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Working in Germany: What tax rules apply to foreigners

    Working in Germany: What tax rules apply to foreigners

    Germany is an attractive destination, both economically and socially, for many people who want to come from outside Germany to work or live in one of the 16 countries between the Alps and the North Sea. Depending on the origin of the people willing to work, different conditions are required and different tax regulations apply.

    the essentials in brief

    • Basically, the following principle applies: Anyone who works in Germany, regardless of whether it is a person with German or foreign citizenship, usually has to pay income tax in Germany as well.
    • What kind of activity is followed up and whether a contractual relationship exists with a German or an international company is basically irrelevant.

    EU and EEA Citizens

    All citizens from EU or EEA countries enjoy direct and unrestricted access to the labor market in Germany. You do not need a visa for this residence permit and are subject to income tax from the start of the employment relationship.

    third-country nationals

    It is highly advisable for third-country nationals to responsible tax office and to visit the immigration authorities before starting an employment relationship. They need a so-called residence permit, which allows them access to the labor market.

    The work permit required to work is then issued together with the residence permit by the foreign Office granted, provided that the labor administration has agreed to the award of this permit.


    If foreigners come to the Federal Republic as immigrants from a country of origin with which Germany has no agreement to avoid double taxation, access to the desired job usually becomes somewhat more complicated. The majority of countries in Africa, but also on Afghanistan, fall into this category. In principle, this regulation usually applies to refugees.

    Before immigrants are allowed to work in Germany and are liable to pay taxes, they must first obtain a corresponding recognition and tax exemption certificate residence permit gain. According to the law, only people who are recognized can get a work permit.

    migrant workers and helpers

    Many foreign workers only stay in Germany for a few weeks. These are often harvest workers and seasonal workers who work for a German employer. The families of these men and women usually stay in their home country, and the workers themselves return home after the work is done.

    Most so-called migrant workers come from countries within the EU. You then have limited tax liability in Germany, despite your place of residence abroad.