If you want to do business or work in Schleswig-Holstein, you may well need a visa and a residence permit.



The regulations for entering and staying in the Federal Republic of Germany vary according to your country of origin. Generally speaking, there are two categories: citizens from the countries of the EU and EEA, and citizens from other countries. To find out what regulations apply to you, it is advisable to contact the German Embassy in your home country or one of the Schleswig-Holstein Business Centers in good time.


Legal stipulations covering non-nationals

Citizens from EU or EEA countries only require a valid identity card or passport to enter Germany, where they enjoy unrestricted mobility and are treated in the same way as German citizens in many aspects of residence and employment law.


Citizens from non-EU or non-EEA countries need not just a valid passport but also a visa to enter Germany. Only the citizens of a limited number of countries are permitted to stay in Germany for up to three months per half-year without a visa. In such circumstances you can make good use of your time in Germany to pave the way for setting up a business or an investment project, e.g. through conducting negotiations and concluding contracts. The alternative is a so-called business visa which entitles you to enter and leave Germany as many times as required for a total period of 90 days per half-year. With this kind of visa you can naturally engage in a much wider range of activities and make many more contacts.

For further information see the website of the German Foreign Office:


Applying for a visa

If you are a citizen of a non-EU or non-EEA country and planning to stay in Germany for more than three months per half-year or pursue gainful employment, you will normally need a visa. This has to be applied for and granted before you enter Germany. You should apply for a visa at the German Embassy or a German Consulate-General in your home country. A list of these offices, with the respective address, can be obtained from the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).
You should apply for your visa in good time to ensure you have it before commencing gainful employment. The necessary administrative work takes an average of three months and is naturally dependent on all the required documents being submitted on time. It is important tor remember that whereas the German Embassy or Consulate-General in your home country decides on your visa application, all other matters relating to your time in Germany as a non-native, e.g. issuance of a residence permit, will be dealt with by the Aliens’ Office of the local district authority.

Whether and for how long a residence permit is granted depends on any possible legal limitation on the duration of a residence permit. Any extension to a residence permit will depend on fulfilment of the same prerequisites (e.g. a secure means of subsistence) and the circumstances that applied when it was first granted.


Work permits

Every citizen of a non-EU or non-EEA country who wants to work in Germany requires a work permit. However, a distinction is made between self-employment and paid employment (see below). The work permit for an employee should be applied for together with the visa in the employee’s home country.

The only exceptions to the work permit rule are for citizens from EU or EEA member-states and the following “self-employed” persons:

  • Senior executives with general power of attorney or power of representation
  • Managing directors of a corporation (GmbH or AG) or majority partners in a partnership
  • Head of the representative office of a foreign company (providing that person has been granted power of representation or general power of attorney

WTSH will be glad to put you in touch with the necessary public officials.