Country Information

Germany business visa requirements: Who needs one and how to apply

April 18, 2024

If you’re planning to conduct business in Germany, you may be wondering if you need to apply for a Germany Business visa. Since it’s a short-stay visa, the answer depends on your nationality.

There are 62 countries currently under the visa-waiver program whose residents aren’t required to apply for a Germany Business visa, including those in the Schengen Area, which encompasses the majority of nations in Europe. Some of the other countries covered by the waiver include the United States, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan.

According to Germany’s short-stay entry rules, the residents of those 62 countries are permitted to enter Germany visa-free for a business trip and remain there for a period of 90 days within six months. During this period, visitors can engage in business activities, but are not permitted to work.

If you’re from the European Union or the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Member States (including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland), you can enter and work in Germany freely, provided you meet all of the required eligibility criteria.

Citizens whose home country is not part of the waiver program will be required to obtain a German Business visa in order to enter the country.

Schengen Visa vs. Germany Business Visa: What’s the Difference?

There are slight distinctions between the two types of visas. A Schengen visa is a type of visa that allows individuals to visit countries within the Schengen Area, consisting of 26 nations that have eliminated passport and border control requirements at their shared borders, for up to 90 days for tourism or business reasons.

There are several types of Schengen visas, and which one you need depends on the purpose of the visit. They include:

  • Type A: Airport Transit Visa, required for some nationalities who are transiting through the international zone of Schengen airports
  • Type C: Short-term visa, which allows its holder to stay in the Schengen Area for a certain amount of time depending on the visa validity, but not more than 90 days within a 180-day period
  • Type D: National visa, intended for longer stays, such as study, work, or residency in one of the Schengen countries, which can also grant the holder the ability to travel throughout the Schengen Area under certain conditions

A Germany Business visa is a type of Schengen visa that permits the holder to travel to and remain in Germany for up to 90 days within a span of 180 days. The visa is specifically for engaging in business activities such as attending meetings, conferences, and trade shows, or signing contracts with other companies. It’s designed for individuals who don’t plan on working long-term in Germany.

How to Apply for a Germany Business Visa

To apply for a Germany Business visa, you must provide the following required documents:

  • Short-stay visa application form: Fully completed, truthful, printed in two copies, and signed
  • Declaration of Accuracy of Information form signed and dated
  • Two identical photographs: Must be recent (within three months) and meet the specified standards
  • Valid passport: Not older than 10 years, valid for three months beyond your stay in the Schengen Zone, with at least one blank page
  • Passport’s data page copy: A4 size
  • Travel insurance: Coverage of at least 30,000 Euros for accidents, illnesses, and repatriation, valid across the Schengen area
  • Flight itinerary: Including flights, rail tickets, or other transport plans to reach Germany
  • Proof of accommodation: Hotel booking details or an invitation letter from a host in Germany
  • Proof of civil status: Marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, spouse’s death certificate, if applicable
  • Proof of financial status: Recent pay slips or employment contract if employed; certificate of proprietorship or ownership and company bank statements from the last three months if self-employed; business references
  • Invitation letter: From the German business partner detailing the visit, including dates and a day-to-day schedule for trips over 30 days
  • Company covering letter: Outlining the travel plan, your position, trip duration, purpose, and expense coverage
  • Certificate of Incorporation of your company

Processing time for a Germany Business visa is approximately 10 to 15 days, so applicants should begin the visa application process at least three weeks prior to the departure date of their trip.

Hiring and Conducting Business in Germany

Can I Establish a New Business with a Germany Business Visa?

No, a Germany Business visa doesn’t allow someone to launch a new business in the country. This short-term Schengen visa only allows representatives of businesses that have been up and running in the country for a significant period of time to conduct vital business activities in Germany.

If you wish to hire remote employees in Germany but don’t want to establish a permanent entity, you can seek help from an Employer of Record (EOR). An EOR is able to legally employ workers on another company’s behalf.

If you want to work as a self-employed person in Germany, you must apply for the Visum zur Selbstständigkeit visa, also known as a self-employment visa.

Can You Hire Employees Who Are on a Schengen Visa?

Generally, no. Businesses may not employ people who are already Schengen visa holders and are visiting Germany for short-term tourist purposes or business-related work. In addition, businesses may never employ Schengen visa holders in Germany if the required stay is longer than 90 days. However, companies can legally hire contractors in Germany on a Schengen visa for a term of three months or less.

How to Compliantly Hire in Germany

When hiring employees in Germany, it’s essential for employers to first verify their eligibility, which includes:

  • Legal compliance: German regulations mandate that all individuals employed in the country must possess appropriate authorization to work in the country.
  • Work visa requirements: Non-EU citizens need a work visa to work legally in Germany. Meeting the criteria for a work visa involves securing a job offer from an employer.
  • Recognition of qualifications: In regulated professions, an employee’s foreign credentials must be acknowledged in Germany. This validation ensures that the employee meets the standards required within their field, and is crucial, for obtaining a work visa as a skilled professional.

There are several employment laws employers must adhere to in Germany, including requirements around annual leave, public holidays, sick leave, parental leave, and work-related injury leave, to name a few. Non-compliance can lead to a range of consequences, such as:

  • Legal and financial penalties: Fines and legal actions can be substantial, impacting the financial health of a business.
  • Reputational damage: Failure to comply with regulations can tarnish a company's reputation, affecting customer trust and business partnerships.
  • Operational disruptions: Non-compliance can lead to interruptions in business operations, affecting the company's bottom line.
  • Loss of trust: Employees, customers, and partners may lose trust in a business that fails to comply with local laws, impacting long-term relationships.

One way for businesses to avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance with German employment laws is by partnering with an EOR like Remofirst. We assist companies hire and manage employees in Germany and 180+ other countries without the need to learn the nuances of local employment laws. You identify the remote candidate you want to hire, and we’ll take care of all of the international HR, global payroll, and benefits for your employees.

Want to learn more about how easy it is to hire and manage a global team? Request a demo today to learn how Remofirst can help.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as legal advice.