Germany at a Glance
Working in Germany
If you are thinking about working in Germany, you have made an excellent decision - Germany is Europe’s largest, and the world’s fifth largest, economy. Germany boasts not only colorful cities and beautiful scenery, but decent employment opportunities as well. Whether you want to work in a large multinational corporation, as a researcher at a renowned institute, or as an automotive engineer, Germany has much to offer.
Do not let the citizens’ worries about unemployment figures, demographic change, and welfare cuts fool you. Most people living and working in Germany actually enjoy a comparatively high standard of living. Qualified employees working in Germany are rewarded for hard work and paid relatively well.
While spending part of your career in Germany can be a rewarding experience, it is important to note that the German bureaucratic system is far from simple. If you want a smooth entrance, be sure you have all necessary information and required paperwork ready.
The first step is establishing your legal residency. Without this, it is nearly impossible to go about working in Germany. This applies to anyone planning on staying for longer than three months. For more information, please consult our Germany: Visa and Administration section.
Regulations for EU Nationals
EU citizens do not require a visa or permit of any kind. Due to agreements between countries of the European Union moving and working across country boundaries has become much easier. (There are some exceptions to this rule for nationals of the new EU member states Bulgaria and Romania who want to start a job in Germany, but these extra regulations will expire by the end of 2013.)
EU members, like every resident in Germany, only need to obtain a registration certificate officially proving their residence in Germany (Meldeschein or Meldebestätigung). It is required for every change of address, whether you just move next door, from Berlin to Munich, or from Atlanta to Hamburg.
To complete your registration, you simply need to provide your passport and your rental contract or sales agreement. For the local Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) this will suffice as proof of residency. This office is crucial for all sorts of bureaucratic issues such as applying for a German ID card etc. As soon as you have registered in your new hometown, you may legally start working in Germany.
Permits for Non-EU Nationals
If you are not a citizen from an EU country, you also have to visit the Einwohnermeldeamt and register your new address. However, that’s not all! You will need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) as well.
For this, you have to provide your passport, proof of health insurance cover, and proof that you have enough funds to support yourself (i.e. a bank statement or an employment contract). Proof of residence for your city of residence is also required. If you are moving with your family, only one of you has to apply for a residence permit. When it is granted, each dependent family member receives a stamp in their passport.
There are limited and unlimited residence permits for expats interested in moving to and working in Germany. As suggested by their names, one is valid for an infinite time without the need to renew it, while the renewal date for the other is mentioned on the stamp (for example, every 12 months).
Government officials hardly ever deny residence permits, unless, of course, they believe that you apply to take advantage the country’s social welfare system. While this fear of foreign residents “exploiting” the German welfare state is often a source of xenophobia and social tensions within Germany, it should not be a problem for expats working in Germany. Expatriates usually have a work contract and an employment visa prior to their move.
Also check out our article on how to get a German residence permit!