Student with Tunisian Nationality: Starting a Company in Germany?


I am a student from Tunisia, currently doing my bachelor in Germany. I am also working as a working student (20 h/week). I was thinking of starting my own online business (email marketing/ online shop through shopify), but was wondering how the German law is regarding this. Do I need a special permit? What if the company is registered in another country? What are the legal steps and who should I turn to for more information? The Ausländerbehörde?


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.

Regarding your residential status please consider the following:

Before starting your own business, you should clarify, if your residence status allows you to do so. As a foreign student in Germany, coming from a Non-EU country, you hold a residence permit for the purpose of studying according to § 16 Residence Act. With that permit, you are allowed to work 120 full or 240 half days per year without approval by the competent authority, the Federal Employment Agency. See Make it in Germany. Taking up a self-employed activity while studying in Germany is also possible under the Residence Act (§ 21 (6) Aufenthaltsgesetz). However, self-employed activity needs to be authorized by the foreigners’ authority (“Ausländerbehörde”) separately. The work must not hinder the success of the study. If you want to start a full-time self-employed activity, you will hardly get an approval. (Source: BMI, BAMF, DAADUniversity Bonn)

For further information, please try out the Quick-Check on “Make it in Germany”. For personal advice regarding visa issues, you can also contact the “Hotline Working and Living in Germany” under the telephone number +49 30 1815 – 1111. It is free of charge and the service is provided in German and English.

More on setting up a business in Germany can be found on the website "Make it in Germany".

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 offering. 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.

Reference: Justina Godesberg
Projekt „Make it in Germany“
Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln e.V.
Februar 2021

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