Registering as a Trader: Applying for a Residence Permit?


I need to register as a trader, because I will be earning an independent income. I see that I will need to register at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry after getting the residence permit as a self-employed Person, but I am having trouble locating what forms I need to provide for my appointment to request the residence permit as a self-employed person. Is there a checklist somewhere?


Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in setting up a business in Germany. Make it in Germany provides international professionals with information on working and living in Germany.

Please consider the following information on residence requirements:
As a third country national, in order to set up your own business you will need a residence permit that allows you to exercise a self-employed activity (“selbständige Tätigkeit”). This may be a residence permit according to

Generally, a residence permit for self-employment in accordance with Section 21 (1) AufenthG (German Residence Act) will be granted, if you meet the following requirements:

  • There needs to be an economic interest in, or a regional demand for your product or service.
  • It is foreseeable that your company will have a positive effect on the economy.
  • You are able to finance the implementation of your business concept with your own capital or through a loan commitment.
  • If you are older than 45 years of age, this visa can only be issued, if you can provide proof of an adequate retirement security.

When you apply for a residence permit for self-employed business, you normally have to bring the following documents with you:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport
  • Business plan
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Researchers and academics: current employment contract
  • Graduates from German universities: copy of your degree certificate
  • People over the age of 45: proof of an adequate retirement security

Furthermore, it may be also necessary to submit documents on the following topics:

  • Your references
  • Your entrepreneurial experience

Please note that this list is not exhaustive or universal, as the documents you require will depend on the circumstances of your individual case. The best approach is to contact your foreigners’ authority (“Ausländerbehörde”) before you apply and ask them for an information leaflet. There, you can also find out about your requirements for proof of health insurance. Your immigration authority will give advice on whether your retirement security is adequate. Learn more here.

For personal advice regarding visa issues, you can also contact the “Hotline Working and Living in Germany” on the following number +49 30 1815 – 1111. The hotline offers personalized advice in German or English.

Furthermore, please check out the following contact points to get individual advice:

More information on setting up a business are also available on “Make it in Germany”.

* Important note:
The information presented here is a general service offering. Only the German missions and the foreigners’ authorities are responsible for the issuance of visa and residence permits. For further questions, please contact directly the respective authority.

Reference: Justina Godesberg
Projekt „Make it in Germany“
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln e.V.
Oktober 2020

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