Self-employed artists and publicists are obligated to have social insurance coverage in Germany under the Artists' Social Insurance Act (KSVG). Self-employed artists are covered through the social insurance fund for artists (Künstlersozialkasse, KSK), which provides coverage within the statutory health, nursing care and pension insurance systems.
The KSK itself is not a health, nursing care or pension insurance policy. It merely registers the insured artists and publicists with a statutory health and nursing care insurance scheme and with the statutory pension insurance scheme and forwards their contributions to the responsible institutions.
Anyone who creates, practices or teaches music, performing or visual arts is an artist within the definition of the Artists' Social Insurance Act (Künstlersozialversicherungsgesetz, or KSVG). The artistic or journalistic activity must be self-employed and gainful. Gainful is any sustained, long-term activity aimed at generating income.
Artistic or journalistic activity can only be termed self-employed if it does not constitute paid employment within the framework of an employment relationship. Artists and publicists who only work temporarily in Germany are not insured through the KSK.
Application forms / questionnaire:
Work income is the difference between business income and business expenditure. It is the outcome of a profit and loss account drawn up in accordance with the general rules for determining profit under income tax law.
- Business income comprises all income in cash or monetary value that is directly related to the independent artistic or journalistic activity (e.g. fees, royalties, salaries). This also includes all copyright royalties, including those received via collecting societies (GEMA, GVL, Verwertungsgesellschaft Wort, Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst etc.).
Please see here: Are scholarships included as income from artistic activity?
- Business expenses are all expenses or costs related to one's independent artistic or journalistic activity. They include all expenses incurred in any self-employed activity subject to compulsory insurance during the insurance period. The expenses include in particular expenses for business premises (rent, lighting, heating, cleaning), expenses for auxiliary staff (wages, social security contributions), expenses which are otherwise deducted as income-related expenses from any income from non-self-employed work, insofar as they have been incurred in exercising self-employed activity that is subject to compulsory insurance, contributions to professional associations, and write-offs.
Special expenses according to the German Income Tax Law (e.g. contributions to social insurance for artists or premiums for private health or life insurance) are not deductible.
Scholarships subject to income tax count as regular income from artistic activity. In a ruling, the Federal Social Court (Ref.: B 3 KS 2/12R of 28.11.2013) pointed out that under certain circumstances tax-free grants may also be included as earned income under the KSVG.
Work grants, i.e. grants paid in connection with a work realisation or the creation of a work, were counted by the KSK as part of the income earned from independent artistic or journalistic activity even before this decision. (In case of doubt – i.e. whether the income from such a grant should be included – reference should be made to the ruling because this is not always familiar to the KSK). Not to be taken into account, on the other hand, are scholarships granted directly from public funds or by intergovernmental or supranational institutions for the promotion of scientific or artistic education or further training.
Artists and publicists who do not earn an expected annual income at least above the statutory limit are exempt from insurance. This means that there is no compulsory insurance coverage within the statutory health and long-term care insurance or the pension insurance systems.
This limit has stood at 3,900.00 EURO per year and 325.00 EURO per month since 2004.
The legislature has provided special protection for job starters who have yet to develop an economic foundation. According to the KSVG, job starters are also insured by the statutory pension, health and nursing care insurance even if they will probably not exceed the required minimum income. The first three years since commencing a self-employed artistic or journalistic activity are considered as the period of starting employment.
In principle, artists may fall below the minimum income twice within six years without the KSK being allowed to terminate their membership.
For further conditions, please see:
The premium is based on the contribution rates for statutory pension, health and long-term care insurance and is easily calculated. The basis is the expected annual earned income.
Calculations and information about minimum and maximum contributions to the KSK can be found here:
Under certain conditions, in principle: Yes.
A minor non-artistic, self-employed activity or minor non-artistic employment does not affect insurance under the KSVG.
Remuneration from an employment relationship is insignificant if it does not exceed € 450.00 per month. This sum applies correspondingly to self-employed non-artistic/non-publicist activity. Here, however, the annual profit is important: It is negligible if it does not exceed €5,400.00 per year. If the activity is not pursued for a full year, the limit must be considered proportionately.
Self-employed artists and publicists are not covered by health and nursing care insurance under the KSVG if they have reached the age of 55 and have not been statutorily insured in the last five years.
Self-employed artists and publicists who are compulsorily insured under the KSVG are entitled to sickness benefit from the statutory health insurance fund from the 7th week of sick leave. A self-employed person may not call upon an employer to continue paying wages for the first six weeks of their incapacity for work. However, this period between the beginning of the incapacity for work and the entitlement to sickness benefit (from the 7th week) is often economically difficult for many self-employed persons to bridge. Therefore, in addition to this basic entitlement, the legislature has opened up a possibility for self-employed persons to start receiving sickness benefits earlier in the event of incapacity for work.
For this purpose, the statutory health insurance funds offer the possibility of structuring benefit claims within the context of optional tariffs if additional contributions are paid. However, these additional contributions must be paid directly to the health insurance fund and not to the artists' social insurance fund. The chosen statutory health insurance company will be happy to provide you with information about this.
Self-employed artists in Germany must pay social insurance contributions under the Artists' Social Security Act (KSVG). This is thus a compulsory membership. If your income falls below the minimum income during the period of the KSK check, but is above the required minimum income in the current year, you are still subject to compulsory insurance via the KSK, and will remain a KSK member.
The KSK contribution check risk calculator from ver.di, mediafon and Kunst & Kultur, enables you to find out for yourself whether KSK checks could become a problem: https://www.ra-schimmel.de/KSVG/BUEVO.html