German Residence Permit
for Athletes and Coaches

German Residence Permit for Athletes and Coaches

Professional sport today is characterised by a high degree of international mobility. However, such a transfer abroad is usually accompanied by numerous legal challenges – whether it is applying for a residence permit, family reunification or concluding an employment contract.

As a multidisciplinary full-service law firm, Schlun & Elseven has excellent expertise and many years of experience in dealing with the complex requirements of German immigration and residence law. Our lawyers will take care of the entire application process for the required residence permit and will also assist you in resolving any sports and employment law issues to ensure that your stay in Germany is a complete success.

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  • Application for residence permit & work permit

  • Family reunification

  • Recognition of sports qualifications

The Residence Permit for athletes/coaches

To come to Germany as an athlete/trainer from another EU country, you must first have a residence permit. This is a temporary residence permit that allows you to live in Germany for a certain time (Section 7 German Residence Act / Aufenthaltsgesetz ). To be allowed to work in Germany, the residence permit must have been issued for employment.

According to Section 22 German Employment Regulation, a residence permit for employment may be issued to professional sportspeople and professional coaches/trainers based on certain conditions. First of all, they must have an employment offer or contract with a German sports club or a sporting body. If this most basic requirement is met, the following three conditions apply:

  • The applicant must have reached the age of 16 years,
  • the association or institution pays a gross salary equal to at least 50 % of the income threshold for statutory pension insurance; and
  • the German umbrella association responsible for the sport confirms (in agreement with the German Olympic Sports Confederation -DOSB) the applicant’s athletic qualification as a professional athlete or their professional suitability as a trainer (depending on the situation).

To summarize; make sure that you are over 16 years old, that the responsible associations confirm your qualification and that your salary meets the minimum requirements. If you need support, our team will be happy to help you check whether you meet the legal requirements.

The Work Permit for athletes/coaches

To be allowed to work in Germany generally requires a work permit and the residence permit. However, as an athlete, you are exempt from this rule. In this case, granting a residence permit for employment does not require the approval of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency).

According to Section 9 No.12 of the Work Permit Regulation, the activity of a professional sportsman and trainer is considered employment – without requiring a work permit if:

  • They are employed in domestic sports clubs or comparable sports facilities.
  • They take part in competitive sports.
  • The relevant sports federation has confirmed their sporting qualification or their professional suitability as a trainer.
  • The association or institution pays a salary sufficient to cover their subsistence needs.

As an athlete or trainer, you do not need a work permit, having the status on a professional athlete/sportsperson entitles you to exercise your profession. However, the residence permit can only be granted under certain conditions. For example, a residence permit may be issued on condition that the player’s club must remain in a certain league or that sporting performance must remain at a certain level.

Residence Permits for Referees and Others in the Area of Sport

Athletes are not the only people who can obtain residency permits due to their work in the world of professional sport. People employed for and during international sporting events may also apply for residence permits. This group includes those involved in the preparation, participation, implementation and follow-up of international sporting events and who have been authorised to do so by the respective organising committee. Furthermore, the Federal Government must have issued an implementation guarantee.

According to Section 23 of the Employment Ordinance, these are in particular the following persons:

  • The representatives, employees and agents of associations or organisations, including referees and assistant referees,
  • the athletes and paid staff of the participating teams,
  • the representatives of the official association partners and the official licence partners,
  • the representatives of the media, including the technical staff and the employees of the media partners.

What is the period of validity of the Residence Permit?

If you meet the aforementioned requirements as a professional athlete and sportsperson and have been granted a residence permit on this basis, you may remain in Germany for the duration of your employment.

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Practice Group: German Immigration Law

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