We regret, but most of the webpages and information leaflets mentioned are currently only available in German.

In the European Union (EU), the rule is that employees who work in one of the EU member states are subject to the social insurance obligations in that state - regardless of the country in which the employer’s registered office is located. 

The legal basis for this rule is Article 21(1) of Implementing Regulation (EU) 987/09. This means that a foreign employer must register their employees in Germany for social insurance and pay contributions as if the company were based in Germany. Exceptions apply in two cases:

  • Employees have been posted to Germany and are only working for their foreign employer here on a temporary basis (secondment).
  • The employees are subject to an exemption agreement concluded by the social insurance institutions in the member states. The competent institution in Germany is the Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung - Ausland, (DVKA) [German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroad].

How to register employees for social insurance in Germany

Apply for an employer identification number

Employers wishing to employ staff in Germany for whom social insurance is mandatory require a company number. This is assigned by the Bundesagentur für Arbeit [Federal Employment Agency] (you can access the online application form here). Employers can only register for the German social insurance institutions’ notification procedure if they have this number. 

Choose your health insurance fund

Employees in Germany are free to choose their health insurance fund. Before starting their employment, employees must tell the employer which health insurance fund they have chosen. TK provides information in English for people seeking insurance. An overview of the online services available to insurees is provided in the TK-Versichertenportal [TK insurees' portal].

Register for German social insurance

Companies which employ staff in Germany for whom social insurance is mandatory must use a special online registration procedure. This requires the use of payroll accounting programmes that are authorised to exchange information with health insurance funds. If employers don’t have such a programme, they can use the fill-in tool SV-Meldeportal, which was developed by the health insurance funds. Information about the occupational classification code you will need for registration purposes is available from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit [Federal Employment Agency].

Paying contributions on time and sending contribution statements

One of the duties of employers in Germany is to send social insurance contribution records and pay contributions on time. These statements may only be sent online using system-tested accounting programmes or fill-in tools such as sv.net. Contribution records must reach the competent health insurance fund by the fifth-last bank working day of each month. You will find detailed information in TK’s information leaflet "Contributions record": Beratungsblatt Beitragsnachweis (PDF, 129 kB) .

Contributions are due on the third-last banking day of each month in which the staff member was employed.

Further information about paying contributions:

Representatives in Germany

With effect from 1 January 2021, foreign employers with employees in Germany for whom social insurance is mandatory are required to appoint an authorised representative in Germany. The mandatory task of this representative is to keep payroll documents in German and store them for future audits (Section 28f. par. 1b SGB IV [German Social Code]. This can be the employee themselves or a third party (e.g. a tax consultant).

According to Section 28p SGB IV, the authorised representative can present the payroll documents for audit on their own premises or on the premises of the authority performing the audit. Section 98 paragraph 1 sentence 4 SGB X, which states that the audit must in certain cases be performed on the employer’s premises, does not apply if the authorised representative’s business premises are integrated into their private sphere. The foreign employer remains fully liable for the fulfilment of the obligations set out in the German Social Code, and the audit report will be addressed to them. 

Sending annual reports

A notification regarding the employee's income during the year must be received by the health insurance fund no later than 15 February of the following year. This figure is used as the basis for calculating social insurance contributions. The health insurance fund then sends this notification to the competent pension insurance institution as part of an  annual report.

Special situation: assigning contribution payments to employees

Are you an employer based outside Germany?  If so, you can arrange for your employee in Germany to take over your task of paying contributions. The legal basis for this is Article 21(2) of Regulation (EC) 987/09.

This will enable your employee to notify the social security, submit contribution records and pay the entire social insurance contributions on your behalf. However, you as the employer will remain liable to the social security institutions for the payment of contributions.

Registering without a German tax number in ELSTER and the SV-Meldeportal

Foreign companies can apply for a German tax number from the Finanzamt Neubrandenburg [Neubrandenburg Tax Office]. This number is important as, firstly, it functions as the digital identity for the official German electronic tax declaration application ELSTER. Secondly, you need it to register in the SV-Meldeportal.

  1. Complete the German-language form Antrag auf Erteilung eines Ordnungskriteriums (Steuernummer) [Application for the issue of an order criterion (tax number)] on the ELSTER site and send it to Finanzamt NeubrandenburgGood to know: The address of the Finanzamt Neubrandenburg is given on the application.
  2. Once you have received your tax number by post, you can apply for an ELSTER-Organisationszertifikat [ELSTER organisation certificate] via the company account.
  3. You can now register in the SV-Meldeportal.

Important: Remember to select Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as the federal state when registering in "MEIN ELSTER".

How can you make A1 applications without a German tax number?

Foreign companies (and the self-employed) can also make A1 applications via the SV-Meldeportal without a German tax number. For this, they only have to register in the SV-Meldeportal with a BUND-ID

Important: As of 2025, cross-border commuters as well as, for example, flight and cabin crew will be able to use the BUND ID.