How to work remotely in Germany with a digital nomad visa
Announced in 2023, Germany is opening a new door to skilled non-EU workers. Discover more here about the upcoming Chancenkarte and the existing freelance and digital nomad visa in Germany.
6 min read
After-work drinks at a traditional beer garden, anyone? If this sounds like your speed, a digital nomad visa for Germany could be your ticket to the remote-work setup of your dreams. Not only is the country home to some of the biggest and busiest business and tech hubs in Europe, but it offers clear paths to freelancers and others looking for a balance of work and wanderlust.
In this guide, we walk through the details of digital nomad visas in Germany, such as the new Chancenkarte visa. Plus, we explore other options that allow entrepreneurs from outside the European Union to live and work (remotely or not) in the country. Let’s dive in!
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Does Germany have a digital nomad visa?
As of 2023, there's no official digital nomad visa in Germany, as such. However, the country does welcome freelancers and entrepreneurs — digital nomads included — through a specific visa for self-employed people. And now, there’s also the recently approved Skilled Immigration Act, the Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz (FEG), which aims to attract skilled workers from outside the EU to Germany. Let’s look at these options more closely.
Germany's new Skilled Immigration Act (FEG)
The FEG aims to simplify the process for skilled professionals from outside the EU to relocate to Germany. This legislation, approved in June 2023, is planned to come into force in three stages in November 2023, March 2024, and June 2024. Beyond updates to the existing EU Blue Card, a new Chancenkarte, or "opportunity card," was announced. This document will allow foreign nationals from non-EU countries to move to Germany and look for employment.
What is Germany's Chancenkarte?
In response to the nation's labor shortages, the German government hopes that the Chancenkarte will attract skilled individuals who don’t yet have a work contract within Germany. Previously, non-EU citizens needed to secure a job offer before relocating to Germany.
There will be specific annual quotas, aligned with industry-specific demands and based on a points system. To be eligible for the Chancenkarte, applicants must meet at least three out of the following four criteria:
- Hold at least a Bachelor's degree or certificate of vocational training
- Have a minimum of three years of professional experience
- Demonstrate proficiency in the German language or provide evidence of a previous stay in Germany
- Be 35 years old or younger
If you're a non-EU citizen and don’t meet those criteria, or you prefer to work for yourself and not for an employer, there are other ways to come to Germany and work — for example, the freelancer visa.
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Can I be a digital nomad in Germany with a freelancer visa?
The short answer is: it depends. Germany does offer a visa for self-employed people, called an Aufenthaltserlaubnis zur selbstständigen oder freiberuflichen Tätigkeiten (“residence permit for self-employment or freelance work”). You can get this permit if your freelance occupation contributes significantly to the German economy — like artists, writers, doctors, engineers, language teachers, interpreters, auditors, and architects. Other requirements include:
- Proof of client interest in your services, including letters of intent from potential clients in Germany
- Proof of financial means of at least €9,000 per year
- Legal place of residence in Germany — this means finding accommodation and registering your address with the Bürgeramt (citizens’ registration office)
- Pension plan, if you’re 45 years old or more — if you’re filing an application for this visa in 2023, you should be on track to have one of the following by the time you’re 67 years old: either a monthly pension of at least €1,432.59 that will be paid out for a minimum of 12 years, or assets totalling at least €206,293.
Working remotely in Germany as an EU citizen
As an EU citizen, you can work remotely from Germany without a specific work permit. The EU's principle of freedom of movement grants you the right to live and work in any EU member state, including Germany. However, if you’re not a freelancer, it's essential to clarify the details of your remote work with your employer and make sure that you’re complying with local regulations, such as health insurance contributions.
By the way: If you spend more than 183 days in Germany during a calendar year, you’re considered a taxable resident and are subject to income tax rates between 14% and 45%.
Digital nomad destinations in Germany
There are plenty of digital nomad-friendly cities in Germany, each with its unique benefits and attractions. Here are some of the best digital nomad destinations in Germany:
Berlin is a hotspot for startups and tech companies, making it an ideal destination for digital nomads in the tech industry. There are lots of coworking spaces and events that foster connections with fellow professionals and entrepreneurs. The city is also rich in history, with a world-renowned art scene and diverse cultural offerings — the perfect environment for creative minds.
The living costs in Berlin, including accommodation and dining, are still very affordable compared to other major European cities.
Munich is known for its strong economy and is home to many multinational corporations, offering opportunities for networking and potential collaborations. The city boasts historic sites and world-class museums, and it’s close to amazing nature areas, making it a great home base for leisure and exploration.
Hamburg is a major business and trade center suitable for digital nomads in lots of different industries. The city's waterfront, canals, and historic architecture make for a unique and picturesque backdrop, too. With its balanced approach to work and leisure, this is an ideal city for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pursuing professional goals.
It may be in the industrial Ruhrgebiet area of Germany, but Cologne's cosmopolitan vibe, events, and festivals make it a whole lot of fun. Plus, its proximity to other major European cities facilitates travel and exploration beyond Germany — the city is only two hours away from Paris.
Leipzig is a small city that’s gaining recognition for its growing creative and cultural scene. It offers a unique environment for digital nomads looking for inspiration and a lower cost of living. Leipzig's history as a hub for artists and musicians continues to influence its modern cultural offerings and alternative atmosphere.
Ultimately, Germany's best digital nomad destination depends on your industry, preferences, and goals. Each city has a distinct blend of professional opportunities, cultural experiences, and quality of life — which is why Germany is such a diverse and appealing choice for remote work and digital nomads alike.
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