FAQs on au pairing in Germany
We've collected some of the most frequently asked questions about the au pair programme in Germany and answered them here.
Our au pair has been given a tax identification number - what does this mean?
Our current au pair recently received a personal identification number from the Federal Central Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern). This number is used for tax purposes. None of our previous au pairs ever received such a number. Does this mean that au pairs have now become liable to pay income tax?
First, we need to point out that we cannot and may not provide you with any legally binding information.
However, we have researched this matter and found the following information. Here is what the press office of the Federal Central Tax Office wrote to us: "Every natural person having his/her domicile or habitual residence in Germany is subject to income tax without restriction. For this reason, every person is given a tax identification number as a classification criterion for financial administration. The fact alone that they are given a tax identification number does not automatically lead to any tax-related consequences either for the host family or for the au pair. Such consequences will only ensue when a specific tax liability is determined in the course of an individual review."
With regard to tax liability of au pairs, we received the following information: An au pair usually receives a low income. Therefore, an au pair does not have to file a tax return in Germany, according to our tax expert. In case of any doubt, individual cases should be reviewed in more detail. For further information, we suggest that you consult your tax advisor for more individual assistance.
Terminating an au pair contract: How should this be handled?
My Russian au pair and I are not getting along well with each other. We have talked many times about the situation, but have not been able to reach a satisfactory compromise. Our expectations are simply too different. I want to terminate the au pair contract and want to know what needs to be considered.
Speaking frankly and openly about your mutual expectations is definitely the right thing to do when encountering problems with each other. Should you repeatedly fail to find to a solution and come to the conclusion that a termination is the best way forward, please abide by the notice period agreed upon in the au pair contract. This period is usually two weeks.
- Continue to deal with the situation fairly. Talk to your au pair about what is to happen next. There are two basic options, either she will find another host family or she will return home.
- Because your au pair entered Germany on a visa, she cannot remain in Germany if she does not find another host family. If she leaves Germany before the 12 months of her visa are over, this will render it impossible for her to come back to Germany again to work as an au pair. Talk to her about these conditions.
- If your au pair would like to change to another host family, she needs to be aware of the regulations governing this situation. Changing host families must basically be approved by the relevant Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde). Please contact the authorities to find out if the change can be granted and what exactly will be needed to obtain approval. Note that there are some regulatory differences between various regions in Germany.
- The change to a new host family should take place seamlessly. The au pair should not leave her current host family and temporarily stay over at her friends' before moving in with her new host family, for example. This could result in a rejection of the change request by the local Immigration Office responsible for the new host family. Should the change be rejected, the au pair will have to leave Germany as soon as possible.
- You may wish to help your au pair find a new family, although we know that this may not be an easy thing to do. Please inform the Immigration Office as soon as a new host family has been found. You can also ask your au pair to help you in finding a new au pair to replace her.
How to find an au pair when you live in a rural area rather than a city
I live in a rural area and would like to host an au pair. Language course are held in the next village, 14 kilometres away from us. The next town is about 40 km away. Therefore, I wonder whether you could tell me, if a 14-kilometre-drive would be reasonable for an au pair? Do I even have a chance of finding an au pair in such a situation?
You are right: most au pairs prefer larger cities to the countryside. Thus, your choice of possible au pairs will be somewhat reduced. However, the most important thing for you is to find one au pair who fits well to your family.
Here are a few tips to help you with your search:
- Search for an au pair who likes sports and an active lifestyle, somebody who, for example, likes outdoor activities. An au pair, who loves to go shopping or to the cinema every day, would most likely not be happy in your home.
- Emphasize the advantages of life in the country and of your own family in the free texts of your profile on AuPairWorld. Think about which activities are offered close to your home. Are there horseback riding opportunities or nice hiking trails?
- For your au pair it would be a great offer to be allowed to use your car for getting to his/her language course. What about public transport in your area? Are there buses or trains regularly? All these points would be an additional plus, which you should definitely highlight in your profile.
- Communicating actively helps with finding an au pair. Posing detailed questions, telephoning or skyping frequently helps enormously in selecting an au pair who really will fit with your family. Inform your prospective au pair about the specific aspects of your living situation and point out that having a driving licence and sufficient practice as a driver will be necessary.
- Depending on the au pair's country of origin, the meaning of "living in the country" may have a different significance. In Canada or Finland, for example, many families live in quite remote situations. In Germany, which is densely populated, "living in the country" may mean something entirely different.
This applies to your situation and to the fact that your au pair would have to drive 14 kilometres to attend his/her language course. This is still in a reasonable range. After all, the most important thing is that your au pair feels happy with your family and that you both get along well with each other.
Language test at the German Consulate
Unfortunately when I took the German language test at the Consulate the first time, I failed the oral exam. Can I take the test again?
We're sorry that we don't have a generally applicable answer to this question. At the Consulate in the USA, it is possible to take the test again. However, in general, there is no set rule for German embassies abroad regarding how many times someone can take the language test.
We therefore recommend that au pairs contact the German Embassy in their home country in advance and find out whether it is possible to take the exam more than once. These regulations are set individually by each German Diplomatic Representation and therefore vary from country to country.
Are the costs for an au pair tax-deductible?
Yes, the costs for an au pair are tax-deductible in Germany. But please note: The pocket money payments to the au pair will only be accepted for tax purposes if they are paid to a bank account belonging to the au pair. Our recommendation: An account for your au pair can easily be established at a German bank or savings institute. Ask at your own bank whether they offer inexpensive or free current accounts for young people or students. For further questions regarding tax deductibility, please contact your tax advisor.