Living and Working in Germany: Compact Information for EU Citizens

We will support you with compact information on job, training and family in Germany.

As an EU citizen you may work in Germany without restriction. Like every employee you are entitled to pay in the amount of the applicable minimum wage. To make your start in Germany easier, you will find on this website a compact collection of information relating to work, training and family, which has been put together for you.

You will also find this information in many European languages on the following websites:

EURES Portal of the European Commission

Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers

Make it in Germany

On this site you will find the following information:

If you are already living in Germany and are looking for work here or want to make a change in your occupation, you will find helpful information in the first half of the website.

If you are not yet in Germany and want to come here soon, you will find a suitable range of information in the second half of the site.

Bild: Gruppe mit Menschen verschiedener Nationalitäten

You are already in Germany

The “Job Search” of the Federal Labour Office is one of the biggest job marketplaces in Germany. Here you can look for suitable jobs free of charge.

Find jobs

Register with our Job Search and set up your own user account. This way you can save your data and make job applications which are then found by companies. You can also save job vacancies that interest you.

Register for job search now

You can obtain more information on how you can find work in Germany on the site of the EU Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers: Job Search. This website is available in the following languages, as well as German:

On the web portal “Make it in Germany” you will find tips for your Application.

This website is available in the following languages:

The project “Immigration counselling 4.0 – Good work in Germany” provides multimedia information (videos for example) on Labour and social law for EU immigrants on Facebook and YouTube.

The information on Facebook is available in the following languages:

The information on YouTube is available in the following languages:

In Germany, compulsory education applies to children and young people between 6 and 18 years of age. This means that at this age they must attend a school.

In Germany, education is the responsibility of the federal states. There are therefore different types of school from state to state. There are also different kinds of school within a state. This differ mainly in the curriculum and the qualification that the pupils achieve. It is possible to change the kind of school. Anyone who has completed the secondary school can retake qualifications.

The “Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers” provides information about the German school system on its website School. This website is available in the following languages as well as German:

With a professional qualification you will have good chances on the German job market. This way you will be unemployed more rarely and will often have better paid jobs. In addition to this, after training, you will have opportunities for advancement and further training.

In Germany you can choose between dual vocational education and training on one hand and school-based vocational training on the other:

  1. With in-company training (or dual vocational education and training), training takes place in a company. The vocational school conveys additional knowledge relating to the occupation. During in-company training the trainees receive remuneration.
  2. With school-based training, a vocational school conveys theoretical and practical knowledge relating to the occupation. In some case, trainees have to pay school fees.

On the internet pages of the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers you will find an overview of the forms of vocational training. This information on this website is available in the languages

Training is also possible on a part-time basis. This way you have more time to look after children or care for relatives.

On its YouTube channel, the Federal Employment Agency provides information in English in the Film Training in Germany. Using the YouTube function “subtitles” you can watch the video in your native language. You can find out about the occupational opportunities for young refugees in our Film Vocational Training in Germany. More information on the subject of dual vocational education and training and the importance of vocational education is provided by the German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training on its Website with further videos. The downloads on this website are available in the languages

Pre-requirements for vocational training

In order to understand instructions in the company and to be able to follow the lessons at the vocational college, your German skills should be at level B2 at the start of your vocational training. This means that you can communicate independently and in a nuanced way in everyday life. You can find assistance on self-assessing your language level in all EU languages on the website of the European Union – europass: How to self-assess your language skills?

Some training courses require a certain qualification beforehand. Detailed vocational information, information on occupational fields, fields of activity and regulated professions can be found at BERUFENET. The Federal Employment Agency also provides information on Berufe.TV with films on Qualified occupations.

We will be happy to help you! You can find out more further below in the section Advice at your Employment Agency.

Get to know technical terms in German with internships

To gather initial occupational experience, you can do full-time or part-time internships. Through this, you will also improve your German skills and get to know the most important concepts for the respective occupational field. You can find internships in our Job Search.

To study in Germany, you need certain school-leaving qualifications: Either the Allgemeine Hochschulreife (general higher education entrance qualification), the Fachhochschulreife (university of applied sciences entrance qualification) or an equivalent qualification. Universities base their admission decisions on the basis of the presented school qualifications from the country of origin.

You can also study part-time, to get a better balance between family and studying. Anyone who wants to study after school can use the tests, tools and tips of the federal agency to get Step by step to the right course of study.

Do you have a qualification from your home country? Our Specialist counsellors know which office you can get in touch with on the subject of Recognition. We will be happy to assist you! Find out more in the section Advice at your employment office.

On the websites of the Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers, there are numerous links to websites in EU languages on the subject Studying in German. The content of this website is available in the following languages, as well as German:

If you want to found your own company, you need a good plan – and support.

Make sure that you are well-prepared for self-employment and that you have financial reserves. To be successful in the long term, you will need a good business idea and starting capital. It is also important that you are able to speak and write German well.

Your employment agency or your job centre will help you with the first steps into self-employment. Find out more further below in the section Advice at your employment office. The Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers gives information about special forms of work on its websites. The content of this website is available to you in the following languages, as well as German:

If you possess a foreign school-leaving qualification or degree or have learnt an occupation in your home country, you can have your qualifications recognised or assessed in Germany.

You can find more information and offers of advice on the subject of vocational recognition on the website Recognition in Germany. The information on this website is available in the following languages, among others, as well as German:

You will find a map of Germany with all the advice centres at Advice centres for recognition, qualification, and starting a business. This map is available in the languages German and English.

We will be happy to help you! You can find out more in the section Advice at your employment office.

In Germany there are two types of unemployment benefit: Arbeitslosengeld and Arbeitslosengeld II. Arbeitslosengeld is an insurance benefit for which employees and their employers have paid in. Whether and for how long you receive Arbeitslosengeld therefore depends on how long you were compulsorily or voluntarily insured before unemployment.

Arbeitslosengeld II, on the other hand, is a state payment for needy job seekers and is therefore also called basic support for job seekers. 

Find out how to register as looking for work in good time or as unemployed in due time so that you can apply for unemployment benefit. You can obtain more information on our site Registering as looking for work and applying for unemployment benefit.

The “Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers” provides information about regulations for EU citizens on its website Unemployment

The information on this website is available in the following languages, as well as German:

The European Commission also provides information in all EU languages on its website on Unemployment.

Taking into account insurance periods from another EU country, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland

If certain conditions are met, periods of insurance from other EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland can also be taken into account for a claim to Arbeitslosengeld. As long as you lawfully live in an EU country, there are possibilities for the certification of your Social insurance claims – standard forms irrespective of your EU citizenship.

Looking for work in another EU country, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Brexit countries

Normally, you must be staying in the country that pays your unemployment benefits. Under certain conditions, however, you can travel to seek work in another EU country, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and continue to receive unemployment benefits to which you are entitled in the country in which you have lost your job. On the website “Your Europe” you can find out what applies with Brexit and about the Transfer of unemployment benefits. The information on this website is available in all EU languages, e.g. in German and English.

Financial support through Arbeitslosengeld II (also: Basic security benefits)

You can receive Arbeitslosengeld II if you are capable of work and eligible for benefit and meet at least the following requirements:

  • You are at least 15 years old and you have not reached the retirement age for your pension;
  • You live in Germany and have your main place of residence here;
  • You can work for at least 3 hours a day;
  • You or members of your joint household – which means persons with whom you live in the same habitation and who bear responsibility for each other – are in need of assistance;
  • You are not excluded from benefits. Special rules apply to foreign citizens, e.g. you must be allowed to take up employment.

Being in need of assistance means that the income of your joint household lies below the poverty line and you cannot make a living or not sufficiently from your own resources. This also includes the assistance of relatives, bodies, institutions and authorities. In Germany, these so-called carriers include, for example, the Federal Employment Agency, the statutory health insurance schemes, the German Pension Insurance Association and the professional associations.

Being capable of work means that the person in need of assistance is in a position to be gainfully employed in the foreseeable future on the general labour market for at least three hours per day. Sickness and disability can prevent this.

Only people in need of assistance receive Arbeitslosengeld II. You must therefore first use your own resources, before you receive financial assistance. If you have an income or possess assets that exceed certain allowances, you must first secure your living with this. Among other things, you can also Apply for Arbeitslosengeld II online.

If you are staying in Germany exclusively for the purposes of looking for work and have not worked here for long enough before this, you will not receive benefits according to SGB II (basic security benefit) and SGB XII (social aid) until after a 5-year lawful stay in Germany.

If you have no claim to social aid, but need assistance, you can receive, up to your departure or for a maximum of one month within 2 years, benefits according to SGB XII for nutrition, personal hygiene and health, and for accommodation and board (transition benefits). In certain cases of hardship (for example inability to travel), these benefits can in individual cases be approved beyond the first month.

The amount of short-time allowance depends on the remuneration (salary or wage) that you are normally paid. After the deduction of taxes and social security charges (technical term: Net remuneration) you will receive 60 percent of the lost net remuneration as short-time allowance. Employed people with at least one child receive 67 percent of the lost net remuneration. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs gives Answers to the most frequently asked questions on short-time work and qualification on its website. You will also find the most important information in brief and pamphlets on our site Short-time allowance – information for employees.

Learning German is one of the most important steps with which you can prepare for your life in Germany. It allows you to settle in more quickly, find work and make new friendships. For certain purposes, such as e.g. work or studying, it can even be necessary to prove a certain degree of proficiency in German.

Integration courses

As a EU citizen you have no statutory claim to attend an integration course. The Federal office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) can however admit you onto the integration course. This can, for example, be the case if you cannot yet speak German sufficiently well, are in special need of integration, and there are free course places. There are also courses with childcare.

If you are proficient in the German language, you can settle in more quickly and make contacts more quickly with other people. In some cases, German skills are also required for a particular occupation or a visa. The Federal Government provides information about these cases on its website Do I need to know German?. Apart from German, this website is also available in the following languages:

You can obtain more information on learning German on the website of the Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers: Learn German.

This website is available in German and the following languages:

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees explains on its website the conditions upon which EU citizens can attend integration courses: EU citizens. This website is also available in the following languages as well as German:

It is often a challenge to reconcile work with looking after children or caring for relatives. The Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers gives an overview of state benefits on its website Family and children.

This information is available in German and in the following languages:

The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth gives information on parental allowance and more on its website Family portal. The web portal is available in the following languages, as well as German:

The Federal Ministry of Health has put together a collection of advisory services for home care in an online guide: Financial assistance and benefits for home care.

The employment agencies and the local job centres will be happy to assist you and give you individual advice on your personal life circumstances. In addition to the placement, counselling and integration personnel, the Commissioners for the Protection of Equality on the Labour Market (BCA) is also at your disposal. These offer, for example, regular events to do with the subject of family, care and work. Among others:

  • Application workshops for people who would like to re-enter working life after a phase of looking after family members
  • Consultation hours for single parents
  • Advice and information relating to the search for part-time jobs
  • Information events on re-entering the workforce after a phase of looking after someone
  • Childcare options

We will be happy to help you! You can find out more in the section Advice at your employment office.

Childcare

In Germany there are daycare centres and nurseries for small children. It is also possibility to entrust one’s child to a creche or a childminder. For schoolchildren there are whole-day or creche services.

You will also find childcare services on the homepage of your city (under youth welfare office or department for young people and schools) or in the internet under the keyword “Kita-Finder”.

You can also find information on childcare on the site Family and children of the Office for Equal Treatment for EU Work, mentioned above.

Germany would like to ensure that its children are fully provided for. That is why there is Child benefit. You can also find information on child benefit on the site Family and Children – of the Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers – in German and in the following languages:

You are entitled to child benefit if

  • your child is under 18 years old (under certain conditions you can also apply for and receive Child benefit for children of full age);
  • you regularly provide for your child and they live in your household (also applies to stepchildren, grandchildren or foster children) and
  • your place of residence is in Germany, another country in the EU, in Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland. You can find out more about this on our website Child benefit for people abroad or from abroad.

Beyond this, you can receive the so-called supplementary child allowance if your income is not enough for the whole family and

  • your child lives in your household, is under 25 years old and not married or is not in a civil partnership;
  • you receive child benefit (or a similar benefit) for your child;
  • the gross income of your family is at least 900 euros (couples) or 600 euros (single parents);
  • you would have enough money for the maintenance of your family if in addition to your income you were to receive supplementary child allowance and possibly housing benefit.

Find out about what assistance you receive for your family. You can apply for child benefit and child supplementary allowance at the Family Office of the Federal Employment Agency.

We will be happy to assist you. You can find more in the section Advice at your employment office.

Social insurance funds like the Federal Employment Agency provide security for people in Germany. In order to insure you and to pay contributions for you, your employer requires an eTIN from you. Contributions to social insurance depend on your income. Social insurance supports you when you are sick, unemployed, old or in need of care. This is not the case with a mini-job.

The Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers provides information about the social insurance network in Germany and means of voluntary cover on its website Insurance funds. This information is available in German and in the following languages:

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) will support you in your search for work. Arrange an appointment for a personal, free consultation:

Making an appointment by telephone: You can reach our German-language hotline Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm on the telephone number 0800 4 555500 (free of charge).

Arranging an appointment by contact form: You can request an appointment using our German or English-language Contact form.

Preparation for the consultation

Please bring the following documents to your first consultation:

  • Identity card or pass with registration certificate
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Training certificates and employer references, if available
  • If you are under 20 years old: Your most recent school report
  • Proof of further qualifications such as a driving license
  • Covering letter of your most recent application or your sample covering letter

You can find the contact data of your local employment office using the Office search at the end of this site.

Interpreter service

Consultations normally take place in German. In most cases the consultation personnel can call in the interpreter hotline of the Federal Employment Agency. You should inform us some time before your appointment so that the interpreter service can be prepared.

You are still abroad

In the social media, a variety of information can be found on the subject of working in Germany as well information on the first contact points. Not all information is qualified.

Make it in Germany

The Federal Government informs people interested in emigrating to Germany on how they can successfully organise their relocation to this country, with the multi-lingual web portal Make it in Germany. This deals with preparations in your country of origin up to your arrival and the first steps in Germany.

The full version of the information is available in the following languages, as well as in German:

Brief information is available in the following languages among others:

Hotline Working and Living in Germany

The hotline Working and Living in Germany of the Federal Employment Agency and of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is an initial contact point for everyone who is interested in starting work in Germany.

You can obtain advice on the following subjects – in German and English:

  • Job-hunting, work and occupation
  • Recognition of foreign professional qualifications
  • Entry and stay
  • Learning German

Call: +49 30 1815-1111

Contact hotline working and living in Germany

Chat of the International Placement Service

The advisors of the Internal Placement Service of the Federal Employment Agency will be happy to answer your questions about working and living in Germany in the live chat – in German and in English. The chat is available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm CET.

The Central Service Point for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications

If you would like to practice your trained occupation in Germany, it is possible that you will have to have your professional qualification recognised here. The Central Service Point for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications will help you to put together the necessary documents for the responsible office. It also provides information on regional advisory and qualification services and will support you in your search for an employer

If you live abroad, you can obtain individual consultation and support in the recognition procedure. For this, please contact die Central Service Point for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications. 

+49 30 1815-1111

recognition@arbeitsagentur.de

You can obtain information about the Central Service Point for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications on the website Advice and support in the recognition procedure – also in English.

EURES advisors in your home country

If you would like to work in Germany, the EURES advisors in your home country will be happy to inform you about working and living in Germany.

EURES advisers are experts on international mobility and possess Special knowledge on European labour markets, qualifications and training systems. With their focus on information, advising and placement they support job-seekers and companies and thus directly promote mobility on the European labour market.

You can find out how EURES is organised on the website EURES in your country. The information is available in all EU languages, such as in

You will find the contact details of an EURES advisor in your region on the website of the European Commission: Search for EURES advisors. You will find the information on this site in all EU languages as well as German.

Anyone who is moving to Germany to work can reduce delays and problems from bureaucratic processes. Do not forget to take the following documents with you:

  • Valid identity card or passport
  • Certificates of study and of employment /work references 
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a temporary replacement certificate
  • Form PD U1 – proof of your insurance periods for your unemployment insurance in your home country (does not apply to students/ job starters)
  • Good-conduct certificate from the German police (not for EU citizens, otherwise depends on the country of origin)
  • Form E 104 and/or S1 – proof of your contribution times for social insurance in your home country. The form A1 is also accepted as proof by the statutory health insurances in Germany.
  • Applies where appropriate to unemployed people: Form PDU2 – importing of benefit entitlements from abroad

The EU provides an website with lists of links on the subjects of occupational qualifications, unemployment benefits, taxes and Work and retirement. This website is available to you in all EU languages, including in German and English. The portal Make it in Germany provides Information for EU citizens in the languages German, Spanish, French and English. Employers and applicants from across Europe can find each other with EURES – the portal for occupational mobility. This website is available in all EU languages, including in

On the websites of the Office for Equal Treatment of EU Workers you will find an overview of the forms of vocational training. You can obtain this overview in the following languages as well as German:

You can see what options you have for working and living in Germany on the website Make it in Germany with the Quick check. The information on this website is available in the following languages as well as German:

Cross-border commuters and companies in trans-border regions face special challenges. An website of the European Union addresses different national conditions and legal systems, and specific administrative, legal or tax regulations for Cross-border commuters as hindrances to mobility. This website is available to you in all EU languages as well as in

Public employment services, social partners, regional administrative bodies and other institutions support cross-border commuters with EURES in border regions. This website can be called in all EU languages, such as in

Continuing or suspending unemployment benefit from another EU country

Let us assume that you would like to move to Germany to look for work. If you then draw unemployment benefit, unemployment assistance or similar benefits in your home country, you can apply to continue drawing them. You can also apply for the suspension of benefits. If you want to take the benefit with you, you must apply for it before you leave the country to look for work. Find out how to Transfer or suspend unemployment benefits. The contents of this website are available to you in the languages

and in all other EU languages.

As long as you are living lawfully in a EU country, there are ways to certify your Social insurance entitlements – standard forms, irrespective of your EU citizenship. The portal Make it in Germany provides returners to Germany who do not find work straight away with information on everything to do with the subject of Unemployment. The contents of this website are available in the following languages as well as in German:

As a seasonal worker, German labour law applies to you – irrespective of your country of origin. It ensures comprehensive rights for you in everything to do with employment contracts, holidays and social security.

Seasonal work in Germany – in concrete terms, this means you work up to 90 days within 180 days in agriculture, provided that you regularly work at least 30 hours a week. It is best to already find out about your rights as an employee before travelling to Germany. You will find information on seasonal work in Germany on the site Saisonarbeit in Deutschland (Seasonal Work in Germany), in the languages

You can find the contents of the above-named site as a PDF document in the following languages

  • Polski
  • Română
  • Български

in our Pamphlets and forms to download.

The Federal Employment Agency provides information on everything to do with the employment permit, current options for seasonal workers from Georgia and Moldova, comprehensive legal regulations and with a German-language pamphlet on the subject Seasonal work in Germany – your possibilities.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has already been funding the advice centres run by the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) since 2011. You can find more information on this on the website “Fair Mobility” – advice for seasonal workers. On its website the DGB campaigns for seasonal workers in Agriculture. The contents of this website are available in the following languages as well as German: