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Work Permits in Germany – An overview

As the fourth biggest economy in the world, after Japan, China and the United States, Germany is an attractive country for skilled workers from all over the world. It offers a high living standard in terms of health services and social security and well-paid jobs. Yet, Germany has been suffering from a shortage of skilled workers.

There are different options for workers looking to move to Germany for work. It can get very confusing though to figure out which type of visa is the right one for you. This guide shall provide a first overview:

Who needs a work permit and who doesn’t?

First of all, let’s begin with those who generally don’t need a visa to work in Germany:

Apart from Germans, all citizens from the EU member states and the four EFTA states-  Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are exempt from having to apply for a work permit as they are covered by the Free Movement of Workers policy.

Due to specific agreements with the following states, their citizens are also exempt from having to apply for a visa:

APAC: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea

Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia

as well as: Andorra, Israel, San Marino and USA

They are free to travel to Germany and apply for a work permit at the local Foreigners Office once they enter the country and get their address registered.

All other nationals from states that are not listed above, need to apply for a work permit at the German embassy or consulate in their home country.

Special case: United Kingdom after the Brexit

Since  Brexit, UK citizens who were already registered in Germany before 31st December 2020, may continue working in Germany indefinitely. Everyone else who is planning to pursue a career in this country is treated as third country national and needs to apply for a work permit.

What are the requirements to obtain a work permit?

In general, you need a binding work contract and a place of residence in Germany. The place of residence can be temporary at first, but in any case, it needs to be registered with the local registration office once you arrive.

Depending on whether you are still in your home country or already in Germany, either the German embassy or the local Foreigners Office will get in touch with the Federal Employment Office. They check if German, EU or EEA citizens are available for the vacancy, in order to avoid a negative impact on the German labour market. Only in the case that the Federal Employment Agency doesn’t find any qualified or available candidates, it will allow issuing a work permit for the candidate for that particular position. Moreover, the working conditions need to be the same as for a German worker: However, there are several exceptions where the approval is not required. One of them is the EU Blue Card , which is always exempt from the approval process,  as well as temporary employment forms such as apprenticeships, voluntary work and holiday internships or internships for enrolled students.

EU Blue Card – Work Permit with privileges for highly skilled workers from third countries

As Germany is particularly looking for highly skilled specialists, the EU Blue Card  is a means to attract professionals  from third countries with an academic background.

One of the main benefits  is that it facilitates the process to  easily bring your spouse and children into the country once you have started working in Germany. Moreover, Blue Card holders are eligible for a permanent residence title after working for 33 months in a highly-qualified job that is subject to social security contributions and having acquired basic German language skills. Holders who can prove at least a B1 level of German  are able to receive the permanent residency title after only 21 months.The requirements are having a binding work contract, a completed university degree that is acknowledged as equivalent to a German university degree, as well as a minimum annual gross salary of € 56.400 (2022).

Find out more about the Blue Card requirements and how TCP/People2.0 can support in the application process.

Work Permit for Refugees

Under certain conditions, refugees can get access to the German labour market if they either have a residence permit as asylum-seeker or if their deportation is temporarily suspended. As soon as you are granted the status of a recognized asylum seeker, you have full access to the labour market without restrictions, meaning you can either take up employment or open your own business as freelancer.

Overall, it appears complicated at first to get a work permit in Germany, but it will be worth the while considering the many different work opportunities and the high living standard.

How TCP/People2.0 can help?

TCP Solutions is part of the People2.0 group of companies, who is the leading provider of contingent workforce engagement solutions within the EMEA, U.S. and globally.

Would you like further information about how we could assist you and your company regarding working with temporary workers and contractors compliantly following local tax rulings, then check our blog about working in Germany and don’t hesitate to contact us via or send us a message via our contact page. We would be delighted to speak to you regarding the possibilities.


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