I'm a non-EU citizen and a permanent resident in Finland. Recently I started to get requests about different contract opportunities in Europe (mostly, UK and Germany), some of them are actually quite tempting, both professionally and financially. Any negotiations are however so far stopped at the fact that as being a not EU-citizen I have to have a work permit for any EU-country (except Finland) and a company wishing to hire me needs to apply for a work permit for me.

The question is as follows. If I set myself as a private entrepreneur in Finland (which is really easy to do), will it help me to overcome the necessity in a work permit for a specific EU country and to work for some client, say, in Germany? Most of the contract roles assume to be on-client premises so the assumption is that actually I have to be physically in the client's country for around 4-8 months. The latter is among the things that confuses me - assuming that I don't need a work permit still it looks like I have to apply for a residence right in a EU country for the period of contract (because my Finnish residence permit allows me to be in another EU-country for not more than 3 months).


1 Answer 1


Long term residents (with the most important condition being that you lived more than five years in a EU member state) are granted special rights to work in other member states by Council Directive 2003/109/EC. If not already done you should apply for this status in Finland first.

In Finnish this is called pitkään oleskelleen kolmannen maan kansalaisen EY-oleskelulupa or P-EY 2003/109-EY.

If you have the status you are allowed to work in any EU member state (except the UK, Ireland, and Denmark) for more than three months – if you don't perform "cross-border services". You still need to apply for residence and work permits in the countries you want to work in though it can't be denied in most cases. However, the individual countries are allowed to put in some restrictions.

In Germany you always apply at the aliens department. If you want to work as a dependent employee, in most cases the ZAV first checks whether no EU citizen can be found to perform the same work (Vorrangprüfung) and the work conditions are customary (Beschäftigungsbedingungsprüfung). This process lasts up to 14 days plus processing time in the aliens department. If you have a recognized degree this process usually is no problem.

If you want to work as a self-employed the aliens department instead checks that

  1. an economic interest or a regional need applies,
  2. the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and
  3. personal capital on the part of the foreigner or a loan undertaking is available to realise the business idea.

If your work can be classified as freelancer under German law the check is much easier to get through.

As already written above, the UK does not grant those rights to third-country citizens.

  • So, what is the answer?
    – Denis
    Aug 12, 2015 at 18:56
  • BTW, in this sentence "If you have the status you are allowed to work in any EU member state (except the UK, Ireland, and Denmark) for more than three months – if you don't perform "cross-border services"." - did you mean live, instead of 'work'? If it is 'work' than it might be considered as an incorrect statement. A Finnish long-term resident permit doesn't automatically give a person right to work in a EU country other than Finland.
    – Denis
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:06
  • Basically, one still needs to apply for a work permit for another EU country - and according to what I read for several EU countries, the benefits of having long-term residence permit are rather elusive: it is more or less the same procedure as if a person has no permit whatsoever. It[long-term residence permit] is only helpful in the fact that in several countries one can get rid of national work permit requirement a coupe of years earlier.
    – Denis
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:09

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