Work permit / self-employment / business

The immigration office is the point of contact for a permission to work. Citizens from Croatia have to contact the employment agency, called „Agentur für Arbeit“ (Arbeitsamt) directly if they want to accept a job.


Due to the right of the freedom of movement, EU-citizens and their family members may accept every job and do not need a work permit. They may also work self-employed and file for a business or trade. The business has to be registered with the civil offices of the city if Bonn (department business matters „Gewerbeangelegenheiten“).


All other foreigners need to request permission of residence in order to take a job (gainful occupation). The term „gainful occupation“ is understood to mean either self-employed work or being an employee. The work permit is called occupation permit ("Beschäftigungserlaubnis") by law. With certain residence permits, the residence law already implies a work permit. It is always allowed for example for foreign married spouses of a German citizen to be employed or work self-employed. In that case, the additional specification „occupation allowed“ ("Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet“) is written into the residence permit. An extra work permit is not necessary in this case. The same applies to the settlement permit.

Otherwise, a work permit has to be requested with the immigration office. For this, the employer has to fill out a form that is available at the immigration office. The immigration office checks with the employment agency, whether the request gets approved. With simple occupations, the employment agency checks if the working conditions are not worse than for comparable German employees. That way „dumping wages“ should be avoided. It is also checked if the work can not be done by preferential employees (Germans or EU-citizens). The check does not apply with university graduates.

Business registration / self-employment

A permit is also needed for self-employment, which has to be applied for at the immigration office. An extensive check will take place and the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg Chamber of Commerce and Industry may get involved. If the permit is granted, one has to file a business registration with the Federal city of Bonn.

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