Germany: Eligibility and Guidelines for Students and Recent Graduates

Unlock the Doors to Your Dream Internship in Germany

Are you dreaming of an internship in Germany but unsure of your eligibility? Look no further! That’s where Piktalent comes in. We’re experts in internship arrangements and can guide you through the process no matter your nationality or personal situation.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the eligibility requirements and guidelines for internships in Germany, so you can be fully prepared for this exciting opportunity. 

Mandatory Internship

as an integral part of certain degree programs and are required for graduation. They are typically specified in the study and examination regulations of the program.

Voluntary Internships

are not compulsory and are undertaken by choice. They can be pursued by individuals at any stage of their education or career. Voluntary internships offer flexibility in terms of duration.

International Internships

involve working in a foreign country, including Germany. International internships can be either mandatory or voluntary, and the duration depends on the specific program or agreement.

There are various types of internships available in Germany, catering to different needs and circumstances. It’s important to note that the availability and specific characteristics of internships may vary between different industries, companies, and educational institutions in Germany. It’s advisable to research and consult with relevant sources, such as career services or internship coordinators, to explore the internship options available in a specific field or location.

In Germany, the minimum wage for internships depends on the duration of the internship and whether it is considered a voluntary or mandatory internship. As of 2023, the minimum wage for internships that meet certain criteria (not mandatory and longer than 3 months) is €12 per hour. This minimum wage applies to most industries and sectors. A full-time intern for a non-mandatory internship which lasts at least 3 months earns the German Federal minimum wage of €12 an hour or €1,920 per month.

Eligibility Requirements for Internships in Germany

Germany, renowned for its world-class universities, is also a top choice for internships and professional training. If you’re considering an internship in Germany, it’s essential to be updated with the latest regulations and requirements.

General Eligibility:

  1. Open to All: Germany welcomes everyone, irrespective of age, gender, or religious beliefs, to pursue internships or training in their field of interest.
  2. Language Proficiency: While some institutions might require fluency in German, others might be content with basic German skills. However, for international companies, English often suffices.
  3. Pre-arranged Internship: Before heading to Germany, it’s crucial to secure your internship or training position. This is especially vital for non-EU nationals who need a visa.

For EU/EEA Nationals:

  • Enjoy the freedom of movement within the EU, allowing them to work and intern in Germany without restrictions.
  • No need for a work permit or visa.
  • However, specific requirements or regulations might be imposed by the employer or educational institution.

For Non-EU Nationals:

  1. Visa Requirements: If you hail from countries outside the EU/EEA, you’ll likely need a visa for your internship. This includes countries like Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the USA. While these nationals don’t need a visa for entry, they must apply for a residence permit upon arrival in Germany to legally pursue their internship.
  2. Work Permit: If you intend to start working immediately upon entering Germany, you’ll need to apply for a work permit in advance.
  3. Documentation: Along with the standard visa application documents, you’ll need a ZAV consent letter from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, a deputation/no-objection letter from your local employer or university, an approval letter from the German company/institution, and proof of qualification.

Financial Considerations:

  • Not all companies and institutions offer paid internships in Germany. Ensure you’re aware of the payment terms before committing.
  • As of 2023, foreigners in Germany need a minimum of €934 per month for living expenses, totaling €11,208 annually.

Duration & Extension:

  • The maximum validity of an internship/training visa is 12 months, depending on the length of your internship.
  • Extensions might be possible under specific circumstances, such as the company wishing to extend your internship.

Family Members:

  • If you’re in Germany on an Internship/Training Visa and wish for your family to join, they can apply for a Tourist/Visitor visa. However, a Family Reunion Visa isn’t applicable in this scenario.

It’s important to note that while there are no legal barriers, some internships may still have specific requirements or regulations imposed by the employer or educational institution offering the internship. These requirements may include language proficiency or specific qualifications.
Take a look at our section on documentation for Students and Employees in Germany, in the right column.

German Student visas

Internship regulations for national and foreigner

German Working Visas

Job regulations for foreigners

Guidelines for Internships in Germany

Here are some guidelines to help you find and secure an internship in Germany:

  1. Start your search early: Begin your search at least six months before you plan to start your internship.

  2. Use online resources: Piktalent and job portals are great way to find internship opportunities.

  3. Network: Attend job fairs and networking events to meet potential employers and make connections.

  4. Prepare your application: Make sure your application includes a cover letter, CV, and any relevant certifications or diplomas.

  5. Be patient: The application process for internships in Germany can be lengthy, so be prepared to wait.

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Germany Cultural Considerations

When participating in an internship in Germany, it’s important to understand and respect the cultural norms and practices of the country. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

is key

Germans place a high value on punctuality, so be sure to arrive on time for meetings and appointments.


Dress conservatively and professionally for your internship.


Germans value direct communication, so be clear and concise when communicating with your colleagues.

Piktalent Services for Germany

We can provide a range of services to make the internship experience unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discovering eligibility criteria for internships in Germany is essential as they can vary based on the type of internship, the offering company or organization, and specific regulations from educational institutions.

Typically, internships are open to enrolled students or recent graduates from German or international universities.

Proficiency in German or English may be required, depending on the internship’s nature and the employer’s preferences.

Some internships may have specific educational prerequisites, such as enrollment in a specific field or completion of a certain number of semesters.

In Germany, the requirement for a training agreement, also known as an internship contract or training contract, depends on the type of internship and the duration of the internship. Here’s a general guideline:

  1. Mandatory Internships: If the internship is a mandatory part of an educational program, such as an integrated component of a degree program, a specific training agreement may not be required. The regulations governing the mandatory internship are usually outlined in the study and examination regulations of the educational institution.

  2. Voluntary Internships: For voluntary internships in Germany, especially those lasting longer than three months, it is advisable and common practice to have a training agreement in place. The training agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the internship, including the duration, responsibilities, working hours, compensation (if applicable), and other relevant details. This agreement serves as a legal document that protects the rights and obligations of both the intern and the employer.

While it is not legally required to have a training agreement for all types of internships in Germany, having one is highly recommended. A training agreement helps ensure clarity and transparency between the intern and the employer, outlining the expectations and providing a reference for any potential disputes that may arise during the internship.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements and regulations may vary depending on the individual circumstances, the company or organization offering the internship, and any agreements or policies set by the educational institution or program. It is advisable to consult with the employer or educational institution to determine if a training agreement is necessary for the specific internship opportunity you are considering.

If the internship is a mandatory part of an educational program, a specific training agreement may not be required. The regulations for mandatory internships are typically outlined in the study and examination regulations of the educational institution.

For voluntary internships, particularly those lasting longer than three months, it is highly recommended to have a training agreement. This agreement clarifies the terms, including duration, responsibilities, working hours, compensation (if applicable), and other relevant details.

While it is not a legal requirement for all internships in Germany, having a training agreement is strongly advised. It ensures transparency and protects the rights and obligations of both the intern and the employer.

A training agreement provides clarity, sets expectations, and serves as a reference in case of any disputes during the internship. It’s a valuable document that safeguards the interests of both parties involved.

In Germany, there are several industries that are popular for internships due to the country’s strong economy and diverse business sectors. Here are some of the industries that often offer internship opportunities:

  1. Automotive Industry: Germany is known for its automotive industry, with renowned companies such as Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, and Audi. Internships in this sector can involve various roles, including engineering, research and development, marketing, supply chain management, and production.

  2. Engineering and Manufacturing: Germany has a strong reputation for its engineering and manufacturing sectors. Internships in fields such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and manufacturing provide valuable hands-on experience in renowned companies across different industries.

  3. Information Technology (IT): The IT sector in Germany is thriving, with numerous startups, technology companies, and software development firms. Internships in IT can encompass areas like software engineering, web development, data analysis, cybersecurity, and digital marketing.

  4. Finance and Banking: Frankfurt, the financial hub of Germany, is home to many banks and financial institutions. Internships in finance and banking can include roles in investment banking, asset management, financial analysis, risk management, and corporate finance.

  5. Consulting: Germany hosts various consulting firms that offer internships in areas such as management consulting, strategy, human resources, and operations. These internships provide exposure to diverse industries and projects.

  6. Renewable Energy: With its commitment to sustainability, Germany is a leader in renewable energy. Internships in this sector can involve working on projects related to solar energy, wind energy, bioenergy, and energy efficiency.

  7. Media and Communications: Internships in media and communications offer opportunities in journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, and digital media. Germany has a vibrant media landscape, with numerous publishing houses, broadcasting companies, and advertising agencies.

  8. Hospitality and Tourism: Germany is a popular tourist destination, offering internships in the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, event management, and tourism agencies. These internships provide valuable customer service and hospitality management experience.

It’s important to note that these industries are not exhaustive, and there are internships available in various other sectors as well. The availability of internships can also vary depending on the region and the specific companies or organizations.

  • English-Speaking Internships: Some international companies offer internships where fluency in English is the main requirement. German language skills may not be necessary for these positions.

  • German Language Requirement: Many internships in Germany, particularly in local companies or industries where German is commonly used, prefer or require proficiency in the German language. This is especially true for customer-facing roles and positions involving interaction with German clients or suppliers.

  • Level of German Proficiency: The required level of German proficiency can vary. Some internships may require basic conversational skills, while others may require advanced proficiency. Carefully review internship descriptions for specific language requirements.

  • Advantages of German Skills: Even if not mandatory, having some knowledge of German can be advantageous, showcasing your adaptability and ability to communicate with colleagues and clients in their native language.

  • Language Learning Opportunities: Consider learning German before or during your internship to enhance your experience and open up more opportunities. Language courses are widely available.

Remember to thoroughly review internship postings and consider the language requirements specified by the employers. Networking and reaching out to program coordinators can provide further insights into language expectations for internships in Germany.

In Germany, internships can be paid or unpaid, depending on certain factors. Here’s an overview:

  1. Mandatory Internships: Generally, mandatory internships integrated into a degree program are not paid. However, some companies may offer compensation or a stipend for mandatory internships, but it is not guaranteed. The primary purpose of these internships is to gain practical experience related to the academic program.

  2. Voluntary Internships: If a voluntary internship in Germany lasts longer than three months, the intern is entitled to receive at least the minimum wage. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the current minimum wage in Germany is €9.60 per hour. This minimum wage applies to most industries and sectors. However, voluntary internships that are shorter than three months may be unpaid, depending on the company or organization.

  3. Summer Internships: Summer internships can be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer. Larger companies or organizations are more likely to offer paid summer internships, while smaller companies or startups may offer unpaid positions. It’s essential to inquire about the compensation policy when applying for summer internships.

  4. Graduates/Traineeship Programs: Graduates/traineeship programs in Germany typically offer a salary or stipend. These programs are structured and provide comprehensive training and work experience. The salary offered may vary depending on the company, industry, and program duration.

  5. Research Internships: Research internships can be paid or unpaid, depending on the specific research project and the funding available. Some research institutions or projects offer stipends or grants to support research interns, while others may provide a regular salary.

It’s important to research and inquire about the compensation policy when applying for internships in Germany. Employers should clearly communicate whether the internship is paid or unpaid, as well as any additional benefits or allowances provided during the internship period.

Internships in Germany can vary in duration depending on several factors, including the type of internship, the requirements of the educational institution or internship provider, and the agreement between the intern and the host organization. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Mandatory Internship: Mandatory internships, which are integrated into a degree program, typically have a fixed duration specified by the study and examination regulations. The length of a mandatory internship can range from a few weeks to several months, but it is commonly around two to six months.

  2. Voluntary Internship: Voluntary internships offer more flexibility in terms of duration. The length of a voluntary internship can be negotiated between the intern and the host organization based on their mutual agreement and the needs of both parties. It can range from a few weeks to several months or even longer.

  3. Summer Internship: Summer internships in Germany are usually shorter in duration and typically last from six to twelve weeks. They are a popular option for students to gain practical experience during their summer break.

  4. Research Internship: Research internships, often pursued by students in scientific or academic fields, can have varying durations depending on the nature of the research project. These internships can range from a few months to a year or more, depending on the research objectives and funding available.

It’s important to note that the specific duration of an internship in Germany can vary widely, and it is essential to consult the internship provider or educational institution for precise information regarding the expected duration of the internship.

Whether you need a visa to do an internship in Germany depends on your nationality, the duration of the internship, and the purpose of your visit. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. EU/EEA Nationals: If you are a citizen of a European Union (EU) member state or a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), you generally do not need a visa to do an internship in Germany. You can enter and stay in Germany for the duration of your internship with your valid passport or national identity card.

  2. Non-EU/EEA Nationals:

    a. Short-Term Internships (up to 90 days): If your internship duration is less than 90 days, you may be eligible to enter Germany on a Schengen visa, which allows you to stay for a limited period. The Schengen visa is typically issued for tourism, business meetings, or short-term training purposes, including internships.

    b. Long-Term Internships (more than 90 days): For internships exceeding 90 days, you will generally need to apply for a national visa or a residence permit before entering Germany. The specific visa or permit you require may depend on factors such as the purpose of your internship, your qualifications, and the regulations of the German embassy or consulate in your home country.

    Visa Application Process: The visa application process can vary depending on your country of residence. It often involves providing relevant documentation, such as an internship offer letter, proof of financial means, health insurance coverage, and a valid passport. It is advisable to consult the German embassy or consulate in your home country for the most accurate and up-to-date information on visa requirements and application procedures.

It’s important to note that visa regulations can change, and individual circumstances may have specific requirements. Therefore, it is recommended to consult the German embassy or consulate or seek advice from immigration authorities to determine the visa requirements that apply to your situation and the specific internship you are pursuing in Germany.

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