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August 19, 2015

Freelancing in Germany

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How to become a freelancer in Germany

Last update: February 2016
This Guide is not for self-employed owning a business, but for freelancers 
with "non-commercial" activities!

Can I be a freelancer in Germany (Freiberufler)?

As per the Income Tax Act (§ 18 I Nr.1 EstG) a freelancer work includes the following activities: Independent scientific, artistic, literary, teaching or educational activities, and the independent professional activities of physicians, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, notaries,...

Here is a non-exhaustive list of freelancing professions: 

Choreographer, designer, photographer, cameraman, artist (visual and performing), musician, director, singer, actor, writer, dancer, copywriter, interpreter, translator, journalist, reporter, photo-journalist, video-journalist, historian, architect, urban planner, interior designer, landscape architect, pilot, biologist, chemist, geographer, computer scientist, engineer, surveyor, restaurateur (with university degree), notary, patent attorney, lawyer, business consultant, economist, tax consultant, tax agent, doctor, psychotherapist, veterinarian, dentist, pharmacist, physiotherapist, masseur, dietitian, teacher, lecturer, educator, kids nanny, programmer (freelance work for another company), customer services agent (freelance work for another company),...

Important: Please be aware that the field of activity is what counts and not the qualification. An architect running a construction firm will normally not be considered as a freelancer. Ultimately, the tax office decides whether the activity is "commercial" or categorized as a "liberal profession". It is often a case by case situation!

Advantages of being a freelancer? 

* No business tax to pay

* No trading tax to pay

* Registering with the Chamber of Commerce (Gewerbeamt - IHK) is usually NOT necessary. However, some freelancers are compulsory members of their local chamber. 
Please check out whether your profession requires a membership or not.