Europa nachts

Cross-border Services

If you want to temporarily perform cross-border activities in North Rhine-Westphalia as a citizen of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, without having a branch in Germany, you must consider several things.

Registration

In certain cases, you must register cross-border activities. This depends on whether you are performing an unregulated or a regulated profession:

Unregulated Professions

If you want to offer services in Germany through an unregulated profession, you may perform these activities without prior registration with the competent authorities. For unregulated professions (e.g. crafts and skilled trades exempt from registration and craft-like trades), admission to or the performance of the profession is not subject to special state qualification requirements. This means that the profession may be performed without a state permit.

However, this does not apply to services in areas that are not covered by the EU Services Directive, such as healthcare, financial services, taxation, transportation or gambling. Performing services as a self-employed person in these areas requires permits and licences from the competent authorities.

Regulated Professions

If you have the necessary qualifications, a permit is not required to practise your profession, but you will have to report your intention to perform services to the authorities that would be responsible for the recognition of your professional qualifications. For example, for crafts and skilled trade activities, this would be the Handwerkskammer, for architects the Chamber of Architects, and for veterinarians the Chamber of Veterinarians. You may then commence your activities immediately. This registration must normally be repeated every 12 months (informally) if you still intend to provide these services. Significant changes in circumstances that affect the requirements for the performance of services must also be reported to the competent authorities in writing and evidence provided through corresponding documents.

The website of the European Commission provides information in German, English and French on whether your activities represent a regulated profession.

Required Documents

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of nationality: Copy of ID or comparable identification document
  • Proof of legal establishment: Proof of registration or other evidence of legal establishment in your country of origin (e.g. company register excerpt)
  • Proof of professional qualifications: If your profession requires you to have professional qualifications in the state of establishment, you must submit proof of your professional qualifications; otherwise, proof that you have performed these activities in the state of establishment for at least two years during the last 10 years.

Proof may include a master craftsman’s certificate or so-called “EU certificates”. These may, for example, be used by a German skilled trade entrepreneur to provide evidence of the period of time that their business has been registered and for the type of craft or skilled trade in the Register of Skilled Trades of the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades. In Germany, the chambers issue these certificates to their members.

Exceptions apply to the following professions:

  • Chimney sweeps
  • Opticians
  • Audiologists
  • Prosthetists
  • Orthopaedic shoemakers
  • Dental technicians

For these professions, the competent Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades can verify your professional qualifications when you want to perform your services for the first time. This review is performed to exclude severe health or safety hazards to recipients of the service caused by inadequate qualifications.

These professions may only be performed once the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades has issued the following:

  • Confirmation of adequate professional qualifications

or

  • Notice that professional qualifications will not be reviewed

Documents may also be submitted by electronic means. In the case of any justified doubts about document authenticity, the competent authorities may require that the service provider submits certified copies.

Verifying documents (register excerpts, certificates and other documents) must be translated into German. Translations must be prepared by sworn translators and interpreters.

Temporary Employees and Posted Workers

Posted Workers

Employers based abroad who post one or several employees to Germany to perform work or services must follow a number of different rules for registering their employees. Among other things, the employees must be registered with the German Customs Office. This can easily be done online. In addition, certain minimum conditions of employment (minimum wage, time sheets, etc.) must be observed in Germany, as pointed out by the German Customs Office on their website. More information about posted workers can be found here.

Temporary Employees

Providing a temporary employee to a contracting company in Germany requires a German temporary employment permit. More information about leasing temporary employees can be found here.

Important Laws

The following laws are especially relevant with regard to posted workers and temporary employees:

Taxes

Taking on employees in Germany requires compliance with German tax regulations and bilateral agreements (double taxation agreements). An overview of the existing double taxation agreements can be found here.

Income Tax

The 183-day rule applies: employees who spend more than 183 days per calendar year in Germany are liable to pay income tax.

VAT

Goods deliveries to businesspersons across internal EC borders are normally treated as tax-free intra-community deliveries in the country of origin. However, the buyer must pay VAT on these goods in the destination country.

Structural and expansion services performed on real estate in Germany are subject to German VAT. Please check whether registration with the tax office is required. The tax office responsible for your case will depend on where your establishment is based. A list can be found here.

Social Security

Employees in Germany are as a matter of principle subject to German social security obligations. Exceptions may apply to cross-border work, e.g. if an employee is only working in Germany on a temporary basis and is actually employed in a foreign country, or is employed in several countries. Information on the regulations within the EU can be found here.