When considering a move to Germany, a big hurdle is often perceived to be knowledge of the German language. However, the good news is that the ability to speak German is only a requirement for a limited category of permits (most specifically the job-seeker permit) and oftentimes you don’t need to speak German to move to Germany.  

Applying for a work permit with a job offer

If you have received a job offer from a company in Germany, don’t need to speak German to move to obtain a Visa. German companies and international companies are increasingly using English as a working language or working bilingually. With the high demand for skilled workers in certain fields, such as IT, construction, manufacturing, and engineering, recruiters are looking beyond the pool of German-speakers and are welcoming highly qualified English professionals too.  The visa and work permit applications do not require any proof of German language skills, as this assessment is left to the employer in deciding that a certain qualified professional is a desirable asset to the company.  

Applying for a permit as a freelancer / self-employed person

Freelancers and self-employed persons are not required to show proof of German language skills for the visa and work permit application. There is a vibrant entrepreneur and freelancer scene in the large cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, with many international residents who use English as a common language of communication. The information required for the set up of a business in Germany is widely available in English, with a clear understanding that attracting international entrepreneurs is a vital part of creating a vibrant and competitive business scene.  

Applying for a residence permit as a student

Many universities are offering courses where the language of tuition is English. The assessment of the required language skills is generally left to the universities in their admission process, rather than forming a substantive requirement for the visa and residence permit process. Most universities have dedicated services for international students, to ensure networks can be built and connections can be made even without speaking German. 

Applying for a residence permit as an accompanying spouse

A spouse may need to provide proof of basic German language skills. However, it is important to know that there are various exceptions to this requirement, in which case no German language skills are required. The most common exceptions are met if the main applicant or resident in Germany is a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco or San Marino; or holds an EU Blue Card or residence permit as researcher or self-employed person. Lastly, if you, as the spouse, have a recognized university degree and can probably find work in Germany without speaking German, there will also be no need to show proof of German language skills.  


German society, the workplace and immigration law are working to be more open to welcoming English-speaking persons. In short, the following instances will not require proof of German language skills 

  • Applying for a visa and work permit with a job offer 
  • Applying for a visa and permit as a freelancer/self-employed person  
  • Applying for a visa and residence permit as a student  
  • Applying for a visa and residence permit as an accompanying spouse if certain requirements are met.  

Moving to Germany without speaking German is a viable option to consider and once you are there, learning the language will be much easier and part of daily life.  

IBN looks forward to assisting you in your journey of moving to Germany.

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