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Requirements to Work in Germany

Requirements to Work in Germany


To be able to work in Germany you need to fulfil some requirements. Firstly, if you are not a citizen of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), you need to make sure you have the relevant work visa, to be able to work in Germany. This visa depends on where you are coming from and what job you are coming to do. There are two different types of working visas in Germany, the employment visa and the Job Seeker visa. An employment visa is for when you already have a job offer in Germany, you are eligible for this visa if you are highly qualified, for example if you are a researcher with special technical knowledge or if you are an intra-corporate transferee, for example managers or specialists. You are also eligible to apply for a German work visa if you come from a third-world country and have a university degree or a vocational qualification. However, there must be a shortage of skilled workers in the profession you want to practice, you must have a concrete job offer and your education must be recognized as equivalent with a German degree. The Job Seeker Visa gives you six months in which you can contact potential employers and look for a job.

Language Skills

In addition to needing a visa to be able to work in Germany, it would also be useful to have at least some basic German language skills. Although there are English-speaking jobs in Germany, it is very likely that you will still be required to have some basic knowledge of the German language. If you do not speak any German at all, it is possible that you will be more restricted to casual and informal work, which typically comes with a lower income. There are many language schools that offer classes for people that have just moved to Germany to learn the language.

In Germany there are roughly 150 regulated professions. A regulated profession when access and exercise of this profession is limited to people that have a specific professional qualification, such as doctors and teachers. If your profession is one of these regulated professions, you need to get your qualification recognized by the relevant German authority or professional association before you can start working in Germany. In order to get a foreign university degree verified you need to contact the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentrale Stelle für die Bewertung ausländischer Qualifikationen, ZAB).

Health Insurance and Tax

Once you start working in Germany or are enrolled for public health insurance, you will receive a social insurance number also known as a RNVR. This social insurance number is a 12-digit number, containing one letter. This number is then used for social security and state pension services. All German residents also receive a tax identification number (Steuerindentifikationsnummer). This number is used for tax calculations and consists of 11 digits. To work in Germany you are legally obliged to have some sort of health insurance coverage. The three options in Germany are the government-regulated public health insurance (GKV), private health insurance from a German or international insurance company (PKV) or a combination of GKV and complemental PKV.

When you have found a job and are starting to work, the employment probation periods typically last three months but can last up to six months. During the employment probation period, the notice period for terminating the job contract is two weeks. Once you have completed this probation period, it becomes more difficult for the company to dismiss you. Once you start working, your employer should enrol you for German health insurance as well as other German social security benefits. This includes the German state pension and work-related accident insurance in Germany. Depending on your employer and where you work, you may also have the chance to receive other in-work benefits such as a company pension.