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Working and Taxes

Scientific employees and guest researchers do not require separate approval from the Federal Employment Agency to take up employment in Germany. For "non-EU citizens", the embassy or the Immigration Office in Germany issues the authorisation to carry out scientific work directly and notes this directly in the visa or residence permit. Further information on applying for visas or residence permits can be found at

Citizens of the EU, members of the European Economic Area and Switzerland enjoy free movement of workers. They do not need any form of consent to take up gainful employment.

Salaries for research assistants in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are determined by the applicable remuneration group laid down in the tariff agreement for public service employees (TV-L). Salaries for civil servants are defined by the German Civil Servants’ Remuneration Act and by the relevant state regulations. Professors’ salaries are defined by the Academics’ Remuneration scale (W-Besodung).

The exact amount of the salary always depends on the exact classification. Here you will find an online salary calculator Online-Salary Calculator to calculate the amount of your salary.

Staying in Germany on a scholarship/grant
If you are financing your research stay in Germany by a scholarship, you may be exempt from paying taxes in Germany in accordance with German income tax law. In this case you do not need to file a tax return in Germany. To find out whether and which tax exemptions apply, please contact the scholarship/grant provider.  You should also enquire whether your scholarship paid in Germany is taxable in your home country.

Staying in Germany with an employment contract

If your research stay in Germany lasts longer than half a year on the basis of an employment contract, you are liable to pay taxes in Germany on all the income you have earned worldwide.

To prevent foreigners from being taxed in Germany and their home country at the same time, so-called double taxation agreements exist with many countries. These agreements regulate in which country taxes must be paid.

A special feature in Germany is the church tax collected by the state. Under certain circumstances, religious communities have the option of having church taxes collected by the tax office. For the large churches, church tax (about 9% of income tax) is collected by the state together with income tax on wages and salaries, and is automatically deducted from your monthly salary. Therefore you must state your religious affiliation when you register at the Residents' Registration Office.

Depending on which tax class you are in, you are obliged to submit a tax return to the tax office in your place of residence at the beginning of each year (for the previous year). If you are not obliged to do so, you can also do so voluntarily in order to maybe receive a partial refund of the taxes you have paid.

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