Beware of Paying Too Much for your Berlin Artists Visa


There are consultants in Berlin charging between 750EU and 900EU to prepare your paperwork and talk you through the process of getting an Artists Visa (Freelance Visa) in Berlin. Red Tape Translation was surprised to discover that some consultants will offer to fill out your paperwork for you, potentially influencing your answers on the application form to ensure that you will be defined as an artist, and issued a work permit on the spot.

While Red Tape Translation can certainly understand the appeal of avoiding bureaucracy, I find the practice concerning for a number of reasons:

  1. It is against the law in Germany to offer legal advice unless you are qualified to do so. The law is called the German Legal Services Act. Read more about that here: If someone is filling out your paperwork for you and influencing your answers to fulfill certain legal requirements, they should be registered and qualified to do so.
  2. Manipulating your answers regarding work activities to make sure you fulfill the requirements to be considered an “artist” could be considered fraudulent.
  3. No-one can guarantee with 100% certainty that your Artists Visa or Freelance Visa will be approved.
  4. There are qualified English speaking immigration lawyers who charge much, much less.

The German Legal Services Act is there for your protection. If you’re given questionable legal advice from someone who is not registered and qualified, and you suffer as a consequence, you might be out of pocket, or you might not get to stay in Germany.

If you want a cost-effective and safe solution to getting your Berlin Artists Visa, or any other type of work permit, here are some much cheaper options:

  • Contact Red Tape Translation or for general advice about freelance work permits, artists visas, or residency permits at a fraction of the cost.
  • If you want case-specific legal advice about your situation, contact an English speaking immigration lawyer. Red Tape Translation has plenty of recommendations. You’ll still be saving a LOT of money, and you’ll have the security of knowing that the person giving you this advice is qualified and registered to do so.

If you do decide to go ahead and pay 750EU or more to work with a consultant who claims they can help you get your Berlin artists visa, first ask them whether they are qualified and registered to complete your paperwork for you and give you the advice they’re offering. 


Getting Married at the Standesamt in Berlin: What to Expect on the Day


Red Tape Translation was thrilled to interpret at a civil wedding ceremony for the very first time today. Getting married in Berlin can be nerve-wracking if one or both partners holds foreign nationality. Couples from all over the world get married at the Standesamt in Berlin, however, if one or both of the partners don’t understand German to a high enough level, you’re required to bring an interpreter with you. If the interpreter isn’t already sworn in at the Standesamt, you’ll need to pay an extra fee. 

Here’s a run down of how a Berlin civil marriage ceremony works:

You’ll have already met with the civil servant to hand in your documents and register your intent to marry. You may have handed in a declaration of name after marriage as well. When you arrive, (15 minutes early of course!), your civil servant will take everyone’s identification (this includes the interpreter) and tell you to wait until the ceremony begins. 

The civil servant will welcome you and hold a brief speech with a few personal words and advice about married life. They will then go over your name declaration with you, if you have submitted one, confirming which name you have chosen for your new family.

Next come the wedding vows, the “I do” or “das Jawort”. Both of you will be asked in turn (the man goes first) whether you choose freely to enter into marriage with the other. Assuming that the answer is in both cases affirmative, the civil servant then confirms that you are legally wed. At this point, if you’ve organized it in advance, you might choose to play music or have a reading.

A transcript will then be read out, which has all the important information such as the wedding date, the personal details of each partner, and the personal details of witnesses or the interpreter. You will all be required to sign the transcript, as well as additional paperwork regarding the name you may have chosen. The civil servant will wish you well, and you’ll have time for a few happy snaps.

That’s it, you’re done! Time for a champagne.

If you’re thinking about tying the knot in Berlin, talk to Red Tape Translation about taking an interpreter with you to your registration appointment and to your civil wedding ceremony.

Not Every Freelancer in Berlin Can Get an Artist’s Visa

Clowns are OK, though.

Clowns are fine, though.

Red Tape Translation has been reading a lot of blog posts lately written by Berlin expats who obtained their freelance artist visas and want to share their knowledge with the world. Most of them are incredibly helpful and well-meaning, but there is one discrepancy which might cause a bit of confusion on the Berlin freelance scene, and we’d like to help clear it up.

The term “freelance” is not quite the same thing in German as it is in English. Do you work for yourself? Make your own hours? Have more than one client and bill them? In Germany, you are self-employed, and you may or may not be further defined as freiberuflich (freelance) as well. Some types of work are considered trades (gewerblich) and require a business registration “Gewerbeanmeldung” and the payment of trade tax (Gewerbesteuer). Others are “freelance” professions, activities or services of a “higher art” that sometimes require a higher level of education.

Within this “freelance” category, there are professions in the industries that you’d typically get an artist’s visa for. An artists visa looks just like the normal self-employment work permit, but certain professions have been pre-approved for fast processing, which makes it easier to get. The most common fields of work that Red Tape Translation sees every day are: artists, musicians, actors, graphic designers, film-makers, and language teachers (particularly English teachers). It seems that in Berlin, applicants working in these fields get to bypass a spot of bureaucracy and, should all your ducks be in a row and they are satisfied with your application, you get your permit on the spot at your first appointment.

However, if you’re a “freelance software developer” or “freelance IT analyst” by your own definition, you probably won’t get your visa on the spot. You could get a work permit for self-employment (call it a freelance work permit if you like), but your application won’t be approved instantly, instead, it will be sent away to the Senatsverwaltung. They’ll check that Germany has an economic interest in your field. They’ll make sure you can support yourself. They’ll see that all your ducks are in a row, that you’ve got the right type of health insurance, a financial plan, some capital, some offers on the table, etc. The whole process can take 6-8 weeks.

One very common question is this: I now have an artist’s visa or freelance work permit, but what kind of work am I actually permitted to do? Can I stretch the boundaries? You’re permitted to do exactly what is listed on your work permit. So if you are a part-time clown, part-time English teacher, and part time app developer, make sure it all gets written on your work permit. Then you can have fun explaining your activities to the Finanzamt.


Red Tape Translation helps English speaking Berlin expats with bureaucracy and communication in German. Most of our work consists of telephone interpreting, certified English to German translations, and on-site interpreting at visa appointments at the Auslaenderbehoerde in Berlin.