Idea in short

  • As a self-employed student, one works on a fee basis, bill for his services provided, attend to the VAT requirements, and submit an income tax return.
  • Self-employment in Germany is tied to residence and there are special legal requirements that you should verify before embarking on this journey.
  • International students may require additional work and / or residence permits and visas to exercise self-employment.

As a self-employed, one works on a fee basis. The student must bill for his services provided and attend to their VAT treatment. He also has to submit an income tax return. There are no employee rights. For this, he can divide his time even more freely and take on the tasks that he enjoys.

There are three different types of self-employment:

  1. You become self-employed in a freelance profession – you are a freelancer.
  2. You start a business or trade – you are a tradesman/woman, or
  3. You start a business in an itinerant trade – you are an itinerant trader.

Note that there are certain differences between these specific trades and conventional trades.

The first step is to find out which of these categories applies to the business that you wish to launch in Germany. And, you need to know whether or not you fulfil the requirements – both regarding qualifications and other specific formalities as a student.

In Germany, people refer to professional, qualification-related and formal requirements; you may also come across the term “requirements of the profession” (Anforderungen an den Berufsstand) in this context. As the conditions and requirements differ for the three types of self-employment, the first task is to find the correct category for your business idea and the necessary visa type, if you are an international student.

Being self-employed in Germany is necessarily tied to residence. Without some sort of residence permit it will be difficult, if not impossible, for an individual, including students, to establish a business in which they are self-employed. It is strongly advised to consult with experts in the field of residence permits and experts schooled in labor, business and tax laws before becoming self-employed in Germany.

Since there are a few more things to consider when working independently, it is best to inform yourself separately.


  • Self-employment in Germany is tied to your residence and is governed by special legal requirements.
  • International students may require additional paperwork before they can be self-employed.
  • Consult with the concerned authorities and clarify the requirements you need to fulfil.