In recent years, working remotely in Germany has become an attractive choice for many freelancers, self-employed, and employees. A number of American workers are now moving to Europe to work remotely and enjoy the local lifestyle. Especially, many employees of foreign companies have transitioned to remote work, which allows them to choose a location to live freely.
The most popular way to work remotely in Germany is freelancing. Top fields for freelancing work in Germany include IT, writing, education, content creation, content managers, customer service representatives, virtual assistants, translators, teachers, and more.
Working remotely in Germany
Whether you are a freelancer, self-employed, or an employee, you want to know some basics about working remotely from Germany as a foreign national.
There are many important parts that go into it, including residence permits, taxation, banking, insurance, and much more. We have described these points in more detail in this article about working remotely while living in Germany.
Overall, the fastest and easiest way to work remotely in Germany is to transition to remote work with your current job. If you are employed at a German company, many employers will give you the option to work from home. After March 2020, working from home in Germany became normal.
Many jobs in Germany will have this opportunity, especially if you are in the tech field or need just a laptop to complete your main tasks.
Whether you keep up with your current job or embrace a new one, to work effectively from home, you’ll need to make sure you have:
- technology you require
- separate workspace
- internet service that meets your need
- workable schedule you can stick to
- ways to connect with others
The most common remote jobs to take in Germany are:
- Virtual assistant
- Call center/customer service representatives
- Data entry and transcription
- Web designer
- Web developer
- Content creator
- Social media manager
- Graphic designer
- Video producer
By pursuing one of these professions, you can become either a full-time or part-time employee or contractor for the company. In Germany, freelancers can work for companies too, but usually for a limited amount of time or only a particular project.
Working remotely for a US company in Germany
- as an independent contractor
- as a freelancer
- as an employee of a German branch
- or a foreign employee who has importance in Germany
Many US citizens choose Germany as a place to live, but what if they still have a job in the US? Firstly to live and work in Germany as a non-EU citizen, one will need a resident and work permit. At this point, things get complicated.
Generally, US citizens can stay in Germany for only 3 months before they need to apply for a visa.
Read this guide on how to work for a US company in Germany.
If you are currently working for a US company that doesn’t have a branch in Germany, there is no German work visa or residency permit that can suit you. Unless your job has some particular importance to Germany, and you physically need to be in the country.
Otherweise, you will need to find other ways to stay in the country, for example, by registering yourself as a freelancer, working for a German company, or starting a business.
Furthermore, a person living in Germany over 6 month period must also pay income taxes in Germany. In fact, if you have an American passport, you have to make income tax declarations to both countries. US citizens file their federal income taxes in the US, regardless of where they live.
However, American citizens don’t have to pay US taxes on the first 100,000 USD of earned income. Hence, most people living in Germany and working in the US most likely won’t need to pay taxes twice.
In addition, you can deduct the income taxes paid in Germany from your US taxes due to the double taxation agreement between those countries. Due to the high tax rate in Germany (average between 35%- 40%), you will only pay taxes in Germany because they exceed the US taxes.
Freelancing in Germany
The best way to work remotely in Germany is by doing freelancing work. That way, you can bill your clients independently, and they don’t need to pay payroll taxes in Germany for your professional services.
Here all will depend on your nationality. If you have an EU passport, you are free to perform any professional activities. If non-EU, you will need a visa to stay and work in Germany over a more extended period (usually over 3 months).
German freelance visa
Freelancers can apply for a special German visa dedicated to that job category. Generally, you will need to prove your income, qualifications, work experience, and potential clients to get this visa.
Read about the requirements for a freelance visa in Germany.
How does Germany qualify as a freelancer?
A freelancer is a self-employed person who offers services, often working on several jobs for multiple clients at one time.
Some classical freelance work includes content writing, copy editing, marketing/PR services or social media marketing, business consulting, graphic design, photography, web development, virtual personal assistant, and translation & interpreting.
You can work with clients from all over the world or choose German companies so you can introduce yourself personally.
This isn’t an option for everybody, but the opportunities are growing by the month as more businesses are running online. Also, companies embrace technology and learn to manage their teams online.
Freelancing in Germany is also a good option if you are young, single, and less likely to require the safety net of the German social security system during your time living here, and especially if you see this as a temporary rather than a permanent move.
Read more about freelancing and self-employment in Germany.
Here is the list of the most common professions which are eligible for freelancing:
- teacher and educators
- patent attorneys
- trade chemists
- tax advisers
- advisory bodies and business economists
- certified accountants
- tax representatives
- image reporters
Can you get a freelancer visa in Germany as an employee?
Employees aren’t considered freelancers in Germany. Therefore, if you have a job at a company, even in a foreign one, you don’t belong to the freelancing category under German law.
Ultimately, a freelancer is a person working independently, where their scope of work, method, working hours, and workplace are not pre-determined by another person (employer).
Moreover, freelancers in Germany can’t just work for one company as contractors the whole time. There are many laws and regulations when it comes to freelancer work in Germany. Hence, the best advice you will get from a qualified lawyer or local tax/self-employment authorities.
Read more about freelancing and self-employment in Germany.
How to find work as a Freelancer in Germany?
As a freelancer, you are in full charge of your monthly income, where more work will bring more money. So how do you find work and projects in Germany?
If you have the right skills and experience, it’s not that difficult. Nowadays, more and more self-employed companies are in need of freelance services that you hopefully can deliver. In fact, thousands of people in Germany work as freelancers.
Furthermore, employers save money by not paying for social contributions and medical insurance, thanks to freelance work. Focusing on companies that are known to hire freelancers can be a great way to start your search for freelance work.
Apart from local search and networking, you can also check out the largest online sites to match freelancers and clients.
Here are the top 10 online platforms for freelancers in Germany:
How do you get paid while working remotely in Germany?
Setting up the right payment process as a freelancer is the most crucial step on your working remotely journey in Germany. This might differ on your income stream. If you get paid by a foreign company, they often will deposit money in your bank account.
Many freelancing clients prefer PayPal or Wise as a payment method. Both of them are available for you in Germany. You might keep your foreign banking account in Germany to accept payments, but then withdrawals can get expensive as well.
If you are an official freelancer in Germany, you can use apps like Sorted and Kontist to issue invoices and also get paid. These tools also provide a German bank account for freelancers.
What can you do with Sorted?
- Legally register as a freelancer if you are just starting out
- Create legally correct invoices
- Prepare and submit tax reports
- Get help from professional tax advisers
- Connect to your bank account for the full transparency
- Track your income and expenses
- Full overview of taxes
With the Kontist app you can effectively:
- handle your taxes and communication with the German tax office
- consult experts
Banking transfers between Germany and non-EU countries can get pretty expensive and take a long time. For freelancers in Germany, we recommend signing up for this bank, provided by the Kontist.
If you need to open a German bank account from abroad, read this article. Be aware that opening a German bank account while living abroad can be challenging.
Ensure good internet and secure your data in Germany
As a remote worker, you must have good, reliable, high-speed internet, and we know it can be a problem in Germany. The country is famous for its terrible internet speed and the high price you pay for it.
Furthermore, data protection is another essential aspect you need to consider when working remotely. Usually, your employer or client will set some privacy expectations when it comes to important data.
Especially when working from coffee shops or coworking spaces, you need to use VPN to ensure the best protection. In Germany, NordVPN is the best provider.
A good internet provider for your home in Germany is another important aspect of working remotely. Our top picks are:
- O2 my Home M – 19,99 EUR monthly, from the 13th month 29,99 EUR,
50 Mbit/s download, upload up to 10 Mbit/s.
- O2 my Home L – 24,99 EUR monthly, from the 13th month 34,99 EUR
100 Mbit/s download, upload up to 40 Mbit/s.
- DSL 100 – first 6 months 9,99 EUR, after 39,99 EUR monthly – best deal! – 100 Mbit/s download
- DSL 250 – first 6 months 19,99 EUR, after 49,99 EUR monthly, 250 Mbit/s download
If you need super-fast internet:
- O2 my Home XL Flex – 34,99 EUR monthly, 250 Mbit/s download, upload up to 40 Mbit/s.
- GLASFASER 1.000 – first 6 months 39,99 EUR, after 69,99 EUR monthly, 1,000 Mbit/s download.
- DSL 250 – first 6 months 19,99 EUR, after 49,99 EUR monthly, 250 Mbit/s download.
- Surf-Flat 300 – first 6 months 14,90 EUR after 39,90EUR; 300 download, upload up to 100 Mbit/s
- Surf-Flat 600 – first 6 months 14,90 EUR after 54,90 EUR; 600 download, upload up to 200 Mbit/s
Also read: Internet in Germany: Best Providers (deals with and without a contract).
Don’t forget to secure your privacy while surfing the web by getting a VPN. The top providers in Germany are:
Where to work in Germany when you are tired of the home office?
Starbucks, as in any other country, is the best place to catch up on work if you are tired of the same environment. Although it can be pretty crowded and laut there, if you are fine with concentrating in noisy places, then you can bear this.
Also, Germany has other brands for coffee shops, such as Coffee Fellows, Costa Coffee, McCafé, Segafredo, Chicco di Caffe, etc. In fact, Starbucks isn’t that popular in Germany; McCafe is by far dominant in the market.
In Germany, more entrepreneurs, freelancers, and even large-scale corporate teams leave behind the traditional office model for more innovative and affordable coworking spaces.
There are 520 coworking spaces in Germany, especially in big cities such as Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg but also in smaller towns; you need to check locally.
A desk or even a room in a coworking space will give you free internet, structure in your workday, and of course, a community of like-minded people and, therefore, networking opportunities. It’s a popular place for young entrepreneurs, startups, and remote workers just like you!
Some coworking spaces even organize events like skill-sharing sessions, panels, and lectures that can help people to be more successful in what they are doing. Check out the website with the biggest worldwide database of coworking spaces. You can easily find one in your location.
You can also use a local site like Schwarzes Brett. to find a local and perhaps cheaper office.
Recommended to read: the expat blogger Chloe has shared her experience of getting started in a coworking environment.
Whether it’s a university or a typical city, a library it’s a fully equipped and super quiet place to work in Germany. All libraries can be accessed for free during open hours, and universities don’t even require student cards.
You can also freely use facilities such as the internet, reading rooms with private tables, toilets, a cafeteria, and books if you need to.
Libraries are my favorite places in Germany to work on something or spend time reading. Usually, people aren’t supposed to speak there so you can enjoy a calm atmosphere.
How to work efficiently from home
If you have pets, a husband, or kids at home, it can be hard to focus on work. Schedule your working time, so your kids aren’t at home, or ask your husband to take care of them for a while. If they are older, remind them that when you’re in your office, you’re not to be disturbed.
Also, set time for activities such as sports, household chores, and other duties; this also goes for social media and television. So you know, for example, in the evening, you have 20 min to check your social media, but not during the day.
Stick to your work schedule
The burden lies in setting your working hours, sticking to them, and actually working during those hours. Effective time management is essential if you want to continue hitting your deadlines while working from home.
To finish a day successfully, organize and prioritize key activities with a To-Do List. This will help you avoid procrastinating or losing focus by switching tasks and adding an extra layer of structure to your day.
Health insurance for remote workers in Germany
Whether you stay in Germany short or long-term, you need to get your health insurance before or after your arrival.
In Germany, the immigration authorities request proof of German health insurance from everyone. If you are an official freelancer in Germany, you need to do good research before picking a health provider, since a significant junk of your income will go towards insurance every month.
Generally, in Germany, you can choose between public or private health insurance. Remote workers employed outside of the country of self-employed people often have only private health insurance available. Digital nomads can opt for coverage from SafetyWing.
Private health insurance is often chosen by self-employed, students, unemployed, and others who don’t fulfill the requirements of a public health insurance provider.
Especially self-employed benefit from private coverage since they must pay 14,6 % of their income when taking out public health insurance. This rule, fortunately, doesn’t apply to private insurance.
Hence, the amount you pay for private insurance isn’t fixed; the rate also doesn’t depend on your income. Overall, premiums vary from one insurance provider to another and depend on the selected package and coverage.
For example, Expat health insurance is insurance that is open to many people who stay in Germany short or long-term and work remotely. The price starts at 72 EUR per month.
If you need more of a global health insurance solution, we recommend Cigna Global. Because Cigna insurance is international, you can use your policy not only in Germany but almost anywhere in the world.