How to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Germany: The Complete Guide

Germany has become a popular choice for digital nomads in recent years. The German economy is strong, and Berlin is a global hub for business, with a cosmopolitan bustle and a lot of tech startups. But there’s more to Germany than Berlin: it’s a diverse, multicultural country that welcomes foreigners, expats, and remote workers.

As one of the biggest hubs for business and technology in the region, Germany offers freelance visa options for people who want to live and work there. Of course, if you’re a citizen of an EU country, your right to live and work in Germany is automatic. But for non-EU citizens, it’s a bit different. Here’s Remitly’s guide to the digital nomad visa in Germany.

What is a digital nomad visa?

A digital nomad visa is a document that grants you the legal right to live and work remotely outside your home country. It’s a temporary residence permit that spells out specific rights, eligibility requirements, and restrictions for short- or long-term periods working abroad.

Sometimes, a digital nomad visa can also be called a freelance visa or self-employed visa. This type of entry visa is an effective way to attract tourists and boost local economies. It’s also the preferred alternative to tourist visas, which rarely extend the same provisions for digital nomads.

In many European countries like Germany, digital nomad visas give foreigners a legal base to work while traveling within their territories.

Why should you consider Germany’s digital nomad visa?

Germany has become an attractive spot for the digital nomads of the world. According to recent data, there are 13.9 million foreigners living and working in the cosmopolitan nation.

This popularity is because of several unique factors that make Germany ideal for freelancers and self-employed workers:

  • Rich historical and cultural heritage.
  • A vibrant food and entertainment system.
  • High quality of life, with the cost of living among the lowest in Western Europe.
  • More than half the population speaks English as a second language.
  • Fast internet speeds with Wi-fi are widely available.
  • Plenty of coworking spaces.

With these perks, Germany is a great place for your remote work needs.

This explains why their nomad culture is so strong—at the moment, there are almost three million German digital nomads worldwide.

Types of Digital Nomad Visas in Germany

Germany currently does not offer a specific digital nomad visa. Instead, it provides two distinct entry paths for freelancers and self-employed workers and entrepreneurs:

  • the German Freelance Visa (Freiberufler)
  • the German Self-Employment Visa (Selbständiger)

Let’s dive into each visa type:

German Freelance Visa (Freiberufler)

Germany’s Freiberufler Visa is designed for skilled freelancers who work in jobs that could positively impact German culture and economy.

However, this only covers so-called “liberal” professions—Freibe Berufe—as defined by the German Income Tax Act and local tax offices.

Specifically, the German government defines liberal freelance professions as occupations in:

  • Law
  • Healthcare and medical fields
  • Taxation and business consulting
  • Scientific or technical fields
  • Language and teaching services.

Freelancers in Germany don’t have to apply for a trade permit or undergo the business registration process. They should register with the local tax office before beginning any freelance work there.

Some occupations also require membership in professional organizations or accreditation of foreign qualifications, so research those specific requirements.

German Self-Employment Visa (Selbständiger)

The Selbständiger Visa is ideal for self-employed entrepreneurs, founders, sole proprietors, and company managing directors.

If you’re planning to set up a business or scale up your startup, this is the residence permit for you. It allows you to be a businessperson, or Gewerbe, in Germany.

But before pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams with the Selbständiger, there are some requirements to keep in mind.

You’ll need:

  • Proof that your company will have a positive effect on the German economy.
  • Evidence of a clear economic interest or “regional” demand for your service or product.
  • A well-defined business plan, with a step-by-step project outline.
  • Adequate capital to finance the business.
  • Proof of pension for applicants older than 45 years.

Who is the German digital nomad visa for?

The German Freelance Visa and the German Self-Employment Visa came into being with the passing of the Immigration Law (2005). This legislation specifies rules and requirements for non-EU nationals who want to live and work in the country. The law covers:

  • Living and working in Germany on a one-year freelance visa, which you can convert to a freelance residence permit that extends up to three years.
  • Tax rules for all income earned in the country.
  • Working with German and foreign companies and clients.
  • Travel throughout the Schengen area.

Freelance vs self-employed

Germany’s freelance and self-employment visa program has existed for many years now, making it one of the easiest to navigate in the world. As a digital nomad, you can choose between the Freiberufler or Selbständiger visa depending on your own circumstances.

However, they’re not interchangeable, and each comes with its own eligibility requirements in order to qualify, so most people opt for the Freiberufler because:

  • There’s a greater demand for freelancers in Germany.
  • It’s easier to obtain a German Freelance Visa.

Who can apply?

Applying for a digital nomad visa in Germany is straightforward. If you’re still unsure about which entry visa is right for you, explore the Federal Foreign Office’s Visa-Navigator.

To meet the eligibility requirements, ensure you have:

  • A valid passport.
  • A recent biometric passport photo.
  • The completed application form.
  • Proof of at least 12 months of sufficient monthly income.
  • An adequate pension plan if you are over 45.
  • Letters of intent from current or potential clients in Germany.
  • Recommendation letters from past clients.
  • German health insurance, public or private.
  • Proof of residence, like a booking or rental agreement.
  • Bank statements from a recognized bank.
  • A financial plan or profit-and-loss statement for the next three years.
  • A cover letter.

It might also be beneficial to include:

  • Your university degree, diplomas, or certificates.
  • A portfolio of your previous work.

Do I need a visa to enter Germany?

Certain countries are exempt from applying for an entry visa, including EEA/EU member states, the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and South Korea.

If you’re from any of these non-EU nations, you can enter Germany without a visa, but you need a resident’s permit to stay for over 90 days. You can learn more at the German immigration office’s website.

To work straight away, get your digital nomad visa before entering the country.

How to apply for Germany’s digital nomad visa

So you’re eligible to apply, and you’ve made your decision on which type of visa is right for you? We’ll show you how to go about applying and answer some frequently asked questions.

Visa application

Completing your visa application is a simple, four-stage process that involves the following steps:

  1. Schedule an appointment with the relevant representative at your local German embassy or consulate.
  2. Complete and submit your visa application form, and be sure to attach the required documents.
  3. Pay the visa application fee in person or online, depending on the consulate.
  4. Wait for several weeks—up to three months—for your visa to be processed.


What is a digital nomad visa?

An accreditation that permits somebody to work remotely while traveling and living in countries other than their own. All you need is technology and a strong internet connection to stay on top of professional responsibilities and make a living anywhere in the world.

Can I live in Germany as a digital nomad?

Yes. Germany provides two distinct paths for digital nomads to live and work legally within its territory: the German Freelance Visa (Freiberufler) and the German Self-Employment Visa (Selbständiger).

How much is the digital nomad visa for Germany?

The visa application fee is €100, which can be paid either online or offline, depending on the embassy.

Do digital nomads pay taxes in Germany?

Yes. Digital nomads living in Germany for 183 days or more of the year pay taxes under their freelance and self-employed visa regimes. You may be subject to income tax, solidarity surcharge, and perhaps even trade tax, depending on your activities.

Do I need a bank account as a digital nomad in Germany?

You don’t need to open a German bank account for your visa application process. However, a German bank account comes with significant advantages, including transparency and cost savings.

Once you’re in Germany

The German immigration office (known as Ausländerbehörde, Landesamt für Einwanderung, LEA, or Ausländeramt) is the place where people from other countries go to apply for German residence.

In addition to the immigration office, another important place for handling paperwork in Germany is the citizens’ office, known as the Bürgeramt. Here, you take care of various bureaucratic tasks, such as registering your address and more. You’ll find such registration offices in major cities like Berlin and Munich and smaller regional hubs.

Countries with digital nomad visa programs

As of late 2023, 49 regions offer visas for the digital nomad, similar to the German freelance visa described here.

These include Norway, Estonia, Croatia, the Bahamas, Romania, Greece, and many others. Certain countries like France don’t have a digital nomad visa per se, but do offer long-stay visas for self-employed workers.

More digital nomad visa guides

If you’re thinking about somewhere other than Germany, we’ve got you covered. Check out our digital nomad guides for:

And there are more coming!