There are several myths about contracting in Germany. Below we set the record straight:
You need a website to be registered as a Freiberufler in Germany.
No, you don’t. What you need is to register with the tax authorities and with public or private health insurance.
However, to ensure that your status is that of genuinely independent contractor it is helpful to have as many pointers as possible to confirm that status. These can include but are not limited to:
- Seeking other work in which case having a website may be helpful
- Having your appropriate insurance
- Having more than one client at any time
- Employing your own staff
- Nor being under the control of the client but operating with a good degree of independence at your discretion
- Using your own tools
- Being able to substitute yourself
- Having other signs that you are in business on your own account rather than acting very much as if you are an employee of your client
- Opening a German bank account (not mandatory but shows good faith)
- Having a German address (not mandatory but shows good faith)
Myth No 2
Private health insurance taken in another EU country covers you in Germany.
Only BaFin-underwritten insurance companies are acceptable to cover you in Germany. If you wish to use an already purchased policy issued by a foreign insurance company, it has to be compliant with BaFin: https://www.bafin.de/EN/Homepage/homepage_node.html
Health Insurance for self-employed contractors
As a freelancer you have the option to enrol in German private health insurance, state health insurance or to choose a plan from an international health insurance company. But not every international health insurance company fulfils the requirements of German law.
The law states:
Foreign nationals who are not covered by state health insurance must provide evidence of health insurance from a non-state health insurer.
How do you find out if an international health insurance policy is valid in Germany?
You may ask the insurance company which you intend to sign up with for their license number from The Federal Supervisory Authority for Financial Services in Germany.
Ask the health insurance company to verify that the listed legal requirements are fulfilled.
If the international insurance company is not able to provide this confirmation, it is most likely they do not fulfil the German legal requirements.
Travel insurance is NOT valid for working purposes in Germany.
A private health insurance company should cover you for sickness and disability, including chronic illness, maternity and nursing care.
Since 2009, for contractors without approved cover, it is mandatory to contribute to the German national insurance (public option), however, the contributions are calculated in proportion to your gross earnings and for majority of contractors it is a more expensive option.
If you have an A1 from an EU member state then you can be exempted from making these contributions for up to 24 months.
Myth No 3
It is not possible to get a Freiberufler status in Germany or, at least, it is very hard.
On the contrary, EU and non-EU nationals alike can become self-employed in Germany. You only need to follow all the steps correctly or get a specialist to do that, like Access Financial. In order to stay registered as self-employed, you need to either work for less than 24 months with the same-one- client or have multiple clients. If these conditions are not met, the authorities might question your status and ask for additional evidence.
Myth No 4
You can’t get tax relief on a pension in Germany as a Freiberufler.
Pension contributions are not mandatory for self-employed professionals in Germany, however they can help you reduce your taxable income.
Unique amongst international contract management providers, with AF you can take out a Freiberufler pension on which tax relief in Germany may be claimed. This not only makes sensible provision for your eventual retirement but saves you tax.
Access Financial International Germany GmbH, your management company with an office in Germany and German speaking staff, will help you registering and operating seamlessly as a Freiberufler.
Please see the following links for further information:
This is a government site, available in the most common languages spoken in Germany.