Voluntary unemployment (sabbatical) and legal implications

8 posts in this topic

Hello! I would really appreciate some assistance in understanding the (legal) ramifications of the following situation, in order to make an informed decision before actually jumping into it:

 

I'm an EU citizen looking to move in with my girlfriend who currently works and lives in Germany (Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, if that makes any difference). Currently I am in voluntary unemployment, or otherwise put, I stopped working voluntarily and I am not receiving unemployment benefits, neither am I looking to receive such benefits. I am currently following a sort of passion project which doesn't produce any kind of income at the moment, so my intention is to remain unemployed (or at the most, a freelancer) for at least a few months after moving to Germany.

 

There are a few aspects that I would like to clarify:

 

1) Registration: we have already discussed with the landlord and he has absolutely no issues with me moving in. He will also sign the Anmeldung form which I will then take to the Bürgerbüro.

I am assuming that I will also need to then follow up with getting my Tax ID number, regardless of the fact that I will still be unemployed for the foreseeable future, is this correct? 

Also, as I understood, it is possible that soon after I will register I will also receive the letters from ARD claiming that I should be paying the TV/radio tax. Considering my girlfriend is already paying that tax for the respective address, what's the procedure to clarify this aspect with ARD? Is there any possibility to do this online? 

 

2) Unemployment: do I have the legal obligation to declare myself and my situation to Bundesagentur fur Arbeit or a similar entity, or this is not mandatory if I do not intend to either collect unemployment benefits (not sure I would even qualify) or require their assistance in finding a job?

 

If this is indeed mandatory, can I bypass it by registering as a freelancer, even if I don't have any income out of my activity and will likely not have in the next 6-8 months? 

 

My main concern here is that technically, I would personally not have any income on my name and I'm not sure what implications would this have. In practice, my girlfriend's salary is more than sufficient for us. Since, we're not yet married, but "only" partners, can we pass it somehow as shared income? 

 

3) Health insurance: I am aware that health insurance is mandatory and from what I've gathered until now, a private insurance company would very likely not approve my application as I don't personally have an income. Since, again, we're not married, is there any other option apart from going with GKV and paying the monthly fee? I've read about situations where even "partners" could be co-insured under the employed person's existing insurance, but that information is generally 5-6 years old, so not sure if it still applies. Currently my girlfriend is insured with AOK.

 

Also, I have paid state health insurance contributions in my home country for more than 2 years in the past 5 years, but not continuously in the past 12 months (already unemployed for a few months). As far as I understood this is the requirement in order to register for the public health insurance in Germany. I also have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if that's of any consequence.


I think these are our main concerns at the moment, but it is entirely possible that we're missing some other implications of this situation, so we would greatly appreciate any other related tips or warnings. Vielen dank!

 

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Overall I've think you've done quite a bit of research so far. :)

 

39 minutes ago, Drojdier said:

Also, as I understood, it is possible that soon after I will register I will also receive the letters from ARD claiming that I should be paying the TV/radio tax. Considering my girlfriend is already paying that tax for the respective address, what's the procedure to clarify this aspect with ARD? Is there any possibility to do this online? 

 

When you get the letter, you just have to let them know that someone else is already paying and give them your girlfriend's name and account number.

 

Quote

2) Unemployment: do I have the legal obligation to declare myself and my situation to Bundesagentur fur Arbeit or a similar entity,

 

No.

 

Quote

3) Health insurance: I am aware that health insurance is mandatory and from what I've gathered until now, a private insurance company would very likely not approve my application as I don't personally have an income. Since, again, we're not married, is there any other option apart from going with GKV and paying the monthly fee? I've read about situations where even "partners" could be co-insured under the employed person's existing insurance, but that information is generally 5-6 years old, so not sure if it still applies. Currently my girlfriend is insured with AOK.

 

Since you are not married, you can't be co-insured by the AOK.

 

Quote

Also, I have paid state health insurance contributions in my home country for more than 2 years in the past 5 years, but not continuously in the past 12 months (already unemployed for a few months). As far as I understood this is the requirement in order to register for the public health insurance in Germany. I also have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if that's of any consequence.

 

How are you currently insured? Where were you living before you moved to Germany?

 

BTW, the 24 months of public health insurance in the EU within the past 5 years doesn't have to be immediately before arriving in Germany, but if you've had private health insurance it could be an issue.

 

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3 hours ago, Drojdier said:

Hello! I would really appreciate some assistance in understanding the (legal) ramifications of the following situation, in order to make an informed decision before actually jumping into it:

 

I'm an EU citizen looking to move in with my girlfriend who currently works and lives in Germany (Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, if that makes any difference). Currently I am in voluntary unemployment, or otherwise put, I stopped working voluntarily and I am not receiving unemployment benefits, neither am I looking to receive such benefits. I am currently following a sort of passion project which doesn't produce any kind of income at the moment, so my intention is to remain unemployed (or at the most, a freelancer) for at least a few months after moving to Germany.

 

There are a few aspects that I would like to clarify:

 

1) Registration: we have already discussed with the landlord and he has absolutely no issues with me moving in. He will also sign the Anmeldung form which I will then take to the Bürgerbüro.

I am assuming that I will also need to then follow up with getting my Tax ID number, regardless of the fact that I will still be unemployed for the foreseeable future, is this correct? 

Also, as I understood, it is possible that soon after I will register I will also receive the letters from ARD claiming that I should be paying the TV/radio tax. Considering my girlfriend is already paying that tax for the respective address, what's the procedure to clarify this aspect with ARD? Is there any possibility to do this online? 

 

2) Unemployment: do I have the legal obligation to declare myself and my situation to Bundesagentur fur Arbeit or a similar entity, or this is not mandatory if I do not intend to either collect unemployment benefits (not sure I would even qualify) or require their assistance in finding a job?

 

If this is indeed mandatory, can I bypass it by registering as a freelancer, even if I don't have any income out of my activity and will likely not have in the next 6-8 months? 

 

My main concern here is that technically, I would personally not have any income on my name and I'm not sure what implications would this have. In practice, my girlfriend's salary is more than sufficient for us. Since, we're not yet married, but "only" partners, can we pass it somehow as shared income? 

 

3) Health insurance: I am aware that health insurance is mandatory and from what I've gathered until now, a private insurance company would very likely not approve my application as I don't personally have an income. Since, again, we're not married, is there any other option apart from going with GKV and paying the monthly fee? I've read about situations where even "partners" could be co-insured under the employed person's existing insurance, but that information is generally 5-6 years old, so not sure if it still applies. Currently my girlfriend is insured with AOK.

 

Also, I have paid state health insurance contributions in my home country for more than 2 years in the past 5 years, but not continuously in the past 12 months (already unemployed for a few months). As far as I understood this is the requirement in order to register for the public health insurance in Germany. I also have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if that's of any consequence.


I think these are our main concerns at the moment, but it is entirely possible that we're missing some other implications of this situation, so we would greatly appreciate any other related tips or warnings. Vielen dank!

 

Good evening, Drojdier! Re health insurance: if you can prove you are still publicly insured in your home country in Europe, you can apply for voluntary membership of German public insurance as someone " living off savings " ie NOT unemployed or self-employed..but just not working...Would cost about 180 euros a month. BUT you must initiate this within 3 months of registering in Germany...otherwise, that option evaporates...

 

OR

you could take out a BaFin-recognized private international insurance. The cost is usually lower than German private insurance but it depends on your age etc and would have the disadvantage that any pre-existing health issues would be excluded from over--but acceptance into such a plan is guaranteed and with minimal paperwork.

 

Disclaimer: I´m an independent insurance broker and authorised advertiser on Toytown

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Thank you @engelchen and @john g. for the really useful pieces of information! Things are quite clearer now. I do have some follow-up questions though:

Considering that I wouldn't have to declare anything about my employment status, would I have any benefit from officially becoming a freelancer (not self-employed), keeping in mind that for the first 6-8 months this activity will probably not generate any kind of income? 

Since we intend to get married relatively soon, we're taking into account the option of me not moving into Germany until we are officially wed. In this scenario, would anything change in regards to my (legal) obligations as voluntarily unemployed? 

I'm also interested in the international insurance option that you have mentioned, John: would taking such an insurance prevent me from moving to public health insurance later on when/if I will get a regular job or when we'll get married and I could co-insure on my, then, wife's insurance? I read in several places that opting for private insurance will prevent you from moving (back?) to public insurance, but it might be a different situation or outdated information.

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1 hour ago, Drojdier said:

Considering that I wouldn't have to declare anything about my employment status, would I have any benefit from officially becoming a freelancer (not self-employed)

 

What do you mean? In Germany freelancers are by definition self-employed. 

 

When you have to either register a business or obtain a tax number as a freelancer depends on what you are doing.

 

How are you currently insured? 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Drojdier said:

Considering that I wouldn't have to declare anything about my employment status,

 

We have to declare that we will be getting self-employed (freelance) income to the tax authority when we start - use Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung für Einzelunternehmen.   It's a straightforward process.  You'd then be responsible for reporting on your business.

 

Health insurers also want to know our form of employment activity, I think?  (Long time since I joined up).

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On 11/1/2018, 10:35:50, engelchen said:

 

What do you mean? In Germany freelancers are by definition self-employed. 

 

When you have to either register a business or obtain a tax number as a freelancer depends on what you are doing.

 

How are you currently insured? 

 

 


Sorry for the late reply, I had to travel for quite a bit lately. My understanding is that while indeed freelancers are self-employed, it's only a specific subset of liberal activities such as artists, journalists, writers, etc. Self-employed could also mean having a one-man company (myself) whose purpose is to produce/sell/trade physical products, which would make it a different category from the the tax authority point of view. 

Now, the purpose of my question was the following: considering that I will not make any kind of income/profit out of my occupation (which falls under one of the liberal activities) for at least 7-8 months, would there be any benefit of registering officially as a freelancer? Of course, once I would be in the position that I would make an income, it's mandatory that I register as a freelancer with the Finanzamt.

Currently I am insured with mandatory state insurance (not in Germany) and have been so for the past 10 years+ . 

 

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36 minutes ago, Drojdier said:

 My understanding is that while indeed freelancers are self-employed, it's only a specific subset of liberal activities such as artists, journalists, writers, etc. 

 

Liberal activities? No, it is a much wider definition, as per the reply.  Selbständige and freiberuflich are synonyms on the registration form (Frageboden zur steuerlichen Erfassaung).

 

If we are practising our profession on a self-employment basis, we have to register. The key word as used on the registration is "activity".   Whether we make money from it or not does not determine requirements for registering and reporting.   Many self-employed entities do not make money, at least in their initial stages, and many more are only ever very small scale.

 

Personally, I don't have a registration if I am not active.  I'm on career break at the moment and so I terminated it.  I prefer not to have connections to the state I do not need.   And it can easily be set up again.   Others prefer to keep it going.

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