Assessing travel and visa obligations in Germany

When traveling to Germany, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.


Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Germany, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings and negotiations
  • Attend job interviews
  • Conduct commercial activities for an employer inside of Germany
  • Tour a company facility

 

If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Germany?

Nationals of the European Union, the United States, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Germany.

Germany is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 29 European countries. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver in the Schengen Area, you will be required to obtain a Schengen C Visa prior to travel. Visa-waivered nationals, as well as those who are required to obtain a visa, are authorized to travel to Germany and throughout the Schengen Area. Please note that travelers may not spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period inside the Schengen Area.


Working in Germany

What types of activities require work authorization?

As a business visitor, the activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under German law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Germany, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Project implementation
  • Marketing
  • Consulting

In limited circumstances, business travelers may engage in specialized professional and technical activities by obtaining an abbreviated work permission under Paragraph 19, although certain strict preconditions must be met. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether an abbreviated work permission is applicable.

 

If I am traveling to Germany for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in Germany. The most common types of work authorization for Germany are:

  • Work and Residence Permit (work authorization for local hires)
  • Highly Qualified Specialists
  • Qualified Professionals
  • IT Specialists
  • International Staff Exchange Program
  • EU Blue Card (work permit for highly skilled direct hires)
  • Intra-Company Transfer Card (work authorization for managers, specialists and trainees transferred from a company based outside the EU to a host entity in Germany that belongs to the same company or group of companies)
  • Mobile Intra-Company Transfer Card (work authorization for third-country nationals who already hold an EU ICT Card from another EU member state)

 

Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain a work permit in order to work in Germany. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in Germany.

Additional work authorization exemptions are available in Germany under Vander Elst rules. In this case, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for a work authorization exemption should be obtained prior to traveling.


What else should I know?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which governs post-Brexit relations between the EU and the U.K., has altered immigration regulations in the affected countries. Please be sure to contact your immigration representative for full details regarding the TCA’s impact in Germany.

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.

 

Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.