Contracting in Germany: Residency and Registering for Work

Do you have your sights set on something a bit different for your next contracting role? Contracting abroad could be an option to consider. To learn more about residency and registering for work in Germany, read this guide.

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Registering for work in Germany

Citizens from EU countries have the status of Germans when it comes to working, though there is a seven-year transition period for the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

If you come from a non-EU country, a category that includes the USA and Canada, you will most likely need a Work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis). If you’ve been offered a contract by a company in Germany, they can probably help you in getting a work permit.

Even if they don’t have critical skills there are certain cases under which a non-EU citizen is allowed to seek work. Family members of persons with critical skills can also seek work even if they don’t share those critical skills. This is a measure aimed at attracting those sought-after employees.

The issuing of work permits to non-Germans is handled by the Ausländerbehörde, the same office that issued your residence permit. To get the permit you will need a Meldebescheinigung certificate, an Auftenthaltserlaubnis, and a certificate from an employer saying they are willing to take you on.

If a work permit can be issued it will be for the duration of the residence permit and must be renewed when it expires. Work permits are for a particular job only, not employment in general. If you change jobs you’ll need to apply for a new work permit.

Registering for residency in Germany

You’ll be treated as a non-resident from the day after you leave the UK if:

  • You go to work away permanently.
  • Your work lasts a whole tax year.
  • You visit the UK less than 183 days which means you are away more than 183 days.

Citizens from the EU and Switzerland EU citizens do need a resident permit but not a work permit for Germany. EU citizens are, however, required to register within seven days their address with the authorities, as is required of all Germans by state law, in case they will stay more than three months in Germany. When registering their address, EU citizens typically provide information about their right to freedom of movement (e.g. as employed persons). The address registry authority forwards this information to the immigration authority, which issues a certificate of free movement (EU-Freizuegigkeitsbescheinigung).

To register at the local Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). In most German “Bundesländer”, the requirement is within 7 days, however, in Schleswig-Holstein, Sachsen, Brandenburg, and Berlin – you have to register within two weeks. Rheinland-Pfalz– you have to register “unverzüglich” or immediately. If you are staying in a hotel and have not yet found a permanent residence, it is possible in some circumstances to register with the hotel address. Most registration offices, however, will require a permanent address.

Please note that nationals of the new member states are still required to obtain a work permit if they wish to take up employment in Germany.

In principle, non-EU-spouses or dependants of EU nationals are required to obtain an entry visa at the German embassy or consulate of their home country if they wish to join them.

The most common method is for the foreign national to start the application process by filing a long-stay visa application at the German Embassy/Consulate in their home country. To locate a German Embassy/Consulate in your country, use the Deutsche Auslandsvertretungen search engine function (in German) on the German Federal Foreign Office website.

After submitting the long-stay visa application, the German Embassy/Consulate will send the foreign national’s file to the local Aliens’ Office (Ausländeramt) that retains jurisdiction over the location where the employee will take up their future residence in Germany. The application process can take up to 3 months to process.

Depending upon the prospective position and the qualifications of the foreign national, the Aliens’ Office (Ausländeramt) will consult with the regional employment agency to determine whether a residence title for the purpose of employment should be issued. This is largely dependent on the prospective position and the qualifications of the foreign national applying.

Upon arrival, the foreign national is still required to register with the residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) located at the local city hall with jurisdiction over the municipality in which the foreign national’s residence in Germany is located. After the registration has been completed, the foreign national must submit the residence/work permit application to the local alien’s office. The residence/work permit application will usually be issued within a couple of business days.

What information do I need when I apply for residency in Germany?

The following information and documentation are often required when applying:

  • A passport with at least two blank pages & valid for at least another six months.
  • Two recent biometric passport photographs.
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • Your residence registration (Anmeldebestätigung).
  • Proof of means of support (often a letter from an employer); students or non-employed must show proof of adequate financial resources (Finanzierungsnachweis – approximately 700 euros/month).
  • Evidence of the employee’s qualification (CV and copies of university diploma).
  • Detailed job description related to the employee’s position including remuneration and job title.

In general, residence and work permits will be issued for a period of one year and can be extended according to the employment contract of the applicant.

Contracting Abroad Hub

You might also find our other country guides to working abroad as a contractor useful too:

Visit our Contracting Abroad Hub

Being employed in Germany

Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz (AUG Licence) is the law which regulates the business of one company transferring its employees to work temporarily with another. Contractors and Recruiters from the UK and others will look for this licence.

Many end-clients are reluctant to deal with and engage a contractor unless the employer holds an AUG licence. This reluctance stems from the risk of the contractor declaring himself to be an employee of that end client and in that event if there is any tax or social security liability owed, the end-client may be found liable for any outstanding sums.

Lohnsteuerkarte – A Tax Card issued by the city/regional authority where you are registered as living.

You should also ask to be issued with a Wage/Income tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte). This is an important document and you should make a note of the wage tax number allocated to you. This should be used in all correspondence with the authorities in Germany. Please forward the Lohnsteuerkarte to SJD at your earliest convenience as we will need it for the purpose of deducting income and social security taxes.

De-Registration. Please note that when you leave Germany, you will also be required to de-register at the local registration office. Further details can be provided on this if required nearer the time if appropriate.

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