Wilkommen! You’ve secured a contract in Germany – congratulations! Now you need to know about some of the customs and traditions of this fine country, as well as the ‘nitty-gritty’ such as income tax and residency regulations.
Driving in Germany
If you’re a Top Gear fan, you’re probably looking forward to driving on the Autobahns! This definitely isn’t for the faint hearted, as parts of it have no speed regulations whatsoever. It’s not exactly a ‘free-for-all’, however; parts of it are policed and you are expected to follow speed limits whenever they apply. Speaking of rules…
Don’t be late!
Germans like everything to run like clockwork, so the last thing you want is to show up late for a business meeting – that won’t leave a good impression. A phone call will suffice if you are going to be five minutes late. Common sense when you think about it, and good manners as well!
While we’re on the subject of good manners…..
Know your German etiquette
The French might greet each other by giving a peck on each cheek, but the Germans are lovers of their personal space. A simple handshake is the acceptable form of greeting. If you’re invited to your colleague’s house for a drink after work, it is generally customary to remove your shoes at the door, and a bunch of flowers always carries favour with your guest. Also, if you speak German, don’t forget to use ‘Sie’ when talking to your companion, as ‘du’ is considered to be too casual, disrespectful even. And we think English is a complicated language…!
If you’re used to nipping to your local convenience store at all hours of the day and night, the fact that Germany essentially shuts down on Sunday will come as a bit of a shock. So stock up on supplies beforehand! Also remember: cash is king – not all places will have credit card facilities.
Don’t mention the Wars
Beware that there is a difference between engaging in interesting conversation about world politics, and being downright offensive. Extreme references to either World War is not only disrespectful but could land you in jail. Many Germans prefer to dissociate Hitler from their cultural identity – unsurprisingly!
Germany is world famous for it’s Curry ‘Wurst’ (sausage) & ‘bier’ (beer) - we recommend that you try both!
But don’t be fooled, Germany is not all curry wurst, beer, time keeping and manic speeding - Germany is rich in culture and business opportunities.
Some useful points worth noting for contracting in Germany are:
You are obliged to declare all income earned in Germany to the German tax authorities. There may well be a double taxation agreement designed to prevent you paying tax twice, both in your home country and in Germany. Freelance (freiberfuler) contractors pay income tax quarterly. You should receive a tax ID approximately 4-6 weeks after registering with our German accountant.
If you ordinarily reside within the EU, you do not need a Visa to contract in Germany All that you require is your passport or national identity card. Easy! As an EU national, there are no limits to access to employment and self-employment, and your spouse and children can also live in Germany without restrictions.