Disclaimer: This article is written for your information only. We try to provide correct information on these procedures but ADEN Immo is a real estate agency and speaks from their experience as real estate brokers only. We cannot be held liable for any mistakes or omissions in the current article. Thank you for understanding.
Buying property in Germany as a foreigner: an open option for foreigners
With a strong and stable housing market, unaffected by the 2008 recession, Germany appears to be a good opportunity to invest in real estate. There are no restrictions for non-nationals and non-residents to buy a property in Germany. Whether your fiscal residence is in another EU country or abroad, you are entitled to buying property in Germany. However, you should keep in mind that:
• Owning property in Germany does not grant you the right of residence
• You will likely need to get a loan (mortgage) from a German bank or financial institution to finance your investment
• German banks and financial institutions often grant up to 50% of the property price to foreigners (i.e. people whose fiscal residence is not in Germany)
• Germany has passed fiscal conventions to prevent double imposition with a number of countries around the world, but not all (see our article on the fiscality of real estate in Germany to find out more about fiscal conventions)
Arriving in Germany: how to register and get a residence permit
Citizens of another EU country are entitled to work, live and buy property in Germany without needing to apply for a visa. This usually means having to declare Germany your fiscal residence by officially registering in two distinct locations:
• At the local city hall, the Bürgeramt, to obtain a very useful document called the Anmeldung (or Meldeschein) which demonstrates that you are living in that city
• At the local ministry of finance, the Finanzamt, to establish your fiscal residence in Germany, declare what your occupation is, and get a tax identification number
All foreigners from outside the EU who wish to stay in Germany for more than 3 months (the standard visitor permission time) will need to apply for a residence permit (the Aufenthaltstitel). Keep in mind that a visa is not quite the same as a residence permit: a visa is usually issued for a limited period of time, with a specific occupational purpose such as being a freelancer in your discipline. Citizens from specific countries, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Switzerland and others, are allowed to enter Germany without a visa and apply for one while being in the country. Citizens from other countries usually need to apply for a visa from a German embassy in their home country.
Staying in Germany: how to get a visa
Being in Germany on a valid visa is the first requirement to being able to apply for a residence permit at the Foreigner’s Office, Ausländerbehörde.
• German Permanent Residency: a Permanent settlement permit (unlimited residence permit – § 9 section 2 AufenthG) in Germany can be granted after 3 years, if a full coverage of the applicants means of subsistence and a successful business can be demonstrated.
German Citizenship: naturalizing for Citizenship in Germany is possible after 8 years of continuous living in Germany, provided there are no criminal records, sufficient income and financial means to live in Germany, that taxes, pensions and health contributions have been paid, and that the applicant has sufficient knowledge of German.
• Business / investment residence permit: foreign entrepreneurs or freelancers who aim to start-up a business in Germany (or set-up a branch of their business in Germany) can obtain a ‘D’ visa, and later a residence permit through § 21 AufenthG if they invest a minimum of 200 000 euros and if they can prove that the business will have a “positive effect on the German economy” (source)
• Frelance and artist visa (Visa for the purpose of Self-Employment): in Berlin in particular, there are a number of options available to obtain freelance or artists visa, which are usually granted for 1-2 years and renewable. Discover more on this guide by DispatchEurope or on the official Berlin website (in English!).
This article is written for your information only. We try to provide correct information on these procedures but we are not immigration lawyers. Please refer to the appropriate government agencies ! The law firm Citizen Lane offers interesting support in this domain (link: http://citizenlane.ch/residence-by-investment/germany/)
All in all, buying a property in Germany does not qualify you for a residence permit! It is also difficult to say if owning property in Germany might help you renew a temporary visa towards obtaining permanent residency. We advise you refer to an immigration lawyer when your visa is due to renewal in order to put all chances on your side. Indeed, Germany is an attractive place t live and the German real estate market remains an interesting investment opportunity for foreigners. Find out how to buy a property in Germany in our full guide!