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Work and Internships during your Studying

Formalities before starting employment

To start your employment, your employer will require your Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer (tax identification number) and your Rentenversicherungsnummer (Pension insurance number).

1. Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer:

The tax identification number is required so that your employer can forward your tax payments directly to the tax office. When you first register your place of residence in Germany, the registration office usually forwards your data to the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern, or BZSt). Within three months, you should have then, received your tax identification number via mail, which remains valid for your entire life. If this does not occur, you can request it directly from the BZSt. Please use this online form: .

2. Rentenversicherungnummer

The pension insurance number (RV number) is identical to the previously used social insurance number. It is required so that your employer can pay your social insurance contributions (health insurance, nursing care insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance). If you are insured by a statutory health insurance provider, they will send you your number by post.

If you are insured either privately or outside of Germany, you can apply directly for your Rentenversicherungsnummer from the German Pension Fund (Deutsche Rentenversicherung). You can do this in person or by mail, the only thing you will need is your passport. Creating a Rentenversicherungsnummer can take about two weeks. Your number then remains valid for your entire life: .

If you have any further questions, the social counselling service of the Studentenwerk (Association for Student Affairs) Potsdam can help you:

Working more than 20 hours a week

The Framework Act for Higher Education (Hochschulrahmengesetz: HRG) does not limit a student’s working hours in any way. This means that you can work full-time whilst being enrolled as a student.

However, students from non-EU countries with a residence permit for study purposes must observe the following Legal information for international students.

Additionally, the following applies to students under the age of 30 who have statutory health insurance: If students work more than 20 hours a week during lecture period, they lose their status as a student at the insurance company, which leads to potentially higher contributions.

The 20 hours per week regulation does not depend on nationality. It applies equally to German and international students.

During the lecture-free period students are usually allowed to work more than 20 hours per week without losing their insurance status as students.
The extent to which the weekly working hours can be increased depends on the respective employment and the regulations of the health insurance company. You should always consult your health insurance company before exceeding the 20 hours of working time during the lecture-free period. There may always be special individual circumstances.

Further information (only in German) can be found at : , .

Legal information for International Students

Students form EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can work as much as they want.

Students from other countries with a limited Student Residence Permit or Student Visa may work for limited numbers of hourse and may not be self-employed.

Working on 140 full or 280 half days

You are allowed to work for 140 full days or 280 half days within a calendar year. However, this work may neither impede on the purpose of your stay - studying - nor may it extend the duration of your stay.

Only the actual workdays are counted, not the validity period of your employment contract. This means that the weekend is not counted as long as you did not actually work on the weekend.

If the work does not exceed four or five hours per day, it is counted as half a day. The regular working day of the other employees at the same business serves as the measure here - a regular working day of 8 hours means 4 hours half day; a regular working day of 10 hours means 5 hours half day.

Alternatively, employment of up to 20 hours per week is also permitted.

Employees and employers must document compliance with the regulations.

Employment as undergraduate or graduate assistant

Working as an undergraduate or graduate assistant (academic student employment) can always be carried out without requiring approval and without time restrictions. Academic employment includes occupation with a department at the university and other academic institutions as well as collaboration in research projects. Academic student employment also includes work for organizations affiliated with the university (e.g., tutoring in the residence halls of the Studentenwerk).

Occupation requiring a permit

If you have used up your quota of employment that did not require a permit or if your employment does not fall under the categories listed here, you will need a permit for your occupation. You can apply for this permit with the Foreigners’ Registration Office or - if you are a student from Croatia - with the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit).

Employment for students that exceeds 140 full workdays or 280 half workdays may only be granted as part-time employment. The occupation can only be approved if it does not change the purpose of study and if it does not pose a significant obstacle or delay in completing your degree. The Foreigners’ Registrations Office issues work permits on a case-by-case basis.  The Federal Employment Agency must usually also approve the occupation (the Foreigners’ Registrations Office will make this request on your behalf).

Internships while Studying

Mandatory internships

No permit is necessary for this type of internship. Because it is required for your studies and thus included in your residence permit, you do not need a permit even when the internship is paid. This also includes the completion of a final thesis at a company. The 140 full / 280 half workdays without permit are not affected and may be used in addition. 

Voluntary internships

They are not part of the curriculum and you will need to make sure that the 140 full workdays have not yet been used up by other employment! If the 140 workdays have already been used up, voluntary internships require a permit, even if they are unpaid. In that case, you must apply for the necessary permit with the Foreigners’ Registration Office.

Self-Employment / Work on a fee basis

According to the Aliens Act, students with a residence permit for studying are only permitted to work as employees. These students need permission from the Foreigners' Registration Office for most kinds of self-employed work.

It must be proven that the self-employed work will not interfere with your studies. The Foreigners' Registration Office would welcome it if there were also a connection to the course content.

You can initially send your request together with your employment contract to the responsible Foreigners' Registration Office by email.

Self-employment is now generally permitted by the  Berlin Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung). Residence permits are adjusted when they are issued/renewed. A separate application is only required if the self-employed activity is to be taken up immediately, but the residence title still contains the prohibition.