Think about it; working for a UK company from Germany can be an attractive option, allowing you to stay in the country that you love while still enjoying the benefits of a British job. With the advent of the internet and virtual work, it has become easier than ever to do this.
In fact, Germany has moved fast to enact a law that recognizes remote workers and offers special freelance visas. However, it’s not always easy, and there are certain restrictions and obstacles that need to be overcome before you can start working remotely.
If your residence and work permit in Germany are valid, then you can work for a UK company and live in Germany as an employee, freelancer or use an umbrella payroll company in Germany to handle your payments.
Working remotely comes with a set of benefits for the employer and employee. The employee will have a better work-life balance while the company can lower overheads and realize increased productivity. This article offers a guide on working for a UK company while living in Germany with ease.
Also read this article about working in Germany after Brexit.
Can you work for a UK company and live in Germany?
It’s possible to work for a UK company and live in Germany either as an employee or freelancer.
1. Working as an employee
If you’re employed in a UK company and have an intra-transfer where you’ll be working for the UK company in Germany, you need to consider the following:
- Visa and work permit requirements
- Tax and social security obligations
- Labour laws and employee rights
Visa and work permit
If you’re traveling for a short period of less than 90 days, you don’t need to acquire a work permit. If you stay in Germany for more than ninety days, you’re obliged to have a working permit from the onset of your stay.
Read more on how to move to Germany from the UK.
As an employee under an EU intra-company transfer, coming to Germany from a different country, you can stay without a work permit for 90 consecutive days in 180 days. Your employer must, however, notify the German immigration office.
The duration you’ll be in Germany for work determines in a big way if you’ll need a work permit. You don’t need a permit for a 90 days stay in Germany if:
- You’re on a fact-finding mission
- You’re attending court as a key witness
- Attending board meeting
- Attending a conference
- Joining colleagues
- Going for a negotiation
- Attending team-building
If your employer in the UK intends to have you work in Germany for any of the above roles, you must be able to prove it at the border by providing proof that:
- You have health insurance covering you during your stay in Germany
- Return tickets
- Residence/rental agreement where you’ll be staying in Germany
- Invitation letter if you’re attending a conference
- Enough resources to cover your stay
These exemptions apply when you intend to work from Germany for a short period. You’ll need to acquire a working permit when relocating for a longer duration to work for a UK company while living in Germany.
If you were already a German resident from the UK before 31st December 2020, then you’re exempt from adhering to the new German immigration rules.
All you need is to obtain the Residence Document-GB from the authorities. Those relocating from 2021 from the UK must obtain a work permit and adhere to German immigration rules. Read more on Brexit here.
Tax and social security
As an employee of a UK company in Germany, you must pay tax and social security to the authorities.
Your total gross income will determine your tax bracket, which is between 14% and 45%. Read this article on taxes in Germany.
Both employer and employee should pay the social security fund to the authorities, which currently stands at 20% for each party. For instance, an employee pays 7,3% of their salary for health insurance.
The easiest way to handle these obligations is to involve a payroll agency that will aid in settling all the relevant deductions remittable in Germany.
To avoid double payment of tax and social contributions in the UK and Germany, you must apply for exemptions in good time. In the first year, as you settle in Germany, the payables will be deducted in both countries until you’re well settled in Germany.
If you’ll be working in Germany alone as a remote worker, your employer from the UK doesn’t need to register as an entity.
The rules change when you are to undertake any business in Germany on behalf of your UK employer. If the team grows to include more than two people who require an office in Germany, then you need to adhere to set out company laws as an entity.
2. Working as a freelancer
You can work remotely for a UK company while residing in Germany. If all you need is reliable internet and power, then you’re good to go.
As a freelancer from the UK residing in Germany, you’ll be expected to pay full health insurance coverage, and you won’t be included in unemployment coverage or the country’s retirement program. You’ll have to handle this individually.
Can you work remotely for a UK company?
You can work remotely for a UK company if your employer allows it. However, working remotely attracts a different set of rules, especially if you work for a company from abroad.
Read more on working remotely in the UK.
How long you intend to work remotely will influence the rules applicable to your case. The longer you work remotely, the higher the risk; you and the employer could incur more liabilities.
The UK, like most countries, will tax you on your worldwide income. When you work remotely for a UK company, you continue being a tax resident, and the law requires you to remit income tax.
When working remotely, the tax payable in the UK depends on several aspects, such as bilateral agreements between the UK and the country you’re working from.
The duration you intend to work remotely also influences your eligibility to remit taxes.
The table below shows when you’re eligible to pay income tax when working remotely for a UK company:
|Duration of working remotely||Tax payable in the UK||Tax payable overseas|
|Remote work below six months||Yes||No (Reporting is necessary)|
|Middle term above six months below one year||Yes, with a tax credit||Yes|
|Above one year||No. Exempted from paying tax||Yes|
Once you settle the tax obligation, check your eligibility for social security contributions. You’ll need to evaluate the existence of bilateral or multilateral agreements between the UK and the country you intend to work from.
On the other hand, the UK company you work for will need to evaluate its obligations in terms of corporation tax and withholding payroll.
If you move abroad to work remotely for a UK company, the employer will need to review the need to pay withholding taxes to your resident country every time you’re paid.
Secondly, the company needs to evaluate whether your presence in a foreign country ignites the need to pay corporate tax.
After settling tax issues with the UK company, you need to determine your eligibility to work remotely in your country of choice. Some of the key aspects you need to consider include:
- Medical insurance
- Immigration regulations
- Employment regulations
- Tax liabilities
- Travel restrictions
Visas for working remotely in Germany
Germany is on the frontline encouraging young professionals to move into the country and has gone ahead to introduce the Germany Digital Nomad visa, which is called a Freelance visa.
The Freelance visa acts as a temporary residence permit that allows you to reside in the country before you can be granted permanent residency.
This so-called German digital nomad visa takes two forms:
Freelance entry visa
This visa, also known as the National Visa (D), is only valid for up to six months, and you get it by applying at the German embassy in your resident country.
It serves as a key entry point visa to Germany, informing authorities of your intention to work as a freelancer in Germany.
Freelancer residence permit
A residence permit will allow you to live and work as a freelancer in Germany for the long term. You acquire the permit from the German Immigration Office once you’re already in the country.
Acquiring the residence permit nullifies the freelance entry visa.
The freelance visas in Germany are further classified into two; the freelance employment visa, which caters to professionals such as writers, artists, and doctors.
Secondly, the self-employment visa is given to those who own and run businesses in the country. Read more about the differences between those two.
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