Freelancing vs Economically Inactive in Germany as an EU Citizen

My wife (US citizen) and I (EU citizen) are moving to Berlin, Germany later this year. I am also changing careers, leaving behind software engineering and entering an arts field, writing and filmmaking in particular. It seems that working in the arts would put me in the Freiberufler category of freelancers, and from what I understand, I can offer proof of freelancing income as supporting evidence for a German residence certificate application. However, I cannot find any indication online of what amount of freelance income would qualify as sufficient.

The other option I see is to apply for a German residence certificate as an economically inactive person, since I have enough savings to last us a pretty long time (about $60,000), but it's hard to get detailed numbers on what is required here. In addition, I'd like to know if I am allowed to work (perhaps part-time, or as a freelancer) while under this status, and if I would be able to change my residence certificate status at a later time.

  • 2
    See expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/24012/…. I don't mark this question as duplicate since German authorities may have a specific recommended figure somewhere. But as long as you do not rely on social assistance primarily and can pay for the health insurance (on the same basis as nationals of that country), an EU state must allow you to live there, unless you post an acceptable risk to the society (public security or otherwise). Absent such risk, your right to become a worker at any time is absolute as an EU citizen in EU.
    – xngtng
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


As an EU citizen in Germany, you do not require a residence certificate nor any document other than your EU passport or national identity card:

Keine Erlaubnis und keine deutschen Dokumente zum Nachweis erforderlich

Unionsbürger und EWR-Bürger brauchen bei einem Umzug nach Deutschland keine besonderen Formalitäten zu erfüllen. Sie melden sich, wie auch alle Deutschen, beim Bezug einer neuen Wohnung bei der Meldebehörde am Wohnort an. Sie erhalten keine Aufenthaltserlaubnisse oder besonderen Ausweise. Arbeitgeber müssen sich keine Arbeitserlaubnis vorzeigen lassen. Der Personalausweis oder Pass genügt, um nachzuweisen, dass man auch in Deutschland tätig werden darf. Arbeitgeber müssen diese Dokumente, anders als bei der Einstellung von Drittstaatsangehörigen, auch nicht als Nachweis kopieren oder einscannen.

Deutschland stellt Unionsbürgern und EWR-Bürgern keine Personalausweise aus. Freiwillig können Unionsbürger und EWR-Bürger eine deutsche eID-Karte beantragen, mit der sie die elektronischen Funktionen, die auch der deutsche Personalausweis erfüllt, ebenfalls nutzen können.

No permit and no German documents required as proof

Union citizens and EEA citizens do not need to complete any special formalities when moving to Germany. Like all Germans, they register with the registration office at their place of residence when they move into a new apartment. They will not receive any residence permits or special ID cards. Employers do not need to show a work permit. The identity card or passport is sufficient to prove that you can also work in Germany. Unlike when hiring third-country nationals, employers do not have to copy or scan these documents as proof.

Germany does not issue identity cards to EU citizens and EEA citizens. Union citizens and EEA citizens can voluntarily apply for a German eID card, with which they can also use the electronic functions that the German ID card also has.

Your wife, however, will need a residence card. To get that, she will need to show (among other things) that you enjoy a right of free movement as a self-employed person. You do not need to demonstrate any particular amount of income, as you can see for example on the relevant page of the Berlin Service Portal.

In addition, I'd like to know if I am allowed to work (perhaps part-time, or as a freelancer) while under this status, and if I would be able to change my residence certificate status at a later time.

All EU citizens are authorized to work in Germany. There is no "residence certificate status" that needs changing.


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