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Starting a Business in Germany as A British Citizen After 1 January 2021

For the time being, for British nationals wishing to travel to Germany to set up a new business, no visa or residence permit is needed. This is possible because although the UK has now left the EU, the terms of the transition agreement between the UK and the EU means that British nationals retain the same free movement rights as EU nationals, but only until the end of 2020. From 2021, British nationals who would like to travel to Germany to start a new business will need to follow the process for nationals of ‘third countries’. In this article, we will explain how a British citizen can start a new business in Germany after 1st January 2021.

How can a Entrepreneur Obtain a Residence Permit in Germany?

Citizens of third-countries who wish to set up a new business in Germany are first required to apply for a self-employment visa through their local German consulate. Nationals of some third countries (referred to as ‘privileged countries’), including Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA are permitted to travel to Germany without the need to apply for a visa first. It is not yet clear whether the UK will acquire this status, and for this reason it may be necessary to apply for a visa before travelling to Germany.

Once in Germany, you will be able to apply for a temporary residence permit for the purpose of self-employment. Section 21 of the German Residence Act states, “A foreigner may be granted a temporary residence permit for the purpose of self-employment if:

1. an economic interest or a regional need applies,

2. the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and

3. personal capital on the part of the foreigner or a loan undertaking is available to realise the business idea”.

When applying for a residence permit for self-employment in Germany, you will need to submit a detailed business plan and evidence that these criteria will be met by your idea. Section 21 provides more details on how your application will be assessed, “Assessment of the conditions in sentence 1 focuses in particular on the viability of the business idea on which the application is based, the foreigner’s entrepreneurial experience, the level of capital investment, the effects on the employment and training situation and the contribution to innovation and research. The competent bodies for the planned business location, the competent trade and industry authorities, the representative bodies for public-sector occupational groups and the competent authorities regulating admission to the occupation concerned are to be involved in examining the application”. This confirms that business plans are assessed by industry and occupational bodies with the knowledge and skills to review your application. For this reason, it is vital that you prepare your business plan to the highest possible standard.

How do I Create a Business Plan for a Self-Employment Residence Permit in Germany?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ business plan template to follow, but it is essential that you include all of the information necessary to enable those reviewing your idea to make a complete assessment. If you are unsure of how to proceed, it is advisable to secure the help of an immigration lawyer who can take you through the process and review your plan prior to submission. At every stage, always relate your business plan to the above three criteria, to ensure that they are being answered in full. Your business plan may include (this is a summary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s guidance on business plans):

  • The type of business entity you plan to setup
  • Where you plan to set up your business and why
  • An explanation of your business idea and/or your project
  • An introduction to the founder(s)
  • A description of your product or service
  • A description of your target customers
  • A description of your competitors
  • The suppliers you want to use
  • Your HR planning
  • The price/s you will charge for your product or service
  • The distribution partners will you use
  • Your marketing plan
  • The risks and opportunities of your project
  • Your equity requirement and how you can cover this equity requirement

You will also need to provide a detailed financial plan; to do this, you may need to:

  • Calculate how much start capital you will need - Work out how much capital you need to establish the company and for the early start-up phase
  • Make a list of all short-term and long-term cost items
  • Calculate your projected earnings
  • Identify all possible sources of finance

What are the Business Legal Entity Types in Germany?

One of the key questions you will need to consider before setting up a business in Germany is the type of business entity you will use. In terms of setting up a limited company, there are four main types:

Limited Liability Company (GmbH) – a GmbH requires a minimum of one partner and a minimum share capital of EUR 25,000.

Limited Liability Entrepreneurial Company ("Mini GmbH") - a Mini GmbH also only requires one partner but has a lower minimum share value of EUR 1.00. There are also fewer formalities when setting up this type of company.

Stock Corporation (AG) - AG’s require only one partner, and a minimum share capital of EUR 50,000.

Partnership Limited by Share (KGaA) – a KGaA requires at least 2 partners and a minimum share capital of EUR 50,000.

Final Words

If you are serious about setting up a business in Germany as a British national, it may be highly advantageous to do this now before the end of 2021. If this is not viable, you will still have a route to achieving your goal, but the process will be more complex and time-consuming when the UK becomes a third-country. We wish you the best of luck with your new business venture in Germany in 2021.

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ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
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University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

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Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

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