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Working in Germany

Working in Germany

Working in Germany
(© Sebastian Willnow/ ddp)

Recognition of qualifications

Earned training qualifications or done your Masters abroad and now looking for work in Saxony? Then you can get your qualifications recognised. This is very beneficial for your application, and ensures the employer classifies you in accordance with your training.

Freelancers and tradespeople

If you want to practise a trade and are planning to be self-employed, you are obliged to register this trade. Exceptions only apply for freelancers and companies in the agricultural and forestry industries.

As an employee at a company – When do I need a work permit?

You will find out what you, as an employer, need to remember when signing an employment contract here:

But you first need to clarify whether or not you need a work permit:

Free movement of workers for EU citizens

Citizens of EU member states, except Bulgaria and Romania, are entitled to free movement of workers. You can look for work in another EU country and hold down a job without requiring a work permit.

This also applies for citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (i.e. EU states as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. You only need to register with a local authority after three months.

Mandatory registration after three months relates to employment contracts. Regardless of whether or not you commence work, registration is mandatory as soon as you move into a house in Saxony. You must then register with the local authority within 14 days of moving in.

Transition periods for free movement of workers for citizens of the new EU member states Bulgaria and Romania

Citizens of Bulgaria and Romania require a work licence issued as a work permit – EU or work authorisation – EU by the Foreign and Specialist Recruitment Headquarters (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency at four locations. The jurisdiction of each individual office is based on the place of employment of Bulgarian or Romanian citizens in Germany.

Before a work permit – EU is issued, checks are conducted as to whether or not there are German applicants which fit the position just as well or better, and whether or not the work is to be performed in more unfavourable conditions.

The work permit – EU is issued for one year. Employees permitted onto the German employment market for twelve months are entitled to a work authorisation – EU, which is issued unconditionally and for an indefinite time.

For more information, call the Foreign and Specialist Recruitment Headquarters (ZAV) on:

  • 0228 713-2000

Citizens of states outside the European Union and European Economic Area (third-party states)

Persons from so-called third-party states require a residence permit which must include a work permit.

Residence permits include visas, temporary residence permits, EU Blue Cards, permanent residence permits and long-term EC residence permits. Visas, UE Blue Cards and temporary residence permits are temporary, and are issued for specific purposes.

If you are a foreigner with a permanent residence permit, you are entitled to engage in any type of gainful employment. Permanent residence permits are not limited in time or space, and contain no auxiliary provisions.

More information is available from the Bureau for Foreigners.

Foreign students

Foreign students who are citizens of an EU/EEA state (except:  Bulgaria and Romania) or Switzerland can work in Germany without restriction.

Students from the new EU member states Bulgaria and Romania, and from third-party states, may work for a maximum of 120 days or 240 half days a year. The residence permit for study purposes includes secondary employment at universities. No further approval is required for such employment.

For further employment, e.g. as part-time employees, students not belonging to one of the EU/EEA states (except: Bulgaria and Romania) or Switzerland require an EU work permit or a work permit which includes this employment. If necessary, the Foreign and Specialist Recruitment Headquarters (ZAV) must provide its consent. Generally, however, the students stay in Germany because of their studies. A work permit is thus hardly ever issued.

Consent by the Federal Employment Agency

The Federal Agency’s consent is often required in order to ensure foreigners receive a residence permit which includes a work permit. It is obtained from the Bureau for Foreigners.

NOTE: There are also jobs which can be held without consent from the Federal Employment Agency.

In some cases where no consent is necessary, employers must give notice of the employment. That means that the Foreign and Specialist Recruitment Headquarters (ZAV) must be informed before the employee starts work. Please consult the competent ZAV team regarding specific provisions.

Consent involving no further restrictions can be issued for foreigners residing permanently in Germany. This may be the case, for example, for people who have grown up in Germany and completed schooling or vocational training there. Please contact the ZAV or Bureau for Foreigners for more information.

Asylum seekers and foreigners with exceptional leave to remain

Asylum seekers require a work permit. They can be permitted onto the employment market once they have legally been in Germany for one year. They then require consent from the Federal Employment Agency.

Foreigners with exceptional leave to remain can also enter the employment market after a one-year permitted, exceptionally tolerated or granted stay in Germany. They too can be issued with unrestricted consent from the Foreign and Specialist Recruitment Headquarters (ZAV) after a four-year uninterrupted stay and no employment ban in Germany.