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Working in Berlin?

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Working in Berlin

Will you soon be working in Berlin as an expatriate? Good choice! The city offers many opportunities, from global companies to middle-sized businesses or start-ups. Our InterNations guide to Berlin explains business etiquette, visa regulations, and admin issues for expats in Berlin.
Business meetings in Berlin may be more formal than what you are used to.
  • The technology sector in Berlin is strong and a good option for employment.
  • Income tax in Germany is progressive and many countries have agreements with Germany, meaning you will avoid double taxation.
  • Social security payments will be taken straight out of your paycheck by your employer and are paid by both yourself and your employer.
  • The Berlin economy has struggled since reunification, but it is gradually improving meaning you shouldn’t rule out the city for your expat plans.

 

Working in Berlin is a wise choice, as Berlin has a strong economy due to its weight in the international market and it being the German capital. Its historically close ties with Eastern Europe also mean that many people working in the German capital come from that area, and a fair number of companies of interest for expats are run by Eastern Europeans. In general, the most important sectors in Berlin are communications, IT, education, and tourism, with start-ups also playing a significant role in Berlin’s business scene.

You should note that the great majority of the workforce in Berlin is employed in the service sector. Those who are considering working in the Berlin technology sector will be delighted to know that Berlin has become a leader in implementing new technology fields.

Technology Leads the Field

The city is at the forefront of science and technology in Germany. It puts a lot of emphasis on research and development in the field of new technologies. Berlin’s universities are state-of-the-art and cutting-edge institutes.

You will also find one of the best high-tech developments in the middle of the city. The Adlershof is a community of scientific institutes, a huge media center, and the site of the Humboldt University’s expanding mathematics and sciences departments. All in all it houses over 1,000 businesses and offers work opportunities to almost 16,000 people. Known for its innovative atmosphere, the Adlershof draws many new entrepreneurs to Berlin each year.

German Business Etiquette

Business etiquette depends greatly on the size and type of the company, as well as the staff and the industry or sector. At first, it is always better to be too formal than not formal enough; wear formal clothing and address others in a polite way. For example, if you work in a German-speaking company, you should always begin conversing with colleagues using the formal Sie form, rather the informal du; only once agreed with your colleagues should you use du.

You should also ensure you are punctual when an appointment has been made: Germans do not appreciate tardiness. Be hard-working and focus on the details, things that Germans find very important — don’t worry, if you have done something wrong, you will likely know: Germans are quite blunt in their criticism, but don’t take it to heart!

Want to know more about business culture in Germany? Check out the Jobs and Business section of our detailed Germany guide! 

Visa Requirements

If you are contemplating working in Berlin but are not from a Schengen area or EU country, nor Swiss, then you need an employment visa and a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). For your work visa, you have to prove that you already have a job lined up before coming to Germany. In that case, you need to present a copy of your work agreement to the respective German mission and thus prove you’ll be working in Berlin.

In general, citizens of selected countries (such as the USA and Australia) are allowed to enter Germany without an employment visa and look for work there during a limited period of several months, provided they have enough money to support themselves. Please inquire at your respective German embassy or consulate if this applies to you and don’t forget that this exemption only applies in regard to your entry visa and not when it comes to work and residence permits.

Our articles on how to get a German visa and getting a work permit for Germany also provide useful overviews. 

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Sean Henderson

"The good thing about InterNations is that I got to know the expat community in Berlin as well as internationally minded locals."

Anna Maria Osario

"Through InterNations I met so many other Argentinean expats in Berlin, which made the transition period really easy for me."

Global Expat Guide