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Finding a Job in Berlin: What you need to know

If you are looking for a qualified job in tech startups, Berlin is definitely the place to be. However, the job market has become increasingly competitive over the past years, with many overqualified foreigners moving to the European capital. If you want to be sure not to miss the chance to find the perfect job in Berlin, you will need to consider some key aspects.

Language skills: 

Even if you don’t speak German fluently (or at all), finding a position in tech and IT in Berlin will still be quite easy. Many companies have adopted English as the main language in the recent years, and the marketplace is full of English-speaking jobs, especially on the startup scene. However, having a good mastery of German will give you a competitive advantage over other foreigners applying for the same job. Also, speaking fluently German will allow you to progress in your career and in most of the cases it will increase the chances of getting a good salary.

The best option to start learning German, and the cheapest one, is attending a course at the Volkshochschule, which counts plenty of education centers spread all over the city.

Paperwork:

If you are an EU citizen, in order to start working in Berlin you need three main documents: the tax ID (or Identifikationsnummer), the pension insurance number (Rentenversicherungsnummer) and the membership certificate from the health insurance (Mitgliedbescheinigung der Krankenkasse). 

  • How to obtain your tax ID

The tax ID (Identifikationsnummer) is a unique 11-digit number issued by the German Federal Tax Office (Finanzamt). In order to obtain your tax ID you first need to register in Berlin (see par. 1 First steps on the Anmeldung).  A couple of weeks after you have registered, the Federal Tax Office will send your tax ID automatically to your registered address.

If you need your tax ID very urgently (because you are supposed to start working soon), a couple of days after you have completed your Anmeldung you can go directly to the nearest Finanzamt and ask for it. Just make sure to bring your passport and your Meldebescheinigung with you.

  • How to get your Rentenversicherungsnummer

In order to get paid, you will have to give your Rentenversicherungsnummer (or Sozialversicherungsnummer) to your employer. This is the German pension insurance number and it is used by your employer to contribute into the public pension scheme on your behalf. If you have never worked in Berlin, your first employer will request the Rentenversicherungsnummer for you. Alternatively, you can get it from your health insurance company. 

  • Registering for a health insurance and obtaining a Mitgliedbescheinigung

To get a job in Berlin it is mandatory to be registered for a health insurance. The health insurance system in Germany is very efficient but can be quite complicated. At the moment, there are around 300 insurance companies in Germany that manage the health coverage of the population. These are generally called “Krankenkassen”. What you need to do first of all, is to pick one.

Public health insurances offer more or less the same amount of services for a similar amount of price. Some of the most popular health insurance companies are the TK (Techniker Krankenkasse) and the AOK. None of them has an English website, though, so if your German is not good at all we advise you to do the registration in person at the nearest office.

If you are employed, your employer will cover the half of the amount. The charges depend on how much you earn. If you are an employee working full-time in IT, Marketing or Sales, you should consider your health insurance costs to range between 240 and 350 € per month.  

Once you have registered for your health insurance you will automatically receive a membership certificate (Mitgliedsbescheinigung) per mail at your registered address. If you need a copy of your membership certificate for your new employer, you can usually request it online and download it right away (both the TK and AOK offer this possibility).

Getting a work permit to work in Germany

If you are a non-EU citizen, additionally to the documents listed above you will have to obtain a work permit. If you are a citizen from one of Germany’s “friend countries” (Australia, US, Israel, Japan, Korea and New Zealand) you don’t need an entry visa. You can apply for a German working visa either directly in your home country, or at the local offices (Ausländer-Behörde) once you arrive to Germany. You will have 3 months to apply for a residence and work permit.

For citizens coming from countries not in the EU and not listed above, it is necessary to request an entry visa directly from the home country. Since depending on your personal situation, you might need to apply for a work permit or a job seeker permit, we recommend visiting the German embassy in your home country and asking for advice.

Once you are in Germany, the first thing to do to  obtain a German visa is to book an appointment at the Foreign Registration Office (Ausländer-Behörde). There are currently two offices in Berlin, one in Moabit and one in Charlottenburg.

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