I am planning to live with a friend in Germany and work remotely for an American company for a few weeks. I do not plan to stay longer than 90 days or to work for a Germany company while I am there. I am a US citizen.

I've done some research, and I don't believe I need anything besides a normal passport ("tourist visa") to stay for under 90 days. Since I'm working for an American company (which has no relation and no clients in Germany under any capacity), I don't think my taxes should be affected at all.

Does anyone know if this information is correct? Or will need a special visa and have to pay any taxes to Germany?

I'm also curious about health insurance. I'm under the impression that on a tourist visa and by being in the country for less than 90 days, I don't need one. Does anyone know?

  • 2
    Germany has, last I heard, severely restricted the ability of foreigners to enter the country on public health grounds. Are you planning to do this after the restrictions are lifted?
    – phoog
    May 16 '20 at 0:46
  • 2
    @Aspiring Digital Nomad Are you already working for the American company? As an employee or a contractor? By ‘health insurance’ do you mean German health insurance howtogermany.com/pages/healthinsurance.html? Will you have any health cover at all?
    – Traveller
    May 16 '20 at 7:41
  • 2
    Further to @Traveller's comment about insurance, if you are depending on a travel policy or on extension of US insurance to travel, check the terms carefully. It may not cover working in Germany. Some insurance companies do a lot of checking when faced with a large claim. May 16 '20 at 8:52
  • I would be planning towards the end of summer, so long as travel restrictions on non-essential travel were lifted. At the end of this year, I'm going to buy a house, so next year really wouldn't work out. Thanks for the advice, though! May 19 '20 at 3:15
  • As I understand it, you would need a residency permit with work permission to work from within Germany, not matter who you work for. As a rule of thumb, visa-free travel allows you to talk about doing work while in Germany, but not to actually do work other than the necessary coordination.
    But the Expatriates Stack Exchange can give better answers on that.
  • If you need a residency permit, you would also be a resident for tax and insurance purposes. If you are employed by that American company and not just a freelancer, they might not be amused that they now have an employee in Germany and need to report income tax for you ...
  • There are still COVID-related travel restrictions in place, which are slowly easing up. You might have to go into quarantine, depending on exactly how and when you come.
  • Also, if the "purpose" of the travel is to work remotely, it might not be classified as essential right now and get banned.

You call yourself "Aspiring Digital Nomad." My suggestion, wait a year. Right now is a bad time.

  • 1
    This may be legally correct, but as a practical matter if a US citizen spends a few weeks or a couple of months in Germany (outside of pandemic times), not earning any German-source income, nobody's going to ask questions about it. I wouldn't advise lying to border officials, but also there's no obligation to answer questions they don't ask, and my experience is that German border officials tend not to ask terribly many questions of US passport holders.
    – mlc
    May 16 '20 at 5:06
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    @mlc, becoming an illegal immigrant would be a huge black mark on the travel history if it is found out, and then there is the moral and professional question if one wants to become a criminal. Consider how a CV would look if one "cannot admit" having worked for a long period of time because where one was is on record.
    – o.m.
    May 16 '20 at 5:25
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    @o.m. a visit of less than 90 days' duration is not likely to be "on record" as far as anyone reading a future CV will be able to see.
    – phoog
    May 16 '20 at 17:37
  • @mlc Immigration officers often ask detailed questions if they see a suspicious pattern. What are you going to tell them you are doing in Germany? How will you explain 3 months in Germany without working? I have heard of people refused entry under much less suspicious circumstances. May 18 '20 at 2:22
  • 1
    You won't owe taxes in Germany if you stay less than half a year. Even if you move to Germany definitively, the Finanzamt won't send you a tax bill until you pass the threshold of 183 days or whatever it is...but then they'll send you a bill going back to the day you arrived. So 90 days will be no problem in that sense. The IRS will consider you to have worked abroad for all the days you work while in Germany. As you can exclude foreign income, this may sound like you can work in Germany tax-free for 90 days...but I wouldn't count on it. Check with the IRS.
    – Kyralessa
    May 19 '20 at 7:30

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