The Essentials in a Nutshell
How to proceed
Do you want to become a Youtuber in Germany? perhaps you already have a Youtube channel in Germany but want to know about the rules and regulations for having a youtube channel depending on your visa as a foreigner in Germany?
Maybe you just want some tips to help you decide if starting a youtube channel in Germany as a side project is actually worth it or not? If yes then this articles is exactly what you need.
Who is allowed to start a Youtube channel in Germany?
Starting a youtube channel has never been easier and for many its a great way to share their creativity with the world and for some a nice way to earn extra cash. But if you arrive in Germany as a foreigner, are you actually allowed to create a Youtube Channel in Germany?
The answer is Yes, you can create a youtube channel in germany on any visa there are no restrictions to that. Problems only arise when you start earning from your channel or through other associated services like Affiliate marketing or Sponsorships.
According to the German regulations, as a foreigner you are not allowed to work as a Freelancer or Start a business on certain visa types.
Running a Youtube channel that is monitized and is having consistent revenue each month requires a business registration in Germany.
Can International Students in Germany earn from Youtube?
If you are on student visa, you will need special permission from your university and the ausländerbehörde. The university would need to verify that the university activities are not affected by your activities as a Youtuber.
Once you get an approval from the university then you can go to the Ausländerbehörde and explain why you need to register a business. You will need a business plan to explain your activities to the Auslanderbehorde.
Getting this permission would be extremely difficult. As there are very few cases where starting a youtube channel in germany on a student visa would make sense. One such example would be that you are a media sciences student and want to write your thesis based on your youtube channel.
Limitations for Blue Card Holder in Germany
As a blue card holder, there is absolutely no chance that you would be able to register a business in Germany. This is because of the limitation on your residence permit. On a blue card, you are only given permission to work with a specific company which is written on your identity document. Some blue card holders have an additional statement written on their card that additional employment is allowed after 2 years. This is because many people on a blue card for two years are eligible to apply for Permanent residence.
Youtube Channel along with a Full Time job in Germany
Anyone on a Permanent residence is allowed to work as a Freelancer or start their own business in Germany.
If you are on PR then there are no restrictions from the Government but there might be restrictions concerning your main job. If you are starting a business you need to inform your main employer. As starting a business that has the same tasks as your main job would be considered as a competition. And you are not allowed to start a competitive business with your main employer!
If you fulltime job has anything to do with your youtube video content, this may lead you into trouble with your employer.
Youtube channel Side Gig as a German Employee
For many this wont be a problem as their channel would not be a competition with their main employment. For example, I am a researcher in the field of Engineering and this channel is on Business and Personal Finance in Germany, thus there is no competition with my main job.
Again there is no restriction on starting a youtube channel so you can start creating content on your youtube channel without any restrictions.
Youtube Partner Program
To start earning from the Youtube platform, you need to join the Youtube Partner Platform. The eligibility criteria for the Partner program is either 1000 Subscribers with 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months. Another option is getting 1,000 subscribers with 10 million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days.
No need to register a business in Germany (IF)
Fulfilling the Youtube partner program conditions can take from 6 months to a year on an average. Meaning that even if your visa does not allow you to register a business in Germany right now. You have between 6 to 12 months before you would need to register a business. In some cases it requires even more time to start earning from youtube.
Starting a Finance Youtube Channel
In my case I had started this channel when I was already on PR. It took me 6 months to get the 1000 subscribers and 4000 public watch hours. As I started this youtube channel I was not aware of the rules I just mentioned but thankfully my channel is on a different topic as my main job.
I came to know about the business registration requirement after 5months into the channel when I was about to monitize this channel. What I did then was to inform the HR in my company about my side activity and that I was about to register a business as a Youtuber. I have explained the whole registration process in a series of videos here.
Register a Monitized Youtube Channel in Germany
What if you already have a monitized youtube channel that is earning you some cash but you have not registered your business yet?
Well if you are eligible to register a business in Germany,
A retrospective business registration is possible with a maximum delay of 60 months , but fines should always be expected if the registration is more than a few months late .
In most cases, the amount of the fine can be reduced or even avoided if the forgotten registration is made up for independently and personally and the office receives a plausible explanation as to why the trade has not yet been reported.
Retrospective business Registration in Germany
A business can also be registered for a future date. This may be a maximum of four weeks in the future.
The maximum amount of a fine for a business registered too late can be up to 1,000 euros , but this happens in extreme cases. Fines that exceed a value of 100 euros are rare. You may get a warning before getting a fine. That said a very late business registration can also lead to charges of tax evasion .
It is therefore better to register the business registration as soon as possible. In case you are not sure about your situation, its advisable to contact a professional that can deal with your specific case.
Earnings as a Youtuber in Germany
When it comes to earnings as a Youtuber, the Youtube partner program isnt the only way. You can with sponsorships, affiliate programs, selling merch and many other sources. So it might be better for you to register earlier than later.
One of the main reasons is for tax purposes. Once a business is started there are many initial costs. In the case of a Youtuber for example getting Cameras, lenses, lighting, microphones can be pretty costly.
In addition you would need editing softwares and other resources. So if you have registered your business then you can claim these expenses in your tax return.
Fines from German Tax office
If however, do not make any profits with your business for multiple years, this is referred to as a “hobby”. In this case, the tax office will no longer participate in your obvious loss-making company and you will have to repay the previous income tax refunds with interest. Provided you have no prospect of profit and have apparently never been seriously interested in making a profit.
Tax Return as a Youtuber in Germany
Submitting a tax return becomes mandatory if you have a business in Germany. Based on the business registration type, you can either submit a return just once along with the details from your full time job or multiple times in a year.
If you register as a Sole Propietor based on my tutorials, you only need to submit once a year.
Along with an Income tax return, you would need to submit a Profit and loss statement and Annual VAT return. All this can be done using a single software like Wunder tax*.
Managing Expenses as a Freelancer in Germany
I use a Free Webapp called GetSorted to manage my income and expenses as a youtube. Each time I buy something for the channel for example the camera I use to film my videos, the microphone, all the software subscription fees each and every expense I put it all on this software.
Same goes for the income. Each google payout, affiliate marketing payment and Sponsorship money I get. I put it directly in the app so that I do not have to worry about it later on when I have to do the taxes.
Why start a youtube channel in Germany?
Coming to whether it is worth starting a youtube channel or not, I think it is absolutely worth it. Not only will you get to express your creativity, you also learn new skills like business management, video editing, learn to express your ideas more fluently and obviously get a monitary reward as well.
*Affiliate link, I may earn a commission if you use the link and make an account at no additional cost to you
Disclaimer: None of the content in this article is meant to be considered as investment advice, as I am not a financial expert and am only sharing my experience with stock investing. The information is based on my own research and is only accurate at the time of posting this article but may not be accurate at the time you are reading it.