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German Law/Secondment to Germany from UK


Hello Henning,

My girlfriend has been offered a job in Berlin. I am one of three British directors of a British company. I work from home and so it's entirely possible for me to move with her to Berlin and work from there.

It's clear that I would have to pay income tax in Germany instead of the UK. With health insurance though, it seems to me that I could have myself seconded to Germany by my company, and then continue to pay UK National Insurance while in Germany for up to two years (with the possibility of extending this) and claim my health costs against this.

If I choose to relocate to Germany permanently after this 2 year secondment, will I enounter any obstacles or difficulties (e.g. with moving onto the public health system in Germany) or is it a win-win scenario?

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

I cannot tell you if it would turn out to be a win-win scenario for you because I do not know the British system.

As you said, under certain conditions EU citizens can stay in the health insurance of their home countries. Nevertheless, even in this case the benefits granted by the NHS could differ significantly from those offered by a regular insurance in Germany and thus not cover anything, which could make additional payments or the closure of a supplemental insurance necessary. Maybe you check this also.

The organization of the German health (and long term care) insurance system is characterized by the dual system of public health insurance (GKV) and private health insurance (PKV). While almost every applicant is eligible for public health insurance, different conditions apply for private health insurance.

Statutory health insurance fees are based on income. A federal standard fee of 15.5 per cent (as of 2015) of gross income is charged. Largely, this is paid by the insured (8.2 per cent) and the employer (7.2 per cent). When the so-called contribution ceiling is exceeded (2015: 4,125 Euro monthly), any income above this mark will not be considered in the calculation. In addition, with statutory health insurance children can be insured free in the family insurance plan.

For directors, the following distinction applies:

In regard to an externally hired director, reaching an annual income limit entitles him to opt out the GKV and for the PKV (2015: 4,575 Euro monthly). To do so, this person waives his obligation to take out statutory health insurance. However, private insurance companies often require a minimum period of permanent residency of Germany or at least an insurance period of long duration by the foreign insurance holder. Many private insurance companies offer special tariffs to foreigners that are adapted to foreign employees’ needs and their length of stay.

If the externally hired director does not earn as much as mentioned above, he is treated like an ordinary employee who is in the GKV.

However, a director who is also shareholder/ partner in the company granting him control is not subject to the income threshold of the Social Code mentioned above. Therefore, irrespective of his income, he is free to decide on the protection in case of illness. A change in the PKV at any time is possible with no further income requirements.

Private health insurance offers numerous advantages. These include:

  Individual services,
  Premium refund;
  Single bedroom in hospitals,
  Chief physician treatment,
  Physical therapy,
  Fuller range of artificial dentition services

When applying for a private health insurance, detailed questions about the state of health (Gesundheitsprüfung) are also asked. The German health insurance coverage expires once the insurance holder returns to their home country.

Whether private health insurance or public insurance is favourable depends on how long you wish to live here and what insurance cover you wish to have. As I said, private insurance offers a wider range of services than public insurances. On the other hand, a big part of the insurance rate serves as contribution to your old age reserve which you cannot claim back if you leave the country.   

Regarding your tax situation and of your company please note that

1. the Double taxation treatments distinguish between executive operations of directors and supervising functions of a director. So your qualification of your income depends on what you actually do.

2. a pemanent establishment could be formed while you are here. Consequently, a share of company profits could be subject to German taxation.  

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Henning Haarhaus


I can answer questions in English, German and French. Practice in inheritance law, tax, labour and contract law for private clients. Services also rendered in the fields of business & commercial law; e.g. business organizations, contracts, debt collections, leasing law. Representing clients all over Germany. NO CONSULTANCY ON FAMILY AND IMMIGRATION LAW.


Working since 1999 in the forenamed fields. Henning Haarhaus` experience includes services in the legal department of Roedl & partner, the biggest tax consultancy firm of German origin. Appointed Bar Certified Tax Law Practioner in 2007.

Bar Association of Berlin, KIWANIS


German licensed lawyer and bar certified tax specialist

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