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Social insurance

Please inform yourself and get proper advice. As a self-employed person, you alone are fully responsible for your social insurance and pension plan. Calculate the precise costs involved and incorporate them into your business plan.

Statutory or private health insurance

In Germany, health insurance is compulsory even for self-employed persons. If you had statutory health insurance before starting your business, you can keep it in future. Essentially, you can choose between statutory and private health insurance (if you have already had statutory health insurance for a sufficient period in advance). Please note: If you switch to private health insurance, it is difficult – and might be impossible – to return to statutory health insurance later on. It always makes sense to obtain professional advice!

Statutory health insurance:

  • Premiums are linked to your income.
  • Minimum and maximum income thresholds.
  • Family insurance is possible.

Private health insurance:

  • Premiums depend on individual risk factors, medical history, age, the level of coverage you choose etc.
  • Premiums are not linked to your income.
  • Family insurance is not possible.

Statutory pension insurance (“Rentenversicherung”)

Statutory pension insurance is compulsory for certain occupational groups (e.g. teachers, artists, nurses, licensed craftsmen and commercial agents who only have one client). All other self-employed persons still have the option of paying
voluntary premiums for statutory pension insurance. You can pay either the full amount (18.6% of your gross income) or an individually agreed amount. Please seek professional advice!

Private pension insurance/retirement plan

Self-employed persons must plan for retirement and work out the costs involved right from the start. To do so, you can combine various options, such as statutory and private pension insurance as well as other forms of retirement plans.

Voluntary unemployment insurance

Under certain circumstances, individuals who (have to) leave self-employment can contract voluntary unemployment insurance. The cost is around EUR 80 per month (although start-up entrepreneurs pay only half of this premium).

Artists’ Social Insurance (KSK, Künstlersozialkasse)

The KSK covers people that exercise a freelance artistic or journalistic profession. It is compulsory with a focus on pension and health insurance. If you fulfill the requirements to join the KSK you only pay half of the premium and are in
as good a position as employers. Please inform yourself!

Special feature: A1 certification for cross-border activity

If you work temporarily in an EU country, in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will always have to carry an A1 certification with you. It is proof of your existing social security protection in Germany. It is valid regardless of
the length of your business travel. Other certifications may be required for other countries.

More information

Video: Social insurance


Deutsche Rentenversicherung Service
[German Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme]
Phone: 0800 1000 4800


Federal Employment Agency
Service line: 0800 4 5555 00


Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund
[German Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme]
A1 certification