Third country national: Company formation with the EU blue card?


My partner and I are interested in opening a business in Germany. We have been living here for a little over two years under the EU Blue card he was given. Now we were wondering what the possibilities can be or would make sense, so that raised a few questions such as:

  • he is currently employed under EU blue card, would he have to change his visa status to open a company? If yes, what type of companies could he open?
  • my EU card was granted based family reunion status, could I then be the founder of a company? If yes, would I have to change my visa?
  • could we both together then found a company? If yes, are there limitations?
  • the company would be an online tutoring platform, would that have any extra requirements?


Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in setting up a business in Germany.

We will gladly give you more information. provides international professionals with information on working and living in Germany. Detailed information on setting up a business is available on “Make it 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 allowing you to exercise a self-employed activity (selbstständige Tätigkeit). This may be a residence permit according to §21 Immigration Law (AufenthG) or a permanent settlement permit. As a holder of the EU Blue Card the following applies to you:

• The EU Blue Card is tied to specific employment with a particular employer for the first two years of residence. Any highly-qualified employment can be taken up subsequent to this. Self-employment is however not permitted. Source: BAMF

Settlement permit: Anyone holding an EU Blue Card can apply for a settlement permit after just 33 months if they exercised skilled employment during that time. If you have an EU Blue Card and also have sufficient command of the German language, i.e. at least Level B1, this period is reduced to just 21 months. More information you will find on „Make it in Germany“. Holding a settlement permit any kind of employment is permitted.

Different law applies for spouses: As an accompanying family member of a Blue Card Holder you are granted a residence permit entitling you an unrestricted right to take up an employment in Germany, this also includes setting up a business in Germany.
Read more:

To get it right: We recommend you to contact your Foreigner’s authority (Ausländerbehörde) to clarify if your current / or your future residence status will allow you to start a business in Germany.

For first personal advice regarding visa issues or residence permit, you can also contact the hotline “Working and Living in Germany” under the telephone number:
+49 30 1815 – 1111.

In Germany, there are two ways of setting up a business: Either you are self-employed (Gewerbetreibender), or you are a freelancer (Freiberufler). Being self-employed or a freelancer makes a difference with regard to certain formalities and also has an impact in your company’s legal structure. To register as a self-employed entrepreneur, for example, you will need to contact your local trade office (Gewerbeamt). Here you can read more about the two ways of starting your business.

Besides, there are many public information centres which will guide you step by step as you set up your own business. On the Startup Portal, under “advice and information”, you will find the contact data of regional and national information centres for entrepreneurs with migrant background. A general contact list is available on the Startup Portal.

Especially the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK Link @Startup Portal above) and the Chambers of Crafts (HWK @Startup Portal above) support new founders with information, consultancy and a range of seminars on founding your own business.

We hope you find this information useful and wish you all the best for your future plans.

Best regards,
Your Make it in Germany Team

*Please note that “Make it in Germany” does not issue or support any visa application even if you may be qualified for that.

The information presented on Make it in Germany is a general service. Only the German missions and the foreigners’ authorities are responsible for the issuance of visa or residence permits. For further questions, please contact directly the respective authority.

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

April 2021