How to do business in NRW: Coming to Germany

Visas for Setting up Business

For non-EU nationals a Schengen visa is generally sufficient for most steps which are required to establish a business in Germany (usually called a business visa in this context).

Establishing a Business with the Schengen Visa

A Schengen visa permits a 90-day stay in Germany (per 180-days period starting from the inital date of arrival), during which all of the key business formation steps can be carried out. These include:

  • The conclusion and notarization of the articles of association
  • Application for entry in the commercial register (Handelsregister) through a German notary
  • Trade registration
  • Other preparatory activities during the business establishment phase (such as opening a bank account or the conclusion of rental agreements)
  • Negotiations and the conclusion of contracts with business partners

Citizens of certain countries may stay in Germany for up to 90 days (per 180-days period) without a Schengen visa. Please refer to the following site for more information:

What is needed when applying for a Schengen visa?

Schengen visa applicants (business visa applicants) will usually be asked to present certain documentation such as:

  • a letter of invitation by the German business partner
  • documentation of employment and salary certificate
  • a letter from the applicant’s employer confirming the business purpose of the trip
  • proof of travel health insurance

Where the entrepreneur personally applies for a Schengen visa (or business visa), documents such as a copy of the foreign company's entry in the foreign commercial register, articles of association, and bank statements from the last three months may also be required.

For more information on how to apply for a visa, please refer to:


Other Visa Requirements

In some cases, authorities might require a national visa, namely a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment (Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit), during the last phases of setting up a company. A residence permit for the purpose of self-employment allows individuals to perform all of the steps necessary to establishing a business in Germany as well as running the business on-site.

If the establishment of the company and the stay in Germany exceed 90 days it is also necessary to apply for a residence permit in advance. For more information please also refer to the following site:

Please note: Establishing a business in Germany with a Schengen visa (business visa) is no guarantee for the subsequent issuing of a residence permit. For this reason it is necessary - appropriate to the intended business activities in Germany - to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment or regular employee purposes in advance.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions

NRW.Global Business GmbH
Trade & Investment Agency of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)
Völklinger Str. 4
40219 Düsseldorf