If a foreign company wants to expand into Germany, it can set up a domestic subsidiary, branch office, permanent business establishment or representative office. A business registration and if necessary, a separate state authorization is required for the subsidiary, branch office and permanent business establishment to commence commercial activities.
If the German branch is to be headed by foreign national’s resident in Germany, a valid passport for the business registration and if necessary, the relevant documents for the business registration is sufficient for EU citizens from all 27 member states. They enjoy freedom of establishment according to the provisions of the free movement of persons (FreizügG/EU) regarding self-employment or equivalent paid employment.
Nationals from non-EU countries (third countries) who wish to travel to Germany to start a business require a special purpose residence permit (AE) which must be applied for the German foreign representation in their home country.
Please note: Foreigners are not permitted to start a self-employed activity without authorization. The provisions of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) must be observed. Nationals from third countries who are already resident in Germany and are in possession of a permanent residence permit, a residence authorization or a settlement permit are however equivalent to German or EU citizens.