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I'm from Croatia and have been studying Computer Science for the past 5 years in Germany so now that I'm finished I'd like to stay a bit longer and make my living freelancing legally (open a small company - like GBR).

So what exactly do I need to do and where do I need to register to make this happen? Is opening a GBR enough to entitle me to do this?

Of course this is probably made a bit easier since in the mean time Croatia entered EU - however I'm unsure if some restrictions are in place for "new" EU countries (even though that qualified IT engineers are usually in demand).

On a side note - I'm also trying to estimate my monthly expenses related to this (not living expenses) - any tips there would also be much appreciated. I'll have to take care of my own insurance obviously (lets say 200 Euros monthly), etc.

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I think you probably want a GmbH, not a GBR. Or are you planning a business partnership with someone? –  Tim Seguine Mar 19 at 11:48
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GmbH adds a lot of overhead and cost quite an amount of money. GbR needs two persons. The easiest thing for starter would be to just get a "Gewerbeschein". (License for making business) –  TheHippo Mar 19 at 19:24
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GmbH required 25,000€ capital when I last looked. GbR is free apart from registration fee, but be aware that you may get mail from the tax office asking for pre-payment even before you made your first euro (happened to me, I figuratively had barely returned home when I got a letter that basically stated "We estimate that you will make at least around 5,000 per month, so here is your order for the quarterly advance payment"). You can file protest against that, but be sure to do it properly. "Gewerbeschein" does not let you choose a name (company name must be your last name). –  Damon Mar 19 at 19:52
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As frelancer, you need not have an insurance, but it is highly advisable. Depending on your entry age, you will pay anywhere from 150 to 300 per month, but be aware that it gets considerably more expensive (despite promises by the insurance company that this won't happen). I currently pay 450, and my wife is just over 500, and I'm told by other people that I'm lucky for having it so cheap. It's also possible to get into the public insurance, that'll be 15.5% of your gross income capped at 4050€ per month (bad treatment included). On top of that, another 10 or so percent for other stuff. –  Damon Mar 19 at 20:05

3 Answers 3

From ihk24.de

Staatsbürger aus allen EU-Mitgliedstaaten sowie aus Island, Norwegen und Liechtenstein genießen volle Niederlassungsfreiheit in Deutschland ohne Einschränkungen. Dies gilt im Unterschied zur Dienstleistungsfreiheit und zur Arbeitnehmerfreizügigkeit auch für das neue EU-Mitglied Kroatien

Free translation: In contrast to the freedom of movement for workers (Arbeitnehmerfreizügigkeit) and the freedeom of movement for services (Dienstleistungsfreiheit) there are no restrictions to the freedom of establishment (Niederlassungsfreiheit) for citizens of the new EU country Croatia. So there is no problem to register your own company in Germany and stay here.

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The page you linked seems to have very complete information. I think probably the only issue the OP might have is filing the proper tax forms. –  Tim Seguine Mar 19 at 12:13

Yes, as a permanent resident you should be able to register your own company. There are various legal forms, and sometimes it's not clear what is the best choice for conducting a business.

You should better consult with tax consultant what is the best option for your case.

Also check the following site, which describes various things concerning freelancers and differences between different options in a plain, although German, language.

EDIT: As noted in comments, doing business in Germany is not trivial. The tax law and company law is very complicated, and the risk of doing it all of yourself is quite high if you don't have experience. I wish Germany had an equivalent of US LLC or British Ltd. No GmbH or UG doesn't count, since the overhead of running them in terms of regulations and costs is quite high.

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(+1 for tax consultant). Using tax consultant service is absolutely essential, when doing business in Germany. Costs of it are realy worth the spared risk you would take doing it by yourself. At least when you are no tax expert yourself. –  Smiling_Man Mar 19 at 12:29

Best talk to an tax expert, as Informatiker you could meet the criteria for becoming a "Freiberufler". This has several legal and tax benefits, but requires fulfillment of very strict conditions. If you explain more what you plan to do as your business model maybe we can give more input.

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