When should I start my freelance business?

Register a freelance activity: offices, authorities, etc.

Helpful for freelancers

Who can register a freelance activity?

Many founders wonder what activities fall into the freelance category and where to register the freelance work. The determination and the demarcation to a normal trade is not always very clear. The tax office is responsible for the recognition of a liberal profession. However, the rule of thumb is:

  • Freelancers carry out scientific, artistic, educational or writing activities that are not subject to the trade regulations.

These include, for example, doctors, lawyers, tax consultants, architects, engineers and interpreters. These classic liberal professions are called catalog professions. In addition, the law also permits other "similar professions" that fit into the field of liberal professions. These are, for example, mountain guides, sculptors, designers, dieticians, conductors, IT consultants, photographers, artists, lecturers, magicians, marketing consultants Musicians, interior designers, actors, writers, dance teachers, business consultants, make-up artists or copywriters.

Register a partner company for freelance work

The special legal form of a partnership exists exclusively for the merger of several freelancers. It can be compared with a general partnership (OHG) and therefore a partnership that does not require start-up capital for its establishment. However, you are liable with your private assets. The legal basis is the law on partner companies (PartGG).

Registering freelance work: important contact points

In order to be able to register a freelance activity, certain offices, authorities and cash registers have to be visited. This is how the classic tradesman has to endure it. However, those who want to register a freelance activity sometimes have different obligations. First of all, freelancers are exempt from registration with the trade office and the commercial register. Founders who register a freelance activity can, however, register voluntarily. But then they are also given certain duties.

Please note: Founders who register a freelance activity can omit the trade office and the commercial register. The further steps to be taken in order to be able to register a freelance activity will now be explained office by office.

Registering a company explained in a playful way

The following infographic explains step by step the order in which you have to go to the relevant authorities as a freelancer. The graphic opens when you click on the image below.

Taxes: register freelance work with the tax office

The journey begins at the tax office. Freelancers must register here no later than four weeks after starting their work in order to request and fill out a questionnaire for tax registration. In this process, the tax office gives the freelancer a tax number. We have the contact details for a tax office near you.

It is also interesting that only traders are obliged to pay trade tax. Thus, those who register a professional activity do not need to pay this tax. The trade tax exemption for freelancers is retained even when a partnership is established. But if freelancers set up a GmbH, the trade tax exemption is lost. Even in the case of mixed-commercial business models, freelancers must submit a trade tax return.

How do you want to do the bookkeeping? You have the choice between software or a tax advisor. We would be happy to recommend the right contact for you.

Outsource accounting now

Chamber of registry for professions subject to compulsory membership

Often there are professional chambers, also called chambers of registry, with which the freelancer must register if he wants to register a freelance activity. Independent professions subject to compulsory membership are:

  • Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists
  • Notaries, lawyers, patent attorneys
  • Tax advisor, auditor
  • Architects, consulting engineers

If a freelancer wants to take advertising measures, he should find out more from his chamber beforehand. Because the chambers responsible only give limited opportunities to advertise. We have compiled the contact details for the chambers of registry.

Pension scheme: Pension insurance for freelancers

For liberal professions that are assigned to a registry chamber, membership in a pension fund of the chamber is mandatory. Membership makes contributions to the pension insurance payable.

In addition to the liberal professions that are subject to compulsory chambers, there are also other liberal professions that have to make compulsory payments to the pension insurance. The reason is that they are considered to be particularly vulnerable. This refers to freelancers such as teachers, midwives, sea pilots or coasters. Of course, all other freelancers can also voluntarily pay into the pension insurance or make private provision for their pension.

Keyword health insurance: If you do not fall into the social insurance scheme for artists, you can choose between statutory and private health insurance. Our tip: compare!

Compare health insurance

Artists' social fund for artists and publicists

Freelancers such as artists and publicists are integrated into the statutory social insurance through the artists' social insurance. Here freelance workers receive their pension, health and long-term care insurance benefits. The artists' social insurance is thus the health insurance of freelancers. This includes:

  • Artists: persons who create, practice or teach music, the performing or the visual arts.
  • Publicist: persons who are active as a writer, journalist or in any other way in journalism.

Half of the contribution is made by the freelancer. The other half is made up of a grant from the federal government and a levy from companies such as publishers, broadcasters and galleries that exploit artistic and journalistic services.

Professional association for liberal professions

Freelancers also have to register with an employers' liability insurance association. The employers' liability insurance associations in Germany are accident insurance carriers for companies and their employees. Your job is to prevent accidents at work, occupational diseases and work-related health hazards. In addition, the trade association supports companies in occupational safety and offers training for the insured. In the event of an accident at work or an occupational disease, she looks after the insured person with various measures. Freelancers must register there within one week of starting their freelance work.

Register employees & company number

The company number has been assigned by the company number service (BMS) since 2008. As soon as a freelancer hires his first employee, he must apply for a company number from the Federal Employment Agency. With a processing time of up to three working days, it makes sense to submit the application before the employee is hired. The number is important both for registering for social security and for the employee's health insurance. The application for a company number must also be made for mini-jobbers and trainees.

Register as a freelance employee

Employees who have been employed must be reported to the respective health insurance companies. These are not only due when a new employee joins the company, but also at other times. More information is always available from the respective health insurance company. The health insurance company always provides up-to-date information sheets for transferring the contributions and the further reporting deadlines.

Insurance for freelancers

We have already referred to the subject of health insurance. But there are many other risks that can be relevant for founders and freelancers. And depending on the specific situation, you should check which risks are covered so that in the event of damage your own existence is not at stake. In the private sector, this certainly includes occupational disability insurance.

In the operational area, liability, legal protection or property insurance must be checked. We explain which insurances make sense for freelancers.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.