Working in Germany - Sidejob
Financing one’s studies is a big challenge for many students. A part-time job is a common thing for German students. International students are also allowed to work part-time while studying. Immigration regulations may restrict the extent (number of hours) of the gainful employment, however. The following paragraphs summarise the most important regulations and will answer many common questions.
There are numerous options for working while you are studying. A job at the University that is related to your studies is often the best option. However, permission to work is not tied to your studies. Students often work for local businesses, such as cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, and cleaning services.
Generally, knowledge of German is mandatory. It is rare to find a job in which English skills alone are sufficient. If you want to finance your studies through part-time jobs, we strongly recommend that you acquire German skills. The Lektorat Deutsch als Fremdsprache offers German language courses that are available free of charge to students of all subjects and degrees.
Part-time student job postings can be found on these pages, among others:
- StudIP-Portal: Announcements – Current job postings
- Stellenwerk Göttingen
- Job portal of the University of Göttingen
- Home pages of various companies in the area
- Notices in local cafes, bars and restaurants
Application documents should be carefully composed and follow certain conventions, regardless of whether you are applying for a full-time job after graduating or a part-time student job. The following sources provide some advice on how to put your application together:
- Make it work! - WelKMU (available only in German)
- Explainer videos - Application - Make it in Germany!
Avoid typical mistakes when submitting an application:
The Start Guide can offer assistance in writing applications or reviewing documents:
The University of Göttingen Career Service offers online seminars on the topic of "application documents":
Students from EU and EEA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) as well as Switzerland can work in Germany without needing a permit.
However, students who are enrolled full time are required to devote themselves predominantly to their studies. Therefore, gainful employment is limited to 20 hours per week. More hours are permitted during the lecture-free period. In total, full-time students may work more than 20 hours per week for up to 26 weeks per year.Students from non-EU countries
Students from non-EU countries with residence permits in accordance with §16b of the Residence Act (Further education) may also take up part-time employment in Germany to a limited extent. Here, too, the limitation stems from the fact that the primary purpose of the stay is intended to be studying.
Gainful employment is limited to 120 full days or 240 half days per calendar year. Every working day with not less than four and not more than eight working hours counts as a full day; every working day with not more than four working hours counts as a half day. Thus, it is not the de facto hours worked that are counted, but rather the number of working days according to this calculation. It is advisable to distribute the working time in such a way that the allowable number of days is utilised as much as possible. If these limits are followed, it is not necessary to notify the Immigration Authority.
Part-time student jobs that are carried out at the University are exempt from time limits and do not require the approval of the Immigration Office.
This also includes compulsory internships that must be completed as part of the studies. They are considered an integral part of the studies.
Voluntary internships, on the other hand, are not exempt. These fall under the 120/240-day rule and thus require the approval of the Immigration Office if they exceed the number of specified days.
In the event that longer term employment that exceeds the 120/240-day rule is planned, the Immigration Office must be contacted. Please include a concrete job offer for the purpose of verification.
The pursuit of self-employment is usually prohibited and can lead to loss of the residence permit. Individual cases can be approved by the Immigration Office if the time frame of the self-employment remains limited and there is also a connection to one’s studies. In case of doubt, it is advisable to consult the Immigration Office before taking up self-employment.
For non-EU citizens who have been granted a residence permit in accordance with another section, other regulations may apply. The Immigration Office can provide more information on this.Information and reporting obligations
Employees are obligated to provide their employers with all relevant information:
- Change of person information (name, address, etc.)
- Change of family status (marriage, children, etc.)
- Change of student status (leave of absence, etc.)
- Taking up additional employment
Students who are employed while studying and are not marginally employed, ie earn more than 450€, are called working students. Please find here further information.Marginal employment (“Mini jobs”)
Mini jobs are low-paid jobs. It also means that there is a specific earning or time limit.
The earning limit is 450€ per month. This earning limit is calculated as an average over the calendar year; therefore, it may be exceeded for individual months. It is usually not a problem if the 450€ gross earnings is exceeded for up to three months, but it should be discussed with employer.
The time limit for short-term mini jobs is no more than three months or a total of 70 working days per calendar year. Please find further information here.
Workers in mini jobs usually do not pay social security contributions, except for a small contribution to their pension. Workers in mini jobs can be exempted from a compulsory pension contribution. Once the decision for exemption has been made, it is binding until the end of the employment relationship. Please find further information here and here.
In reality, a mini job is taxable, but these jobs are often settled via a 2% lump sum tax payment by the employer. Therefore, the job appears tax-free to the employee.
Erfolgt die Besteuerung in Ausnahmefällen über die individuelle Steuerklasse des*der Arbeitnehmers*in, so kann die gezahlte Steuer am Jahresende mithilfe einer Steuererklärung zurückgefordert werden. Dies setzt voraus, dass das Jahresgesamteinkommen nicht den Steuerfreibetrag übersteigt (2022: 9.984 Euro). Welche Art der Besteuerung gewählt wird, entscheidet der*die Arbeitgeber*in. Daher sollte das vorher mit dem*der Arbeitgeber*in besprochen werden.
A “midi job” is one in which you earn more than 450€ and less than 1300€ per month on average (including any one-time payments, etc). Annually recurring one-time payments such as holiday or Christmas bonuses are also included in the calculation.
Midi jobs are subject to social insurance contributions, albeit at reduced rates, while still eligible to receive full benefits. The amount of the contribution increases with higher incomes. People with incomes over 1300€ are required to pay the social insurance contribution at the full rate.
Income from midi jobs is taxable. The amount of the tax due is determined by the tax brackets.
Please find further information here.
Everyone who earns an income in Germany is subject to income tax. Therefore, this applies to international students as well as to all Germans. All income from work and property is subject to tax. Anyone who earns income is obligated to inform the tax office of the amount and then to pay the income tax due.Tax brackets (tax class)
The amount of income tax due depends on the amount of taxable income earned and the applicable tax bracket. As a rule, the classification of tax brackets depends on marital status. The classification is made automatically by the personnel department of the company in which you are employed. It is therefore important to report any changes in marital status, etc to your employer.
The tax calculator provides a rough estimate of the tax burden: Tax calculatorTax-free income
In Germany, there is a baseline amount that is considered tax-free. This is currently 9,984 euros (2022). Only the income that exceeds this tax-free amount is taxable.Tax return
If the income is below the above-mentioned tax-free amount, no tax is due for gainful employment. This means that as a rule, no tax return has to be filed.
However, if taxes have been already paid during the year, this amount can be reclaimed and returned to you by filing a tax return.
When preparing the tax return, any income-related expense, that is, expenses that are incurred in connection with employment during the year, can reduce the amount of taxable income. Here are some common examples of costs that can reduce the tax:
- Work equipment or professional literature
- Office furniture
- Travel expenses
- Tuition fees
All details will be checked by the tax office. The tax burden will be reduced only if the costs are recognized by the tax office.
A tax return can be prepared by yourself using the online portal (ELSTER) of the tax office.
Assistance with preparing a tax return can be obtained from income tax assistance associations or tax consultants, for example. Generally, this assistance is subject to a fee.
- Where can I find my national insurance number?
- Where do I get my tax ID (identification) number?
- Where do I get my health insurance certificate?
- Where do I get my pension insurance certificate with my pension insurance number?
- How can I get my police record certificate?
- What is the health certificate (Gesundheitszeugnis) and how do I get one?
From the pension insurance fund: toll-free service number 0800-1000 4800 or from your health insurance company.
After you have registered at the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldamt), you will receive a letter from the tax office by post informing you of your tax ID number.
From your health insurance company.
From the responsible pension insurance company.
By booking an appointment using the appointment portal of the City of Göttingen.
If you work in the food sector and are in direct contact with food during food preparation, it is mandatory that you have a health certificate. You will be informed about this by your future employer when you are hired, if the document should be necessary. You can obtain the health certificate from the City of Göttingen by booking an appointment using the appointment portal.
- What is the minimum wage?
- Is there an income limit?
In Germany, the federal minimum wage is the same for all industries. It is adjusted annually. From 1 January to 30 June 2022, the statutory minimum wage is 9.82 euros; from 1 July to 31 December 2022, the statutory minimum wage increases to 10.45 euros. However, different regulations may apply to internships.
No, there is no limit on how much you may earn. You may earn as much is feasible for you. Only the number of working days is limited (see above). However, the amount of your income determines the amount of your social insurance contributions and also any taxes that are due.
- What is an SHK or a HiWi?
- May I have more than one mini job?
- Can I be employed as a student assistant even if I am currently on leave from my studies? If so, what social insurance implications does the leave of absence have for my employment?
- Can I be employed as a student assistant even though I am not enrolled as a student?
- Can student assistants who are enrolled at another German university be employed at the University of Göttingen?
- Is it possible to be employed as an assistant at different faculties of the University at the same time?
- Do I have to notify the Human Resources Department of any additional employment or internships (outside of the University)?
The abbreviation SHK stands for student assistant (studentische Hilfskraft), HiWi stands for academic assistant (Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft). In both cases, these are student jobs that are typically taken on part-time while you work toward your degree.
Yes, it is possible to have several mini jobs at the same time. If the total income is less than 450€, your jobs will continue to be treated as mini jobs. If the total income exceeds 450€, the jobs can no longer be classified as mini jobs but as employment subject to social insurance contributions. Further information can be found here.
In principle, employment is possible.
During a semester of leave, you are still enrolled as a student, but as a rule you do not take part in your studies. Time and labour are not predominantly used for your studies. Therefore, you are no longer considered a regular student. Therefore, employment during a semester of leave is generally subject to social insurance contributions. This means that contributions to pension, health insurance, long-term care, and unemployment must be paid if the monthly gross income (taking into account income from all jobs) exceeds 450 euros.
The leave of absence must be reported to the Human Resources Department promptly with the certificate of study.
No. You can only be employed as a student assistant if you are also enrolled at a German university and are working toward a degree.
Yes. Please be sure to submit the current certificate of enrolment from the other German university.
Yes, that is possible. Your employment contract will list the individual periods of employment with the working hours in the respective institutions/faculties separately. Please note that even then, the total monthly working hours may not exceed 86 hours.
Yes, you have a duty to inform the employer of any other activities and previous employment with other employers outside of the University. This information is required for the correct determination of your social security obligation. In addition, you can declare which of your employers is to be the “main employer” for the purposes of determining your income tax class. For all other employers, income tax will then be deducted according to income tax class “6”.