Secondments – legal requirements and FAQs

Secondment is when staff are directed by their employers to work in another country. At the University of Konstanz, it is considered secondment when, for example, staff go abroad for business trips or work in other countries.

If you are planning to travel abroad on business, you will need confirmation of secondment.

The University of Konstanz strongly recommends getting this confirmation of secondment for all business trips that take you abroad for more than 7 days.

More and more countries perform checks in the workplace or require valid confirmation of secondment to enter the country. For this reason, please factor in the requirements for the respective country when planning your business travel abroad. Please also request your confirmation of secondment as early as possible.

Important information

Confirmation of secondment for stays lasting more than 7 days

Each business trip abroad is considered secondment, even if it lasts just one day or even a few hours. The legal requirement is: Confirmation of secondment is required for every business trip abroad. As this requirement is absolutely not practical, the University of Konstanz has decided that confirmation of secondment is required only for stays lasting more than 7 days.

The confirmation of secondment

  • provides the basis for reimbursement of the medical expenses as defined by German law, in case of accident or illness
  • prevents double payments of social security contributions (in countries with a social security agreement with Germany)
  • avoids trouble with customs or tax authorities
  • avoids punishment (e.g. fines) for not being able to produce the document
  • in the EU/EEA and Switzerland, it also regulates entitlements, for example, for statutory pension insurance and unemployment insurance

Please make sure to request confirmation of secondment in good time before your business trip, and take care to do so yourself, as Human Resources will not remind you of it.

Risks and disadvantages of undetermined social security situations

Please ensure that your social security situation is clarified!

Read the following notes carefully and take suitable measures, if necessary:

You absolutely need to have documentation of which country's social security laws apply in your case (valid confirmation of secondment) in order to avoid making social security payments in two countries and to ensure your corresponding entitlements are documented.

If the legal situation remains unresolved for your period of secondment, you are exposed to the following risks, which can result in considerable disadvantages:

Risks arising from Beitragsrecht (contribution law):

  • Failing to pay the required social security contributions will result in mandatory back payments
  • Erroneously paid social security contributions are not eligible for reimbursement after a certain period of time has elapsed
  • Failing to pay your social security contributions in accordance with the rules constitutes a criminal offence as per § 266 Strafgesetzbuch (StGB, German Criminal Code) (withholding and embezzling wages and/or social security contributions)

Risks associated with Leistungsrecht (benefits law):

  • You are not insured although you have been paying social security contributions
  • Erroneously paid social security contributions may not count towards the qualifying period for certain benefits (e.g. entitlement to draw a pension or unemployment benefits)
  • If your social security status was not or wrongly determined and if, due to this, you were to receive benefits in line with “Leistungsrecht”, the university would be liable for damages

In order to document which country's social security laws applies, you will need to request confirmation of secondment for the sending country.

Please remember to request this confirmation in good time before you travel, and please contact the Social Security Advisors. We will gladly give you tips and assist you with the application process.

Get A1 confirmation of secondment faster via the LBV-Kundenportal (customer portal)

The LBV receives your A1 confirmation of secondment in the form of a PDF document from the corresponding social security insurance provider. If you are registered with the LBV-Kundenportal, then you can download the A1 confirmation form there. This means, you can receive it much faster than if you have it sent to your home address.

Another advantage: You can show your A1 confirmation form at any time using your smartphone, and you do not have to carry around the paper document.

To find out how to register with the LBV-Kundenportal, go to the "LBV Kundenportal + JobTicket" section of our website.

Income tax

If you would like to live outside Germany for a longer period of time and thus de-register as a resident, your tax identification number will not be available for this period. This means that the LBV will calculate your income taxes in the category 6 instead of your previous tax category, and you will have to pay much more income tax.

You can avoid this situation by asking the Social Security Advisors about applying for limited tax liability in Germany for the period in which you will not be a resident of Germany. We would then file an application and the tax office responsible for your German workplace would issue you a tax identification number so that your income tax would be calculated on the basis of tax category 1, which is much more moderate.

If, for example, you were in tax category 3 before leaving Germany, you will have this category again when you return to Germany. This means, if you were in tax category 1 while you were outside Germany, you would be able to claim the relatively low difference between tax category 1 and tax category 3 on the corresponding German income tax return once you are back in Germany.

Obligation to register/de-register as a resident (Bundesmeldegesetz BMG (Federal Act on Registration))

If you move house within Germany, you are obligated to register your new address with the corresponding local authority (e.g. Bürgerbüro (citizens services) or Rathaus (city hall)) within two weeks.

If you move outside Germany to live and work abroad (e.g. for a secondment) registration/de-registration deadlines also apply.

Please note that you can face high fines for violating the law, so we highly recommend contacting the corresponding local authorities to find out which requirements apply in your case.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Secondment to Switzerland: Do I need a work permit?

Yes, you definitely need a residence permit / work permit for Switzerland. This is still the case, even if you are working at the direction of the University of Konstanz, are paid by the university, work in rooms belonging to professors at the University of Konstanz, and this work only benefits the University of Konstanz. This means, it does not matter if you do not have an employment relationship with a Swiss company and Switzerland does not benefit in any way from your work.

Although Konstanz is located so close to the Swiss border, our university is not exempt from Swiss residence and labour law for business travel into Switzerland.  This is because Switzerland is not a member of the EU/EEA and thus does not benefit from the respective freedom of movement agreements. You absolutely must have a residence permit / work permit before leaving to work in Switzerland, otherwise you may be liable for expensive fines.

Please contact Carmen Vajda from the Social Security Advisors as soon as possible if you need to apply for these Swiss permits. We will advise you on the best type of residence permit / work permit for your individual case and how to apply for it.

Residence permits / work permits in Switzerland cost about 300 Swiss francs per application, valid for e.g. 120 days / calendar year.

Please plan your stay in Switzerland in good time, since some applications can take several weeks to process.

Advisory services

Outgoing Centre: guidance for stays abroad

International Office
Janek Domonell
Director of the Outgoing Centre
Phone: +49 7531 88-5093
Homepage: Outgoing Centre