- 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 14 other languages.
Tips: You can contact advisers directly via www.make-it-in-germany.com. They 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 workshops on specific topics, such as recognition procedures or living conditions in Germany.
You will find Germany’s largest job portal at https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/jobsuche. Information is available not only in German, but also English and Arabic.
The EURES portal publishes jobs from organisations that are explicitly looking for jobseekers from the EURES area.
Employers also advertise job vacancies in daily newspapers and on private online job exchanges.
It is also common in Germany to send speculative applications.
- 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/
- Die Zeit newspaper jobs section: https://jobs.zeit.de/
- FAZ newspaper jobs section: https://stellenmarkt.faz.net/
- Süddeutsche newspaper jobs section: http://stellenmarkt.sueddeutsche.de/
- Make-it-in-Germany portal of the Federal Government: www.make-it-in-germany.com
- EURES portal: https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/de/homepage
In Germany, a written job application normally consists of:
- a covering letter,
- a curriculum vitae with a photo,
- copies of qualifications, certificates, evidence of professional experience, and
- work samples, where applicable.
The covering letter should not run to more than one side of A4 and should briefly and concisely express the following:
- why you are seeking a job,
- what interests you about the post advertised, and
- why you think you are the best person to do this job.
Explain why you want to live in Germany. End your 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 training and, where appropriate, tertiary education
- Language skills (categorised into mother tongue, advanced working knowledge, spoken and written fluency, or basic knowledge)
- Other professional knowledge and experience (e.g. computer skills)
- Hobbies and non-occupational activities (e.g. voluntary activities)
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 the education and training courses, 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 employer 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 and parcel 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 curriculum vitae.
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 covering 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 (2MB).
- 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 personal contact person by telephone. This means that your covering letter and application documents can be personally addressed.
Tip: with larger organisations, you can contact the press office or the marketing department to get interesting information about new developments in the company. This means that your covering letter and application documents can be personally addressed.
- 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/index.php?id=9
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 training course. In some training programmes, traineeships are mandatory or, depending on educational background, they are an admission requirement for vocational training or a course of study. For employers, traineeships are a good way of acquiring new talent.
There are many types of traineeships:
- Accreditation 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 thereof.
- 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 last 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 is to recruit new graduates.
- Pre-study traineeship / specialised traineeship
Compulsory 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.
For more information, visit: 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 – trainee and company.
The traineeship contract defines the following:
- the duration and pay of the traineeship,
- the content and the tasks to be learnt,
- the field of work,
- the objectives.
If the traineeship is a compulsory component of vocational or university education, the trainee retains their educational status.
Where to find opportunities / job vacancies
The public employment service in Germany – the Federal Employment Office [Bundesagentur für Arbeit] – publishes vacant traineeship positions on its general jobs portal jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de. The process for applying for a traineeship is the same as that 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:
- young people doing a compulsory work placement as part of their education (school, vocational education, university studies);
- voluntary traineeships not exceeding 3 months.
Depending on the type of traineeship, contributions to sickness, care, pension and unemployment insurance may have to be paid.
- Information from the German Trade Union Confederation [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund]: https://jugend.dgb.de/++co++94411f92-9c61-11e2-9bd7-525400808b5c
- Abi 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 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 a university entrance 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 of age. Exceptions are possible in some training occupations (for example, in the area of maritime shipping normally 16 years of age)
Maximum age: -
Description of schemes
The dual apprenticeship scheme generally lasts 2 to 3.5 years. The dual scheme is referred to as such as 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 of their training period 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 training occupations that are currently approved by the State.
- 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 Education and Training Act [Berufsbildungsgesetz – BBiG] (https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Das_neue_Berufsbildungsgesetz_BBiG.pdf) provides for a minimum apprenticeship allowance (Mindestausbildungsvergütung – MAV) for all apprenticeship contracts entered into after 1 January 2020.
- This amounts to EUR 550 in the first training year for vocational training positions taken up in 2021. This amount will increase gradually until 2023 (2022: EUR 585; 2023: EUR 620). 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 integration 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 such skills.
- 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 2018, the retention rate of apprentices hired by their training company following successful completion of the apprenticeship was 71%. Although the rate therefore fell compared to the previous year (2017: 74%), 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, of 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 specialisms is available. Since this is often cost-intensive, it is common practice for the employer to cover some of the costs. In return, the employee undertakes to remain with the employer 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/.
- 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 (www.handwerkskammer.de; www.ihk.de) adopt regulations governing apprenticeships and examinations and organise examinations.
- The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (www.bibb.de) is the central body responsible for organising recognised apprenticeships. The State and social partners (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 rather it has grown over time and continues to evolve.
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 APPRENTICESHIP
In addition to dual apprenticeships, there is the option of full-time school-based training at a vocational school. 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 nursing professions, and training in the fields of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Depending on the training model, these apprenticeship schemes have a more or less extensive practical component, so they practically count as dual apprenticeships.
However, these apprenticeships 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/km…) 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 require a visa for entering Germany to start a vocational training programme.
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.
A good knowledge of the German language is essential for successfully completing vocational or school-based training, in particular in terms of being 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 apprenticeship; B2 level would be preferable, which should be obtained at the very latest by the end of your apprenticeship. For nursing professions, some federal states require a B2 certificate to have been obtained by the end of the apprenticeship.
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 the pension.
Apprentices earning more than EUR 9 000 per year are also required to pay tax (https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/jobs/steuern/einkommenssteuer).
Apprentices have at least 24 days of leave per year.
With more than 350 videos (with English subtitles), BERUFE.TV (www.berufe.tv/en/) is a portal where you can 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 / job vacancies
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 1 year before the start of the apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship vacancies are published on the internet and in regional daily newspapers.
Online apprenticeship portals:
- 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 Chamber of Trade: https://www.handwerkskammer.de/artikel/lehrstellenboerse-5620,10,13.html
In addition, there are various specialist platforms that offer apprenticeship vacancies (mostly specific to a particular 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 occupation to the company. You should be able to explain:
- why you have chosen the specific occupation in question, and also
- why you have applied to the training company.
It is therefore crucial that you thoroughly research not only the chosen occupation, but also the training company.
In addition to the career guidance provided by employment agencies, the chambers (https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/bildung/berufsberatung) also offer advice on apprenticeships.
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 occupation, 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.
(Learning) support during the dual apprenticeship is provided through the training assistance scheme [Ausbildungsbegleitende Hilfen – AbH]. Under the AbH, apprentices receive the support they need upon request, either individually or in small groups. The content is tailored to meet individual needs. It is created through close coordination between the apprentices and vocational school and provides support with the transfer of knowledge in general education or technical theory and with language teaching and socio-educational supervision. Information about this is available on the website of the Federal Employment Office (https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/bildung/ausbildung/ausbildungsbegleitende-hilfen) and from local employment agencies.
With the entry into force of the Foreign Nationals Employment Assistance Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsförderungsgesetz) on 1 August 2019, all foreign nationals living in Germany are also eligible to receive support through BAB and AbH 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 permanent residence 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 permit for permanent residence, or a settlement permit.
Further information on the 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 when searching for apprentices abroad.
When drafting apprenticeship vacancy adverts, employers in Germany seeking to recruit apprentices from abroad 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 team for the first time, please use the following nationwide telephone number: +49 (0)800 4 5555 20
Apprenticeship vacancies can also be posted online: 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 leased without kitchen appliances (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 2 to 3 months’ rent in addition to the actual rent. This serves as a guarantee for any damage to be repaired after moving out of the accommodation. The deposit is returned at the end of the lease period if the landlord has no complaints.
Tip: If you come to Germany alone and are prepared to live with other people, shared flats [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 flats for a limited period of time on payment of a commission.
- Tips on looking for accommodation: http://www.justlanded.com/deutsch/Deutschland/Unterkunft
- Accommodation agencies: http://www.mitwohnzentrale.de
- Detailed information on living in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/02_FragenUndAntworten/01_NeuInDeutschland/02_Wohnen/_node.html
- Living in Germany: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/wohnen/wohnungssuche
Information on childcare is available on the websites of the municipality or local authority in question.
In many cases, larger companies and universities have their own childcare facilities and advertise jobs with an offer of ‘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 municipality or local authority or on their websites.
- Education guide: 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/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/02_FragenUndAntworten/04_Bildung/01_Schule/_node.html
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, establishment permit, permanent right to stay in the EU) in order to enter Germany and remain there for the purposes of taking up employment.
Family members from third countries require an entry visa. 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 completely to skilled workers from countries outside the European Union. Prior to the act, unrestricted access to the labour market has only been available to skilled workers with academic qualifications. In the future, skilled workers with a foreign vocational qualification in all professions will also be able to obtain a visa or a residence document in order to take up employment. The limitation 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 visa or residence document for the purpose of taking up employment. You will be permitted to practice 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.
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 search 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 them into 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=tHb6dtxlDh4
- Information on the Central Service Agency for Professional Recognition (ZSBA): https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/de/hotline.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/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/01_Infothek/01_NeuInDeutschland/01_Aufenthalt/_node.html
- 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 municipality or local authority in which you live. For more information, refer to the website of the municipality or local authority. Registration appointments can generally be arranged online, even before you move to Germany.
You will only be able to open a bank account if you have a permanent place of residence. As banks charge different fees for their services, it is worth taking the time to compare them.
When applying for a landline 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
- Radio and TV licence fees – registering: https://www.rundfunkbeitrag.de/buergerinnen_und_buerger/formulare/anmelden/index_ger.html
- First 100 days in Germany video: 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 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 they therefore enter into a vocational training contract with the company providing the training.
The majority of employees continue to have open-ended, 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 source of law 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 2 months or 50 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 must 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 Act on part-time work and fixed-term contracts [Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz – TzBfG] contains special provisions. Further information can be found on the internet at http://www.teilzeit-info.de.
Fixed-term employment relationships: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 he or she can work from home and at the workplace on an alternating basis. A teleworking job is established only when the employer and the employees 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 relationships/supply of staff The terms ‘temporary agency work’, ‘hiring-out of workers’ and ‘supply of staff’ 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.
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.
In Germany, there is employment subject to compulsory social security contributions and employment exempt from compulsory social security contributions. Normally, employment is subject to compulsory insurance 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 https://www.svlfg.de/auslaendische-saisonarbeitskraefte of the Social Insurance for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture.
More information on fair mobility can be found in various languages at the following address: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 from the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers [Gleichbehandlungsstelle EU-Arbeitnehmer] – special forms of work: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/infothek/arbeiten-in-deutschland/besondere-arbeitsformen#doc2241986bodyText5
An open-ended 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 terms of employment 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 organisation
- place of work
- description of duties
- date on which employment commenced
- duration of probationary period
- in the case of fixed-term contracts: duration of the contract
- in the case of open-ended contracts: 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 (DGB): 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 children and for young people in full-time education. However, children who are at least 14 and not in full-time 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 copying and performing errands, for example. The minimum age for the regular employment of a young person in a business is 15.
Severely disabled people enjoy special protection against dismissal. Termination of the employment of a severely disabled person by the employer requires the prior consent of the Central Agency for the Disabled [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 (to be) and the child against hazards in the workplace. The period of maternity protection commences in principle 6 weeks before the due date and normally ends 8 weeks after the birth of the child or, in the case of medically premature births and multiple births, 12 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, foreigner 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 trade activities, the Chamber of Skilled Trades [Handwerkskammer] must examine whether the skilled trade activity to be pursued must be entered on 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 trade on a regular basis. Anyone who wishes to start up a business must register it with the Business Registration Office [Gewerbeamt] of the municipal or local authority where the business is to have its registered offices. Self-employed persons are exempt. They are not registered with the Business Registration Office but 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 financial institutions. In each federal state [Land], there is a dedicated body for providing them with advice. These bodies each have their own internet portal.
- Support for start-ups: www.existenzgruender.de
- Starting up a business in Germany: www.dihk.de
- Information on the independence of the Central Association of the German Chambers of Skilled Trades [Zentralverband der Handwerkskammern]: www.zdh.de
- Information on the independence of the Central Association of the German Chambers of Skilled Trades [Zentralverband der Handwerkskammern] – Skilled Trades Order [Handwerksordnung]: https://www.zdh.de/daten-fakten/das-handwerk/handwerksordnung/?L=0
- Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce: Explanation of fixed-location businesses: https://www.hannover.ihk.de/rechtsteuern/recht8/themengebiete-recht/recht1/gewerbetaetigkeitenvona-z/ueberblick-ueber-die-wichtigsten-taetigkeiten-und-branchen-von-a-z/stehendes-gewerbe.html
- 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/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/01_Infothek/02_ArbeitenInDeutschland/05_BesondereArbeitsformen/_node.html#doc2241986bodyText5
- 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: http://www.ea.berlin.de
- 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 – Hesse: 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: http://www.service.nrw.de
- Information on self-employment – Rheinland-Palatinate: https://mwvlw.rlp.de/de/themen/wirtschafts-und-innovationspolitik/unternehmensgruendung/
- Information on self-employment – Saarland: https://www.saarland.de/30812.htm
- 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: http://www.einheitliche-stelle.thueringen.de
Income earned 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 the employee’s basic remuneration is regulated collectively. A voluntary, freely agreed supplement is paid in addition to this basic remuneration.
On 1 January 2021, the statutory minimum wage was initially raised to EUR 9.50 gross per hour and will then be incrementally increased to EUR 9.60 gross on 1 July 2021, to EUR 9.82 gross on 1 January 2022 and to EUR 10.45 gross on 1 July 2022. There are also generally applicable sectoral minimum wages in accordance with the Basic Collective Agreements Act [Basis Tarifvertragsgesetz], the Posting of 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 internship have no right to the minimum wage. Only a voluntary work placement lasting longer than 3 months is remunerated at the minimum wage rate.
Trainees have been subject to a minimum training allowance [Mindestausbildungsvergütung (MAV)] since 2020. The Vocational Education and Training Act [Berufsbildungsgesetz – BBiG] (https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Das_neue_Berufsbildungsgesetz_BBiG.pdf) provides for a minimum training allowance for all vocational training contracts entered into after 1 January 2020. This amounts to EUR 550 in the first training year for vocational training positions taken up in 2021. This amount will increase gradually until 2023 (2022: EUR 585; 2023: EUR 620). Provision is made for an increase of 18% in the second training year, 35% in the third and 40% in the fourth. The change in subsequent years is automatic and is linked to the average growth in contractually agreed training allowances (negotiated collectively and individually). 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 percent below the allowance 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 (Posting of Workers Act, 1996). They currently apply to, inter alia, 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, as well as the employee share of contributions for social security insurance (healthcare, pensions and nursing care 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
- Pay: www.lohnspiegel.de
Working hours and breaks are stipulated in the Working Hours Act [Arbeitszeitgesetz]. This applies to workers and employees, as well as people in vocational training. Executive employees are not within the scope of this law.
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 in the form of eight working hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. over five weekdays are not the normal pattern. These workers include emergency and rescue services, fire brigade, public safety workers, hospitals, guesthouses, cultural institutions and transport, among others. 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 fixed 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
- Working time documentation: 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 6 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 Länder. 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 by the undertaking 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 parental leave to look after and bring up their child until it reaches the age of three.
Employees can take educational leave for the purpose of their further training. The Länder 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 arrangements for educational leave with your employer at an early stage.
- Parental allowance: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/familie/familienleistungen/elterngeld/elterngeld-und-elterngeldplus/73752
- Educational leave: www.bildungsurlaub.de
- Calendar showing school holidays and bank holidays: http://www.schulferien.org
Open-ended employment relationships end upon termination by at least one contracting party (employee or employer), but no later than upon reaching the pensionable age.
Normally an open-ended employment relationship 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 carried out in writing. The statutory periods of notice are provided for/laid down in the Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)]. Employees must give 4 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 (trial 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 relationships with a written employment contract come to an end automatically when the agreed period expires. In those cases the organisation is not required to give notice of termination. When your employment 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. From 2019, the statutory retirement age for those born from 1964 onwards will be 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. Parental leave 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 contributory 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 employers, which regulate income, working hours and leave for the organisation. In the event of a labour dispute 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 and accident insurance. Membership of a trade union is voluntary and subject to contributions.
The German Trade Union Federation [Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB)] is the umbrella organisation for eight individual trade unions, with a total membership of around 6 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 hours, 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 who have reached the age of 18.
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
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 which the trade union has called a strike against 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 a labour dispute, 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: the CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union – Christian Democratic Union), which forms the largest parliamentary grouping together with the CSU (Christlich-Soziale Union – Christian Social Union), the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands – Social Democratic Party of Germany), Die Linke (the party of the left), Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/The Greens), the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland – Alternative for Germany) and the FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei – Free Democratic Party).
The Bundestag – Parliament – has its permanent seat in the Reichstag building in Berlin. The composition of the Bundestag is determined every 4 years by a parliamentary election. The Bundestag elects the Federal Chancellor, who proposes the members of the Government (ministers). The Bundestag passes laws. If the laws of the Federal States (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. 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 website www.behördenfinder.de
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 address 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 how to start off in Germany. The website www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de provides information on working and living in Germany in ten EU languages. You can also look on the website for an information centre that is close to your home. EU workers who have a specific concern or problem and require assistance can also contact the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers 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 case of infringements, you can first call the police and initiate legal action by bringing an action before a 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: 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/Webs/EUGS/DE/Home/home_node.html
- Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers consultation form: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/Webs/EUGS/DE/04_UeberUns/03_Kontakt/Beratungsformular/beratungsformular_node.html
- Welcome portal: www.make-it-in-germany.com
The average gross monthly earnings of full-time workers were EUR 3 975 in 2020. The difference between the average gross hourly rate of pay for men (EUR 22.78) and women (EUR 18.62) is 18 per cent.
According to the findings of the Federal Statistical Office for 2020, the average gross annual earnings for full-time employees vary from sector to sector. Here is a brief overview:
- Manufacturing industry: EUR 53 351
- Service sector: EUR 51 953
- Public and personal services: EUR 52 479
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 in 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.
The filing of 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, cash 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. The submission of a voluntary tax return is particularly worthwhile if, for example, the employee had to pay high advertising costs, 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. Even newspapers, magazines and books are only taxed at 7%, as well as public transport within a 50-kilometre radius, which includes buses, trains, trams and even taxis.
- 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/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/01_Infothek/01_NeuInDeutschland/05_Steuern/_node.html
- 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 2017 revealed the average distribution of consumer spending in a household as set out below.
Monthly average per household in Germany:
- Total private consumption expenditure: EUR 2 574
- Food, beverages and tobacco: EUR 356 (13.8%)
- Clothing and footwear: EUR 106
- Accommodation, energy, household maintenance: EUR 890 (34.6%)
- Furnishings, household appliances and items: EUR 141
- Health: EUR 104
- Transport: EUR 351
- Postal services and telecommunications: EUR 65
- Recreation and culture: EUR 284
- Education: EUR 21
- Hotel and restaurant services EUR 157
- Other goods and services: EUR 98
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, flats in Germany are normally let unfurnished. It is difficult to find cheap rented accommodation, particularly in conurbations. 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 overheads 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 2 to 3 months’ rent must generally be paid in addition to the actual rent. This serves as a guarantee for any damage to be repaired after moving 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 favour. In that way 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 with landlords. However, you must generally be a member of your local tenants’ association for consultations.
- German Tenants’ Association: www.mieterbund.de
- Living in Germany: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/02_FragenUndAntworten/01_NeuInDeutschland/02_Wohnen/_node.html
- 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 [Gesetzlichen 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 58 050 per year (EUR 4 837.50 per month) (assessment ceiling for 2021).
The self-employed, 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 7 100 (west) and EUR 6 700 (east) per month in 2021.
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, the pharmacies usually charge an additional fee of EUR 5 to 10 per item. In the case of minor disorders, you will receive non-prescription medicines. You can get a free consultation in 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
- Apothekennotdienst: 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) in respect of 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 6-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 lower 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].
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.
In Germany, schools’ teaching hours are mainly between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Even though the demand for full-day schools and childcare services in the afternoon is high, it cannot be fully met nationwide, although there are major differences between the different Länder. There should be a legal entitlement to full-day childcare for primary school children by 2025.
Initial vocational training can be commenced after completing a school-leaving certificate (Hauptschule leaving certificate, Realschule leaving certificate, Abitur), that is to say from as early as the age of 15. It is provided as full-time and part-time vocational instruction at vocational schools and in businesses which offer training within the ‘dual system’. Training lasts between 2 and 3.5 years. Young people can choose from among around 340 recognised apprenticeship trades. The term ‘recognised apprenticeship trade’ [anerkannter Ausbildungsberuf] is defined by the Federal Education Act [Bundesbildungsgesetz] and forms the legal basis for the content of in-house vocational training.
Germany has around 400 publicly funded or State-recognised higher education establishments. You will find an overview of the German higher education scene and the availability of courses at www.hochschulkompass.de.
Links: Title/name: URL
- 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: 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
- Education system in Germany and social benefits for families: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/Webs/EUGS/DE/01_EUBuerger/02_FragenUndAntworten/04_Bildung/_node.html
- Education system in Germany and social benefits for families: https://www.eu-gleichbehandlungsstelle.de/eugs-de/eu-buerger/fragen-und-antworten/sozialleistungen/familie-und-kinder
- 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 theatres, orchestras and museums. You will find a rich and varied cultural programme almost everywhere. In the large towns and cities there are opportunities to see interesting artists and 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 (e.V. – eingetragener Verein). There is also a large number of unregistered clubs. As is to be expected, the most popular clubs are centred on sport.
A typical feature of Germany is Kneipen [pubs], 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. In summer, beer gardens and wine bars in particular, where you can sit out until late in the evening, are very popular. 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.
- 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/
- German society and engagement: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/engagement/deutschland/
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 municipality or local council 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 municipal or local council 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, that is to say 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 an inter-regional road network of over 230 000 km. Around 12 900 km of this is 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. From Germany there are connections by air 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 at www.bahn.de.
Cheap rail fares for journeys all over Germany are available from EUR 30, or even less in particular 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 4 000 different routes across the Federal Republic. A single ticket from Hamburg to Munich costs between around EUR 20 and EUR 43.
Carsharing is also possible in cities in Germany. The costs of local transport depend on the region.
- Deutsche Bahn AG (German railways): www.bahn.de
- Mobility – bus, rail and bicycle: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/mobilitaet/bus-bahn-fahrrad/
- Mobility – car: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/de/leben-in-deutschland/mobilitaet/auto/