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Working in Frankfurt
Find out how to get a job and work in Frankfurt
Expats working in Frankfurt are part of Germany’s financial center, benefitting from the city’s excellent infrastructure and its multiculturalism. Learn more about Frankfurt, about work permits, business districts, and social security. You’ll be ready for working in Frankfurt in no time!
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Employment in Frankfurt
- If you work in finance, Frankfurt is the perfect location, as most of Germany’s banks, as well as the German stock exchange, have their headquarters in the city.
- Frankfurt has an excellent travel infrastructure and even has Europe’s third largest airport.
- You will likely contribute to the German social security system when you work in Frankfurt; this will come directly out of your wages.
- Make sure to be punctual and well-prepared for meetings in Germany in order to make a good impression.
A Financial Hub
Working in Frankfurt is the first choice of expats looking for employment in Germany’s financial sector. Frankfurt’s stock exchange is among the largest in the world. A vast majority of Germany’s stock market turnover is generated in Frankfurt. But even if you are not looking into employment in Frankfurt’s stock exchange, you may find just the right finance job in this city.
Frankfurt’s financial district stretches across parts of the Innenstadt, the Westend, and the Bahnhofviertel. The center of the district is the Opernplatz, which houses the old opera building, which has now been turned into a concert hall. The financial district is where most of the city’s skyscrapers, which make up Frankfurt’s characteristic skyline, have been built.
There are numerous credit institutions located in this city, more than half of them being foreign banks. Many expats working in the city’s financial sector are employed at branch offices of some of the biggest banks in the entire world. On top of that, Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank (ECB), where decisions concerning the euro are made, the German Federal Bank, as well as to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The headquarters of many national banks are located here, too, including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen (Helaba). Helaba is, in fact, housed in the Main Tower, the fourth tallest building in Germany, standing at 200 meters.
Experience the Excellent Infrastructure
Part of what makes working in Frankfurt an attractive option for expats is the city’s excellent infrastructure. Frankfurt’s airport is the third largest airport in Europe and the reason why the city is considered a central European transport hub. Thus, it is easy to establish and stay in touch with your international business contacts, and to develop markets abroad.
In fact, for expats working in Frankfurt, the most important European capitals are no more than two hours away — Frankfurt’s airport allows you to explore Europe as you see fit. But the city also offers great connections to the German railway system and to the European high-speed road network, with the Frankfurter Kreuz giving you quick and easy access the German Autobahn.
Don’t Forget Your Work Permit
Before you can begin working in Frankfurt, you need to apply for a work permit at the Ausländerbehörde (the immigration office) in Frankfurt. You should not have much trouble getting a residence permit including permission to work after having already been granted a respective visa. If you are an EU/EEA national, you do not need a residence/work permit. Swiss nationals are, however, required to get a Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung (also referred to Aufenthaltserlaubnis-CH), a document proving that they are permitted to live and work in Germany. If you are a Swiss national, you need to apply for this within three months of moving to Germany.
While securing a work permit should be nothing more than a formality for most expats working in Frankfurt, the process can be somewhat nerve-wracking for self-employed or self-made expats. For more information on work permit requirements, you should contact the Ausländerbehördein Frankfurt.
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Social Security and Etiquette in Frankfurt
Expatriates may contribute to Germany’s social security scheme and have a certain percentage of their gross monthly salary deducted for that purpose. Participation in that scheme is compulsory for German citizens and most expatriates, provided they are not exempt, for example if they are intra-company transferees or work in the diplomatic service. If you are not subject to exemption, your home country does not have a social security agreement with Germany, and provided you have worked in Germany for less than five years, you may, at least, ask for a refund of your contributions to the pension plan. This refund is granted, at the earliest, 24 months after your permanent return to your home country.
At the time of writing in 2016, Germany had entered into social security agreements with 18 different countries, as well as special agreements with China and India. Focused primarily on pension plans, these agreements — as well as Germany’s EU membership — regulate the contribution to and payment of social security funds when nationals of one country live and work in the other and thus also aim to avoid double charges for expatriates.
If you are unsure of how your contributions in Germany affect your pension funds back home, for instance, please contact the responsible offices back home or the Deutsche Rentenversicherung in Germany. You can call their service hotline by dialing 0800 1000 4800, write an email, or visit one of their offices in Frankfurt at
- Städelstraße 28,
- Zeil 53, or
- Weismüllerstraße 45.
Of course, your private pension funds should not be affected by your contributions to the German social security system.
The National Pension
The national pension fund makes up the most important part of Germany’s social security scheme, aside from public healthcare. In 2016, contributions came out to be 21.9% (18.9% for old-age pension and 3% for unemployment insurance). However, you only pay half of the overall contributions while your employer pays the other half. Any income above a certain contribution ceiling called Beitragsbemessungsgrenze (in 2016: 74,400 EUR annually in West Germany and 64,800 EUR in East Germany) is not subject to these contributions.
Once you reach the official age of retirement, you can freely dispose of your pension. With at least five years of contributions, the age you may access your funds is gradually increasing from 65 to 67 until 2029, depending on your birth year. For those born in or after 1964, the age is 67.
The exact sum you will receive in the end is calculated based on the amount of your income and the number of years you have paid contributions. Self-employed people are not generally covered by the national pension, unless they request to be affiliated to the statutory pension insurance. If you are considering self-employment, please do additional research and refer to our in-depth guide concerning self-employment in Germany.
Business Etiquette to Avoid Offence
Germans are said to be rather formal and serious. However, that does not mean that friendliness is not prevalent among business partners, particularly in the more international business world of Frankfurt. The first phrase you need to learn, when doing business in Frankfurt, is “Guten Tag!” This general form of greeting is usually accompanied by a hearty handshake. When invited to an interview or a business meeting, make sure to be on time as Germans value punctuality above anything. Being late is considered incredibly disrespectful.
During meetings and negotiations, Germans tend to be very direct. Try to just go along with it and do not mistake their direct way of communicating as rudeness. At the same time you should make sure not to interrupt anybody. When trying to impress your business partners, try to do so by proving that you are qualified in your job, instead of bragging.
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