with the best natural beauty in Europe!

Not just mountains, you can visit the beautiful beaches located on the Baltic Coast, which presents a unique charm compared to the tropical beaches you may be used to.

Germany has nine neighboring countries across its borders, including France, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria. It is also close to other popular countries, including Italy and Scandinavian countries. 

Germany makes an ideal home base, and you can travel across multiple countries during your stay as a digital nomad.

Transportation

While Germany is known as a country full of car lovers, most people in Germany rely on the excellent public transportation system provided by the German government, and we suggest you do the same. 

For shy of $90 a month, you will have unlimited access to every public transport in the city, including the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Buses, Trams, and even ferries. 

Internet Connection

A reliable internet connection is one thing that is always present in a developed nation like Germany. You can easily connect to a private network provided by cafes, restaurants, and working spaces around the city. You can also purchase unlimited data with a speed of over 60 Mbps for around $40 a month. 

Cost of living in Germany

Regardless of where you are going, it is essential to understand the cost of living in your new place. In this case, the cost of living in Germany, particularly Berlin, is certainly not the cheapest. The costs mentioned below factor in a cheap (lower cap) to a comfortable life (upper cap).

However, affordable living is still possible with proper budget allocations. Germany uses Euro (EUR) as their currency, and the rate at the time of writing this article stands at 1 Eur = $1.03.

Accommodation$750 – $1,750
Food and groceries$300 – $450
Transportation$75 – $100
Utilities (water, electricity, gas, internet)$300 – $350
Coworking space$120 – $320
Health insurance$150 – $375
Miscellaneous expenses$300 – $500
Total average monthly expenses $2,000 – $3,900
Average costs via Numbeo

Apartments are one of the most popular accommodations for digital nomads in Germany. According to reports by cost-of-living aggregator site Numbeo, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Berlin will cost you a little over $1200, while an apartment of the same size would cost you around $900 just outside the city center. 

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An average meal at a regular restaurant can cost you as low as just $13 per meal, quite affordable for a developed country in Europe. You can get a 3-course meal in fancier restaurants for just around $30 per head. 

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Best places and tips

Digital nomad hotspots

  • Kreuzberg: Known for its street art, diversity, and alternative culture, this area in Western Berlin boasts a great digital nomad culture with many coworking spaces, coffee shops, and networking opportunities.
  •  Leipzig: The city of Leipzig is associated with the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach and boasts a rich culture and history centered around music. It is also a relatively affordable city with a great startup scene, an abundance of coworking spaces, and cafes with fast internet access.
  •  Munich: The most famous thing about Munich is Oktoberfest, a world-renowned festival celebrating Bavarian culture with beer, food, and music. Munich is great for digital nomads because it offers a high quality of life, efficient public transportation, a thriving startup scene, and various cultural attractions.
  •  Cologne: Cologne attracts various types of tourists, including cultural, historical, and nightlife tourism. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Kölner Dom cathedral). The city has an excellent transportation system, many coworking spaces, and an above-average internet infrastructure.

Coworking spaces

Germany is home to over 1300 coworking spaces. Three-quarters of them are located in the country’s seven biggest cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Düsseldorf.

There are also many cafes, a thriving meet-up culture, and super-fast internet in every major city in the country.

Some of the most popular coworking spaces include (starting prices for one person):

Wrapping up 

From endless job opportunities and high living standards to some of Europe’s most beautiful natural destinations, Germany has everything that makes it a haven for digital nomads.

The required documents may be daunting, but you don’t need to worry. The application process is simple as long as you have everything prepared beforehand. What are you waiting for? Time to plan for your move to the land of beers and festivals!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most common questions about Germany’s freelance or digital nomad visa.

How long is the visa application process?

Your visa can be processed in just a few working days (some applicants get the visa on the spot, depending on the interview result). The long wait will be when you are scheduling your visa appointment, which can take up to 2 months depending on the number of applicants at the moment

Can I stay in Germany while waiting for my visa approval?

This is a reasonable question, as the waiting time for the visa interview may take a couple of months. However, please do not stay in Germany without a valid visa, as you will get blocked from the visa application.

How long will the interview last?

The interview usually takes only around 10 minutes of your time. The interviews are not necessarily hard. Remember to bring all your documents with you.

What to do if my application is rejected?

Unfortunately, there is always a possibility that your application gets rejected, which is why many applicants consult with an immigration lawyer to accompany them through the whole process. In case of rejection, you can call the “working and living in Germany” hotline for advice. 

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