Everything you need to know

Working in Germany
as a contractor

Working in Germany as an expat or contractor is booming, for both EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and citizens from other countries. Germany has a huge job market and thus the country is a very popular choice for expats and contractors. But before packing your bag and moving to Germany, it’s good to have a little more background information.

Why it’s such a popular destination for expats and what there is to know about working in Germany. In case you’re looking for information regarding German work permits and visas, we’d like to refer to a different guide that dives into this subject.

Germany for contractors and expats

Whether you’re calling yourself a contractor, expat or highly skilled migrant, the procedure of moving to Germany for work is less hard than most people think. For migrants outside of the European Union, EEA or Switzerland the procedure of applying for a residence permit or work permit is a bit more of a hassle than EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, but believe us; it’s worth the work. Let’s dive into the German job market.

What does the German job market look like?

The economy in Germany is large. It’s the largest in Europe and the fifth largest worldwide. And when the economy is large, the job market is most likely large too. That’s the main reason for many expats and contractors from all over the world to come to Germany for work. However, it might come in handy to know a thing or two about the German language, as not all German companies use English as the company language.
Please keep in mind that with labour leasing, the appropriate visa is the Blue Card visa. Blue Card visas require a highly skilled professional, in most cases with a University degree.
As you probably know, some of the world’s largest global companies are based in Germany, especially the automotive and technical industries. Some examples of large German companies are:
But those large companies aren’t the only companies that boost the German economy. 90 percent of the businesses in Germany are SMEs (Small- and medium-sized). Together the SMEs create around 66 percent of all jobs in Germany. So whether you’re using your skills to help a startup or grow a large company even bigger, it’s possible in Germany.

Are there many open vacancies in Germany?

The unemployment rate in Germany belongs to the lowest rates in the world, so Germany is not as affected by shortage of skills as some other European countries. Nevertheless, The job market in Germany is (almost) always looking for highly skilled migrants in the field of engineering, mathematics, technology, health and science.
Statistics from July 2020 state that there are around 573,000 jobs available in Germany. This is already a high amount, but it was a lot higher. Due to the Corona crisis, the open vacancies dropped from nearly 800,000. These numbers aren’t merely jobs for highly skilled migrants, as they also include casual work in areas such as teaching and hospitality.

Health insurance in Germany

The healthcare system in Germany is considered one of the best in Europe, maybe even the world. All contractors, expats and other foreigners who live and work in Germany have access to subsidized healthcare. However, it’s required for all residents living in Germany to have some form of health insurance. If you’re a resident who hasn’t got health insurance yet, it’s good to know that it’s compulsory to register with either a statutory German health insurance scheme or private insurance scheme.
We can take care of all the health insurance related hassle, so you can focus on your new job.

Who needs a German health insurance?

In Germany, it’s determined by law that all residents in the country must be insured for hospital and outpatient medical treatment. In order to receive your German visa, it’s actually mandatory to prove that you have health insurance in Germany.
The majority of German workers use the German state health insurance system. This scheme covers around 90 percent of all residents of Germany. Both EU and non-EU migrants who work in Germany are subject to compulsory state health insurance, also called statutory sickness insurance.
If you’re in paid employment, or a trainee or apprentice, and earn less than € 60,750 annually, you’re covered by the public healthcare system. Good to know: if you’re preferring to take out a more extensive private health insurance instead of the German state health insurance, that’s possible.

Applying for public health insurance in Germany

Applying for public health insurance in Germany is easy. Usually, your employer registers you with a (regional) health insurance company. And you don’t have to do anything. If preferred, you’re free to choose your own insurer. Update your employer two weeks before starting your new job, so he can arrange the registration.
Self-employed migrants that come to Germany, will need to arrange their own registration with a German health insurance company. Bring your passport or ID card and your residence permit to a regional office, fill in the forms and it’s done.

Working in Germany if you’re not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland

Whether you need a work visa or work permit during your stay in Germany, depends on which country you’re from. If you’re from a country other than the EU, EEA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland or the USA, you will need a work visa in order to start working in Germany. It’s important to obtain your work permit before traveling to Germany. Once you’re in Germany, you’ll also need a residence permit.

What kind of work permit do I need in Germany?

Applying for the right work permit is important, because there are quite a few to choose from. All work permits that are available in Germany are as follows.

The general employment permit

The German general employment permit is for employees who have a job that doesn’t require being highly skilled. EU/EEA and Swiss citizens have priority for these jobs, so if the position can’t be filled by a contractor from the EA/EEA or Switzerland, you’ll be eligible. Normally, this permit is granted for one year but it can be extended as your situation stays the same.

The university graduate permit

If you’re a foreign graduate who holds a recognized university degree and if you have sufficient funds, you can receive a six months residence permit to look for your dream job. An important side note is that you’re not allowed to work during these months. Once you’ve found your ideal job, you can apply for a German work permit in order to start working.

Permit for highly skilled migrants

As a highly skilled migrant, or migrant who earns more than €84,600 annually, you can apply for a settlement permit in Germany. Besides being your own permit, a settlement permit allows your family to live and work in Germany.

EU Blue Card

European Union Blue Cards are for everyone with a university degree and a job with an income of at least €55,200 annually. Or, when there’s a shortage of workers, at least €43,056. This Blue Card provides you with a residence permit for the duration of your contract, which also applies to your family members. The Blue Card’s duration is limited to four years, but after 33 months you can apply for a settlement permit -or after 21 months if you can prove you master the German language on a B-1 level.

Permits for self-employed workers

Chances are that you’re planning on setting up a business in Germany. If this is the case, you can apply for a self-employed business purpose residence permit. This permit grants you the freedom to work on your business for at least three years. If it’s successful, this can be extended.

How to apply for German citizenship?

Applying for German citizenship goes hand in hand with work/residence permits and visas. We wrote another guide regarding those subjects, in case you’re in need of more information.
To apply for citizenship in Germany, the German Federal Foreign Office is where you need to be. They are in charge of everything regarding this subject. The process of becoming a German citizen is relatively bureaucratic; a lot of paperwork and here and there some complicated tasks. Below, we’ll explain briefly about the process. To start with; there are three ways to obtain German citizenship:
If your parents aren’t German and you haven’t been born there, it’s likely to receive your German citizenship by naturalization or residence. Like we said, there are many requirements to meet before you can call yourself a German citizen. These requirements are as follows:

Applying for a German citizenship by naturalization/residence

If you meet all of the requirements stated above, you’re free to apply for German citizenship. An application form can be obtained at your local immigration office, regional district office, town council or city council. In addition to the form, the following documents are needed to prove that you meet the requirements:
After you’ve collected the completed documents, you can submit your application at the office which issued the application form.

In need of more information?

If you’re in need of more information regarding German healthcare, citizenship or anything else, whether you’re from the EU/EFTA or not, feel free to get in touch with us. Our experts in the field of working in Germany are happy to help you.