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Work and Internships while Studying

Formalities regarding employment

When you 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 pay taxes for you to the tax office. When you register your place of residence in Germany for the first time, the registration office usually forwards your data to the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern, or BZSt). At the latest after three months, you should then, via mail, have received your tax identification number, which remains valid for your entire life. If this does not occur, you can ask directly at 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 mail.

If you are insured privately or outside of Germany, you can apply for provision of 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: .

For further questions consider consulting the social counceling services of Potsdam’s Association for Student Affairs

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 while being enrolled as a student.

The Aliens Act also doesn’t limit the working hours a week for foreign non-EU students with a residence permit to study.

This means, that you don't have to count the hours per week for the Foreigners' Registration Office, but the working days or half days per year. You are allowed to work for 120 full days or 240 half days within a calendar year and (unlimited) employment as a student/research assistant.

You can find detailed information on this at: 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 and taxes.

This is the main factor limiting student workhours and is ubiquitous regardless of residence status or nationality.

During the lecture-free period usually students are allowed to work longer weekly working hours without losing their insurance status as students. To what extent the student gets into the duties and taxes, he/she has to clarify depending on the earnings with the employer and the social institutions. So it is important that you clarify this with your health insurance company first. There are always individual exceptions.

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 120 full or 240 half days

You are allowed to work for 120 full days or 240 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. 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.

If employment is not spread over a longer time period but occurs continuously (e.g., during semester breaks), only those days are counted as full or half working days during which the student has actually worked. This means that the weekend is not counted in a continuous period of time as long as you did not actually work on the weekend.

Employee and employer must keep track of the number of hours worked within a calendar year without a permit so that the 120 full or 240 half working days are not exceeded. You must properly document the times during which you actually worked.

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 120 full workdays or 240 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 120 full / 240 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 120 full workdays have not yet been used up by other employment! If the 120 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.