I reside in Germany and have an Aufenthaltstitel.

During the Visa process for working in Germany, my employer obtained a special authorisation from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Agency for Work) that made proving my work experience unnecessary.

However, now I wish to change companies, and according to the German Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Authority), I need to provide "comparable qualification that you have acquired through at least three years of professional experience during the past seven years".

However in my country (Brazil) we don't have Arbeitzeugnis (Recommendation Letters) like in Germany, we use a government issued document for documenting experience. The Ausländerbehörde said it's risky giving just that one and told me to "try to get the letters just in case". They told me they can't provide any sample, though, and I also came empty handed after asking expat relocation agencies.

Some of my previous employees overseas have agreed to sign a document proving I worked, as long as it's not a "recommendation" per se, since my previous managers are long gone at this point.

Does anyone know of how such document should be structured, or if there's anything else I can use instead?

1 Answer 1


Does anyone know of how such document should be structured, or if there's anything else I can use instead?

I would suggest something that is equivalent to what we call "einfaches Arbeitszeugnis" here: a statement of the company that you worked there for a specified time and what your role was. It's called "einfach" (simple) because it does not contain any judgement on how well you did or any reason why you are no longer employed. In Germany this is normally used for simple jobs or if the employee does not want their next employer know about their last employers opinion about the quality of work. Normally people get a "qualifiziertes Arbeitszeugnis", the multi page recommendation letter you mentioned. But since you only need to prove you did work there and the "Amt" is not interested in whether you did great or just average, this should be perfect. Perfect because it contains everything they need, plus it's a recognized format here, you are not reinventing the wheel.

An "einfaches Arbeitszeugnis" normally contains the following things in this order:

  • Briefkopf (Arbeitgeber) / Letterhead of the employer
  • Überschrift (Arbeitszeugnis) / headline "Arbeitszeugnis"
  • Vor-/Nachname Arbeitnehmer / First and Last name of the employee
  • Geburtsdatum/-ort / Birth date and birth place of the employee
  • Beschäftigungsdauer / Length of employment
  • Art der Beschäftigung + Tätigkeiten / Role and Tasks this role had
  • Schlussformulierung / Final sentence. Something like "We thank them for their service and wish them the best for the future"
  • Ort, Datum, Unterschrift / Place, Date and Signature

So for example, it could read (I left out the final sentence, it's just German manners really, it doesn't serve a purpose):

ACME Corp.
Roadstreet 6
12345 CityTown

Certificate of employment

Mr John Doe, born 14.03.1988 in CityTown

Was employed from 01. Oct. 2005 to 31. Dec. 2009

As a Junior Widget Maker producing our patented Cranukle Widgets.

Citytown, 08.01.2010, {some scribbled name} (James Joker, CEO)

Obviously, it can be in a language of the employers choice (probably their native language), but you might need a certified translation into German. But since this is hardly half a page, a full page if the company is really, really chatty, it should not be too costly. It has hardly any text other than the plain facts needed (who was employed in what capacity for how long) and it passes no judgement whatsoever. Just facts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.