Tag Archives: expat life

Working in Germany

Working in Germany – How to Find a Job in Germany

As an expat coming to Germany, we know that it can be very challenging to find a job in the country. In addition, the whole process behind working in Germany (applying for different positions, getting rejected several times, etc.) can become quite stressful. That is why we would like to offer you all the tools that you need to find a job in Germany and help you succeed in your search. Don’t lose faith – it’s not as hard as it seems.

What are the requirements to work in Germany as an expat?

The requirements to work in Germany as a foreigner will vary depending on your nationality, usually whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen.

If you come from an EU/EEA country, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland, you do not need a visa nor a work permit to be employed in Germany: all that you need is a valid ID or passport to register in the country upon your arrival.

On the other hand, residents from the United States, Japan, Australia, Israel, Canada, South Korea or New Zealand will have to apply for a residence permit in order to enter Germany, but they do not require a work permit to be eligible to work in the country.

However, if you are a citizen from any other country, you will have to apply for a work visa before entering Germany. In this case, you should already have a job offer or contract to be granted the visa.

Can I find a job in Germany without speaking German?

Yes, it is possible to find English-speaking jobs in Germany. According to the German Federal Employment Agency, foreign workers made up 12% of Germany’s workforce in 2018. Although having a basic knowledge of German would be ideal and accelerate the recruiting process, working in Germany is possible for expats since there are many job opportunities in different sectors across the country.

How can I find a job in Germany as an expat?

In the era of digitalization that we are living in, the best way to find a job in Germany is to make use of online platforms. Some of the most common job sites in Germany are Stepstone, Indeed and LinkedIn. If you do not speak German, here’s a list of the top English-speaking job websites that will help you in your search:

As a tip of advice, you should make sure that you have a solid LinkedIn profile. More and more companies advertise their job offers on LinkedIn, where you may apply for them directly. In order to make the job hunt easier, you can filter out the offers by using the word “English” in your search.

Besides these platforms, the Federal Government of Germany published an up-to-date list with figures of the current available job occupations across the country depending on the sector that you might also find useful. Although most of the job titles are written in German, some of the job descriptions are in English and several positions only require English fluency, so it is worth checking it out.

Which jobs are in demand in Germany?

According to recent statistics, the most highly demanded jobs in Germany are related to the engineering, software development and digital communications fields. In addition, there is a high demand for IT specialists, physicians, nurses, scientists, analysts and sales managers, among others. However, if your qualifications do not match any of these positions, do not worry, there are plenty of job opportunities in Germany. In fact, Germany has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in Europe (3.1%), so there are big chances that you will find a good job.

Highly Demanded Jobs in Germany
Infographic showing job categories in high demand in Germany

What is the minimum wage in Germany?

Although German salaries are among the highest in the world already, the minimum wage in Germany was raised twice in 2022. On January 1st, it was raised to 9,82 euros per hour (making it a total of 1,571 € for a full-time position of 40 hours per week). From July 1st, this amount will go up again to 10,45 euros per hour (1,672 €).

What’s more, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is planning to increase it again to 12 euros per hour in October.

If you wish to know more about what your average salary in Germany would look like given your qualifications, check out the salary tool offered by StepStone here.

What is a normal working day in Germany?

Just in like most countries, working in Germany offers the possibility to work in full-time or part-time positions. In general, the typical working week for full-time positions is between 36 and 40 hours. On average, people work seven or eight hours per day, five days per week. If you decide to have more than one job, the German Labor and Employment law stipulates that working hours cannot exceed 48 in one week.

Concerning holidays and vacation time, workers are entitled at least 24 days of annual leave per year. However, most companies offer their employees a period of 30 days of paid vacation leave.

Do I need to be insured to work in Germany?

Yes, health insurance is mandatory for everyone who wishes to work in Germany, without any exceptions. If you’re thinking about working as an expat, we understand that this process can seem complicated, but there are many resources where you can find assistance. If you need any more information regarding health insurance or the type of insurance that you need, do not hesitate to contact our partners from MW Expat, they will advise you on what is the best option for you depending on your personal situation and find the best solution.

We hope that you found this guide about working in Germany useful for your job search. We wish you all the good luck in the world!

Driving in Germany

Driving in Germany

Germany is known for its highways. On many routes, there is no speed limit. The highway network stretches all over Germany and you can quickly get from one city to the next (if there are no traffic jams). Whether you have your own car, rent a car, or use car-sharing, having a valid driver’s license as an expat in Germany is definitely a big advantage.

Driving in Germany with a foreign license

If you come from an EU or EEA country (European economic area) country, your driver’s license is valid until the expiry of its term of validity.

If you come from a third country, your foreign driver’s license is valid for 6 months. The start of the period is the registration of a residence in Germany. A translation must be included if the license is not in English.

To continue driving in Germany after 6 months, the foreign driver’s license must be exchanged for a German one. The process depends on the country in which the license was issued. In some cases, there is no need for a theoretical or practical exam. For example, when the minimum EU standards for driving tests are given.

If you are from a country where an exam is required, you need to pass the driving theory and practical test. The good thing is, you don’t have to take theory and driving lessons. You can decide on your own if and when you want to absolve the test.

Steps to get a German driver’s license

1. Choose the driver’s license class

In Germany, we have different driver’s license classes depending on what kind of license you want to achieve. Here is a rough overview of the different classes:

  • A / A1 / A2 / AM / Mofa / B197: Motorcycle driver’s license
  • B / B96 / BE / B197: passenger car driver’s license
  • C / C1 / C1E / CE: Truck driver’s license

2. Prerequisite for the driving test in Germany

When registering for a driver’s license you have to fulfill some requirements.

  • ID or passport
  • Biometrical passport photo
  • Eye examination
  • First-aid course

3. Choose the right driving school in Germany

In Germany, there exists a variety of driving schools. It might be difficult to choose one if you don’t have any references. Project Expat can help you to find the right driving school for you. Check out our driving school service partners here.

Once you have chosen a driving school, you will receive a training plan and training materials. You may need to attend a certain number of theory lessons before you can take the exam.

The practical training consists of several driving lessons with a driving instructor. Night and highway driving are also included. Depending on your driving behavior and experience, you may have more or fewer driving hours.

4. Getting your driver’s license

The practical driving test takes place with your driving instructor and an examiner. If you pass the test, the examiner will issue you with a temporary driver’s license. Then you can get your permanent license at the traffic authority.

Tips for driving in Germany

Manual cars

When renting a car, most of the time you still get manual models. So, remember when booking to choose an automatic one if you feel more comfortable with it.

Autobahn

Germany is famous for its Autobahnen or motorways. There is generally no speed limit on highways. However, restrictions often apply when the roads pass cities. Therefore, always keep your eyes open and observe the speed limits. Furthermore, always drive in the right lane. You can pass other cars by using the left lane.

No drinking and driving

For novice drivers in the probationary period and drivers under 21, the limit of 0.0 per mille (0 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) applies.

The general blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.5 per mille (= 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 0,05%). Drivers who endanger traffic must expect to be punished from a blood-alcohol level of 0.3 per mille.

Watch out for pedestrians

In German cities, the speed limit is reduced to 50km/h. Often only 30 km/h is allowed to take pedestrians into account. If there is a pedestrian zone you are often not allowed to drive at all or only at walking speed. Here pedestrians have the right of way.

Driving a car in Germany has many advantages. On the one hand, you can explore the country very well by car and can reach even smaller villages and remote sights.
If you live in Germany for a longer period of time, a German driver’s license is indispensable. With a car, you can make your everyday life easier in many ways.

At Project Expat, we are happy to assist you in finding suitable English-speaking driving schools.

Do you want to buy a car and need a car insurance? Check out our service.

We from Project Expat are happy to support you with our network of excellent English-speaking partners until you feel more comfortable in the German language.

Explore our service categories here.

The German Etiquette

The German Etiquette

Just like in every other country, there are also rules you should be aware of in German etiquette. In private, you can certainly neglect them now and then, but in the business world, they are more relevant. It’s important for expats in Germany to know about them.

Greetings and “Sie” vs. “Du”

In professional and private life before Corona, it was customary to shake hands in greeting. Since the pandemic, people are more careful and have dropped this ritual, but it will certainly return to everyday life in Germany.

Simply asking someone how it’s going isn’t a German trait. That’s because trivial chitchat is not a core German skill. Here, people get straight to the point. Questions about how you’re feeling, which people in the U.S., for example, use as a polite phrase, can result in Germans using the opportunity to really talk things out — be it about the children’s school problems, the father-in-law’s hernia, or the misery of the world, in general. So plan some time if you really want to know: How are you?

For many English-speaking expats learning German, the salutation is often confusing. Unlike in English, there are two variations of the salutation in German: The formal Sie and the more informal Du. In everyday life and the closer environment, say with friends and family, you would use Du, while in the business world, Sie is the common form of address. You should pay particular attention to this point of German etiquette if you live in Germany. The same applies to people you are just getting to know. Ideally, you should first use Sie before changing to Du later on. Here, too, there are some rules to follow: In business, the higher-ranking person offers the Du, or the older to the younger person, or the woman to the man, if he has not been with the company much longer than she has.

Of course, you can refuse switching to the more informal Du if you wish. You should, however, always be aware of what such a rebuff could trigger in the counterpart.

Etiquette in the Workplace

As far as the dress code in the German business world is concerned, it depends on the industry and the company you work in. Both men and women usually wear suits or dresses in more formal settings like banks. In companies, it depends on whether you have an client contact (also suit) or you are sitting in the office. If it’s the latter, you can often dress more casually. Also, with business meals, there are many small stumbling blocks, which actually depend on how official this meeting is going to be. When living in Germany, you should remember that you don’t say “Cheers”, but “Prost” or “zum Wohl!” Otherwise, pauses in conversation are unpleasant, and it is better to engage in a little small talk.

Just like in most countries, the first impression is crucial – be it in private or business life. Therefore, when living in Germany, you should pay attention to punctuality because it can make a big difference. The rule in Germany on the business level considers up to 15 minutes before time to be the symbol of true punctuality. If you are stuck in a traffic jam or are late for any other reason, just give them a quick call and explain the situation. If a business partner is late, according to German etiquette, you should allow 15 to 20 minutes for waiting.

Toasting without eye contact is another area that expats in Germany should focus upon. In other countries, people may simply raise their glasses and toast each other. Not so in Germany. It’s better to look your counterpart directly in the eye when you toast. Otherwise, you’ll be unlucky in love. Toasting crosswise is also considered a bad omen, even in business circles.

German Etiquette When Going Out to Eat

Something to keep in mind when going to a restaurant is that in Germany, you don’t actually ask for free tap water as an accompanying drink. Here, you have to order mineral water from the menu. Some restaurant operators react in a quite unfriendly way if you do not follow this rule. While it does get better in some parts of the country, you should pay attention to how the locals handle it at first.

Men can usually impress German women when they hold the door open for her, take her coat or jacket, offer her a seat in a restaurant and adjust her chair. Meanwhile, it’s a little more difficult when settling the bill on a date. Traditionally, it was the man who paid for the meal, but nowadays, some women feel uncomfortable and want to pay for their part of the meal. However, the majority of the female world still feels flattered when the man picks up the tab. It’s probably best to politely ask if it’s okay to be the man footing the bill. In most cases, it will make a positive impression!

Should you want to bring flowers, be mindful of the colour you choose. Flower etiquette in Germany is complicated and can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings. This is because red flowers, especially red roses, are for romantic situations. White flowers, on the other hand, are considered grave decorations and are used at funerals. If you want to avoid the flower faux pas, it is best to ask the florist for advice.

Subtle Details of Daily Life

Beside all these facts, there are some things that are important to Germans. For example, waste separation. Germans are very environmentally conscious and separate their trash to make recycling easier. If your neighbors see you throwing recyclable glass or paper in the regular trash, it could put a strain on your relationship forever.

Moreover, you should be aware of the fact that Germans usually have no issues with nudity. There are often nude beaches, and in the sauna, you are basically naked, and they are gender-neutral. As a foreigner, you may be irritated at first, but those who want to go in there dressed will get rather astonished looks.

Parking on the bike path is a total no-no. Germany may be a car country, but cyclists are conquering the cities. Drivers who park on bike paths have to expect scratches in their paintwork. And pedestrians who get in the way can expect harsh abuse.

Don’t Be Scared of German Etiquette!

There are still numerous “rules” to follow, but you’ll get to know them over time. A final tip is to model the behaviour of the people around you, who usually know what is appropriate and correct in the respective situation.

In addition, if a faux pas does happen to you, it is not so bad, because they happen to Germans as well. Take the whole thing with a bit of humour and everything will be fine, thus letting you get settled in your life as an expat in Germany!

Learning German

Learning German as an Expat

Often the move to another country is very stressful. You have many things to organize and want to find a nice new home. With the stress of moving, there is often no time to focus on learning German. But studying the local language is vital for a successful integration.

In this blog article we will show you why it is important to learn German and how you can easily get started.

Why is learning German useful?

Studying German for a good work experience

If you are an expat living in Germany, having a good command of English is often sufficient in your professional life. But besides professional discussions, private conversations and small talks among work colleagues are often spoken in German. In order to connect and get to know your colleagues better, it is vital to have a basic knowledge of German.

Some employers support their foreign employees with internal language courses or subsidize courses at German language schools.

Discover extensive professional German language courses here.

Some foreigners do not have a permanent job in Germany yet and are just in the application phase. Here it is even more important to learn German. It is a great advantage if you have a basic knowledge of German for job interviews. This way you can stand out from other applicants and show your interest in the country and the language.

Learning German to get along well in everyday life

Even if German is not necessarily required in a professional context, you can benefit from German skills in everyday life. For example, at the checkout in the supermarket, for bureaucracy matters, parent teacher conferences, and other events. Many Germans have little knowledge of English or feel uncomfortable speaking in another language. If you learn German, you can accomplish many things more easily.

Furthermore, if you want to volunteer or work in a club, learning German is important. You can make new friends and attend in sports activities more easily.

Social aspects

The sooner you start learning German, the easier it will be for you to participate in society and lead a self-determined life in Germany. Besides the German language, values and culture are also important to know. Almost all German language schools teach both – language and values.

How to start learning German?

You can learn German in different ways. If you already have a full-time job, you will probably only have free time to learn in the evenings or on weekends. There are evening and weekend courses, intensive courses and now a wide range of online courses. Have a look at our language partner Goethe Institut.

Furthermore, you have the opportunity to complete various German exams. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), we distinguish between the following levels:

  • A1 and A2: This level is aimed at language beginners with no or very little previous knowledge.
  • B1 and B2: As an advanced language student, you will expand and deepen your knowledge and will be able to communicate independently in your job and everyday life after graduation.
  • C1 and C2: After completing the highest level, you will have German skills comparable to a native speaker.

Learning German is not easy for many foreigners. This can be due to various reasons. Learning a foreign language alongside a full-time job can be very tiring. You often must take care of your family on the side, leaving little time for learning.

But the effort is worth it. You will quickly notice that with time and practice, you will get better and better and will be able to establish social contacts in a way that would have been difficult without German language skills.

Are you eager to start right away with your German classes? See here our partners for language services.

We from Project Expat are happy to support you with our network of excellent English-speaking partners until you feel more comfortable in the German language.

Explore here our service categories.