Overview of a Business Visa for Germany
A German business visa is a short stay Schengen visa, which allows the visa holder to perform certain business related activities in the country for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, such as:
- Attending meetings
- Participating in business negotiations
- Signing contracts
- Inspecting supplier sites
- Conducting training sessions
- Performing internal audits
- Attending conferences or seminars
- Visiting exhibitions or trade fairs etc.
Overall, the German business visa guidelines, policies and procedures are complex in nature, and the requirements may vary depending on your situation, e.g. nationality, employment status (i.e. company employee or self-employed), intended business activities in Germany etc.
Please consider hiring a Germany immigration lawyer with the required knowledge and expertise in the area while planning a business trip to Germany. Dial +44 (0)333 305 9375 today to speak with one of our expert immigration advisers.
- Overview of a Business Visa for Germany
- Do I Need a German Business Visa?
- Required Documents to Apply for a Germany Business Visa
- How to Apply for a Business Visa in Germany
- Germany Business Visa Processing Time
- Germany Business Visa Fees
- How to Renew or Extend a Business Visa in Germany
- Setting up a Business in Germany
- How Total Law Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a German Business Visa?
Whether you require a short stay business visa in Germany depends on your nationality. Citizens from the EEA (EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) countries or Switzerland do not need a visa to travel to Germany for business activities.
If you are a visa-exempt country national for Germany, you will be able to travel to Germany for business purposes without a visa, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. At the border control, however, the German immigration officers may ask you to show certain documents, such as proof of subsistence, medical travel insurance, evidence of your accommodation in Germany etc.
On the other hand, if you are a foreign national from a visa-required country for Germany, you will have to apply for a short stay Schengen visa to travel to the country for taking up any business related activities, for up to 90 days in a six-month period.
For both visa-exempt and visa-required foreign nationals, if they are visiting other EU member States in the Schengen Area during the same trip for business purposes, the whole visit must not exceed the 90-day limit.
Required Documents to Apply for a Germany Business Visa
To successfully obtain a German business visa, you will have to prove a clear connection between the purpose of your trip and your company/business activities. So, you must be able to provide relevant documentary evidence that proves the said connection.
In addition, you will be required to submit certain documents that are required for all types of German visas. We have provided here a list of supporting documents that you may need to submit while applying for a German business visa.
These documents may include:
- Two copies of the short stay visa application form, duly completed and signed
- Visa fee payment receipt
- A declaration certifying the accuracy of the information provided in the application form
- Two recent passport photos as per the German visa photo guidelines
- Valid passport issued no earlier than 10 years and valid for at least three months beyond the date you plan to leave Germany (and the entire Schengen area if applicable), with at least one blank page to affix the German visa sticker
- A copy of the biometrics page of the passport
- Travel health insurance with a minimum cover amount of €30,000
- Round trip reservation or itinerary
- Proof of accommodation in Germany (and in the Schengen zone where applicable), such as a hotel reservation, rental agreement, or an invitation letter from a host with whom you will be staying
- Proof of civil status, e.g. marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate(s) if you have any children, death certificate of a spouse/divorce decree/custody decree (where applicable) etc.
- Proof of subsistence, i.e. evidence showing that you have the financial means to cover your expenses for your entire stay in Germany, such as
- Your bank statements for the last three months
- A sponsorship letter from a company/organisation/individual confirming their full responsibility in financially supporting your business trip along with their bank statements
- Payslips if you are employed in your home country
- Any other proof of income or asset ownership if you are self-employed etc.
- Documents showing the purposes behind your business trip to Germany, such as:
- Invitation letter from your client/business partner/supplier in Germany
- A cover letter from your company
- Entry ticket or invitation letter for attending seminar/conferences or visiting trade exhibitions etc.
- Certificate of incorporation of the company
- For a company/organisation employee, their employment contract, bank statement for the last six months, leave permission and no objection certificate issued by the employer, income tax returns etc.
- For a self-employed individual, a copy of the business licence issued in their home country, company bank statement for the last six months, tax returns etc.
Kindly keep in mind that the above list is not exhaustive in nature. It is advisable to get in touch with your local German embassy or consulate in your country of residence to obtain a complete list of required documents.
How to Apply for a Business Visa in Germany?
The application process for a German business visa is similar to that of other visas for the country. You will start your application process by:
- Deciding whether you need a visa to travel to Germany for business purposes for up to 90 days (i.e. check whether you are eligible to German visa waiver programme depending on your nationality)
- Collecting the required supporting documents (even if you do not need a visa to travel to Germany, you may have to show such documentary evidence to German immigration officers at your port of entry)
Please fill in the relevant visa application form online completely and correctly. Once complete, please print two copies and sign them. Please note that handwritten forms will not be accepted.
After this, please contact your local German embassy or consulate to book an appointment. In some countries, this part of the process is outsourced to a third-party service provider. You can check your local German embassy/consulate site for this information.
On the date of your appointment please visit the embassy/consulate/visa application centre, carrying your application form as well as the supporting documents. Please ensure that you have arranged all your supporting documents in the same order as mentioned on the visa checklist, and are also carrying the required photocopies.
The embassy, consulate or visa application centre staff will review your documents and application form as well as ask you a few questions about your personal details, the reasons for your trip to Germany etc., and collect your visa fees. Please keep the fee receipt with you since you will need it to collect your passport after your visa processing is complete.
Next, your details and information provided on the visa application form will be entered into the online system of your local German embassy or consulate, and you will be given a printout of your application. You must review this printed copy to verify its correctness and then sign the same.
Finally, you will have to provide your biometric information, i.e. your facial image and a 10-digit fingerprint scan.
Germany Business Visa Processing Time
Typically, it takes 10-15 days to process a German business visa application. However, if your local German embassy or consulate needs to run further verification depending on your circumstances, the waiting time may go up to 30 days.
Keeping any possible delay in mind, it is recommendable to submit your business visa application at least a month before your planned travel date to Germany. The earliest you can apply for a German business visa is six months before your date of journey.
Germany Business Visa Fees
You will have to pay a fee of €80 for the processing of your business visa application. Depending on your nationality, you may also be eligible to pay half that amount i.e. €40. This is a non-refundable fee, meaning you will not get your money back even if your visa application is not successful.
You will be able to pay this fee in your local currency, at an exchange rate approved by your local German embassy or consulate on the date of your visa interview.
How to Renew or Extend a Business Visa in Germany?
A business visa in Germany is valid for a maximum of 90 days. The actual days allowed on the German visa sticker on your passport may be less than that, depending on the length of your planned business activities in the country.
However, you will not be able to extend or renew this validity. If you need to visit Germany again for business purposes, you will have to make a new visa application, taking into account the 90-day limit in a 180-day period.
Depending on your planned activities, you may be issued with a single-entry or a multi-entry business visa. In either of these scenarios, your stay in Germany cannot exceed the total number of days mentioned in your visa.
If you are seeking to engage in long-term business activities in Germany, like setting up a new business or work as a freelancer, you will have to apply for a long stay national visa for the purpose of self-employment, and then a residence permit in the country.
Although a long stay self-employment visa is not a German business visa per se, we have provided a brief outline of the same here. There are two pathways through which you can set up your own business in Germany:
- Establish a new business as a self-employed entrepreneur (Gewerbe)
- Work as a freelance professional (Freiberufler)
Visa for Self-Employed Business
Foreign entrepreneurs seeking to set up a business in Germany will need to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment. If you are a visa-required country national for Germany, you must first apply for a long stay visa for self-employment purposes to travel to the country.
Apart from fulfilling the general eligibility criteria for a temporary residence permit in Germany, you must be able to meet the following specific requirements:
- There is an existing demand for your products or services in Germany
- Your business activities will have a positive impact on the German economy
- You have already secured financing for your business in Germany, either by injecting capital or through a bank loan
If you have graduated from a German university or hold a residence permit in the country for the purpose of research, you can set up a business in Germany related to your academic degree or research activities without fulfilling the above requirements.
A temporary residence permit for self-employment purposes is usually valid for three years and is renewable as long as you continue meeting the original terms and conditions.
You will also be eligible to apply for a settlement permit (i.e. a permanent residence permit in Germany) after three years.
Visa for Freelance Business
Foreign national freelancers will need to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of freelance employment in Germany. You may also need to apply for a self-employment visa to enter Germany depending on your nationality.
To obtain a temporary residence permit, you must be able to prove that:
- You can finance your undertaking
- You can make a living for yourself and your accompanying family members (if any)
- You have the licence to practise your profession from the competent German authorities, where applicable
- You have adequate pension provisions if you are over 45
Temporary resident permits for freelancers are valid initially for three years, and renewable thereafter if you continue meeting the original conditions. You can apply for a settlement permit after five years, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.
How Total Law Can Help?
German visa rules are complex in nature, and a German business visa is no exception. Depending on your nationality, the visa policies and required documentation will vary. Moreover, if you are thinking of doing business in Germany on a long term basis, you will have to apply for a self-employment visa/resident permit instead.
Speak to Total Law.
If you are seeking expert advice and/or legal help regarding how to arrange for a German business visa for yourself or your employees, our team of immigration advisers can guide you throughout the process.
Moreover, our document and application checking service package offers a thorough assessment to confirm that your documents and application are in line with the guidelines set by German immigration authorities.
Call us today on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to speak with one of our legal team members.
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A business visa holder in Germany will not be allowed to engage in any paid work or enroll into a course offered by a German university or educational institution.
If they wish to work in Germany, they will have to apply for a suitable long stay work visa, and then a residence permit for work purposes.
Your local German embassy/consulate will inform you in writing of a visa refusal decision and the reason(s) behind such refusal. If the refusal was due to a mistake on your part, e.g. you failed to submit the required supporting documents, you can make a new visa application after rectifying such errors.
However, if you have reasons to believe that German immigration authorities have made a mistake instead, you may try to appeal the decision by writing a letter of appeal for visa rejection to the German embassy/consulate.