Congratulations on purchasing property in Germany! You’ve probably sat through the read-through at the notary’s office by now, and if your German isn’t terrific, chances are you had an interpreter tag along to help you out. Now the bank wants proof that you understand the loan documents before they pay out. What’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the money rolling?
Category Archive: Doing Business in Berlin
This type of request has been popping up with surprising frequency. Here’s how it usually goes down. A customer who doesn’t speak German gets approval for a loan from a bank, either alone or as part of a joint purchase, and everything is ready to go except for one thing: the bank sends the loan documents with a requirement for a statement from a court-sworn interpreter. The statement should declare that the interpreter has read out the terms of the loan to the client in English and that the client has understood them. Why is this requirement from banks causing such waves of panic in the interpreting industry?
You say Steuernummer and I say Steuer-ID-Nummer,
You say Umsatz-ID-Nummer and I say Sozialversicherungsnummer.
Steuernummer, StIDNr, UStID-Nr, SV-Nummer, let’s call the whole thing off.
Hmm. Not really an option. So instead, I’ll take you through it simply, carefully and lovingly. I wish everyone would sing songs about tax.
There’s an old law from 1913 that will interest you if you’re a freelance teacher in Germany. It’s from §2 of Book 6 of the German Social Code, it covers the Statutory Pension System in Germany, and it goes a little something like this:
“I’ve got this great full-time job offer in Germany, but they want to hire me as a freelancer.”
This isn’t always ill-intentioned, but when your company offers to hire you in Germany as a full-timer but wants you to write them invoices as a freelancer instead of employing you, they might not have your best interests at heart. Or they might just have no clue about how employment law in Germany works. In any case, it might cause some serious problems for them and for you later down the track.
I coach English-speaking freelancers on setting themselves up as self-employed in Germany. A typical coaching will take you through the basics – how to get a freelance tax number, what information you need to have on your invoices, how the Finanzamt will treat you for tax purposes, information on the insurance system, dealing with clients in other countries, tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Over the years, I’ve gathered a list of issues that really perplex expats. You might not think these things are a big deal right now, but they certainly would be if you get audited 5 years down the track. Here are some tips for starting out your German freelance adventure with great accounting habits.
Getting out of Unemployment with Self-Employment: The Gründungszuschuss
If you are facing unemployment in Germany or are right in the middle of it, you might be interested to know about a grant that the Agentur für Arbeit offers to job seekers on ALG1 unemployment benefits if they want to start a business in Germany. The idea of this “new business grant” (Gründungszuschuss) is to get people out of unemployment (ALG I) by encouraging them to become self-employed or to start a company. Naturally, this won’t suit everyone, so the Agentur für Arbeit is really interested in making sure that you’re the entrepreneurial type and that you have a viable idea before they approve your application.
It is difficult to find information about the Gründungszuschuss in English. Here are the basics.
A magical summer in Berlin has convinced you that you want to stay here forever. You’ve found the perfect apartment to buy at the right price and talked to your bank about financing. Here’s what you can expect when buying property in Berlin, from making an offer through to getting the keys.
Not long after you move to Germany, you’ll probably start craving the comforts of home. Internet, a mobile phone, maybe even a gym membership. Signing up for the latest shiny deal is usually easy enough: salespeople will fall at your feet, even with limited German. Here’s what you need to know about getting out of German contracts.
Disaster strikes – you moved all the way to Germany to take on a fabulous job, it blows up in your face, your boss hands you your notice. Losing your job in a foreign country can be daunting, but like everything in Germany, there is a process to follow. Keep calm, follow the process, and it’ll all work out OK.
If you’re arriving in Germany from outside Europe, you’re probably used to being able to whip out your credit card at a moment’s notice.
However, over 80% of all transactions in Germany are made in cash. Foreign debit or credit cards (and even locally-issued credit cards!) are usually not accepted at supermarkets, drugstores, train ticket machines, restaurants and bars, government payment machines… hey, even some large furniture stores baulk at the sight of a Visa.