Area - 357,386 km2

Population – 83,019,200

Official Language – German


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.

Up-to-date information for British citizens can currently be found on the website of the Federal Employment Agency:

Family members who are not EU citizens require a visa to enter the country in accordance with the provisions for foreigners to whom the Residence Act [Aufenthaltsgesetz] applies. Holding a valid residence card, including that of another Member State of the European Union, means the citizen is exempt from the visa requirement under Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC on the free movement of workers.

Nationals of countries outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), referred 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.

Access to the German labour market is determined by the provisions of the Residence Act [Aufenthaltsgesetz (AufenthG)]. Residence for the purposes of engaging in a gainful activity always requires the consent of the Federal Employment Agency [Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA)]. This is obtained via an internal procedure from the German representation in the country of origin (visa office) or from the local foreigners’ registration office in Germany. Authorisation to take up employment is granted with the residence document.

Consent may be given only where:

  1. legal provisions grant access to the German labour market
  2. a specific job offer has been provided
  3. there are no employees who may have priority for the specific job in question and the working conditions are comparable to those of employees in Germany (labour market check).

Specialist teams at the employment agencies in Essen, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Munich are responsible for issuing work permits and residence documents.


If you would like to work in Germany, you can find a lot of useful information on the website

The website provides a Quick-Check tool on opportunities in Germany, assistance on finding a job and information on living and working in Germany.

We recommend that you make contact via You can speak on the phone or live chat with advisers who will help you to look for jobs and make applications and will advise you about living conditions in Germany.

You will find Germany’s largest job portal at

If you are searching for jobs where organisations are explicitly looking for job seekers from the EURES area, we recommend that you consult the EURES portal.

Employers also advertise job vacancies in daily newspapers and on private online job exchanges.

In Germany, it is also common to send speculative applications to attract your dream employer’s attention.


he average gross monthly earnings of full-time workers was EUR 3 880 in 2018. The difference between the average gross hourly rate of pay for men (EUR 21.60) and women (EUR 17.09) is 21 per cent.

According to the findings of the Federal Statistical Office, the average gross annual earnings for full-time employees vary from sector to sector.

Here is a brief overview:

Manufacturing industry EUR 51 901

Service sector EUR 49 878

Public and personal services EUR 49 565

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.

The filing of a tax return is voluntary in Germany. In some cases, there is an obligation to file a tax return by 31 July of the following year: for additional income apart from wages, unemployment benefit, 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.

 Employees who receive an income in Germany must pay tax. Individual living conditions are taken into account in calculating taxable income. Single people have to dig deepest into their pockets. Anyone who is married, is also the sole earner and has children gets off much more lightly.

The employer withholds income tax from each wage payment and pays the tax directly to the tax office. Everyone in employment is required to make a contribution towards social security. Half of contributions are paid by the employer and half by the employee. The total social security contribution is approximately 39.8% of gross wages/salary. At present the solidarity surcharge introduced in 1995 to build up the east German economy amounts to 5.5% of wage/income tax. Church members who are liable to taxation must also pay a church tax of between 8 and 9% of their tax liability, depending on the Land they live in. State collection of tax for religious communities is a peculiarity of the German system.

At the end of the year a tax return can be submitted to the tax office.

The filing of a tax return is voluntary if one is not obligated by law to submit one.

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.

An obligation to submit a tax return exists, inter alia, in these cases:

Value-added tax (VAT) on the acquisition of goods and the use of services varies between 7% and 19%.

VAT 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. VAT of 19% is charged on the majority of goods and services in Germany.


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:

Final consumption expenditure: EUR 2 517.577

36% for accommodation and energy, 14% for food, beverages, tobacco

Food, beverages and tobacco: EUR 348

Clothing and footwear: EUR 110

Accommodation, energy, household maintenance: EUR 897

Furnishings, household appliances and items: EUR 140

Health: EUR 98

Transport: EUR 348

Postal services and telecommunications: EUR 64

Recreation and culture: EUR 259

Education: EUR 18

Hotel and restaurant services EUR 146

Other goods and services: EUR 90

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, tenants in Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main will have to budget for considerably more money than, for example, those in Leipzig.


The pre-school education sector consists of institutions for children aged from one to three (crèches), three to six – predominantly nursery schools, but also pre-school classes. Attendance at these institutions is normally voluntary but subject to a charge.

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 with the child which secondary school the child will attend. There is a choice between the 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.

Initial vocational training can be commenced after completing a school-leaving certificate (Hauptschule leaving certificate, Realschule leaving certificate, Abitur), that is to say already from 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 3½ years. Young people can chose from among around 340 recognised apprenticeship trades. The term ‘recognised training occupation’ [anerkannter Ausbildungsberuf] is defined by the Federal Education Act [Bundesbildungsgesetz] and forms the legal basis for the

implementation of in-company 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


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.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

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.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

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.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

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.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

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.

USEFUL LINKS - Ministry of Labour