Applying for a start-up grant

If you are unemployed and want to start your own business, you are entitled to financial support.

A start-up grant, or "Gründungszuschuss", is intended to help you with your living costs and guarantee social security benefits if you set up your own business. You are only entitled to a start-up grant if there are no other suitable job openings for you and if you want to be self-employed as your main occupation.

Before applying for a start-up grant, you must be registered as unemployed. You are not eligible for the grant if you are entering self-employment straight from a job. There are two start-up grant phases:

  • Phase 1: a 6-month start-up grant equal to the last unemployment benefit received for living costs plus a monthly lump sum of EUR 300 for social security
  • Phase 2: a 9-month grant of EUR 300 a month

After phase 1, you may be able to receive a start-up grant for a further 9 months. This will be decided on an individual basis.

The start-up grant will not be subject to income tax however much you earn on top of it.

You cannot apply for funding if you are eligible for a state pension.

You can apply for the grant in addition to other funding for self-employment. There is no legal entitlement to the start-up grant.

  • Evidence of your knowledge and skills (e.g. qualifications, professional experience or participation in activities to help you set up as self-employed)

If you want to work in a licensed trade, you will also need:

  • A trade permit
  • For craft or trade professions:
  • Confirmation of registration in the Register of Trades and Crafts with the Chamber of Trades and Crafts

You must also submit an opinion from a professional body, for which you will need:

  • A business plan
  • Your CV (including evidence of qualifications)
  • A capital requirements and financing plan
  • Turnover and profitability forecasts
  • Information on what proportion of the business will be in a self-employed capacity

Forms: available from the Employment Agency
Can I do it online? No.
Do I need to do it in writing? Yes.
Do I need to attend in person? Yes.


  • You are in receipt of unemployment benefit I.
  • You are still entitled to at least another 150 days of unemployment benefit upon becoming self-employed.
  • You are able to prove that you have the knowledge and skills to pursue the activity in a self-employed capacity.
  • You can provide a favourable opinion from a professional body on the viability of setting up as self-employed.
  • The Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) was unable to find a suitable opening for you on the job market.
  • You are not eligible for a state pension.


Before taking the leap into self-employment, check your insurance obligations with your health insurance and pension fund, and find out whether you will still be covered.

Related Links

  • Section 93 of the Social Code Book III (SGB III)
  • Section 94 of the Social Code Book III (SGB III)

Related Links

  • Information from the Employment Agency on setting up as self-employed (in German)
  • Employment Agency brochure on start-up grants and setting up as self-employed (in German)

You must apply for the start-up grant through the Employment Agency:

  • Make an appointment with the Employment Agency.
  • Your adviser will tell you what financial support is available if you are setting up as self-employed and what conditions you need to meet.
  • You will then need a professional body to issue a favourable opinion on your start-up project. You can choose which one to use. Competent professional bodies include:
    • Chambers of commerce and industry
    • Chambers of trades and crafts
    • Guilds
    • Professional chambers
    • Professional associations
    • Credit institutions
  • The Employment Agency will also check whether you meet the professional requirements to set up your own business.
  • Then submit your start-up grant application in writing to your local Employment Agency.
  • The Employment Agency awards the start-up grant for an initial period of 6 months (phase 1).
  • If you wish to continue receiving the reduced grant for a further 9 months (phase 2), you must submit a new application.

Responsible for the content
Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) 

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