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Apply for settlement permit for self-employed

As a holder of a residence permit for the purpose of self-employed (entrepreneurial) activity, you can be granted a settlement permit after only three years if

  • you have successfully realized your business idea and
  • the livelihood of you and your family members is secured.

The circle of family members to be taken into account is defined by the characteristic of family community and the obligation to support.

Other authorities may be involved in assessing whether your entrepreneurial activity has been successfully realized.

The settlement permit represents an independent right of residence, independent of the original purpose of residence. It entitles the holder to pursue gainful employment and is unlimited in time and space.

Process flow

  • The settlement permit must be applied for before the validity of your current residence permit expires.
  • Find out whether your Aliens' Registration Office allows you to apply online or has a special application form.
  • If the application can only be submitted in person, make an appointment at the Aliens' Registration Office. In the case of online application, the Aliens' Registration Office will contact you after receiving your application to schedule an appointment.
  • During the appointment, your identity and documents will be checked (please bring your documents, if possible in original, to the appointment).
  • If your application is granted, your fingerprints will be taken for the production of the settlement permit in the form of the electronic residence permit (eATKarte).
  • The Foreigners' Registration Office will order the production of the eAT card from the Bundesdruckerei. After completion, you will receive information and can pick up the eAT card at the responsible office. The eAT card must always be collected in person.
  • If your application is rejected, you will receive a rejection notice.

Competent authority

The Foreigners' Registration Office responsible for the applicant's place of residence is responsible for processing the application.


  • You have been in possession of a residence permit for entrepreneurial self-employment (not freelance) for three years.
  • Your residence permit was issued in accordance with Section 21 (1) or (2a) of the Residence Act for a self-employed, entrepreneurial activity.
  • You are in a position to secure the livelihood (including health insurance) for yourself (and your family) independently - i.e. without claiming public benefits - with the income from your entrepreneurial activity (income of your family members or profits from capital assets cannot be taken into account).
  • You can prove that you have sufficient retirement provisions.
  • There are no reasons of public security and order against your stay in Germany (you are exempt from punishment).

Which documents are required?

  • Recognized and valid identity document (for example passport or passport substitute)
  • Current biometric photo in passport format (45 x 35 mm)
  • Residence permit according to § 21 paragraph 1 or paragraph 2a Residence Act
  • Proof of successful realization of the original business idea (documents that allow a comprehensible assessment of the business results to date)
  • Proof of livelihood (for example, proof of income, equity capital, blocked account, declaration of commitment, rental agreement)
  • Proof of health insurance coverage (for example, confirmation of health insurance coverage or insurance policy)
  • Proof of old-age provision

The documents and information must generally be submitted in German. In individual cases, the Aliens' Registration Office may require less or further proof.

What are the fees?

Fee: 124,00 EUR
Payment in advance: No
The timing and form of fee collection and payment vary depending on the authority. Lower fees may apply for Turkish nationals.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

Duration (for span): 6 to 8

Remark (for more information on the deadline):

At least six to eight weeks before your visa or current residence permit expires, the application should be received by the Foreigners' Registration Office.

The settlement permit is issued for an unlimited period of time. Only the electronic residence title (eAT card) is issued for a limited period of time and must be renewed at the end of its validity.

Processing duration

Duration (with span): approx. 6 to 8

Note for further information on processing time:

The processing time may vary depending on the workload of the Foreigners' Registration Office.

It takes about 4 weeks to 6 weeks for the Bundesdruckerei to produce the electronic residence permit.

Applications / forms

Forms available: No

Written form required: No

Informal application possible: Yes

Personal appearance required: Yes


  • Appeal against the decision of the Foreigners' Registration Office within one month of notification.
  • Action before the court named in the notice of objection if the objection is not upheld.

What else should I know?

  • If you are working as a freelancer with a residence permit in accordance with Section 21 (5) of the Residence Act, you can only be granted a settlement permit after 5 years. Other requirements then also apply.
  • The procedure is usually conducted in German.
  • A settlement permit can expire if you stay outside Germany for more than six months, if this stay abroad was not previously agreed with the Foreigners Authority.
  • All information provided to the Foreigners' Registration Office should be correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief, so that the request can be processed without major delays.
  • Incorrect or incomplete information can slow down the process and be detrimental to the person concerned. In a serious case, incorrect or incomplete information that is not completed or corrected in time vis-à-vis the Aliens Department may result in the revocation of residence rights already granted, a fine, a prison sentence of up to three years, or expulsion from the Federal territory.
  • Due to the complexity of the right of residence, this description is for information purposes only and is not legally binding.

Technically approved by

Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sports

Professionally released on



The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)