- a ‘Quick-Check’ tool on training and employment opportunities in Germany,
- assistance on finding a job, and
- information on living and working in Germany.
- Information is available not only in German, but also English, Spanish, French and 15 other languages.
Tips: You can contact advisers directly via www.make-it-in-germany.com. The advisers will support you in finding and applying for a job and provide guidance on living conditions in Germany. They speak English and possibly other languages.
You can also register for online tutorials on specific topics, such as the recognition procedure or living conditions in Germany.
You will find Germany’s biggest jobs portal at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/jobsuche. Information is available not only in German, but also in English and Arabic.
The EURES portal publishes jobs from organisations that are explicitly looking for jobseekers from the EURES area.
Companies also publish vacancies in daily newspapers, in private online job sites and on their own websites.
You can publish your personal profile online on social media, in the various business networks and on job portals. In this way, interested companies will be aware of you and will be able to contact you directly.
It is also common in Germany to send speculative applications.
Private placement agencies offer another alternative to finding a job. They look for a suitable position for you. Enquire in advance about charges if you want to use the service of a private placement agency.
- Finding a job on the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit] website: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/jobsuche
- Overview of all daily newspapers: https://www.zeitung.de/
- ZEIT Online job site: https://jobs.zeit.de/
- FAZ newspaper jobs section: https://stellenmarkt.faz.net/
- Süddeutsche Zeitung jobs section: http://stellenmarkt.sueddeutsche.de/
- Make-it-in-Germany portal of the Federal Government: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/arbeiten-in-deutschland/job/jobsuche
- EURES portal: https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/de/homepage
In Germany, a written job application normally consists of:
- a cover letter,
- a CV (with a photo),
- copies of qualifications, certificates, evidence of professional experience, and
- work samples, where applicable.
The cover letter should not run to more than one side of A4 and should briefly and concisely express the following:
- why you are looking for a job,
- what interests you about the post advertised, and
- why you think you are the best person for this job.
Explain why you want to work in Germany. End your cover letter expressing the hope to be invited to a personal interview – and of course with: ‘Mit freundlichen Grüßen’ [Yours sincerely].
The CV, in table format, should not be more than two pages long and should be written ‘in reverse chronological order’, meaning that the most recent information is listed first. Divide your CV into the following sections:
- Contact information
- Employment record
- Schooling and vocational education and, where appropriate, tertiary education
- Language skills (categorised into mother tongue, advanced working knowledge, spoken and written fluency, good command or basic knowledge)
- Other professional knowledge and experience (e.g. computer skills)
- Hobbies and non-occupational activities (e.g. volunteering)
Do not forget to sign and date your CV. We also recommend that you use the Europass format, at https://europa.eu/europass/.
Enclose with your application copies of supporting evidence for all training and continuing education, periods of practical training and previous jobs that are mentioned in your application. In some cases, for example when applying to a small business, you should have your qualifications and work references translated into German. Even if you already have professional experience, you will often have to enclose your school certificates with the application.
Despite current trends towards anonymity in selection procedures, a friendly application photograph remains part of a job application in Germany. It is attached either to the cover sheet of the application folder or to the top right-hand corner of the CV.
More and more German organisations now only accept applications made by email or via their company’s own online application forms.
- When applying by email: It is advisable to compile a single PDF document containing all your application documents, such as cover letter, CV, certificates and references, and photograph, and send it as an attachment. You should ensure that the size of the file does not exceed two megabytes (2 MB).
- If an online application form is used: If necessary, upload the various application documents as separate PDF files.
You can often also request the name of the contact person by telephone. This means that your cover letter and application documents can be addressed personally.
Tip: With larger organisations, you can contact the press office or the marketing department to get interesting information about the company. You can then mention this information in the cover letter.
- Federal Employment Office, tips on preparing a job application: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/arbeitslos-arbeit-finden/erfolgreich-bewerben
- Federal Government’s Make-it-in-Germany portal, job application guide on the Federal Government’s Make-it-in-Germany portal: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/jobs/bewerbung/bewerbungsunterlagen
Information on the application process for training positions: https://planet-beruf.de/schuelerinnen/wie-bewerbe-ich-mich/bewerbung
Traineeships provide insights into everyday working life. They serve either as preparation for choosing a career or as a means of gaining work experience. Although traineeships are not vocational training as such, they are a good way of preparing to go on a training course or to start a career. They are often undertaken before or during a vocational education course. In some training programmes, traineeships are mandatory or, depending on educational background, an admission requirement for vocational training or tertiary education. For employers, traineeships are a good way of acquiring new talent.
There are many types of traineeships:
- Recognition traineeship
Compulsory traineeship after a theoretical and practical training course in a specific field in order to achieve recognition of a vocational qualification.
- Practical semester
Part of the examination requirements for students in higher education.
- Shipping traineeship
Voluntary traineeship for school leavers to learn about technical maritime careers and the requirements for them.
- Taster work placement
A traineeship lasting a few days for school pupils to learn about working and training conditions.
- Work experience for school pupils
In most federal states, work experience is mandatory in the penultimate or final year of school. This is usually organised via the school.
- Course-related traineeship
Additional vocational qualification that is both practical and voluntary to increase the chances of finding a job for students in all disciplines.
- Graduate trainee
Programme of training specific to the job and the company for new graduates starting a career. The main purpose of these traineeships is to recruit new graduates.
- Pre-study traineeship / specialised traineeship
Mandatory traineeship that must be completed before or during a training course in the relevant field.
Citizens of EU and EEA countries have free access to traineeships in Germany.
Since traineeships are in principle classed as employment, there are special rules for citizens of other countries. Information is available on the website of the Foreign Office, including in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/service/fragenkatalog-node/-/606790.
no information available
Living and working conditions
The conditions of the traineeship depend on the contract between the two parties – the trainee and the company.
The traineeship contract sets out the following:
- the duration and pay of the traineeship,
- the content and the tasks to be learnt,
- the field of work,
If the traineeship is a compulsory component of vocational or university education, the trainee retains their educational status.
Where to find opportunities?
The public employment service in Germany, the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA), publishes free traineeship positions on its general job portal jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de. Applications for a traineeship are made in the same way as applications for a normal job.
Funding and support
If the traineeship is remunerated, the payment must comply with the new regulations on the statutory minimum wage. The following are exempt from this:
- compulsory professional traineeships as part of the training (school, initial vocational training, tertiary education),
- voluntary traineeships during vocational or higher education up to a maximum of three months, and
- orientation traineeships for vocational training or for starting a course of study, for up to three months.
Depending on the type of traineeship, contributions to sickness, care, pension and unemployment insurance have to be paid.
- Information from the German Trade Union Confederation [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund]: https://jugend.dgb.de/++co++94411f92-9c61-11e2-9bd7-525400808b5c Vocational training career choice magazine of the Federal Employment Office: https://abi.de/orientieren/auszeit/praktikum/berufsorientierung-mit-praktika-hintergrund
Content, duration, completion/graduation and the suitability of training establishments and staff are regulated by law at national level by the Vocational Education and Training Act [Berufsbildungsgesetz – BBiG] in conjunction with other discipline-specific laws (apprenticeship schemes, regulations and codes of professional conduct). Compulsory (vocational) training is regulated by educational acts at the regional level.
There are no formal entry requirements for accessing a dual apprenticeship. Dual apprenticeships are, in principle, open to everyone. However, the majority of apprentices have an intermediate school-leaving qualification when they begin training, with some even having an advanced level qualification.
It is possible to complete an apprenticeship part-time. However, the training company must agree to a part-time apprenticeship.
Minimum age for a dual apprenticeship: 15 years. Exceptions are possible in some regulated professions (for example, normally 16 years of age in the area of maritime shipping)
Maximum age: -
Description of schemes
- DUAL APPRENTICESHIPS
The dual apprenticeship scheme generally lasts between 2 and 3.5 years. The dual scheme is so called because training takes place in two learning facilities:
- At the workplace (practical side): Apprentices are integrated into the real-life operating processes of the company from the outset and become familiar with work equipment and operational work processes on site. Apprentices work alongside training supervisors, who determine training progress and may provide support through additional teaching, as needed.
- Vocational school (theoretical side): The structure, sequence and content of these courses are aligned with the practical training.
The vocational school component usually accounts for between 20% and 40%. There are different models:
- 1-2 days per week or
- teaching blocks of several weeks.
Apprentices do not normally work at the company on the days when they attend vocational school. This time can be used to consolidate the material studied at vocational school.
The apprenticeship aims to provide the skills and qualifications needed to perform a skilled occupation in a changing world of work. Successfully completing an apprenticeship qualifies you to take up an immediate position as a skilled professional in one of the approximately 330 regulated professions that are currently approved by the State.
- Apprenticeship system:
- The training company and the apprentice enter into an apprenticeship contract (similar to a contract of employment). This obliges the training supervisor to provide practical training to the apprentice at the workplace in accordance with legal and technical requirements. The apprenticeship generally ends with a final examination.
- The training company enrols the apprentice at the relevant vocational school and agrees to release the apprentice to attend classes at the vocational school. The vocational school is not always located in the same place as the training company. Apprentices are required to attend classes at the vocational school. The requirement to attend classes at the vocational school lasts for the duration of the apprenticeship.
- System of remuneration:
- The Vocational Training Act (BBiG) (https://www.bmbf.de/bmbf/de/home/_documents/die-novellierung-des-berufsbildungsgesetzes-bbig.html) stipulates a minimum apprenticeship allowance (Mindestausbildungsvergütung – MAV) for all apprenticeship agreements entered into after 1 January 2020.
- This amounts to EUR 585 in the first training year for vocational training positions taken up in 2022 . An increase to EUR 620 is envisaged for 2023. Provision is made for an increase of 18% in the second year of the apprenticeship, 35% in the third and 40% in the fourth. The adjustment in subsequent years is linked to the average change in contractually agreed training allowances (based on both collective agreements and individual contracts) and is made automatically.
- Recognition of qualifications:
- The combination of theory and practice makes it possible for apprentices to complete work independently, including planning and quality control. The skills acquired also include the ability to integrate into the social work structure of a company independently. Successful completion of the apprenticeship serves as proof of this skill.
- Due to the apprentice’s integration into the day-to-day work of the company over a period of 2-3.5 years, the likelihood of the apprentice being taken on by the company upon completion of the apprenticeship is very good. In 2020, the retention rate of apprentices hired by their training company following successful completion of the apprenticeship was 71%. Although the rate therefore fell somewhat, it is still at a high level when considered in the context of the period since 2000.
- The dual apprenticeship scheme continues to be regarded by industry as the main source of skilled workers. The training is extremely practical, high quality and, given its 3-year duration, manageably short.
- Further training opportunities:
- After the apprenticeship (and usually a period of professional practice), a wide variety of further training and specialisation is available. Since this is often cost-intensive, it is common practice for the company to cover some of the costs. In return, the employees undertake to remain with the company for a certain period of time after completion of the apprenticeship.
- Financial assistance can be obtained under certain conditions under what is known as the Federal Advanced Education and Training Assistance Act [Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz – Aufstiegs-BAföG (AFBG)]. The AFBG funds preparations for more than 700 further training qualifications, such as master craftsmen, business administrators, technicians or economists. For more information on funding opportunities, visit https://www.aufstiegs-bafoeg.de/.
- Parties involved:
- In addition to the training company and the apprentice, the following institutions are involved in apprenticeships:
- The vocational school covers the theoretical component of the apprenticeship.
- The chambers of trade and industry (www.handwerkskammer.de; www.ihk.de) adopt regulations governing apprenticeships and exams and organise exams.
- The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (www.bibb.de) is the central body responsible for organising recognised regulated professions. The State and social partner organisations (employers’ associations and trade unions) can influence the structure of the individual apprenticeships.
- This is a key component in the continuing development and ongoing adaptation of apprenticeships to the real-life requirements of industry and people. The dual apprenticeship scheme is not rigid, but has rather grown over time and continues to evolve.
- In addition to the training company and the apprentice, the following institutions are involved in apprenticeships:
For more information:
- Make-it-in-Germany portal of the Federal Government: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/studium-ausbildung/ausbildung/was-ist-ausbildung/dual/
- Information from the Federal Employment Office on apprenticeships in Germany: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/m/ausbildungklarmachen/
- OTHER FORMS OF INITIAL VOCATIONAL TRAINING
In addition to dual apprenticeships, there is the option of full-time school-based training at vocational schools. Training qualifications suitable for a professional occupation can be obtained in 2 to 3 years. These include healthcare occupations governed by federal law, such as the nursing professions, and training in the fields of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Depending on the training model, these training programmes have a more or less extensive practical component, so they practically count as dual apprenticeships.
However, these training programmes also exist in a purely school-based format. Purely school-based vocational training (possibly with one or more short work placements) does not count as a dual apprenticeship, but does generally lead to a recognised vocational qualification. The structure and completion of such training is a regional matter and may therefore differ from one federal state to another.
Depending on the training at vocational schools, a basic school-leaving certificate or intermediate school-leaving certificate is required. A technical college entrance qualification or general higher education entrance qualification and a KMK foreign language certificate (https://www.kmk.org/themen/berufliche-schulen/duale-berufsausbildung/kmk-fremdsprachenzertifikat.html) can be obtained at a vocational college, under certain conditions.
For more information:
Citizens of the EU, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland are able to start vocational training in Germany at any time. You do not need a visa to start a vocational training programme in Germany.
Citizens from other countries are also able to start vocational training in Germany. You will need a visa in order to do so. You can apply for the relevant visa at the German embassy in your country of residence.
A good knowledge of the German language is essential for successfully completing vocational or school-based training, particularly in order to be able to understand and apply the content of the theoretical teaching. This means that you must have reached at least B1 level under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) at the beginning of your training. B2 level would be preferable, which should be obtained at the very latest by the end of your training. For nursing professions, some federal states require a B2 certificate to have been obtained by the end of the training.
For more information:
Living and working conditions
Despite the introduction of the minimum apprenticeship allowance, the allowance paid is not comparable with general earning potential. It varies between EUR 500 and EUR 1 100 per month depending on the profession and region. The allowance paid to apprentices rises each year of their apprenticeship.
From that allowance, a percentage is deducted to cover social security contributions (https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/jobs/sozialversicherung/deutsche#c17519) (sickness insurance, care insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance). This means that the years of the apprenticeship are taken into account for pension purposes.
Apprentices earning more than EUR 9 984 per year are also required to pay tax (https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/jobs/steuern/einkommenssteuer).
Adult apprentices are entitled to at least 24 working days of leave per year.
Minor apprentices are entitled to:
- at least 30 working days of leave if they are under 16 years of age at the beginning of the calendar year
- at least 27 working days of leave if they are under 17 years of age at the beginning of the calendar year
- at least 25 working days of leave if they are under the age of 18 at the beginning of the calendar year
With more than 350 videos and subtitles in English, BERUFE.TV (www.berufe.tv/en/) is your portal to find out more about requirements and working conditions in specific professions. The videos are also available at http://www.berufe.tv/en/apps/ for Apple or Android smartphones and tablets.
Where to find opportunities?
If you wish to complete a dual apprenticeship in Germany, submit a German language application to a training company (employer) together with your CV and school certificates; this must generally be done one year before the start of the apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship vacancies are published on the internet and in regional daily newspapers.
Online job sites for apprenticeships:
- apprenticeship portal operated by the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit]: www.jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de
- job portal operated by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce: www.ihk-lehrstellenboerse.de/
- access to the regional job portals of the chambers of skilled trades: https://www.handwerkskammer.de/artikel/lehrstellenboerse-5620,10,13.html
In addition, there are various specialist platforms that offer apprenticeship vacancies, mostly sorted by industry. Almost all traditional job portals also have an ‘Apprenticeship’ section. Furthermore, apprenticeship vacancies are regularly published on company and authority websites.
The selection process varies depending on the organisation. Larger organisations often test their applicants in assessment centres, whereas in small craft businesses it is often the personal impression that applicants make in the interview that counts.
During the interview, it is important to demonstrate your interest in learning the chosen regulated profession to the company. You should be able to explain:
- why you have chosen the specific occupation in question, and
- why you have applied to the training company.
It is therefore crucial that you thoroughly research not only the chosen regulated profession, but also the specific training company.
In addition to career advice from employment agencies (https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/bildung/berufsberatung), the chambers also offer advice on regulated professions.
Funding and support
Many apprentices continue to live with their parents during their apprenticeship. If this is not possible, the allowance paid is not usually sufficient to cover the expense of living in one’s own home and everyday expenses.
Under certain conditions, vocational training assistance [Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe – BAB] may be requested. During a dual apprenticeship in a recognised regulated profession, BAB is paid as support for everyday expenses. One of the following requirements must be met in order to be eligible for vocational training assistance:
- the apprentice is unable to live with their parents as the training company is too far away,
- the apprentice is over the age of 18 or married, or lives with a partner, or
- the apprentice has at least one child and does not live in their parents’ home.
Further information on vocational training assistance is available on the website of the Federal Employment Office https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/bildung/ausbildung/berufsausbildungsbeihilfe-bab and from local employment agencies.
Support during the dual apprenticeship is provided through the training assistance scheme (Assistierte Ausbildung – AsA). Under the AsA, apprentices receive the support they need upon request, either individually or in small groups. The content is tailored to meet individual needs. The following types of support are available:
- to study for exams,
- to stay on the ball in the vocational school,
- to resolve a dispute or resolve a problem in the company,
- to improve language skills,
- to find a suitable job after training, or
- to get your first job after training.
Information about this is available on the website of the Federal Employment Office https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/bildung/ausbildung/assistierte-ausbildung-machen and from local employment agencies.
With the entry into force of the Foreign Nationals Employment Assistance Act [Ausländerbeschäftigungsförderungsgesetzes] on 1 August 2019, all foreign nationals living in Germany are also eligible to receive support through BAB and AsA during an apprenticeship.
BAföG may be requested during school-based vocational training at a vocational college under certain conditions. The abbreviation stands for Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (the Federal Advanced Education and Training Assistance Act).
Citizens of the European Union as well as migrants and refugees living in Germany may also receive BAföG as financial support during their studies or school years.
As a basic rule: Foreign nationals with a prospect of remaining in Germany who are integrated into society are eligible to receive assistance. This includes, for example, individuals with a right of permanent residence in accordance with EU law on the freedom of movement, an EC permanent residence permit, or a settlement permit.
Further information on BAföG is available at www.bafög.de.
Individuals undergoing training are sometimes also eligible for discounts on local public transport [Öffentlicher Personennahverkehr – ÖPNV] and in the cultural sector.
Where to advertise opportunities?
Companies can notify the employment agencies of their apprenticeship vacancies. The agencies’ employer service team is responsible for placing apprentices.
The specialists in that team act as the points of contact at over 600 locations in Germany. They advise employers about the current applicant situation and the apprenticeship market and assist them with drafting apprenticeship vacancy adverts. They also provide assistance for finding apprentices from abroad.
When providing opportunities to apprentices from abroad, employers in Germany should ensure that they offer assistance in finding accommodation and social integration. Applicants from abroad are often highly motivated but isolated. Offering specific support can help to prevent individuals dropping out of apprenticeships.
Employers can find important and practical tips for recruiting and training young people from other countries here: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/vor-ort/zav/content/1533719619116.
When contacting the agencies’ employer service teams for the first time, please use the nationwide telephone number +49 (0)800 4 5555 20.
Apprenticeship vacancies can also be posted online at https://jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de/vamJB/stellenangebotMelden.html?execution=e1s1.
Funding and support
Companies can obtain information on financing and support possibilities from employment agencies, the agencies’ employer service teams and the local chambers.
Federal Employment Office:
Central Office for Continuing Education and Training in the Craft Sector [Zentralstelle für die Weiterbildung im Handwerk]
Chambers of Industry and Commerce
The free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Single Market.
The removal of national barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU is one of the principles enshrined in the EU Treaties. From a traditionally protectionist starting point, the countries of the EU have continuously been lifting restrictions to form a ‘common’ or single market. This commitment to create a European trading area without frontiers has led to the creation of more wealth and new jobs, and has globally established the EU as a world trading player alongside the United States and Japan.
Despite Europe’s commitment to breaking down all internal trade barriers, not all sectors of the economy have been harmonised. The European Union decided to regulate at a European level sectors which might impose a higher risk for Europe’s citizens – such as pharmaceuticals or construction products. The majority of products (considered a ‘lower risk’) are subject to the application of the so-called principle of mutual recognition, which means that essentially every product legally manufactured or marketed in one of the Member States can be freely moved and traded within the EU internal market.
Limits to the free movement of goods
The EU Treaty gives Member States the right to set limits to the free movement of goods when there is a specific common interest such as protection of the environment, citizens’ health, or public policy, to name a few. This means for example that if the import of a product is seen by a Member State’s national authorities as a potential threat to public health, public morality or public policy, it can deny or restrict access to its market. Examples of such products are genetically modified food or certain energy drinks.
Even though there are generally no limitations for the purchase of goods in another Member State, as long as they are for personal use, there is a series of European restrictions for specific categories of products, such as alcohol and tobacco.
Free movement of capital
Another essential condition for the functioning of the internal market is the free movement of capital. It is one of the four basic freedoms guaranteed by EU legislation and represents the basis of the integration of European financial markets. Europeans can now manage and invest their money in any EU Member State.
The liberalisation of capital markets has marked a crucial point in the process of economic and monetary integration in the EU. It was the first step towards the establishment of our European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the common currency, the Euro.
The principle of the free movement of capital not only increases the efficiency of financial markets within the Union, it also brings a series of advantages to EU citizens. Individuals can carry out a broad number of financial operations within the EU without major restrictions. For instance, individuals with few restrictions can
- easily open a bank account,
- buy shares
- invest, or
- purchase real estate
in another Member State. EU Companies can invest in, own and manage other European enterprises.
Certain exceptions to this principle apply both within the Member States and with third countries. They are mainly related to taxation, prudential supervision, public policy considerations, money laundering and financial sanctions agreed under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The European Commission is continuing to work on the completion of the free market for financial services, by implementing new strategies for financial integration in order to make it even easier for citizens and companies to manage their money within the EU.
Finding accommodation in Germany is not always easy. You will usually need to provide the following documents:
- application form (this is often given to you at the viewing),
- identity card,
- proof of income,
- certificate to prove that you have not been in rent arrears and evidence of your credit rating (SCHUFA report).
Do not forget to check whether the accommodation is offered unfurnished, partly furnished or fully furnished. Accommodation is often let without kitchen equipment (cooker, sink, refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, etc.).
You will find advertisements for accommodation in the property sections of local daily newspapers and on the internet. In most cases, landlords also expect a one-off deposit of two to three months’ rent in addition to the actual rent. This serves as a guarantee for any damage to be repaired after you move out of the accommodation. The deposit is returned at the end of the tenancy if the landlord has no complaints.
Tip: If you come to Germany alone and are prepared to live with other people, shared apartments [Wohngemeinschaften] are a good alternative to a place of your own. In many university towns there are also accommodation agencies [Mitwohnzentralen] that can provide rooms or apartments for a limited period of time on payment of a commission.
- Detailed information on living in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/wohnen
- Living in Germany: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/wohnen/wohnungssuch
Information on childcare is available on the websites of the city or municipality in question.
In many cases, larger companies and universities have their own childcare facilities and advertise jobs which offer a ‘work-life balance’. Further information can be found on their respective websites.
You can also find addresses for schools and universities in the offices of the city or municipality or on their websites.
- The educational guide [Bildungswegweiser], a community service provided by the Federal Government and the state governments: www.bildungsserver.de
- State schools: www.schulweb.de/de/deutschland/index.html
- Private schools: www.privatschulberatung.de
- Information on the school system in Germany from the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers [Gleichbehandlungsstelle EU-Arbeitnehmer]: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/schule/schule-1813438
The implementation of the principle of free movement of people, is one of the cornerstones of our European construction, has meant the introduction a series of practical rules to ensure that citizens can travel freely and easily to any Member State of the European Union. Travelling across the EU with one’s car has become a lot less problematic. The European Commission has set a series of common regulations governing the mutual recognition of driving licences, the validity of car insurance, and the possibility of registering your car in a host country.
Your driving licence in the EU
The EU has introduced a harmonised licence model and further minimum requirements for obtaining a licence. This should help to keep unsafe drivers off Europe's roads - wherever they take their driving test.
Since 19 January 2013, all driving licences issued by EU countries have the same look and feel. The licences are printed on a piece of plastic that has the size and shape of a credit card.
Harmonised administrative validity periods for the driving licence document have been introduced which are between 10 and 15 years for motorcycles and passenger cars. This enables the authorities to regularly update the driving licence document with new security features that will make it harder to forge or tamper - so unqualified or banned drivers will find it harder to fool the authorities, in their own country or elsewhere in the EU.
The new European driving licence is also protecting vulnerable road users by introducing progressive access for motorbikes and other powered two-wheelers. The "progressive access" system means that riders will need experience with a less powerful bike before they go on to bigger machines. Mopeds will also constitute a separate category called AM.
You must apply for a licence in the country where you usually or regularly live. As a general rule, it is the country where you live for at least 185 days each calendar year because of personal or work-related ties.
If you have personal/work-related ties in 2 or more EU countries, your place of usual residence is the place where you have personal ties, as long as you go back regularly. You don't need to meet this last condition if you are living in an EU country to carry out a task for a fixed period of time.
If you move to another EU country to go to college or university, your place of usual residence doesn't change. However, you can apply for a driving licence in your host country if you can prove you have been studying there for at least 6 months.
Registering your car in the host country
If you move permanently to another EU country and take your car with you, you should register your car and pay car-related taxes in your new country.
There are no common EU rules on vehicle registration and related taxes. Some countries have tax-exemption rules for vehicle registration when moving with the car from one country to another permanently.
To benefit from a tax exemption, you must check the applicable deadlines and conditions in the country you wish to move to.
Check the exact rules and deadlines with the national authorities: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/registration-abroad/index_en.htm
EU citizens can insure their car in any EU country, as long as the chosen insurance company is licensed by the host national authority to issue the relevant insurance policies. A company based in another Member State is entitled sell a policy for compulsory civil liability only if certain conditions are met. Insurance will be valid throughout the Union, no matter where the accident takes place.
Value Added Tax or VAT on motor vehicles is ordinarily paid in the country where the car is purchased, although under certain conditions, VAT is paid in the country of destination.
More information on the rules which apply when a vehicle is acquired in one EU Member State and is intended to be registered in another EU Member State is available on this link https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/taxes-abroad/index_en.htm.
Nationals of the EU Member States enjoy unlimited freedom of movement for workers and are not subject to any restrictions as regards work permits. The same applies to nationals of the EEA countries, namely Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Swiss nationals share the same status as nationals of EEA countries.
Tip: Up-to-date information for British citizens can currently be found on the website of the Federal Employment Office: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/informationen-zum-brexit-briten.
Nationals of countries outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), referred to as third-country nationals, need a residence document (visa, residence permit, EU blue card, settlement permit, EU permanent residence permit) in order to enter Germany and remain there for the purposes of taking up employment.
In principle, family members from third countries require an entry visa. However, certain states benefit from advantages. Before entering Germany, please contact the German diplomatic mission or consular post to find out what rules apply to you. Persons who have a valid residence card from another EU Member State are excluded from that requirement. They are exempt from the visa requirement (Article 5(2) of the Free Movement Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC)).
The Skilled Immigration Act [Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz] has been in force since 1 March 2020. That act opens up the labour market to skilled workers from countries outside the European Union. Before this, only academically trained professionals had access to the labour market in occupations where there is no shortage in Germany. In future, professionals with recognised foreign vocational training will also be able to obtain a residence permit for employment in all the professions for which they are qualified. The restriction to what are known as bottleneck professions will cease to apply.
An equivalent qualification and a firm job offer are necessary in order to grant a residence document for the purpose of taking up employment. You will be permitted to practise any qualified profession of which you are capable as a result of your vocational qualification. As before, the Federal Employment Office will assess whether the conditions of employment are equivalent to those for comparable domestic employees. A priority check is no longer carried out for professionals.
It is now also possible to obtain a visa for a limited period of time, for the purpose of obtaining full professional recognition or to look for a job or training position.
The accelerated skilled worker process helps to make the visa procedure faster and more predictable. An agreement must be in place between the employer and the locally competent immigration authority. As soon as all the documents have been submitted and the immigration authority has given its approval for entry to the country, the skilled worker will be notified of their appointment at the foreign embassy within three weeks and will receive the visa within a further three weeks.
The Central Service Agency for Professional Recognition [Zentrale Servicestelle Berufsanerkennung – ZSBA] at the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit – BA], situated at the International Placement Service [Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung – ZAV] of the Federal Employment Office in Bonn, started work on 1 February 2020.
The task of the ZSBA is to give advice to foreign nationals hoping to obtain recognition of their professional qualifications on the prospects and requirements of the recognition procedure and professional accreditation, and associated matters of residency. The ZSBA supports these foreign nationals through the recognition procedure until they enter Germany.
The ZSBA also gives advice on possible places of employment. The ZSBA supports the applicant in compiling the necessary documents and forwards these to the competent authority. The ZSBA also puts applicants in contact with employers in Germany and provides information on any necessary qualification opportunities.
- Information on work permits for employers: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/unternehmen/arbeitskraefte/informationen-arbeitsmarktzulassung
- Information for people from abroad: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/fuer-menschen-aus-dem-ausland
- Information on recognising foreign degrees and certificates: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/fuer-menschen-aus-dem-ausland/anerkennung-abschluss
- Information on the Skilled Immigration Act: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/visum/fachkraefteeinwanderungsgesetz/
- Video on the Skilled Immigration Act: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZXCkj8s9Y
- Information on the Central Service Agency for Professional Recognition (ZSBA): https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/de/zentrale-servicestelle-berufsanerkennung.php
- Advisory services: https://www.bmwi.de/Navigation/DE/Service/Beratungsangebote/beratungsangebote.html
- Entry and residence: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/service/visa-und-aufenthalt/uebersicht/214110
- New arrivals in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/aufenthalt
- Information for British citizens in Germany: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/informationen-zum-brexit-briten
Shortly after moving to Germany, you must register at the Residents’ Registration Office [Einwohnermeldeamt] of the city or municipality in which you live. For more information, refer to the website of the city or municipality. Registration appointments can generally be arranged online, even before you move to Germany.
A bank account can be opened only when you have a permanent place of residence. As banks charge different fees for their services, it is worth making a comparison.
When applying for a land-line telephone and internet connection there are several providers – quite a few are regional providers. A comparison of services and costs is worthwhile here as well.
Also think about energy supply: Generally, electricity, gas and water must be registered separately with the relevant local providers.
If you have children, find out about nurseries and/or schools in your neighbourhood so that you can register in good time.
In Germany, fees are charged for receiving television and radio programmes from state-owned broadcasters. Registration is carried out with the ARD ZDF Radio and Television Licences Agency [Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice] either online or by means of forms, which are available at public administrations and almost all banks and savings banks. Other distinctive features in Germany are church tax and dog tax.
- Radio and TV licence fees: www.rundfunkbeitrag.de
- Registering for broadcasting licence fee: https://www.rundfunkbeitrag.de/buergerinnen_und_buerger/formulare/anmelden/index_ger.html
- Video on first 100 days in Germany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHb6dtxlDh4
Quality of work and employment - a vital issue, with a strong economic and humanitarian impact
Good working conditions are important for the well-being of European workers. They
- contribute to the physical and psychological welfare of Europeans, and
- contribute to the economic performance of the EU.
From a humanitarian point of view, the quality of working environment has a strong influence on the overall work and life satisfaction of European workers.
From an economic point of view, high-quality job conditions are a driving force of economic growth and a foundation for the competitive position of the European Union. A high level of work satisfaction is an important factor for achieving high productivity of the EU economy.
It is therefore a core issue for the European Union to promote the creation and maintenance of a sustainable and pleasant working environment – one that promotes health and well-being of European employees and creates a good balance between work and non-work time.
Improving working conditions in Europe: an important objective for the European Union.
Ensuring favourable working conditions for European citizens is a priority for the EU. The European Union is therefore working together with national governments to ensure a pleasant and secure workplace environment. Support to Member States is provided through:
- the exchange of experience between different countries and common actions
- the establishment of the minimum requirements on working conditions and health and safety at work, to be applied all over the European Union
Criteria for quality of work and employment
In order to achieve sustainable working conditions, it is important to determine the main characteristics of a favourable working environment and thus the criteria for the quality of working conditions.
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) in Dublin, is an EU agency that provides information, advice and expertise on, as the name implies, living and working conditions. This agency has established several criteria for job and employment quality, which include:
- health and well-being at the workplace – this is a vital criteria, since good working conditions suppose the prevention of health problems at the work place, decreasing the exposure to risk and improving work organisation
- reconciliation of working and non-working life – citizens should be given the chance to find a balance between the time spent at work and at leisure
- skills development – a quality job is one that gives possibilities for training, improvement and career opportunities
The work of Eurofound contributes to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe.
Health and safety at work
The European Commission has undertaken a wide scope of activities to promote a healthy working environment in the EU Member States. Amongst others, it developed a Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work for the period 2021-2027. This strategy was set up with the help of national authorities, social partners and NGOs. It addresses the changing needs in worker’s protection brought by the digital and green transitions, new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the framework will continue to address traditional occupational safety and health risks, such as risks of accidents at work or exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The Community policy on health and safety at work aims at a long-lasting improvement of well-being of EU workers. It takes into account the physical, moral and social dimensions of working conditions, as well as the new challenges brought up by the enlargement of the European Union towards countries from Central and Eastern Europe. The introduction of EU standards for health and safety at the workplace, has contributed a lot to the improvement of the situation of workers in these countries.
Improving working conditions by setting minimum requirements common to all EU countries
Improving living and working conditions in the EU Member States depends largely on the establishment of common labour standards. EU labour laws and regulations have set the minimum requirements for a sustainable working environment and are now applied in all Member States. The improvement of these standards has strengthened workers’ rights and is one of the main achievements of the EU’s social policy.
The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers
The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will not become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.
Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU
As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.
For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.
Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe
The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.
Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU
Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.
In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.
The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.
A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.
The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.
Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents
- a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
- a cover letter editor,
- certificate supplements,
- diploma supplements, and
- a Europass-Mobility document.
The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.
The minimum age for regular employment in a business is 15. Although trainees work in a business as part of their vocational training, they are not employed in the conventional sense and therefore enter into a vocational training contract with the company providing the training.
The majority of employees continue to have permanent, full-time employment contracts with weekly working times that are generally 38-40 hours.
The following forms of employment are particularly common in Germany:
- Vocational training relationship:This includes vocational training, vocational training preparation, further vocational training and retraining. The specific and central legal source is the Vocational Training Act [Berufsbildungsgesetz – BBiG].
- Mini-jobs: In the case of minor employment – also known as a ‘mini-job’ – a distinction is made between low-income and short-term employment.
- Employment is categorised as short-term employment if it is limited to no more than three months or 70 working days from the start date in the course of a calendar year. Under labour law, there is a fully-fledged employment relationship in each case. Short-term employment also includes seasonal work.
- Employment is deemed to be low-income employment if the remuneration generally does not exceed EUR 450 per month. Generally speaking, workers who engage in minor employment should therefore be treated as part-time and full-time workers. Workers who engage in minor employment are not subject to compulsory insurance (sickness, care and unemployment insurance). They can be exempted from compulsory pension insurance.
You can find further information at https://www.minijob-zentrale.de.
- Part-time work: The agreed working time for part-time employees is shorter than the company’s normal working time. In principle, part-time employment is subject to the same provisions of labour law as full-time employment, since the only difference between the two employment relationships is the duration of the working time. In addition, the Part-time Working and Fixed-term Employment Contracts Act [Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz – TzBfG] contains special provisions. Further information can be found on the internet at http://www.teilzeit-info.de.
- Fixed-term employment relationship:There are two types of fixed-term contracts:
- time-based contracts end at the contractually agreed point in time without needing to be terminated.
- purpose-based contracts are concluded for a specific purpose (e.g. holiday or sickness cover, collaboration on a specific project). In the case of purpose-based contracts, a notice period of two weeks must be given.
With regard to the permissibility of fixed-term employment, the special provisions of the TzBfG must be complied with.
- Teleworking: An employee can either work entirely from home and thus away from the physical workplace, or they can alternate between working from home and at the workplace. A teleworking job is established only when the employer and the employee have laid down the teleworking conditions in an employment contract, a supplementary agreement, a works agreement or a collective agreement and the equipment required for the teleworking job has been provided.
- Temporary employment relationship / employee assignment: The terms ‘temporary agency work’, ‘hiring-out of workers’ and ‘employee assignment’ refer to the situation in which an employer supplies an employee to a third party in return for remuneration and for a limited period of time. Forms, fact sheets and other documents from the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit] can be downloaded at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/unternehmen/download-center-unternehmen#1478809589553.
Seasonal work in agriculture
Fair mobility is important to us. German labour law also applies to harvest workers. This includes:
- entitlement to paid holiday,
- payment in lieu of untaken holiday,
- continued payment of wages in the event of illness,
- and much more.
More information on seasonal work in German, English, Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian can be found on the website of the Federal Employment Office and in the downloads at the end of the page: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/fuer-menschen-aus-dem-ausland/saisonarbeit-in-deutschland.
In Germany, there is employment which is subject to compulsory social security contributions and employment which is exempt from compulsory social security contributions. Normally, employment is subject to such compulsory contributions. A questionnaire is used to determine whether or not you are subject to compulsory social security contributions. The questionnaire can be downloaded in different languages from the website of the Social Insurance for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture at https://www.svlfg.de/auslaendische-saisonarbeitskraefte oder auf der Webseite der Bundesagentur für Arbeit https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/fuer-menschen-aus-dem-ausland/saisonarbeit-in-deutschland.
Further information on fair mobility can be found in different languages on the webpage of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)https://www.faire-mobilitaet.de/landwirtschaft.
- Information on working conditions in Germany from the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB): http://www.fair-arbeiten.eu/
- Information on working conditions in Germany from the EU Equal Treatment Office [EU-Gleichbehandlungsstelle]: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/arbeiten-in-deutschland/besondere-arbeitsformen#doc2241986bodyText5
A permanent employment contract may be entered into orally or in writing. In the case of a fixed-term contract, however, the expiry date must always be set down in writing. If that is not done, the employment contract is deemed to be open-ended. The written form is compulsory for apprenticeship contracts.
If a written employment contract has not been concluded, the employer is required by the Proof of Employment Act [Nachweisgesetz] to set out the main working conditions in writing no later than one month after the agreed start of employment, sign them and hand them over to the employee.
A written contract should contain the following details:
- name and address of the employee
- name and address of the company
- place of work
- description of duties
- date on which employment commenced
- duration of probationary period
- In the case of fixed-term employment: duration of the employment relationship
- In the case of permanent employment: notice period and date of termination
- weekly or daily working hours
- amount of remuneration and of any supplements
- payment date and method
- leave allowance
- reference to collective agreements and to works and service agreements
- Information on labour law from the German Trade Union Confederation: http://www.dgb.de/themen?k:list=Arbeit&k:list=Arbeitsrecht
- Information on labour law from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsrecht/arbeitsrecht.html;jsesFsionid=BB10FA1EB12B405F578D479BB78D2437
Child labour is banned in Germany under the Act on the Protection of Young People at Work [Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz]. The Act draws a distinction between children (aged up to 14) and young people (aged between 15 and 18). The same provisions apply for young people in full-time compulsory education. However, children who are at least 14 and not subject to full-time compulsory education may be employed for up to seven hours a day and 35 hours a week in light jobs appropriate to them. Such jobs include photocopying and performing errands, for example. The minimum age for regular employment of a young person in a business is 15.
Severely disabled people enjoy special protection against dismissal. Termination of the employment relationship of a severely disabled person by the employer requires the prior consent of the Integration Office [Integrationsamt]. Any notice of termination given by the employer without such consent is invalid.
The Maternity Protection Act [Mutterschutzgesetz] protects pregnant women and mothers primarily against dismissal and in most cases also against temporary reduction of income. In addition, the ban on employment protects the health of the mother (or mother to be) and the child against hazards in the workplace. In principle, the period of maternity protection commences six weeks before the due date and normally ends eight weeks after the birth of the child or, in the case of medically premature births and multiple births, twelve weeks after birth.
- Disabled persons in employment: www.integrationsaemter.de
- Information on maternity protection: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/service/publikationen/leitfaden-zum-mutterschutz/73756
Freedom of establishment within the European Union ensures that each and every EU citizen may set up an organisation, and any organisation from an EU Member State may set up an establishment, in their country of choice within the European Union. However, foreign nationals must also satisfy the requirements of national business law governing the setting up of companies so that nationals are not subject to stricter rules than foreigners.
In the case of skilled trades, the Chamber of Skilled Trades [Handwerkskammer] must examine whether the skilled trade to be pursued must be entered in the Skilled Trades Register [Handwerksrolle] and whether the necessary requirements have been satisfied. The Skilled Trades Register is a list of all owners of organisations carrying out skilled trades, for which registration is required, who carry out their business on a regular basis. Anyone who wishes to start up a business must register it with the Business Registration Office [Gewerbeamt] of the city/municipality where the business is to have its registered offices. Self-employed persons are exempt from this. They are not registered with the Business Registration Office but rather only with the Tax Office [Finanzamt].
People setting up organisations in Germany can obtain information and advice from chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of skilled trades, professional associations and banking institutions. In each federal state, there is a dedicated body for providing them with advice. These bodies each have their own internet portal.
- Support for business start-ups: www.existenzgruender.de
- Starting a business in Germany: www.dihk.de
- Information on self-employment from the Central Association of German Chambers of Skilled Trades [Zentralverband der Handwerkskammern]: www.zdh.de
- Information on self-employment from the Central Association of German Chambers of Skilled Trades [Zentralverband der Handwerkskammern] – Trade and Crafts Code [Handwerksordnung]: https://www.zdh.de/daten-und-fakten/handwerksordnung/
- IHK Bodensee-Oberschwaben: Registering a business: https://www.weingarten.ihk.de/recht/gesetzliche-vorgaben-fuers-gewerb-/gewerbeanmeldung-und-gewerbeerlaubnis/die-gewerbeanzeige-1942556
- Information on self-employment from the Federal Employment Office: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/arbeitslosengeld-2/arbeit-aufnehmen-existenzgruendung
- Information on self-employment from the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/besondere-arbeitsformen
- Information on self-employment – Baden-Württemberg: https://www.service-bw.de/web/guest/lebenslage/-/sbw/Selbstaendigkeit+in+Deutschland-5001102-lebenslage-0
- Information on self-employment – Bavaria: http://www.eap.bayern.de
- Information on self-employment – Berlin: https://www.berlin.de/ea/
- Information on self-employment – Brandenburg: http://eap.brandenburg.de/web/sbb
- Information on self-employment – Bremen: http://www.wfb-bremen.de/de/wfb-einheitlicher-ansprechpartner
- Information on self-employment – Hamburg: http://www.hamburg.de/einheitlicher-ansprechpartner
- Information on self-employment – Hessen: https://www.eah.hessen.de
- Information on self-employment – Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: http://www.service.m-v.de/cms/DLP_prod/DLP/ea/de/start/index.jsp
- Information on self-employment – Lower Saxony: http://www.dienstleisterportal.niedersachsen.de
- Information on self-employment – North Rhine-Westphalia: https://meineverwaltung.nrw/
- Information on self-employment – Rhineland-Palatinate: https://mwvlw.rlp.de/de/themen/wirtschafts-und-innovationspolitik/unternehmensgruendung/
- Information on self-employment – Saarland: https://www.saarland.de/mwaev/DE/portale/wirtschaft/einheitlicher_ansprechpartner/easaar.html
- Information on self-employment – Saxony: http://www.ea.sachsen.de
- Information on self-employment – Saxony-Anhalt: http://www.ea.sachsen-anhalt.de
- Information on self-employment – Schleswig-Holstein: http://www.zufish.schleswig-holstein.de
- Information on self-employment – Thuringia: https://verwaltung.thueringen.de/
Earned income is set by collective wage agreements or by individual agreements with the employer. Employers frequently pay remuneration exceeding the agreed pay scale to sought-after skilled workers. Higher wage and salary payments above the collectively agreed rate are characterised by the fact that collective wage agreements are applied in the company and therefore employees’ basic remuneration is regulated collectively. A voluntary, freely agreed supplement is paid in addition to this basic remuneration.
As of 1 January 2022, the statutory minimum wage was increased to EUR 9.82 gross and increases to EUR 12.00 gross on 1 October 2022. There are also generally applicable sectoral minimum wages in accordance with the Basic Collective Agreements Act [Basis Tarifvertragsgesetz], the Posted Workers Act [Arbeitnehmerentsendegesetz] and the Act on the Provision of Temporary Workers [Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz].
Persons under the age of 18 without vocational training are exempt from the minimum wage in Germany. In addition, trainees and persons completing a compulsory work placement have no right to the minimum wage. Only a voluntary work placement lasting longer than three months is remunerated at the minimum wage rate.
For apprentices, since 2020, there has been a minimum apprenticeship allowance [Mindestausbildungsvergütung – MAV] of EUR 515 in the first year for apprentices starting their studies in 2020. The fixed starting amounts have been and will be raised gradually: EUR 550 for starting training in 2021, EUR 585 for starting training in 2022 and EUR 620 for starting training in 2023. From 2024, the minimum remuneration for the first year of training will be adjusted annually to the average growth in remuneration for all training. Provision is made for an increase of 18% in the second year of the apprenticeship, 35% in the third and 40% in the fourth. The adjustment in subsequent years is linked to the average change in contractually agreed training allowances (based on both collective agreements and individual contracts) and is made automatically. Training companies subject to collective wage agreements may pay trainees the applicable collective training allowances even if these are less than the above-mentioned rates. Above the MAV, the agreed training allowance should not be more than 20% below the remuneration stipulated in the relevant collective wage agreements.
At present, minimum standards for working conditions (particularly wages and paid leave) exist only in individual sectors as a result of statutory rules of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Posted Workers Act, 1996). These currently apply, among other sectors, to the main and ancillary construction industry, cleaners, postal workers, the care sector, security services and waste management (including street cleaning and winter road maintenance).
Salaries are normally transferred into the employee’s current account in the middle of the month or at the end of the month. Under trade regulations, the employer is required to provide the employee with a statement setting out remuneration in a comprehensible text format. Wage tax, solidarity surcharge and, where appropriate, church tax, and also the employee share of contributions for social security insurance (healthcare and pensions insurance) and unemployment insurance are deducted from the agreed gross pay and transferred directly by the employer to the relevant administrations.
- Labour law and minimum wage – labour law: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsrecht/arbeitsrecht.html
- Labour law and minimum wage – minimum wage: https://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsrecht/Mindestlohn/mindestlohn.html
- Minimum training allowance (MAV): https://www.bmbf.de/bmbf/de/home/_documents/die-novellierung-des-berufsbildungsgesetzes-bbig.html
- Wages and salaries: www.lohnspiegel.de
Working time and breaks are stipulated in the Working Time Act [Arbeitszeitgesetz]. This applies to workers, employees and people in initial vocational training. Senior management staff are not protected by this Act.
At present the working week varies between 38 and 40 hours, depending on the collective wage agreement. As a rule, the working day should not exceed eight hours and is restricted by law to a maximum of ten hours. A break of at least 30 minutes is mandatory after six hours’ work, and a further break of 15 minutes after nine hours. A rest period of at least 11 hours must be observed after a full working day. Employees cannot normally be required to work on Sundays and public holidays.
For many workers, normal working hours i.e. eight working hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. over five weekdays, is not the norm. These workers include emergency and rescue services, fire brigade, public safety workers, hospitals, guesthouses, cultural institutions and transport. However, workers must have at least 15 work-free Sundays per year.
Many workers now have flexible working hours, such as ‘flexitime’. ‘Flexitime’ generally provides for core hours during which all employees must be present at the organisation. Employees are given the opportunity to work more or fewer hours within certain limits. As a rule, overtime hours can be accumulated to a limited extent and ‘taken off in lieu’ or paid out. Electronic time recording systems and working time accounts have been set up in businesses to record the hours of work performed by each individual. If such systems are not available, you should document your working hours yourself. The website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has information on how to document your working time (sample sheet or app).
- Working Time Act [Arbeitszeitgesetz]: bundesrecht.juris.de/arbzg/index.html
- Labour law and documentation on working time: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsrecht/Mindestlohn/dokumentationspflicht.html
The statutory minimum entitlement to leave is 24 working days per year (Federal Act on Leave [Bundesurlaubsgesetz]). Special rules apply to certain groups of people, including young people under the age of 18 and disabled people.
Collective agreements stipulate leave of 30 working days for most employees. A person’s salary continues to be paid in full during this period. Anyone who consistently performs heavy or hazardous work will normally receive additional leave. Some collective wage agreements include arrangements for specific events in one’s private life. For instance, some organisations grant individual and additional special leave days for marriage, the death of a close relative or for moving house if you are transferred to a different location. Full entitlement to leave is acquired only after the employment relationship has been in existence for six months.
There is in principle a ban on working on public holidays, to which there are some exceptions. The Public Holidays Acts [Feiertagsgesetz] of the individual federal states [Länder] determine the dates of public holidays in those federal states. The national public holidays are New Year’s Day (1 January), Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, Labour Day (1 May), Ascension Day, Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, Day of German Unity (3 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December).
There are clear rules governing absence on grounds of illness. In the event of illness, an employee must inform the organisation of their incapacity for work and the anticipated duration of that incapacity as soon as possible. In the case of illness lasting longer than three days, an employee must submit a doctor’s certificate no later than the following working day.
During parental leave, parents can be released from work to look after their child – the employment relationship is thus in abeyance during parental leave. However, parental leave also gives male and female employees the opportunity to work part-time so that they are able to devote themselves to their child and at the same time keep up with their job. Each parent is entitled to up to three years’ parental leave to care for and raise the child. Of this, 24 months of parental leave may be claimed between the child’s third and eighth birthday. Parental leave may be divided into three periods (or more periods, with the consent of the employer). However, the employer may reject the third period of parental leave for urgent operational reasons if this falls exclusively between the child’s third and eighth birthday.
Employees can take educational leave for the purpose of their further training. The federal states have their own laws on educational leave which govern paid leave from work. You can use this for your own citizenship education, language courses (e.g. ‘German as a foreign language’) or for your further vocational training. As for annual leave, you should agree on arrangements for educational leave with your employer at an early stage.
- Parental leave allowance: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/familie/familienleistungen/elterngeld/elterngeld-und-elterngeldplus/73752
- Educational leave: www.bildungsurlaub.de
- Calendar showing school holidays and public holidays: http://www.schulferien.org
Permanent employment relationships end upon termination by at least one contracting party (employee or employer), but no later than upon reaching the pensionable age.
Permanent employment normally begins with a six-month probation period. During this trial period a reduced period of notice of 14 days applies. Termination of an employment relationship must be made in writing. The statutory periods of notice are provided for/laid down in the Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)]. Employees must give four weeks’ notice to the fifteenth or last day of a given month. The longer an employee has been with a business, the longer the periods of notice that must be given by the employer.
Here is a short list of the notice periods, which depend on the duration of the employment relationship:
0 to 6 months (probationary period)
2 weeks to any day of the month
7 months to 2 years
4 weeks to the fifteenth or last day of the calendar month
1 month to the end of the calendar month
2 months to the end of the calendar month
3 months to the end of the calendar month
4 months to the end of the calendar month
5 months to the end of the calendar month
6 months to the end of the calendar month
7 months to the end of the calendar month
Fixed-term employment with a written employment contract automatically comes to an end when the agreed period expires. In those cases the organisation is not required to give notice of termination. When your employment relationship ends, you are entitled to a reference.
The termination of working life and entitlement to the standard old-age pension are currently being changed in stages. For those born up until 1946, the retirement age was 65. The retirement age for those born after that year is gradually being increased at the moment. As of 2019, the statutory retirement age for those born from 1964 onwards, is 67. However, early retirement is still possible, for example in the event of severe disability or contributions having been paid for many years. The longer contributions have been paid into the pension scheme, the higher the pension. Child-raising periods and the care of relatives are also taken into account as qualifying contributory periods.
In addition, a pension is payable for reduced capacity to work, for example if you can no longer work or can only work part-time on account of an illness or disability. The amount of the pension in that regard depends on your contribution periods and the degree of incapacity.
- Pension calculation: www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de
- Information from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) on pensions and old-age pensions: http://www.bmas.de/DE/Themen/Rente/Gesetzliche-Rentenversicherung/gesetzliche-rentenversicherung.html
Trade unions negotiate collective agreements with undertakings, which regulate income, working time and leave for the undertaking. In the event of industrial action, they organise a strike and pay their members strike pay. They help set up works councils and support employees in company conflicts and represent them in disputes with their employer. Trade union members have free legal protection in disputes relating to labour and social law. Some trade unions also provide free leisure time and accident insurance. Membership of a trade union is voluntary and subject to contributions.
The German Trade Union Confederation [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB)] is the umbrella organisation for eight individual trade unions, with a total membership of around 5.8 million.
The works council or, in the public sector, the staff committee is democratically elected by the workforce. Its main tasks may be summarised as follows:
- it represents employees in dealings with employers relating to personnel and social matters;
- it monitors compliance with laws, regulations, health and safety provisions, collective agreements and works agreements;
- it cooperates in workplace design, regulation of working time, personnel planning and in-service training;
- it must be given a hearing whenever an employee is dismissed, otherwise the dismissal is invalid.
The representation of works employees is regulated by the Works Constitution Act [Betriebsverfassungsgesetz] or, in the case of the public sector, by the relevant staff representation legislation. For the appointment or election of a works council, the company in question must have at least five employees aged 18 or over.
Foreign employees have the same rights to vote and stand as a candidate as their German colleagues.
- The German Trade Union Confederation [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund]: http://www.dgb.de
- IndustriALL European Trade Union: https://news.industriall-europe.eu/
- European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW): http://www.efbww.org/default.asp?Language=EN
- European Works Councils: http://www.euro-betriebsrat.de/ebr/931.php
As a rule, the works council and the employer seek to work together in a spirit of mutual trust. If the interests of the two partners diverge, however, fierce disputes can arise.
If wage negotiations collapse and arbitration attempts fail, trade unions in Germany are legally permitted to strike. Before a strike is called, however, a secret ballot must be held in which at least 75% of unionised employees vote in favour of industrial action.
Token strikes – brief work stoppages designed to reinforce demands during wage negotiations – are also permitted after an agreed cooling-off period. All employees of the company against which the trade union has called a strike are entitled to come out on strike, regardless of whether or not they are union members.
No reprisals may be taken that affect the legal status of employees who take part in a lawful strike. Employment contracts remain in force during a strike, but no remuneration is payable. A union strike fund provides union members with support to compensate for this loss of earnings.
During industrial action, employees may be locked out by employers. A lockout means that a number of employees are temporarily excluded from the workplace without pay and amounts to a shutdown.
Information on the right to strike from the ver.di trade union
Information on the right to strike from the Federal Agency for Civic Education
Article 9 of the Basic Law [Grundgesetz]
The term Vocational Education and Training refers to practical activities and courses related to a specific occupation or vocation, aimed at preparing participants for their future careers. Vocational training is an essential means to achieve professional recognition and improve chances to get a job. It is therefore vital that vocational training systems in Europe respond to the needs of citizens and the labour market in order to facilitate access to employment.
Vocational education and training has been an essential part of EU policy since the very establishment of the European Community. It is also a crucial element of the so-called EU Lisbon Strategy, which aims at transforming Europe into the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society. In 2002 the European Council reaffirmed this vital role, and established yet another ambitious goal – to make European education and training renowned globally by the year 2010 – by championing a number of world-class initiatives, and in particular by strengthening cooperation in the area of vocational training.
On 24 November 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on vocational education and training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience.
The Recommendation defines key principles for ensuring that vocational education and training is agile in that it adapts swiftly to labour market needs and provides quality learning opportunities for young people and adults alike.
It places a strong focus on the increased flexibility of vocational education and training, reinforced opportunities for work-based learning, apprenticeships and improved quality assurance.
The Recommendation also replaces the EQAVET – European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training – Recommendation and includes an updated EQAVET Framework with quality indicators and descriptors. It repeals the former ECVET Recommendation.
To promote these reforms, the Commission supports Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) which bring together local partners to develop ‘skills ecosystems'. Skills ecosystems will contribute to regional, economic and social development, innovation and smart specialisation strategies.
Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
It has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion. This is nearly double the funding compared to its predecessor programme (2014-2020).
The 2021-2027 programme places a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life.
It supports priorities and activities set out in the European Education Area, Digital Education Action Plan and the European Skills Agenda. The programme also
- supports the European Pillar of Social Rights
- implements the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027
- develops the European dimension in sport
Who can take part? Find out here.
Adult Education and Lifelong Learning in Europe
Lifelong learning is a process that involves all forms of education – formal, informal and non-formal – and lasts from the pre-school period until after retirement. It is meant to enable people to develop and maintain key competencies throughout their life as well as to empower citizens to move freely between jobs, regions and countries. Lifelong learning is also a core element of the previously mentioned Lisbon Strategy, as it is crucial for self-development and the raising of competitiveness and employability. The EU has adopted several instruments for the promotion of adult education in Europe.
In order to make lifelong learning a reality in Europe, the European Commission has set itself the objective of creating a European Area of Lifelong Learning. In this context, the Commission focuses on identifying the needs of both learners and the labour market in order to make education more accessible and subsequently create partnerships between public administrations, suppliers of educational services and civil society.
This EU initiative is based on the objective of providing basic skills – by strengthening counselling and information services at a European level, and by recognising all forms of learning, including formal education and informal and non-formal training.
EU organisations promoting vocational education in Europe
With the objective of facilitating cooperation and exchange in the field of vocational training, the EU has set up specialised bodies working in the field of VOCATIONAL TRAINING.
The European Centre for Vocational Training (CEDEFOP / Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle) was created in 1975 as a specialised EU agency for the promotion and development of vocational education and training in Europe. Based in Thessaloniki, Greece, it carries out research and analysis on vocational training and disseminates its expertise to various European partners, such as related research institutions, universities or training facilities.
The European Training Foundation was established in 1995 and works in close collaboration with CEDEFOP. Its mission is to support partner countries (from outside the EU) to modernise and develop their systems for vocational training.
Quality of life – on top of the EU social policy agenda
Favourable living conditions depend on a wide range of factors, such as quality healthcare services, education and training opportunities or good transport facilities, just to name a few aspects affecting citizens’ everyday life and work. The European Union has set for itself the aim to constantly improve the quality of life in all its Member States, and to take into account the new challenges of contemporary Europe, such as socially exclude people or an aging population.
Employment in Europe
Improving employment opportunities in Europe is a key priority for the European Commission. With the prospect of tackling the problem of unemployment and increasing the mobility between jobs and regions, a wide variety of initiatives at EU level are being developed and implemented to support the European Employment strategy. These include the European Employment Services network (EURES) and the EU Skills Panorama.
Health and healthcare in the European Union
Health is a cherished value, influencing people’s daily lives and therefore an important priority for all Europeans. A healthy environment is crucial for our individual and professional development, and EU citizens are ever more demanding about health and safety at work and the provision of high quality healthcare services. They require quick and easy access to medical treatment when travelling across the European Union. EU health policies are aimed at responding to these needs.
The European Commission has developed a coordinated approach to health policy, putting into practice a series of initiatives that complement the actions of national public authorities. The Union’s common actions and objectives are included in EU health programmes and strategies.
The current EU4Health Programme (2021-2027) is the EU’s ambitious response to COVID-19. The pandemic has a major impact on patients, medical and healthcare staff, and health systems in Europe. The new EU4Health programme will go beyond crisis response to address healthcare systems’ resilience.
EU4Health, established by Regulation (EU) 2021/522, will provide funding to eligible entities, health organisations and NGOs from EU countries, or non-EU countries associated to the programme.
With EU4Health, the EU will invest €5.3 billion in current prices in actions with an EU added value, complementing EU countries’ policies and pursuing one or several of EU4Health´s objectives:
- To improve and foster health in the Union
- disease prevention & health promotion
- international health initiatives & cooperation
- To tackle cross-border health threats
- prevention, preparedness & response to cross-border health threats
- complementing national stockpiling of essential crisis-relevant products
- establishing a reserve of medical, healthcare & support staff
- To improve medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products
- making medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products available and affordable
- To strengthen health systems, their resilience and resource efficiency
- strengthening health data, digital tools & services, digital transformation of healthcare
- improving access to healthcare
- developing and implementing EU health legislation and evidence-based decision making
- integrated work among national health systems
Education in the EU
Education in Europe has both deep roots and great diversity. Already in 1976, education ministers decided to set up an information network to better understand educational policies and systems in the then nine-nation European Community. This reflected the principle that the particular character of an educational system in any one Member State ought to be fully respected, while coordinated interaction between education, training and employment systems should be improved. Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, was formally launched in 1980.
In 1986, attention turned from information exchanges to student exchanges with the launch of the Erasmus programme, now grown into the Erasmus+programme, often cited as one of the most successful initiatives of the EU.
Transport in the EU
Transport was one of the first common policies of the then European Community. Since 1958, when the Treaty of Rome entered into force, the EU’s transport policy has focused on removing border obstacles between Member States, thereby enabling people and goods to move quickly, efficiently and cheaply.
This principle is closely connected to the EU’s central goal of a dynamic economy and cohesive society. The transport sector generates 10% of EU wealth measured by gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to about one trillion Euros a year. It also provides more than ten million jobs.
The Schengen area
The Schengen Convention, in effect since March 1995, abolished border controls within the area of the signatory States and created a single external frontier, where checks have to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules.
Today, the Schengen Area encompasses most EU countries, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. However, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area and already applying the Schengen acquis to a large extent. Additionally, also the non-EU States Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area.
The creation of a single European market in air transport has meant lower fares and a wider choice of carriers and services for passengers. The EU has also created a set of rights to ensure air passengers are treated fairly.
As an air passenger, you have certain rights when it comes to information about flights and reservations, damage to baggage, delays and cancellations, denied boarding, compensation in the case of accident or difficulties with package holidays. These rights apply to scheduled and chartered flights, both domestic and international, from an EU airport or to an EU airport from one outside the EU, when operated by an EU airline.
Over the last 25 years the Commission has been very active in proposing restructuring the European rail transport market and in order to strengthen the position of railways vis-à-vis other transport modes. The Commission's efforts have concentrated on three major areas which are all crucial for developing a strong and competitive rail transport industry:
- opening the rail transport market to competition,
- improving the interoperability and safety of national networks and
- developing rail transport infrastructure.
The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary democracy with a two-chamber system consisting of the Bundestag (Federal Lower House of Parliament) and the Bundesrat (Federal Upper House of Parliament). At present the following parties are represented in the Bundestag: SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), CDU (Christian Democratic Union) in a parliamentary group with the CSU (Christian-Social Union), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP (Free Democratic Party), AfD (Alternative for Germany) and The Left.
The Bundestag – Parliament – has its permanent seat in the Reichstag building in Berlin. The composition of the Bundestag is determined every four years by a parliamentary election. The Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor, who nominates the members of the Government (ministers). The Bundestag passes laws. If the laws of the federal states (Land/Länder) are affected, their representatives (the Bundesrat) must also approve them. The Bundesrat, which is composed of members of the governments of the Länder, represents the 16 Länder. The number of votes in the Bundesrat depends on the number of inhabitants of the individual Länder, and varies from three to six votes.
Administrative tasks in Germany are distributed between Federal Government, Länder and local authorities (municipalities and local government). The main focus of the administrative work lies with the Länder and the local authorities. The Federal Government allocates them tasks and the appropriate financial resources. As part of their self-government, local authorities carry out their own, optional tasks at their own discretion and according to what is financially feasible, and also tasks laid down by the Federal Government and the Land. You will find an overview of the public administrations on the Behördenfinder website https://www.behoerdenfinder.de/opencms/searchjs.do.
One of the largest authorities in Germany is the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit], which provides services for the labour market. These include employment services, promoting and developing employment and the administration of unemployment insurance. The employment agency for your place of residence or the associated job centre will be responsible for you as soon as you move to Germany.
Do you have questions about working and living in Germany?
There are a number of ways to obtain comprehensive information, even from abroad:
- The International Placement Service (Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung, ZAV) is a special division of the Federal Employment Office, which you can contact directly via www.zav.de. Information is also available on the website www.make-it-in-Germany.com, which also gives you an overview of the most important topics. Here, you can also find opportunities to contact advisers directly.
- The Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers focuses on supporting citizens of the European Union who are already living in Germany. It helps EU workers and their family members to become aware of and exercise their rights in Germany and provides guidance on a new start in Germany. The website www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de provides information in ten EU languages on working and living in Germany. You can also look on the website for an information centre close to your home. EU workers who have a specific concern or problem and require assistance can also contact the EU Equal Treatment Office using the consultation form.
An overview of the laws in Germany can also be found online. The Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)] governs private law. It is divided into a general part, contract law, property law, family law and inheritance law. In the case of infringements, you can first call the police and initiate legal action by bringing an action before a General Court.
- Germany portal: https://www.deutschland.de/de
- Federal Government: www.bundesregierung.de
- Laws: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/
- German Police: https://www.polizei.de/Polizei/DE/Home/home_node.html
- Authorities: https://www.behoerdenfinder.de/opencms/searchjs.do
- Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit]: www.arbeitsagentur.de
- International Placement Service [Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung – ZAV]: www.zav.de
- Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-start
- Equal Treatment Office consultation form: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/beratungsanfrage
- Welcome portal: www.make-it-in-germany.com
The average gross monthly earnings of full-time workers were EUR 4 168 in 2021. The difference between the average gross hourly rate of pay for men (EUR 23.20) and women (EUR 19.12) is 18 per cent.
According to the findings of the Federal Statistical Office for 2021, the average gross annual earnings for full-time employees vary from sector to sector. Here is a brief overview:
- Manufacturing industry: €55,223
- Service sector: €53,556
- Public and personal services: €53,720
Anyone residing in Germany or staying in Germany for more than 6 months in a calendar year must pay tax on their entire income from home and abroad. As an employee, tax is automatically deducted from wages. The amount of income tax is based on income level and marital status.
Individual living conditions are taken into account when calculating taxable income. Single people have to pay the most taxes. Anyone who is married, is also the sole earner and has children gets off much more lightly when it comes to taxes.
Filing a tax return is voluntary in Germany. In some cases, there is an obligation to submit a tax return by 31 July of the following year, e.g. for those who earn additional income on top of their wages or receive unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or short-time allowance. In the case of several employment relationships or certain tax class combinations, the filing of a tax return is obligatory.
Those who are not obliged to submit a tax return do not have to submit one, but can do so voluntarily. Submitting a voluntary tax return is particularly worthwhile if, for example, the employee had to pay high income-related expenses, special expenses or exceptional costs, or got married during the year. In these cases, a tax refund may be possible.
Value-added tax (VAT) on the acquisition of goods and the use of services varies between 7% and 19%.
- A rate of 19% is charged on the majority of goods and services in Germany.
- A rate of 7% applies to basic daily necessities such as bread, butter and milk. Sports and cultural events are also included in basic goods and services, so the reduced VAT rate applies to stadium, cinema and theatre tickets. Newspapers, magazines and books are also taxed at 7%. Public transport within a 50-kilometre radius, which includes buses, trains, trams and even taxis, are also included.
- Bundesministerium der Finanzen (Federal Ministry of Finance): www.bundesfinanzministerium.de
- Wage and Income Tax Calculator: https://www.bmf-steuerrechner.de/#BMFEinkommenssteuerrechner
- The German tax system: www.steuerliches-info-center.de
- Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/steuern/steuern-1813276
- Federal Statistical Office: https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Arbeit/Verdienste/Verdienste-Verdienstunterschiede/Tabellen/bruttojahresverdienst.html
The results of the current household budget survey for 2020 revealed the average distribution of consumer spending in a household as set out below.
Monthly average per household in Germany:
- Total private consumption expenditure: €2,507
- Food, beverages and tobacco: €387 (15.4%)
- Clothing and footwear: €93 (3.7%)
- Accommodation, energy, household maintenance: €923 (36.8%)
- Furnishings, household appliances and items: €160 (6.4%)
- Health: €107 (4.3%)
- Transport: €325 (13%)
- Postal services and telecommunications: €67 (2.7%)
- Recreation and culture: €239 (9.5%)
- Education: €15 (0.6%)
- Hotel and restaurant services €102 (4.1%)
- Other goods and services: €89 (3.6%)
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is relatively low. Rent, which varies significantly from city to city, accounts for the largest portion of expenditure. In smaller cities you can often get by with less money. But some big cities are more expensive than others. For example, people living in Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main will have to budget for considerably more rent than those in Erfurt or Saarbrücken, for example.
More than half of all Germans live in rented accommodation. In contrast to the situation in many other EU countries, apartments in Germany are normally rented out unfurnished. It is difficult to find cheap rented accommodation, particularly in urban centres. Rents are highest in big cities such as Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, Hamburg or Düsseldorf. They are significantly cheaper in small towns, in the countryside and in cities in eastern Germany. In addition to rental charges, you also have to pay running expenses and for your own consumption of water, electricity and heating. You should allow around 25% of your monthly rent for this purpose. Rent must be paid to the landlord monthly in advance.
A one-off deposit of two to three months’ rent must generally be paid in addition to the actual rent. This serves as a guarantee for any damage to be repaired after you move out of the accommodation. If you enter into a long-term or open-ended tenancy agreement, the deposit should be covered by a saving agreement in your name. This means that you do not lose any interest. When you vacate the accommodation, you have your renewed power of disposal over the relevant passbook confirmed in writing by your landlord. The tenancy agreement also governs the issue of cosmetic repairs, often also lays down provisions on graduated rents, and sets out periods of notice. In the event of doubt, either party may refer to this agreement.
All larger cities have tenants’ associations. Addresses and contact persons can be found on the website of the German Tenants’ Association. It offers advice and support to help you deal with problems concerning landlords. However, you must generally be a member of your local tenants’ association for consultations.
- German Tenants’ Association [Deutscher Mieterbund]: www.mieterbund.de
- Living in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/faq-wohnen-1819110
- SCHUFA credit check: https://www.meineschufa.de/index.php?site=11#Schufa
Employees, including trainees, are required to pay social security contributions. This means that employers and employees pay a contribution to statutory pension, unemployment, sickness and care insurance each month. The amount of contributions paid depends on your gross salary. The employer pays half of the contribution, with the employee paying the other half. Salary deductions for social security contributions are subject to an upper limit. This is known as the contribution assessment ceiling [Beitragsbemessungsgrenze].
If you intend to work in Germany, you must always take out health insurance as an employee (national health insurance) as soon as you sign an employment contract. To ensure that illness does not pose a financial risk, the statutory health insurance funds provide their members and their members’ families with cover in the event of illness. Non-working spouses and children can also be included in the insurance. As a member of the national health insurance scheme [Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GKV)], you are automatically also covered for nursing care.
Employees can take out private sickness insurance if, over the course of a year, their gross monthly income has exceeded the compulsory insurance limit of EUR 64,350 per year (EUR 5,362.50 per month) (assessment ceiling for 2022).
Self-employed people, freelancers and artists are generally privately insured regardless of their income level, as are tenured civil servants and other persons entitled to receive benefits [‘Beihilfeberechtigte’] such as judges, members of a Landtag [regional assembly] and members of the Bundestag.
The compulsory insurance limit is set annually by the legislator. Employees who earn a salary above this compulsory insurance limit can take out voluntary insurance. The contribution assessment ceiling for statutory pensions and unemployment insurance is EUR 7,050 (west) and EUR 6,750 (east) per month in 2022.
For a temporary stay in another Member State, EU citizens and citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) merely require a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in order to receive medical treatment if they fall ill.
You can find addresses and telephone numbers for doctor’s offices and dental practices in the local telephone directory. You should first make an appointment by telephone before visiting a doctor. For acute illnesses or accidents, you will be given an appointment immediately or on the same day. Otherwise, you will have to wait for several days or even weeks, particularly for specialists. Few practices are open on Saturdays, and only emergency services can be accessed on Sundays.
If, after being examined, you have received a prescription for the prescribed medication from the doctor, pharmacies usually charge an additional fee of EUR 5 to 10 per item. In the case of minor complaints, you will receive non-prescription medicines. You can get a free consultation at all pharmacies, even without visiting a doctor.
If the doctor’s office is closed, the doctors on call will help you. You can contact the emergency services outside surgery hours (Monday to Friday), during the night, at the weekends and on public holidays using the telephone number 116117. You also have the option of going to the accident and emergency department of a hospital. Some pharmacies are also open at weekends and on public holidays. Further information can be found online.
If you require an ambulance, dial 112.
- Medical assistance on call: https://www.116117.de/de/aerztlicher-bereitschaftsdienst.php
- Emergency pharmacy service: https://www.aponet.de/service/notdienstapotheke-finden
- Social security in Germany/health insurance: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/sozialleistungen/gesundheit
The area of preschool education is diverse and includes day nurseries [Kindertageseinrichtungen (KiTa)] for children aged between
- one and three: baby nurseries, childminders, mixed-age kindergartens or parenting initiatives
- three and six: predominantly kindergartens, but also childminders and preschool classes.
Childcare costs vary depending on the local authority. Local authorities assume the bulk of the costs, regardless of whether childcare is provided by a municipal or private institution or a childminder. Parents pay a contribution calculated on the basis of their family income. Private kindergartens are often more expensive than municipal facilities. With effect from 1 August 2019, under the Good Daycare Facilities Act [Gute-KiTa-Gesetz], all parents who receive child, housing or basic social benefits (unemployment assistance) for beneficiaries who are fit for work in accordance with Book II of the German Social Code [Zweites Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB II)] are exempt from KiTa fees.
Compulsory school begins with primary school [Grundschule] (Years 1 to 4) when a child reaches the age of six. In some Länder, there is also a six-year primary school, or an orientation phase not attached to any school type [schulartunabhängige Orientierungsstufe] in Years 5 and 6; both count towards the junior secondary level.
Attendance at state schools is free of charge. Parents have to pay only for schoolbooks, additional teaching material and class excursions and trips.
After primary school, the parents decide together with the child which secondary school the child will attend. There is a choice between:
- secondary modern school [Hauptschule] (to Year 9 or 10),
- intermediate school [Realschule] (intermediate school-leaving certificate at the end of Year 10), or
- grammar school [Gymnasium] (ending with the Abitur [advanced certificate of education]), which – depending on the Land – goes up to Year 12 or 13.
The Abitur allows immediate access to college or university education. A Realschule leaving certificate combined with a successfully completed apprenticeship also allows access to a university of applied sciences [Fachhochschule]. https://www.hochschulkompass.de/studium/voraussetzungen-fuer-studium/hochschulzugangsberechtigung/studieren-ohne-abitur.html.
The comprehensive school [Gesamtschule] is a special form of school which offers several types of schooling (Hauptschule and Realschule leaving certificates and Abitur) under one roof from Year 5. Gesamtschulen do not exist in every Land.
Teaching hours in German schools are mainly between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Although demand for all-day schools and afternoon childcare services is high, this cannot be fully met nationwide. A legal entitlement to full-day childcare for primary school children is intended by 2025.
Vocational dual initial training can start after finishing school (secondary model school, intermediate school, Abitur). It takes place both as vocational education in vocational schools and in companies. Training lasts between 2 and 3.5 years. Young people can choose from among around 330 recognised regulated professions. The term ‘recognised regulated profession’ [anerkannter Ausbildungsberuf] is defined by the Federal Education Act [Bundesbildungsgesetz] and forms the legal basis for the content of in-house vocational training.
In addition to dual apprenticeships, there is the option of full-time school-based training at vocational schools. Training qualifications suitable for a professional occupation can be obtained in two to three years. These include healthcare occupations governed by federal law, such as the nursing professions, and training in the fields of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Germany has around 400 publicly funded or State-recognised higher education establishments. You will find an overview of the German higher education landscape and the availability of courses at www.hochschulkompass.de.
- Studying in Germany: www.daad.de/deutschland/index.de.html
- Studying in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/bildung/studium
- Higher education landscape: www.hochschulkompass.de
- Vocational education and training: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/studium-ausbildung/ausbildung/was-ist-ausbildung/dual/
- Vocational education and training: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/studium-ausbildung/ausbildung/was-ist-ausbildung/weitere-formen/
- Vocational education and training: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/bildung/berufliche-bildung
- The German education system: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und…
- Social benefits for families: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/faq-familie-1821462
- The German school system: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/familiennachzug/schulsystem/
- All-day schools: https://www.ganztagsschulen.org/
In Germany, most small towns have their own theatre, orchestra and museum. You will find a rich and varied cultural programme almost everywhere. In the large towns and cities there are opportunities to see interesting artists or exhibitions, theatre performances and film shows, which can be so numerous that it is difficult to make a choice.
In and around the cities, there is a wealth of possible destinations that are accessible via well-maintained cycle paths, footpaths and hiking trails and which are worth discovering.
Many Germans spend their free time in clubs. In Germany there are 600 000 registered clubs [eingetragener Verein (e.V.)]. There is also a large number of unregistered clubs. As is to be expected, the most popular clubs are centred on sport.
Pubs are a typical feature of Germany, some of which have small exhibitions, theatres, music cellars and revue clubs. Often the ‘alternative’ arts scene takes place in them, away from the major art and cultural institutions. Insiders among your acquaintances will give you the right addresses. Beer gardens and wine bars where you can sit out until late in the evening are especially popular in summer. You should definitely go to the various public festivals such as Fasching or Karneval in the winter, street festivals in the summer, and beer and wine festivals in the autumn.
- Clubs: https://www.dw.com/de/die-deutschen-und-ihre-vereine/a-48403682
- Volkshochschule (adult education centre): https://www.volkshochschule.de/
- German society and engagement: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/deutschland-kennenlernen/deutsche-gesellschaft/
Whether it is the birth of a child, the notification of marriage, a wedding, divorce or the death of a relative – if you are faced with a new situation in your life or have to complete an administrative procedure, the citizens’ bureau [Bürgerdienst] of your city or municipality is at your disposal. You can gain an overview of all the services on offer and access to particular procedures and forms on the internet portals of the city or municipality in which you live.
Parents have one week after the birth of a child to register the newborn in the district of the birth. However, there are often arrangements between clinics and the registry office through which the formalities are completed with ease. Otherwise, the midwife or doctor issues the notification of birth to be submitted to the registry office.
In Germany, civil law and state-recognised marriages are performed at a registry office. A church wedding can take place only between two people who have already been married in accordance with civil law, i.e. after a registry office wedding. Since 1 October 2017, homosexual couples have also been able to enter into marriage in Germany.
The death of a person must be confirmed in writing by a doctor (confirmation of death). Where the cause of death cannot be identified, in particular where outside intervention, outside cause, or failure to provide help is suspected, the police must be informed. The death certificate is issued by the registry office of the place where the death occurred. The cause of death certificate, passport and, if appropriate, the birth certificate or family record book are required for the death certificate to be issued.
- Civil service site map: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/behoerden-wegweiser
The Federal Republic of Germany has a regional road network of over 230,000 km. Around 13,200 km of this are motorways. On Germany’s motorways a kilometre-based user charge is levied only on heavy goods vehicles.
With its central location in central Europe, Germany is a hub for international air traffic. There are flight connections from Germany to all regions of the world.
The railways are the most environmentally friendly form of motorised transport, way ahead of cars and planes. An initial overview of the long-distance rail network of Deutsche Bahn AG and the regions’ local networks can be found in German and eight other languages at www.bahn.de.
Cheap rail fares for journeys all over Germany are available from EUR 30, or even less in individual cases. However, such cheap fares are normally subject to time restrictions: for specific dates or if booked in advance.
The standard price for a train ticket from Hamburg to Munich is currently around EUR 140. A plane ticket for the same journey costs between EUR 100 and EUR 300.
Travellers can also travel with more than 300 long-distance bus lines on over 4000 different routes across the Federal Republic. A single ticket from Hamburg to Munich costs between around EUR 34 and EUR 80.
Carsharing is also possible in cities in Germany. The costs of local transport depend on the region.
- Deutsche Bahn AG: www.bahn.de
- Driving licence and car: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/wohnen-mobil…
- Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club e. V. [General German Bicycle Club]: https://www.adfc.de/