Frequently-asked questions – Working

Finding work

Do I have to translate certificates?

Not always. If you want to study at a university in Germany, you do not have to translate certificates in some languages. Ask. Generally speaking it is good to have key documents in German.

Who is allowed to translate my certificates?

The translation must be done by an official entity. The embassy/consulate can help you. Ask them who is allowed to translate and authenticate. Private individuals are not allowed to translate or authenticate. You can find translators at the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators.

Can I write my application in English?

Only sometimes. Major international companies accept applications in English. Employees come from many countries and the working language is English. Smaller firms would like the application to be in German. If you have contact with customers or if you work as a nurse, for example, you have to speak good German.

I haven’t received a response to my application. What do I do?

You frequently don’t receive a reply. Call the employer after a while and ask about it.

Do I need authenticated copies for an application?

Only occasionally. Normal copies are sufficient for an application to a company. If you get the job, you have to show the originals (or the translations). If you don’t get the job, the company usually sends your documents back to you. You sometimes need authenticated copies for an application to a university.

As an asylum seeker, why can I not start working immediately?

Refugees are subject to an employment ban for their first three months in Germany. This period is determined by the registration date at the initial reception centre. Applications for jobs may be made only after a period of three months. However, not all refugees who have applied for asylum are allowed to work. Refugees from so-called safe countries of origin are not permitted to work until the end of the asylum procedures.

For more information, please visit the BAMF website:

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees: FAQ: Access to the labour market for displaced people.

Starting work

Do I need health insurance?

Yes. In fact you have to have health insurance in Germany. If you are ill, then the health insurance pays for you to see a doctor, your hospital treatment and some of your medication. What if you are sick for more than 6 weeks and are unable to work? Then your employer will stop paying your salary/wages. In this situation the health insurance company will pay a proportion of your salary/wages as well.

Do I have to pay pension insurance?

As an employee you have to pay pension insurance. If you are self-employed you can have pension insurance but it is not compulsory. In some professions – such as midwife or mechanic – you have to have pension insurance even if you are self-employed.

The taxes are very high. How can I reduce my tax bill?

Taxes are the same for everyone. They are calculated according to your gross salary. At the end of the year you can submit a tax return, then you might get money back.

I don’t like my new job. What can I do?

During your trial period you can terminate your employment at relatively short notice. But your unemployment insurance will not pay you anything for the first three months if you hand in your notice.

My workplace

I have to take my child to kindergarten. Can I go to work later?

Not always. You can if you work flexitime. But you may not do so during core working hours, in other words the time during which you have to be at your desk. Ask your employer.

When do I have a break?

It varies. Usually you have half an hour or an hour per day, usually in the middle of the day. Breaks are unpaid.

My German is not very good. Can I speak English at work?

In large international companies that is often possible. But not all. Some employers pay for their staff to take a German course. You can sometimes speak English to your colleagues too, but not customers.

I have a child and cannot work 40 hours per week. What can I do?

Many companies offer part-time jobs. Then you work between 20 and 30 hours a week or less. Ask about this.

When do I get my salary or wages?

The salary/wages is paid into your account monthly. The exact date varies. Most companies pay the salary at the end of the month.

More questions? Contact the advisors at the Youth Migration Services.