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Work Contract and Taxes

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A research stay at the University of Bonn also elicits legal questions concerning employment and tax regulations. In this section, you will find important information that can help you acclimate to working in Bonn.

Work Contract

Work permit for researchers

Academic staff at universities and research institutes, and guest researchers or technical staff working in a guest researcher’s research team, do not require approval from the Federal Employment Agency to pursue their occupation. The Immigration Office can grant authorization to pursue the academic activity in question and this will be stated on the residence permit.

Employment regulations for spouses

If your spouse is not an academic, but would like to work in Germany, he/she will usually require approval from the Federal Employment Agency. He/she needs to apply to the Immigration Office for a residence permit which allows him/her to pursue gainful employment, and also present proof that he/she has already received a job offer. The Immigration Office will then forward the application to the Federal Employment Agency which will check whether there are German or EU citizens who should be given priority. This can take up to several weeks or even months.

Citizens of EU/EEA member states and Switzerland

If you are a citizen of EU/EEA member states or Switzerland, you can enjoy freedom of movement throughout Europe and do not require approval to work in Germany.

Work contract or appointment

Academic staff at universities have work contracts with the university which state the rate of pay and conditions of employment. However, many professors and academic staff in Germany are civil servants. Their wages are determined by the Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act (“Bundesbesoldungsgesetz”) and are subject to the regulations of the respective federal state. Professors come under category “W” and the wages for academic staff in most federal states are set out in a collective pay agreement known as “TV-L”.

Important documents of the HR Division

You can find important documents of the HR Division in the Intranet:


If you are employed at the University of Bonn, you will receive your monthly payslip from the responsible state department ("Landesamt für Besoldung und Versorgung". The Welcome Center for International Researchers has created a handout which helps you reading and understanding your German payslip:


Research stay based on a work contract

If you have a work contract for your research visit to Germany and will be staying for longer than six months, you will effectively be liable to taxation in Germany on your globally-earned income and assets.

Income tax is deducted directly from your salary and paid to the state by your employer. The amount of taxation depends on income, family status and tax bracket.

Each registered person will receive a tax ID, which you will keep for your lifetime. You will receive your tax ID by mail approx. 1-2 weeks after you have registered at the Civic Services Office.

Research stay based on a fellowship

If your research stay will be funded by a fellowship you may, under certain circumstances, be exempt from taxation under the German Income Tax Act (Einkommenssteuergesetz). However, make sure to consult and confirm this information with the organization that has awarded you the fellowship on this point. Furthermore, you should also find out whether the fellowship paid in Germany is subject to taxation in your home or residence country.

The preconditions for taxation exemption on fellowships in Germany are:

  • Awarded from public funds or via a public or non-profit agency (recognized under German law)
  • Sponsored research, continuing education or academic or artistic training
  • Awarded money should be no higher than the amount required to fulfill the research task or to cover living and training needs
  • Granted according to the regulations of the donor
  • No quid pro quo requirement or employment of the recipient

Double taxation agreements

In order to avoid situations in which foreigners are liable to pay tax both in Germany and in their home countries, double taxation agreements have been made with many countries. They regulate in which country you have to pay tax. If you stay in Germany for less than 6 months, your income will be taxed in your home country provided that you work for a foreign employer and that the double taxation agreement assigns the right of taxation to your home country. If one of these conditions is not met, your salary will be taxed in Germany.

Agreements exist with some countries which state that university teachers and researchers who come to Germany for a maximum of two years to work on research at a public research institution may pay their taxes in their home countries.

A list of the countries that have signed double taxation agreements with Germany can be found here:

Tax return

At the end of each calendar year you may apply to the tax office at your place of residence for a “Lohnsteuerausgleich” (income tax adjustment). This may entitle you to a partial refund of tax paid. The necessary documents can be obtained from the local tax offices or online from the Federal Ministry of Finance. Alternatively, you can also submit a tax return electronically via ELSTER (Electronic Tax Declaration).

If you have already returned home, you can also submit a tax return from there. It must reach the local tax office by May 31st of the following year; at the very latest by December 31st.

When the tax office has processed the tax return you will receive a “Steuerbescheid” (tax statement) informing you whether and to what extent tax will be refunded. It may be worth paying a “Steuerberater” (tax accountant) to help you complete your tax return.

For further questions on taxation, please consult the Welcome Centre.

Church tax

An unusual feature of taxation in Germany is state-collected “Kirchensteuer” (church tax). Under certain circumstances, churches have their tax collected by the tax office. In the case of major churches, church tax (roughly 9% of income tax) is collected by the state together with income tax and is automatically deducted from your monthly salary.

This is the reason why you are asked to state your religion when you register at the Civic Services Office. If you belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Protestant Church, the Jewish Community or certain Protestant Free Churches you are required to pay church tax in Germany. This does not apply, however, if you belong to the Anglican Church or the Orthodox Church.

If in doubt, ask for advice at the Civic Services Office.

Tax Offices in Bonn

Welschnonnenstr. 15
53111 Bonn
Phone: +49 (0)228-7180

Bachstr. 36
53115 Bonn
Phone: +49 (0)228-72680

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