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How Can Americans Get a Work Visa to Teach English in Germany?

Check out our 6 Steps for Americans to gain legal working status to teach English in Germany.

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The allure of living and teaching English in Germany is quite obvious – an exquisite cultural heritage, dynamic cities, beautiful castles, delicious sausages and meats, huge steins of beer,  and one of the most stable and prosperous economies in Europe.  It makes complete sense why an American would choose to teach in this country after getting their TEFL Certification

Can I get a work visa to teach English in Germany?

Americans do not have the luxury of teaching and working freely within the European Union (EU) as those from Britain or Ireland do; nor do Americans have the option to obtain a Working Holiday Visa like Canadians, Australians, or New Zealanders. Fortunately, for those with a bit of patience who follow the correct steps, Americans can obtain a work visa and residency permit to teach English in Germany.

Read more: What is a visa for teaching abroad?

It is worth noting that the process of gaining employment and then processing a residency permit and work visa for Americans teaching English in Germany can often take one or two months.

This must typically be done in Germany and you should be prepared to deal with extensive bureaucracy and to financially support yourself during the process as you will likely not be earning a full salary until it is complete. Also, note that this process may vary from state to state within Germany.

Note: International TEFL Academy constantly monitors visa requirements for English-teaching job markets all over the globe, but requirements and processes for obtaining visas can and do change frequently.  Please contact the consulate or embassy for Germany in your country to receive the most updated information about visas and work permits in that country.

Standesamt, Einwohnermeldeamt, Ausländerbehörde -  HELP!  What are these German words and how do they help me get a work visa and teach English legally in Germany?!  

Germany work visa: 6 steps to get a work permit as an English teacher

To successfully obtain your residency permit and work visa as an English teacher in Germany, you need to follow these 6 steps:

1. Register at a local “Standesamt – Einwohnermeldeamt” or Registration Office within one week of arrival in Germany.

2. Get a job and an address (not a hotel, hostel, etc.)  

Most English teachers in Germany either rent a room from a local German or share an apartment with other ESL teachers if they do not already know somebody living in Germany.

Teach English in Hamburg, Germany

3. Get a "Letter of Intent" from the school/company you will be teaching with 

You will need an address before they can give this to you.

4. Visit the “Ausländerbehörde” or Immigration Office with your Letter of Intent

This is to apply for your residency permit and work visa. This office may also be called the “Kreisverwaltungsreferat” (KRV). Bring the following documents:

  • Proof of address/residency,

  • Letter of Intent for employment,

  • Proof of health insurance,

  • Passport,

  • Passport photo. 

There will also likely be a fee of approximately 50 Euros. 

5. Open a German bank account

You will need this when you apply for your tax number (below).

6. Get Your Tax Number

If you are working freelance (most ESL teachers in Germany are), you cannot begin working until you receive a tax number, which can take 2-6 weeks. File for your tax ID number at the “Finanzamter” or finance center.

Once you receive your tax number and all of the legal paperwork is taken care of, you can begin legally teaching English in Germany.

For a first-hand perspective on the process, check out this article from some of our graduates:

ITA grad Noah Franc - Teaching English in Germany review"When applying for permits, some form of misunderstanding that delays the process is practically inevitable.  When it does happen, just keep going back and talking to different people until someone is able to help you.  There is always a solution to stuff like this.'

- ITA alumnus Noah Franc

ITA grad Noah Franc - Teaching English in Germany review"In short, I really love living here and I have no plans to go anywhere else. I would recommend teaching in Berlin to anyone that has a heart for it..'

- ITA alumnus Jacob Arthur

Note:  It will definitely help to have a decent knowledge of German, a German friend, or to hire a German translator to assist you through this process. Your school may offer to help you, but don’t count on it!

For more information on how to obtain a work visa and residency permit, please visit the following websites:

Teach English in Germany TEFL


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