Working in Berlin


If you are in Berlin without a visa, or are on a Schengen visa, you are not allowed to work. To be allowed to work in Germany and Berlin as a refugee, you need an appropriate residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). You can apply for this online in Berlin. Go to the online application. Please note that you first need to register.

The basic work permit is issued together with your residence permit and noted on this, even if you do not have a specific job offer yet. When you submit your online application for your residence permit, you will receive a PDF document as confirmation. This certificate immediately allows you to work. The residence permit for temporary protection in Germany is issued for an initial period of two years. It allows you to access the guidance and referral services provided by the employment agencies (Agenturen für Arbeit).

Further information and practical offers of assistance and referral are available on the Information page for refugees from Ukraine of the Federal Employment Agency.

Advisory services for job seekers

The Berlin Advisory Center for Migration and Good Work (BEMA) offers free and anonymous counseling on labor law issues. Please make an appointment in advance by phone or e-mail. You can find the contact details at

Employment models in Germany

In Germany, a distinction is made between different types of employment. Here is an overview of the most important forms of employment:

  • Employment subject to social insurance. The majority of employees in Germany are in a temporary or permanent job in which they earn more than 520 euros gross. In this type of employment, part of your salary is automatically deducted for health insurance, accident insurance, pension insurance, long-term care insurance and unemployment insurance.
  • Mini-jobs. These are jobs where you earn no more than 520 euros gross. Some special rules apply to this type of employment. In particular, as an employee you do not have to pay social security contributions.
  • Temporary and contract work. Temporary workers are employed by a company and lent out to other companies. As a temporary worker, you receive your salary from your temporary employment agency, with whom you also sign your employment contract.
  • Internships. An internship is not considered to be employment, instead it is an opportunity to gain skills. It is intended to teach and deepen vocational skills and knowledge and serves as preparation for employment. As an intern, you are entitled to the minimum wage in many cases (12 eurosgross per hour). Compulsory internships and the first three months of voluntary internships are excluded from the rules concerning the minimum wage.

Self-employed persons do not have an employer, instead they have their own business. Self-employed persons are responsible for their own social security.

Detailed information on the different types of employment can be found on the website of the German Trade Union Confederation.

Labour law: Warning about dubious job offers

As an employee, you have certain rights regardless of your residence status. For example, you are entitled to the statutory minimum wage and a certain number of leave days.

Currently, in some cases, dubious job advertisements are targeted at Ukrainian refugees. This applies in particular to the cleaning industry, the construction industry and advertisements for parcel delivery staff. As a general rule, do not sign an employment contract that you cannot read. If in doubt, use the counselling services of the Berlin Advisory Center for Migration and Good Work (Berliner Beratungszentrums für Migration und Gute Arbeit-BEMA).

An overview of your most important rights

  • Employment contract: you have the right to a German employment contract. This should be in writing. Oral employment contracts are valid, but your employer must give you written proof of the contract.
  • Minimum wage: the statutory minimum wage is 12 euros per hour. In some sectors, an increased minimum wage applies, for example in the cleaning and construction industry.
  • Working hours: as a rule, the working hours for a full-time job are 8 hours per day. In exceptions, up to 10 hours are possible. Other regulations apply in a few occupational groups.
  • Minimum leave: You are entitled to at least 24 days of leave per year.
  • Fixed-term contract and probationary period: If your employment contract is fixed-term, it is not permitted to last longer than two years (unless there is an objective reason, such as a long-term substitution). The probationary period, during which you or your employer may terminate the contract with two weeks’ notice, may not last longer than six months.

Before signing an employment contract that deviates from the above-mentioned regulations, it is important to have it checked by an advisory centre. Even if you have signed an unlawful employment contract, you are still entitled to your above-mentioned rights. You can find further information on the BEMA website.

Recognition of qualifications

You generally have the right to have your vocational qualifications and higher-education degrees recognised in Germany. You need to undergo a recognition procedure for this. You can find out which authority is responsible for your profession on the recognition portal of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. If you would like to have your higher-education degree recognised, please contact the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen).

The Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Industrie- und Handelskammer – IHK) will support and advise you on the recognition of foreign vocational qualifications for professions which do not require a license from the state. You can contact the IHK’s Expert Team for Ukraine at or on 030 3151061.

The Berlin Network “Integration through Qualification (IQ)” offers refugees cost-free advice in several languages on the recognition of international degrees and acquired qualifications. Its services include supporting individuals in compiling the necessary documents, and making recommendations on the profession of reference.

Job platforms for refugees from Ukraine

Some job platforms specifically support refugees looking for work. On, Ukrainian refugees can find job offers from all over Europe. The platform also advertises vacancies throughout Europe aimed at refugees from Ukraine, initially focusing on jobs in the technology sector. Both job platforms are free of charge and available in Ukrainian and English.The job portal is explicitly aimed at refugees in Germany and companies that would like to employ refugees. The jobs portal bundles job offers from the fields of culture, film and media for refugees.

Tax identification number

You need a tax identification number to take up employment. However, you can already take up employment if you do not yet have an identification number. In this case, you must submit it within three months – otherwise, employers are obliged to deduct higher income tax later.

You will receive the identification number automatically by post after you have registered your residence. If you wish to become self-employed, further applications are necessary. If you cannot register your residence, for example because you have not yet found a permanent place to live, but you are already working, you must submit an application for your tax identification number to the tax office in the district where you currently live. You can find the relevant application form on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance. Search the forms database for the form “010250 – Antrag auf Vergabe einer steuerlichen Identifikationsnummer für nicht meldepflichtige Personen durch das Finanzamt” (010250 – Application for issuance of a tax identification number for persons not required to register by the tax office). Proof of identification (e.g. copy of ID card) must be enclosed with the application. Further information can be found here”.

Information offered by the state of Berlin for specific professions

Refugees who would like to work in the medical or caring professions can find specific information on the occupational fields below:

People who would like to work in Berlin schools or daycare centers can also find relevant information:

Free coworking desks for refugees

Refugees can use well-equipped workspaces in a coworking space in the Innovation and Start-up Centre (Innovations- und Gründungszentrum – IGZ) in Adlershof, among other places.

Further Information


Online application for residence permits

Online application for residence permits for the purpose of temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine. More information

Beratung im Callcenter

Migration advice center for adult immigrants

If you need advice, for example on the registration of your children for school, attending a German course or looking for a job, contact a migration advice center for adult immigrants (MBE). More information

Geflüchtete Kinder

Children and young people

Information on the reception, accommodation and emergency care of refugee children and young people arriving in Berlin without their parents or guardians. More information