Germany’s Working Holiday Visa for Australians

Germany’s Working Holiday Visa for Australians
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. Photo by Jiatong Tian on Pexels.com.

Germany isn’t just an economic powerhouse and one of Europe’s largest countries – it’s also a very interesting place to live. With world-class infrastructure, lively cities, adorable villages and great beer, what more could you want?

If you’re an Australian aged between 18 and 30 years old, you can apply for a German Working Holiday visa. This allows you to live in Germany for up to a year, during which time you can leave and re-enter the country as often as you like. You may also work during your stay in Germany, but only for up to six months with any single employer.

This page contains information about Germany’s Working Holiday Visa for Australian citizens, as well as living in Germany. It was last updated on 23 April 2022.

It is possible to travel to Germany at this time, but COVID-19 entry requirements may apply. Entry requirements may include proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result, and you may need to complete a digital entry registration. See the German Federal Foreign Office website for more information.

If you have previously applied for a working holiday visa in Germany but your stay was interrupted by COVID-19, you may be able to reapply to resume your working holiday.

Key facts about Germany

  • Population: Approx. 84 million
  • Official language: German
  • Capital city: Berlin
  • Largest cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich (München), Cologne (Köln), Frankfurt, Stuttgart
  • Name of the country in German: Deutschland
  • Currency: Euro
Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Photo by Matt Graham.

German Working Holiday Visa requirements

In addition to Australians, Germany offers Working Holiday visas to citizens of Argentina, Chile, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and Uruguay. Please check the German embassy of your own country for information relevant to you.

To apply for a German Working Holiday Visa as an Australian citizen, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Aged between 18-30 years old (inclusive) at the time of application
  • Your main reason for visiting Germany is for cultural exchange

You cannot apply for this visa if:

  • You will not be accompanied by dependent children during your stay in Germany
  • You have already held a German working holiday visa

Documents needed to apply for this visa

When applying for a Working Holiday Visa for Germany as an Australian citizen, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • A completed, printed and signed online application form
  • A recent passport photo (35x45cm)
  • Passport (with an expiry date at least 3 months after you complete your stay in Germany)
  • Evidence of travel/health insurance, including at least €30,000 (approx. AUD50,000) coverage for medical evacuation, repatriation of mortal remains and coverage for pandemics
  • Copy of your return flight ticket to Germany and/or proof of sufficient funds to buy one (approx. AUD2,100 for a return ticket or AUD1,500 for a one-way ticket if you already have an outbound ticket)
  • Bank statements showing proof of sufficient funds (at least AUD7,100 unless you can prove you have free accommodation for at least the first 3 months, in which case the amount is AUD1,800). If applying after arrival in Germany, this requirement reduces to €2,000 (approx. AUD3,200).

A visa fee of €75 (or AUD equivalent) applies and can be paid at the time of application by credit card or cash.

Once your visa is processed, you can either return in person to collect your passport. Or if you provide a prepaid, self-addressed registered mail envelope at the time of your application, your passport will be returned by mail.

More information is available on the German embassy’s website. We recommend that you read the information provided by the German embassy in detail before applying for this visa.

Travel insurance requirements

You will need to make sure that your travel insurance meets the minimum criteria specified by the German embassy. Not all travel insurance policies provide adequate cover, so check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before purchasing travel insurance.

Your travel insurance will need to be valid for your entire length of stay, and provide a minimum cover of €30,000 (approx. AUD50,000) in all of the following subcategories:

  • Medical evacuation
  • Repatriation of mortal remains
  • Coverage for pandemics

When lodging your visa application, you will need to provide the certificate of insurance and the PDS/table of benefits, which clearly show at least €30,000 (or AUD equivalent) of coverage for all of the subcategories listed above.

If your travel insurance cover is deemed inadequate, the embassy will not process your visa application and you will need to make a new appointment!

How to apply for a Germany Working Holiday Visa

There are two ways that Australians can apply for a German Working Holiday Visa:

  1. In person at the German Consulate General in Sydney up to 3 months before your intended arrival date in Germany (recommended)
  2. In person at an “Ausländerbehörde” (local immigration authority office) after arrival in Germany

The German embassy recommends applying in advance, via the Consulate General in Sydney, as this will allow you to work as soon as you arrive in Germany. You will not be allowed to work in Germany until you receive your visa.

You will need to make an appointment with the Consulate General well in advance of submitting your visa application. It generally takes 1-2 weeks for your visa to be processed and your passport to be returned to you.

Ensure you have all required documents with you when applying for your visa as the Consulate General will not accept incomplete visa applications – even if you flew all the way from Perth to apply in Sydney for your visa! If your application is not accepted, you will need to make a new appointment to apply for a second time; the next available appointment could be weeks away.

If you apply for your working holiday visa after arriving in Germany, you’ll need to ensure you’ve received your visa within 90 days of arrival. If you apply in Berlin, your visa should be processed on the same day. But in the wurst-case scenario (pardon the pun!), it could take 4-6 weeks to process your visa.

Oktoberfest tent
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Photo by Matt Graham.

Arriving in Germany

You will need to deal with a little bit of German bureaucracy after you arrive, but it’s not as bad as it may sound!

Once you have a new address in Germany, you must register with the local municipal government (this procedure is known as the “Anmeldung”). This generally needs to be completed within 7 days, however in some states (e.g. Berlin) it’s 14 days and in others (e.g. Rheinland-Pfalz) it’s immediately. You will also need to register if you change address, and de-register when you leave Germany.

To complete your Anmeldung, you’ll need to fill out a form (this will probably be in German) and visit your local government office with proof of identity. Check the requirements for your state as these may vary.

Once you’ve registered, you will receive two important documents which you will need to get a job or access services in Germany (e.g. opening a bank account):

  • Anmeldebestätigung/Meldebescheinigung (certificate of registration confirmation)
  • Steueridenitifikationsnummer (tax ID number)

If you decide to work in Germany, you may need other documents down the track and you’ll probably need to get a local health insurance policy. But the main thing is to complete the Anmeldung as soon as possible.

Once you’ve registered, unfortunately you’ll probably have to pay Germany’s infamous TV & radio tax. The cost is €17.50/month per household, and pretty much everyone has to pay this, even households without a TV or radio.

Germany also has a “church tax”, but you would only need to pay this if you declare a religion when registering in Germany. Leave this field blank to avoid paying this income tax!

Living in Germany

Berlin is probably the most popular place to live in Germany for young people and internationals. There’s good reason for this – it’s so much more than the capital and largest city! It’s a multicultural metropolis which also has lots of nature, open spaces, a fascinating history, excellent culture and nightlife, and so much to see & do.

Berlin, Germany. Photo by Matt Graham.
Berlin, Germany. Photo by Matt Graham.

Germany is a large country and there are differences between the various regions, including cultural and language/accent differences. The “German food” most people associate with the country is actually Bavarian food; you’ll find all sorts of different cuisines in the north of the country.

Living in Germany is generally affordable, although wealthy cities like Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt may be more expensive to live than places like Berlin, Leipzig or Dresden.

Germany is well-connected by high-speed trains, and there are large international airports in Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin. (Frankfurt and Berlin are by far the two largest airports as Lufthansa has bases there.) If you live in any city in Germany, you should have no problem getting around by public transport or even bicycle.

English is widely spoken in large cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, but is less common in smaller towns and among older people. At least a basic knowledge of the German language will make life much easier for you when living in Germany.

By the way, Australia and Germany do also have a bilateral agreement that allows Australians to stay up to 90 days at any one time in the country without a visa. Under this agreement, there is no limit to the number of times Australians may re-enter Germany. However, the bilateral agreement does not come with the right to work in Germany and you would need to travel to a non-Schengen country at least once every 90 days to reset the clock. So, a working holiday visa could still be a better option if you want to live and work in Germany for up to a year.


While best efforts are made to keep this information updated, we do not guarantee its accuracy. If you spot an error, would like to suggest new information to be added or simply have a question, please let us know in the comments and we’ll endeavour to respond or update the article as quickly as possible!

26 thoughts on “Germany’s Working Holiday Visa for Australians

  1. Hello, Your website is very helpful. I am having trouble confirming online that the German government currently allow Australians to apply for a working holiday visa after arrival in Germany. My son doesn’t have time to apply before leaving Australia, so we would like to confirm it is still possible to get the visa after he arrives. Perhaps you can suggest a current web page? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Heather! Have a look at: https://australien.diplo.de/au-en/service/01-visa/working-in-germany/2073676#content_7

      In particular, this page contains the following information:

      “Australian citizens (as well as New Zealand, Israeli and Japanese citizens) are able to apply for a residence permit after entering Germany at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’) without applying prior for the visa in Australia. But, we recommend to apply for the Working Holiday Visa in advance, because the visa issued is valid for the whole first year and it allows you to start working immediately after arrival.”

  2. Hi, my partner would like to apply for a working holiday visa on arrival. How long does it usually takes to get approved? As one of our friends applied for one on arrival and got it straight away, however on your website it states 4-6 weeks. Any idea why? Is it different for each state?

    Regards,
    Annie

    1. I have heard mixed reports about this. One website (https://www.nomadenberlin.com/german-working-holiday-visa) says it normally takes 4-6 weeks, but the official Berlin government website (https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/305265/standort/121885/en/) says the residence permit is normally issued on the same day.

      I have personally spoken to other Australians who’ve had their working holiday visa processed at the immigration office in Berlin on the spot, so if this is also the recent experience of your friend, I think that is the most likely scenario if you are applying in Berlin. 🙂

      The processing times could be different in other cities.

      I’ll update this page with this info.

  3. Hi,

    I would like to secure a job before going to work in germany any recommendations on websites that are legit in which I can search for jobs.

    Thank you

    1. I’m not sure that I would recommend trying to find a job before you arrive in Germany. It would be quite difficult to do so, particularly for the types of jobs you would normally work with a working holiday visa (keep in mind the maximum employment during is six months per employer), and most employers would want to at least interview you in person and check that you can legally work in Germany before offering a job.

      Regarding websites – Xing, StepStone and Indeed are all legit, but there are many others. Many jobs are advertised directly by the employer and/or in-store (for retail/restaurant work).

      One tip when applying for a job in Germany – note that it’s customary to include a photo of yourself on your resume.

  4. Hi there, I am travelling into Germany at the beginning of June and need to apply for a working-holiday visa. I’m just wondering where I can apply for one and what I need to apply for it? I have all my legal documents and insurance ect just wondering if there is anything else?

  5. Hi, I want to travel to Europe for tourism purposes but stay there for around 5 to 6 months. Reading above, it seems that I will need to have a place of residency but I don’t intend to live in Germany. Do I then need to still have a place?

    1. The German working holiday visa only gives you the right to stay in *Germany* beyond the 90 out of every 180 days you are allowed to stay the Schengen Area as a tourist. A German visa doesn’t necessarily give you the right to reside/stay in other European countries for more than 90 days. So, if you don’t intend to live in Germany, this is probably not a suitable visa for you.

  6. Hi Matt – thanks for this it is very helpful. Are there any restrictions on earnings or the types of positions you can take? I understand you can only work for the same employer for 6 months, but are there any other restrictions? I recently arrived in Berlin and was hoping to find work in the film industry. Thanks!

  7. Hi, I am looking at applying for the youth mobility working visa and intend on working in Germany sometime this year. In just over a month I will be over my 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen area and I was wondering, given I am able to obtain this youth mobility visa, if I am allowed to travel to the other Schengen countries once those 90 days are up? For reference, I have a place to live in Germany. Thank you for your help

  8. Hi,
    I am currently filling out the Videx long-term visa application form to get the Working Holiday Visa. In the section “Reference”, what is it asking for? I don’t have a company/organisation sponsoring me. Do I put “Reference person”, and if so must this be someone I know in Germany? Or can it be a relative here in Australia, or even a hotel I’m planning to stay in in Germany?

    Would so appreciate the help of someone who’s gone through this process before! My appointment is very soon!

    Thanks,
    Finn

    1. I’m not exactly sure as this was not a requirement back when I applied, but if you’re applying for a working holiday visa I would suggest that listing the details of a “Reference person” would be most appropriate. I assume this could just be a relative or friend who can vouch for you, and that they don’t need to be in Germany as the drop-down box lets you choose any country when entering their address.

  9. Hi, thanks so much for this article, was a great read 🙂 Do you know if we can change a working holiday visa to a work permit/visa if we secure a more permanent job? Thanks, Emily

  10. Hi, my daughter (Australian) is hoping to obtain a working holiday visa AFTER she arrives in Germany, as she currently lives in the USA so can’t apply in Australia beforehand.
    It is a little confusing as one website seems to imply that you MUST register to live and apply in Berlin. However your information here sounds as though she would be able to apply elsewhere at the local immigration authority in her region. (In her case somewhere near Lorrach would be ideal.) IS this correct? Would that mean she still has to post her passport to Berlin??

    Does her insurance have to cover one year after the date of her visa appointment?
    Thank you for any clarity you can bring !

    1. I don’t have any first-hand experience with applying in Germany, but according to the German government website you should be able to apply at any Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) in Germany. There is one at Lörrach – https://www.loerrach.de/de/Stadt-Buerger/Rathaus-Buergerservice/Ihre-Ansprechpartner/Fachbereiche/Aufgabenbereich?view=publish&item=level1&id=26

      It is possible that applying in Lörrach could be slightly more complicated because they probably would not have processed many of these types of visas there before, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be possible or why she would need to post her passport to Berlin.

      The travel insurance would need to meet the requirements for the visa (minimum coverage for certain things) and be valid for her entire stay in Germany.

  11. Hello all,

    Just a question regarding applying for the working holiday visa in Germany.

    I’m currently living with my girlfriend in Hanau and in the process of anmeldung here. Firstly, will I need to travel to Berlin to to apply for the working holiday visa or can these be also completed at the Australian Consulate in Frankfurt?

    1. You shouldn’t necessarily need to travel to Berlin, but you definitely can’t apply for a German working holiday visa at an Australian consulate. The Australian government doesn’t issue these visas – the German government does.

      As per my response to the previous question (see above), you should be able to apply at any Ausländerbehörde (immigration office) in Germany.

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