Entry and residence
Are you a citizen of an EU Member State and would like to work, study or do training in Germany? Thanks to freedom of movement, you can travel to Germany without a visa or a residence permit and stay here for a period of three months. You only need a valid passport or ID card to enter the country. If you are planning to stay in Germany for longer, you will need to proof that you can cover your living expenses (and if appropriate also those of your dependents). There are no restrictions on access to employment and self-employment in Germany for you and your family.
The same applies if you are a citizen of Switzerland or the European Economic Area – i.e. Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland.
Right to permanent residency
As an EU citizen, you automatically gain the right to permanent residence in another EU country after an uninterrupted lawful stay of at least 5 years in that country. You can have this confirmed by a permanent residence card. This card can be useful when dealing with the authorities. You can find further information on the subject of “Permanent residence for EU nationals” here.
You are domiciled in Germany and would now like to apply for German citizenship? If you are an EU citizen, this is possible. You can find out what preconditions you need to fulfil for naturalisation here.
Depending on what EU Member State you come from, you will not need to relinquish your existing citizenship. Meaning, you can have “dual citizenship”. Your local naturalisation authority can tell you which countries offer this option.
The principle of freedom of movement for workers within the EU makes it easy for citizens from other Member States to access Germany’s labour market. There is a broad range of support available for you to take up when you need it:
Help with finding a job
If you need help with looking for a job, EURES is the right place for you. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) is a member of EURES, the network of EURopean Employment Services. EURES offers advice and job placement services to foster labour mobility within Europe. The service ranges from pan-European job offers to EU funding programmes, information about living and working conditions, and contact details of EURES advisers. At the European Job Days, you can find out on the spot about your job prospects and job vacancies in Germany and other EU Member States. You can find details of current events on the European Job Days website.
Possibilities of support for EU citizens
EURES promotes fair and sustainable occupational mobility across borders. The Targeted Mobilty Schemes (TMS) support programme is part of the EURES strategy. The programme aims to help match suitable applicants with hard-to-fill job vacancies and to facilitate mobility, job search and recruitment within Europe. Several TMS projects are currently being implemented in Germany. Information on the different projects can be found on the EURES website.
Which requirements do I have to meet if I would like to participate in one of the German TMS projects?
- You are at least 18 years of age but have not yet reached retirement age
- You have a European citizenship and a residence in any of the 27 EU countries, or Norway or Iceland and would like to work in Germany
- You are looking for a job, an internship or vocational training and there are offers that match your qualifications as well as your desired field of training.
- The job for which you are applying or which you wish to start is not limited to a period of less than six months, covers at least 50% of a normal working week and complies with the legal and collective agreement regulations.
How do the German projects work?
Initially you should seek advice from a consultant! The advisors in the Virtual Welcome Center (VWC) will inform and support you on the following matters:
- labour market and working conditions in Germany
- search for jobs, vocational training positions or internships
- preparation of a curriculum vitae
- preparation for job interviews
The EURES consultation through the VWC helps with orientation and is the basic and mandatory initial step before submitting an application and will provide support according to your individual needs.
Possible support modules:
- Travel expenses: One-time financial support for a trip to a job interview.
- Moving expenses: Financial support during the move, after a successful referral and before taking up employment.
- Recognition expenses: During the process of recognition of your professional qualifications, costs incurred (e.g. translation costs) may be covered.
- Language course in country of origin: Under certain circumstances you will receive financial support for a preparatory German course held in your country of origin.
- Language course in Germany: Under certain circumstances, it is possible to receive financial support for an extra-occupational language course in Germany.
- Integration Programme: Your future employer may request that you take part in an integration programme to ensure your integration in Germany.
Right to equal treatment
If you work in Germany and feel that you are being discriminated against at work, you should contact the EU Equal Treatment Office. Its job is to ensure equal treatment of EU workers and their dependents. If necessary, you can be provided with information about the right to freedom of movement for workers in several languages.
You can find out more about finding vacancies, job applications, contracts of employment, etc. under Jobs.
Recognition of qualifications
Special rules also apply to EU citizens with regard to the recognition of professional qualifications. The Professional Qualifications Directive provides that most professional qualifications will be recognised as being equivalent in the Member States of the EU, and will thus give professionals free access to the domestic labour market. The Directive applies to citizens of the EU, the rest of the European Economic Area and Switzerland who have obtained their qualification in a Member State, and it grants them access to the same occupation under the same conditions as Germans.
Studying in Germany
If you would like to study in Germany, you can again benefit from freedom of movement in the EU. You can apply to a German higher education institution with your certificate entitling you to tertiary education. School-leaving certificates obtained in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland are generally recognised in Germany. The DAAD database on admission requirements enables you to check whether your school-leaving certificate meets the preconditions for studying in Germany.
Funding programmes – Erasmus+
In addition, there are numerous funding programmes available to you as an EU citizen. The Erasmus+ programme is one example. It provides grants for periods of study abroad (studies and internships) for three (studies) or two (internships) to twelve months in each study phase (Bachelor’s, Master’s, doctorate). You can find more information about Erasmus+ on the websites of the European Commission and Study in Germany.
You can find out more about studying in Germany in our Study section.
Finding a training place
Are you looking for a training place in Germany? Once again, the EURES website can help you find something. Unfilled training places can be found on the EURES website under “Find youth opportunities” or contact a EURES adviser directly.
You can find out more about vocational training in Germany under Training.
Once you’ve arrived in Germany, you may find some information useful in your day-to-day life. The website of the EU Equal Treatment Office provides a lot of useful information tailored to nationals of other EU Member States living in Germany.
We have listed a few special features here:
As an EU citizen, you are entitled to attend an integration course. This means that you are allowed, but not required, to attend an integration course to learn German.
You can find out more about integration courses here.
Migration advice centres
You can obtain migration advice in order to get off to the best possible start in Germany. The centres offer advice and support to you and your family as you cope with your new day-to-day life.
You can find out more about migration advisory services here.
People living in Germany are required to register. This is true of everyone living in Germany, irrespective of where they come from. As soon as you have moved into a house or apartment, you should register at the residents registration office of the place where you are living.
You can find out more about living and working in Germany here.
As a citizen of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will not lose entitlements earned in Germany from welfare insurance, e.g. statutory pension insurance. Once you reach retirement age, any EU or EEA Member State in which you have worked can pay out a pension in line with the specific rules. So, if you have worked in two countries, for example, you will in principle receive pension payments from two countries.
If you recently worked in Germany and are now unemployed, you are not left to fend for yourself, but are entitled to unemployment benefit. The same conditions apply to you as to German nationals. Periods of employment and insurance which you have accrued in other countries will be taken into account when your application is processed.
There are numerous other welfare benefits to which you are entitled as an EU citizen in Germany. You can find further information on the subject at the EU Equal Treatment Office.
Information about Brexit:
You live in the United Kingdom and would like to come to Germany? You have a wide range of possibilities as a qualified professional. You can find information from the Federal Employment Agency here.