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Guide to temporary entry into Germany under CETA

This guide is for a Canadian business person temporarily travelling to Germany to do business. It provides general information about temporary entry and stay requirements for business people under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and under German law. This guide aims to facilitate the entry of Canadian business people into Germany for the purposes of exploring, entering and expanding operations in the German market. You will find relevant links and summaries of main steps for work permit and visa applications, including costs and lengths, for the categories of business people covered in CETA.

Related link

Text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – Chapter 10: Temporary entry and stay of natural persons for business purposes

CETA entered into force provisionally in 2017, which means that Germany is bound by the Temporary Entry Chapter. However, there are still significant differences between CETA requirements and the national German laws regulating temporary entry. As such, some of the paths for entry identified in this guide do not fully overlap with the categories of business people covered in CETA.  

For any questions regarding Germany’s temporary entry commitments under CETA, please contact: enquiry-demande.TE@international.gc.ca

Before you travel:

This guide is for information only. It is not the official text of the CETA or German law. Always verify information using the text of the Agreement and official government sources of the country you wish to do business in. You may also seek advice from licensed or authorised individuals like an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant.

Familiarize yourself with Germany’s guidelines on Covid-19 border closures and exceptions before your business travel.

Know what Canada’s travel restrictions and testing and quarantine requirements are when you return home from a business trip. 

There are 6 types of business people covered under CETA:

  1. short-term business visitors
  2. business visitors for investment purposes
  3. investors
  4. contractual service suppliers
  5. independent professionals
  6. intra-corporate transferees

Short-term business visitor

Do I qualify as a short-term business visitor under CETA?

Under CETA, a short-term business visitor is a Canadian traveling to Germany for one of the following activities:  

The detailed list of activities can be found under Annex 10-D of CETA.

A short-term business visitor cannot:

Under CETA a Canadian short-term business visitor can stay in Germany for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Do I need a work permit or a visa?

Under CETA, an eligible short-term business visitor does not need a work permit, but may need a visa.

Under German law, Canadian short-term business visitors do not need a Schengen C visa to enter Germany. You are entitled to stay within any country of the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Canadian companies can also send non-Canadian nationals locally hired in Canada for short-term business travel in Germany. In this case, a Schengen C visa may be required, if they are not nationals of a visa exempt country. You must file your application for Schengen C visas must be filed with the relevant German Consulate/Embassy. The processing time is approximately 2 weeks.

Related links

Schengen area
Schengen calculator
Schengen C visa exempt countries

Under German law, Canadian short-term business visitors do not need a work permit if their business falls under one of these activities, and provided that their main residence is not in Germany.

For entry for any 90 days in a 180-day period:

For entry up to 90 days within a 365-day period:

For entry up to 90 days within a 365-day period, with approval from the Federal Employment Agency:

Business visitor for investment purposes

Please note: The business visitors for investment purposes category is covered under CETA, but does exist under German law. A Canadian business visitor for investment purposes may qualify under the short-term business visitor category  under German law. To explore all other paths for entry into Germany, please consult Germany’s official visa portal.

Do I qualify as a business visitor for investment purposes under CETA?

Under CETA, a Canadian business visitor for investment purposes is a Canadian manager or specialist responsible for setting up an enterprise in Germany.

A Canadian business visitor for investment purposes cannot:

Under CETA, Canadian business visitors for investment purposes can stay in Germany for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

Do I need a work permit or visa?

This category does not exist under German law. There are no specific work permit or visa options for a Canadian business visitor for investment purposes. A Canadian business visitor for investment purposes may qualify under the short-term business visitor category  under German law.

Investor

Please note: although investors is covered in CETA, this category does not yet exist under German law.

Do I qualify as an investor under CETA?

Under CETA, an investor is a Canadian supervisor or executive, responsible for establishing, developing, or operating an investment that they or their employing enterprise have committed, or are in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital to.

Under CETA, Canadian investors can stay in Germany for up to 1 year, with possible extensions at the discretion of Germany’s officials.

Do I need a work permit or a visa?

This category does not exist under German law. There are no specific work permit or visa options for a Canadian investor. However, a Canadian investor may qualify for a visa for self-employment to start a business.

What are the eligibility requirements for a visa for self-employment to start a business?

Under German law, in order to qualify for a visa for self-employment to start a business, you must meet the following requirements:   

Assessment of these conditions will focus on:

The visa for self-employment is valid up to 3 years initially. If your business idea is successful and you are able to cover the costs of living for both yourself and your family, the visa can be extended.

How do I apply for a visa for self-employment to start a business?

Step 1:  Prepare a visa application form (PDF), including all necessary documents indicated (passport, business plan, proof of financial means)

Book your appointment at the appropriate German embassy in Canada.

Step 2: Bring your application and all supporting documents to apply at the German embassy.

Step 3: If visa application is successful, upon arrival in Germany, apply for a residence permit for self-employment.

Make an appointment with the local town hall or immigration office in Germany and prepare the required documents. You must apply for a residence permit before the expiry date listed on the entry visa.

How much will it cost?

The cost of the visa application is 75 EUR. There will also be a 10 to 15 EUR fee for town hall registration and 100 EUR application for final work and residence permit.

How long will it take?

The processing time ranges from a few days to several weeks.

For more information about the application process and eligibility conditions, refer to Visa for self-employment.

Contractual services supplier

Do I qualify as a contractual service supplier under CETA?

Under CETA, a contractual services supplier is a Canadian service supplier employed by an enterprise in Canada with a contract to provide a service to a consumer in Germany in an eligible service sector. A list of eligible services sectors under CETA is found under CETA Annex 10-E, number 9.

A Canadian contractual service supplier must also:

A Canadian contractual service supplier cannot get paid for their services during their stay in Germany other than what is paid to them by their Canadian employers.

The Canadian enterprise that employs a Canadian contractual service supplier cannot have any establishment in Germany.

Fulfillment of the contract must require the temporary presence of the Canadian contractual service supplier in Germany.

Under CETA, a Canadian contractual services supplier can stay in Germany for up to 12 months in any 24-month period, or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less. Extensions are possible at the discretion of Germany’s officials.

Do I need a work permit or a visa?

Under German law, a Canadian contractual services supplier should apply for a CETA CSS Permit.

Am I eligible for a CETA CSS Permit?

In order to get a CETA CSS Permit, you must fulfil basic requirements that apply to all sectors, apart from general eligibility criteria.

How do I apply for a CETA CSS Permit?

Step 1:  Apply for a German National Visa.

Visa application form (PDF)

Book your appointment at the appropriate German embassy in Canada.

Step 2: Bring your application and all supporting documents to apply at the German embassy.

Step 2: Get approval from the Federal Employment Agency.

You can also obtain approval from the Federal Employment Agency before applying for a visa to avoid longer processing times.

Step 3: If your visa application is successful, upon arrival in Germany, register at the local town hall. There you will collect your passport sticker and residence permit

How much will it cost?

The cost of the visa application is 75 EUR. There will also be a 10 to 15 EUR fee for town hall registration and 100 EUR application for final work and residence permit.

How long will it take?

The processing time ranges from a few days to several weeks.

Independent professional

Please note: the independent professionals category is covered in CETA but does not exist under German law. However, you may qualify for a visa for self-employment as a freelancer.

Do I qualify as an independent professional under CETA?

Under CETA, an independent professional is a self-employed Canadian service supplier with a contract to supply a service to a consumer in Germany in an eligible sector. A list of eligible services sectors under CETA is found under CETA Annex 10-E, number 9.

A Canadian independent professional must also have:

Other requirements:

Under CETA, a Canadian independent professional can stay in Germany for a total period of up to 12 months in a 24-month period, or for the duration of the contract, whichever is less. Extensions are possible at the discretion of Germany’s officials.

Do I need a work permit or a visa?

The independent professional category does not exist under German law. There are no specific work permit or visa options for a Canadian independent professional. However, you may qualify for a visa for self-employment as a freelancer.

Am I eligible for a residence permit for self-employment as a freelancer?

Under German law, in order to qualify for a visa for self-employment as a freelancer, you must fulfil the following requirements:   

The visa for self-employment is valid up to 3 years initially. If your business idea is successful and you are able to cover the costs of living for both yourself and your family, the visa can be extended.

How do I apply for a visa for self-employment as a freelancer?

Step 1:  Prepare a visa application form (PDF), including all necessary documents indicated (passport, business plan, proof of financial means)

Book your appointment at the appropriate German embassy in Canada.

Step 2: Bring your application and all supporting documents to apply at the German embassy.

Step 3: If successful, upon arrival in Germany, apply for a residence permit for self-employment.

Make an appointment with the local town hall or immigration office and prepare the required documents. You must apply for a residence permit before the expiry date listed on the entry visa.

How much will it cost?

The cost of the visa application is 75 EUR. There will also be a 10 to 15 EUR fee for town hall registration and, if applicable, 100 EUR application for final work and residence permit.

How long will it take?

Processing time ranges from a few days to several weeks.

Intra-corporate transferee

Do I qualify as an intra-corporate transferee under CETA?

Under CETA, Canadian intra-corporate transferees are senior personnel, specialists, or graduate trainees at a Canadian enterprise who are being temporarily transferred to a subsidiary, branch, or head company of the Canadian enterprise in Germany.

Senior personnel are Canadian business people in a senior position within an enterprise who:

Specialists are Canadian business people who have:

In assessing such expertise or knowledge, Germany’s officials will consider abilities that are unusual and different from those generally found in a particular industry and that cannot be easily transferred to another business person in the short-term. These abilities would have been obtained through specific academic qualifications or extensive experience with the enterprise.

Graduate trainees are Canadian business people who:

The training delivered to a graduate trainee must be linked to their university degree.

Under CETA, Canadian senior personnel and specialists can stay in Germany for whichever is shorter, 3 years or the length of the contract, with a possible extension of up to 18 months at the discretion of Germany’s officials.

Canadian graduate trainees can stay in Germany for whichever is shorter, 1 year or the length of the contract.

Do I need a work permit or a visa?

Am I eligible for an EU Intra-Corporate Transferee Permit?

According to European law, in order to be eligible for an EU Intra-Corporate Transferee permit, you must have the following:

 for your occupation

How do I apply for an EU Intra-Corporate Transferee Permit?

Step 1:  Apply for a German National Visa.

Visa application form (PDF)

Book your appointment at the appropriate German embassy in Canada. 

Step 2: Bring your application and all supporting documents to apply at the German Embassy.

Step 2: Get approval from the Federal Employment Agency.

Alternatively, approval of the Federal Employment Agency can be obtained before applying for a visa to avoid longer processing times.

Step 3: If your visa application is successful, upon arrival in Germany, register at the local town hall. There you will collect your passport sticker and residence permit

How much will it cost?

The cost of the visa application is 75 EUR. There will also be a 10 to 15 EUR fee for town hall registration; and, if applicable, 100 EUR application for final work and residence permit.

How long will it take?

Processing time ranges from a few days to several weeks.

What if I am a business person from a category that is not covered?

Entry into Germany for Canadian business people not belonging to any of the categories covered under the CETA is subject to Germany’s acts and regulations governing entry and stay.

To explore other paths for entry into Germany, please consult Germany’s official visa portal. 

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