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Getting started in Germany as a freelance
Thread poster: samled
samled
Local time: 12:49
German to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 13, 2004

I'm living in Berlin and want to work as a freelance translator, but I don't know if I can use my Spanish medical insurance (seguridad social pública) and if it's valid here. Does someone know it?
Also I wonder if it is essencial to get a social number from the Finanzamt to start the business. Can someone help me?


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LindaMcM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
Swedish to German
+ ...
German health insurance and tax number Sep 13, 2004

Hello,

as far as I know you need a German health insurance to get the residence permit at all (which you need if you want to start your business in Germany)... That's what I was told.

You have to register your business (e.g. 'Gewerbeamt') and then you get your tax number from 'Finanzamt' (not the social number).

I'm not sure about the details. I would suggest to search the internet and contact a 'Steuerberater'.

Linda


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
German to English
+ ...
Getting started in Germany as a freelance Sep 13, 2004

samled wrote:

but I don't know if I can use my Spanish medical insurance (seguridad social pública) and if it's valid here.


My guess is that it's probably not valid. But someone else may know better.

Also I wonder if it is essencial to get a social number from the Finanzamt to start the business. Can someone help me?


You need a tax number (Steuernummer). Just go down to your local Finanzamt and tell them what you intend to do. (Freiberuflicher Übersetzer.)

HTH,
Marc


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:49
German to English
Insurance and tax in Germany Sep 13, 2004

I'm sure you'll find several similar questions if you check through past forum postings, but here's a brief summary:

1) I doubt whether your Spanish health insurance will cover you here in Germany except as a tourist. As a translator, you're classified as a Freiberufler, so you're not sozialversicherungspflichtig at all (no statutory health, pension, or unemployment insurance contributions). For health insurance, you'll have to shop around for the most cost-effective offering (which is unlikely to be any of the statutory health insurance funds). Translator associations such as the BDÜ and ADÜNord may be able to recommend an insurance broker.

2) What you need from the Finanzamt is an income tax number (and it's worthwhile getting a separate USt-Nr. while you're at it). You can do that even if you've started working; they'll send you a form to fill out.

3) Don't allow yourself to be registered as gewerblich unless your business will be primarily that of an agency.

4) Everything else: check previous forum postings and the websites of the associations (I'd particularly recommend ADÜNord), as well as postings in relevant translator newsgroups such as Partnertrans (PT) in Yahoo Groups.

Robin


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:49
German to English
+ ...
Gewerbeamt - Be careful! Sep 13, 2004

3) Don't allow yourself to be registered as gewerblich unless your business will be primarily that of an agency.

Robin is right. Usually translation is classed as one of the "freie Berufe", a special group of jobs for which you don't have to pay Gewerbesteuer (business tax), although I guess it's probably different for agencies.

As people said, you need to register with the "Finanzamt" (German equivalent of the inland revenue) and get a Steuernummer (tax number). It's also wise to get a separate Ust-Nr (Umsatzsteuer-ID-Nummer) - This has to be quoted on bills to EU companies outside Germany because these companies do not have to pay VAT (although private individuals do). On such bills you also have to quote your BIC and IBAN numbers (which you can get from your bank), so that the company you're billing can transfer the money free-of-charge (by quoting these numbers). You also have to quote the Ust-ID-Nr of the company you're billing. I'd also check out exactly what you need to have on your bill in general (maybe get yourself a tax consultant) because regulations
have recently changed for this.

I also agree that you will probably get a better deal by going for a private health insurance rather than a statutory one, because the statutory health insurance covers a lot less (and since the recent health reforms things have got even worse and people even have to have additional insurance to cover things like dental prostheses).



Hope this helps,

Sarah


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:49
German to English
No Gewerbeamt, no requirement for health insurance Sep 13, 2004

Linda,

Just to make this absolutely clear:

If you're a freelance translator, you do *not* register with the Gewerbeamt because translation is not classed as a Gewerbe (you can voluntarily register as a Gewerbe if you want, but that brings with it a whole host of disadvantages, including liability for Gewerbesteuer if your revenue is over a certain threshold).

Secondly, you don't need any health insurance to get a residence permit. As an EU citizen, all you need is your passport or ID card and confirmation of your registered address (from your local Einwohnermeldeamt or Meldestelle) and they'll issue your residence permit without any questions asked, though they may want to see your tenancy agreement or a certificate from your landlord (depending on the town or city involved).

Robin


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:49
Member (2004)
German to English
Health insurance in Germany Sep 13, 2004

When I arrived in Germany in January I had to register for a residence permit. To get that I had to prove my income - from previous years of accounts - and I had to prove I held health insurance. I presented my BUPA international health insurance which is valid worldwide but they would not accept it (probably because they have never heard of it) so I had to take up German health insurance. My Auslaenderamt is for a small town and I called the Stuttgart one and they said they would accept the BUPA - so I guess it is a question of what they know. I also had to provide the rental contract on the flat.

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LindaMcM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
Swedish to German
+ ...
That's not was I was told... Sep 13, 2004

Robin,

regarding the 'Gewerbeamt' that may be. As I said, I'm not quite sure about these things (that's why I have a 'Steuerberater', I admit).

But what I definitely was told as I came back to Germany was that I have to have a German health insurance to get the residence permit. That caused a lot of trouble and costs but they (at the 'Ausländeramt') said, there is no other way.

Thinking about the time and the money I had to invest I'm starting to get extremly annoyed by reading that that wasn't necessary at all... Please, can anyone provide me with more information? Links, experiences,...

Linda


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:49
German to English
Health insurance - surely not Sep 13, 2004

Gillian,

Methinks you've been screwed around by some particularly ignorant or nasty Beamten.

If you're an EU citizen then there's no way you need to demonstrate any form of health insurance. That's just utter rubbish. Firstly, if you're a Freiberufler(in), it's up to you whether you take out health insurance or not. There's no compulsion whatsoever. Secondly, if you're employed, you can't join one of the statutory schemes until you've actually started work. And even then, you have (I think) one month to notify your employer.

The next thing is this "proof of income" thing. Again, if you're an EU citizen, this is not only completely unnecessary, but actually insulting. The Ausländeramt or whatever has no right to inspect your finances.

Providing a rental contract is quite common, though, although this varies from town to town and Land to Land (I never had to myself).

Robin


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:49
Member (2004)
German to English
Health insurance - for sure Sep 14, 2004

Hi Robin, yes, embarassing it is, but you can't get round it:

http://www.saarbruecken.de/ebene3/content.jsp?kontext=Kontext_144

Germany has never been famous for treating Auslaender kindly but I still think it's outrageous that they insist on a residence permit at all. I told the woman that if she went to Britain she didn't need to register with anyone for anything and she couldn't believe me. I then said it just meant more work for her when she could be dealing with other people and that she couldn't refuse the document, so what is the point? She said she could refuse if I don't have the funds to support myself because then I would apply for social security benefits. I told her that I was not interested in her social security benefits (and thought, for heavens sake I'm sure I earn more than you do!)

I really don't think there's another EU country where EU citizens have to apply for a residence permit (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) - or am I just too used to Britain where EU citizens (except the new countries - I know there are special rules for those) are treated just like nationals? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be??


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Antje Harder  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:49
Swedish to German
+ ...
Residence permit needed in Sweden (and UK) Sep 14, 2004

Hi Gillian,

Gillian Noameshie wrote:

I really don't think there's another EU country where EU citizens have to apply for a residence permit (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) - or am I just too used to Britain where EU citizens (except the new countries - I know there are special rules for those) are treated just like nationals? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be??


Well, as a German moving to Sweden I needed a residence permit (and had to update it after 5 years). As a EU citizen you don't need a work permit, but you have to prove that you can support yourself:

"Sweden is a signatory to the European
Economic Area (EEA) agreement. According to
the agreement, citizens of EU and EEA countries
who are employees, self-employed or able to
support themselves in some other way will
obtain residence permits for up to five years at a
time."
http://www.migrationsverket.se/infomaterial/bob/sokande/eu/eueea_en.pdf

And now I became curious - surely the same rules apply in all EU-countries? I checked English websites and found the following information:

"Residence Permit Procedure
The residence permit is proof of your identity and status. It is a small blue card with your photo, which confirms that you are exercising your European rights of residence in the U.K. EU residence permits are to be issued to EEA nationals who are workers normally in employment, self-employment and business people. The family members will have their passports stamped confirming their connection with the EEA national.

The residence permit is valid for 5 years though it can be granted for less. After 4 years you may apply for settlement.

Applying for a Residence Permit
You will need to complete form EEC1. You will need to send with it 2 passport-sized photos and your passport, which confirms you are an EEA national. You will also need proof of the relationship between you and your family e.g. marriage certificate. Also either one of the following:

If working: a letter from your employer
If studying: a letter from your educational establishment
If self-employed : confirmation of the financial state of your business"
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/welfare/eea.html

So it's obviously the same thing whereever you go within the EU (which it should be).

As soon as you have obtained your residence permit you are entitled to the same rights (welfare etc.) as "nationals".

Regards from Sweden,
Antje


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:49
Member (2004)
German to English
Wow, really?? Sep 14, 2004

Antje,
Now you have really taken me by surprise I have to say! All I can say is - it doesn't happen! I never heard of anyone actually doing it in the UK, and believe me I encountered the situation many times when I was dealing with students coming to the UK to learn English. The non-EU students went through agony with visas etc. etc. but the EU ones never had to register with anyone anywhere. Nobody follows that procedure because nobody knows it exists - not the employment service, social security people, police, immigration service, employers - nobody. My mum works in HR and she certainly does not need to have prove of residence permits for EU employees - I know there are different rules for the 10 new members because she went into huge detail with me - it caused them so much work. But in Britain if you present a passport/ID card from the "old" EU member countries you are treated just like a British national.


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:49
Member (2004)
German to English
and from the horse's mouth: Sep 14, 2004

Do I need to apply for a residence permit or register with the police?

No, if you have a right to live in the United Kingdom, you can stay here for as long as you want without getting a residence permit or registering with the police.

But, if you want, you can apply to us for a residence permit (if you are a national of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia and you are working, you may need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme before you are eligible to apply for a residence permit. Further information is available on the website www.workingintheuk.gov.uk). A residence permit simply confirms that you have a right to live in the United Kingdom under European Community law.

You will need to apply for a residence permit if your family members want to apply for a residence document (see 'Your family's rights').


http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/ind/en/home/applying/general_caseworking/eea_eu_nationals.html


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:49
German to English
Saarbrücker mafia Sep 14, 2004

Gillian,

This is a clear breach of EU freedom of movement rules. Firstly, any EU citizen can move to another EU member state and claim social security if they want. Period. That's what all the fuss was about before the new accession states joined - the hyped-up Angst that the affluent West (to which Germany no longer belongs in any case) would be swamped by hordes of unwashed, impoverished Eastern Europeans claiming social security benefits. As if they had nothing better to do...

Secondly, health insurance is a private matter. The same goes for your earnings and taxes.

This to me looks like the typical situation we see so often here in Germany - Beamten decide to invent new rules that are in material breach of the law and sit back and wait for somebody to challenge them in court.

>Germany has never been famous for treating Auslaender kindly<

Definitely, but remember that we're "Ausländer 1. Klasse". Just think how bad it must be for the non-EU foreigners. Remember, this is a country where racial discrimination still isn't an offence!

"She said she could refuse if I don't have the funds to support myself because then I would apply for social security benefits."

Totally ridiculous, as I said above. You have an inalienable right to settle in another EU country, whether you have money or not. You can only be refused residence if you've been convicted of a serious crime and/or are deemed to be a danger to public safety.

I've been here for 20 years now, and as an employer as well as a translator, I face an increasing amount of "Why do you employ foreigners? You're taking jobs away from Germans" nonsense. And then we get onto the subject of why so many Germans think that they're native speakers of English.... Another story, I think.

Robin


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Anne Gillard-Groddeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
German to English
Residence permit Sep 14, 2004

To all,

Under EC law the residence permit is not the source of the right to reside in another Member State, but confirmation of it ( ECJ ruling: R v. Pieck - case 157/79 - [1980]) The right derives ultimately from the Treaty (ex Article 48)and secondary legislation (e.g. Directive 68/30).

Under the Treaty there must be no discrimination whatsoever on grounds of nationality. The Treaty has direct effect and has precedence over national law.

Anne


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