Work permit for EU foreigners?

Freedom of movement for workers - Employment of EU citizens in Germany

What does freedom of movement for workers mean?

Art. 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) constitutes the right of freedom of movement for workers in the European Union. The freedom of movement for workers is one of the fundamental freedoms of the European internal market.

The freedom of movement comes along with the EU citizenship and is the basic principle of a citizen-based European Union.

The right of freedom of movement for workers includes for EU citizens the right to move and reside freely as employee in the European Union, to choose an employment also in Germany and to be treated equally to German employees. Hence, for EU citizens a work permit in Germany is not required!

Who is an employee within the meaning of Art. 45 TFEU?

This question is answered according to EU law, not according to German law. The EU law has a broad definition of the term employee.

Employee according to Art. 45 TFEU is anybody, who performs a real and effective paid activity and is subordinated to his employer. Even if the employment exists only for a short term, or in case of restricted working hours or a very low salary, the criteria for an employee are met. Only such minor activities that have to be regarded as purely marginal prohibit the subsumption as employee.

The freedom of movement for workers applies for those employees, who come from another EU member state and live and work in Germany. Additionally, it applies for border crossers, which are employees, who commute across the borders, so they live in a neighbouring state of Germany or at least return there once a week, but work in Germany.

Freedom of services

Posting of employees has to be distinguished from the freedom of movement for workers, according to the freedom of services defined in Art. 56 TFEU. Freedom of services means that businesses from other EU member states may operate temporarily in Germany and deliver their services there. These businesses are entitled to take their employees for service provisioning with them, i.e. to post them temporarily border-crossing to Germany. Those employees de facto conduct an activity in Germany; however, they are not employed with a local employer.

Does the freedom of movement also apply for trainees?

Yes. EU citizens require no work permit of the Federal Employment Agency for an occupational training in Germany

Does the freedom of movement also apply for temporary workers?

Yes. EU citizens can be employed by German temporary employment agencies without a work permit. Temporary employment agencies from the EU may also send EU citizens to German hiring companies for temporary employment in Germany.

Does the freedom of movement also apply to employments in the civil service sector?

Yes. EU citizens do not need a work permit for an employment in the civil service sector in Germany. Yet there are some restrictions. The EU law authorizes the member states to a certain extent to reserve certain positions for their own citizens. This applies for such positions that regularly and predominantly function as public authorities. In Germany, this restriction applies only to very few positions, for example to the function of a judge.

What applies for seasonal workers?

Seasonal workers from EU states do not need a work permit for an employment in Germany any more. This counts for all seasonal activities, also for seasonal activities in agriculture and forestry, in the hotel and catering industry, in fruit and vegetable processing, same as in sawmills.

Also no longer valid is the so-called Eckpunkteregelung, the principal employment limit of six months and the special admission procedure of the Federal Employment Agency with their official forms.

No work permit for EU citizens

Conclusion: EU citizens do not require a work permit of the Federal Employment Agency in Germany.