Documents for job application in Germany: Your Checklist

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Written By Alex

When I decided to move to Germany with my wife, one of the first things I took care of was getting my work-related documents translated for the German job market. During the research, I learned what documents I needed for a successful job application in Germany.

This article provides you with a complete list of essential documents and why they are crucial for your application. I hope you find this information valuable for your future applications.

Key takeaways

  1. Applicants in Germany should hand over several supporting documents.
  2. Since you can’t expect someone is familiar with the language of the country you have lived in so far, it’s essential to translate those documents legally.
  3. In the following paragraphs, you will find a list of essential documents for your job application in Germany.
  4. The first ones are language certificates, especially if you have any for the German language.
  5. School leaving documents can be vital if you are relatively new in your profession and do not have a long work history in your home country.
  6. University degrees are essential throughout your career. There are specific professions in Germany, like doctors or lawyers, that require you to have those recognized in Germany.
  7. If you did not go to university but finished a vocational school, translate the final certificates.
  8. There are several professions for which you need your vocational training certificates recognized in Germany.
  9. Letters of recommendation and evidence for an internship or voluntary work can be valuable during your employment inquiry in Germany.

Legally translate all your documents for when you apply for a job in Germany

It’s common to send the documents mentioned in the following paragraphs alongside your German CV and your German cover letter. Since you are most likely coming from a non-German-speaking country, it’s essential translate your documents into German.

But why should you legally translate all your documents for your job submission in Germany? German employers need to be sure that those documents are translated by a professional. And that the content of the translated document reflects 100% of the original document.

Documents with a high status in an employment application in Germany:

  • school leaving certificates
  • university certificates
  • other training certificates
  • and recommendation letters

Don’t even think about falsifying your documents

If you would fake their content or do not tell the truth about some of them, legal consequences might follow if an employer finds out.

In Germany, there are cases where applicants have been brought to court for forgery of documents or “Urkundenfälschung.” Getting legally translated documents prevents you from such an unpleasant outcome.

Even if you don’t need or should attach all of them to every application, they might come in handy when your future employer asks you to provide copies of the officially translated documents. 

Language certificates for your application for employment in Germany

Germans tend not to include any language certificates because everyone expects you to speak and write German fluently when born and raised in Germany.

In your case, the situation is different.

Since you are coming to Germany from abroad, people will closely look at your language skills.

By providing language certificates that are correctly translated, you avoid already most of the difficult questions. Or even being not considered for your new job.

Before coming to Germany, please make sure that you at least have German skills at a B1 level or higher.

This will also help you with your visa application process for your job, as I mentioned in another article previously.

Also, if you learned any additional languages to a certain extent, get those attached to your application.

Nowadays, several companies are searching specifically for people capable of speaking English or other languages. So don’t be afraid of proving your experience there to your future employer.

School-leaving certificates

It’s common to attach your school-leaving certificates alongside all other documents to your job application in Germany. Those are important, especially if you are younger, as HR people like to see which subjects you’ve chosen during school and how you did.

Please consider only attaching them if you have no long work history. After a couple of years of experience in your profession, nobody should ask you for your school-leaving certificates. Your professional experience outweighs your education to some extent.

Since you might need them at some point within your first years living in Germany, it would be helpful to translate those professionally, alongside the other documents mentioned below.

University certificates for your job application in Germany

More critical than school-leaving certificates are certificates from your university. On the one hand, university certificates are essential for your future employer. On the other hand, they are crucial for the recognition of your professional education in Germany.

For both situations, you need to show legally translated documents to the “Ausländerbehörde” or your new employer. You will also need your education recognized if you are willing to work in a regulated profession. Good examples of those are doctors or lawyers.

According to the website “Make it in Germany,” established by the Federal Government of Germany, Computer scientists, economists, and others will not need this kind of recognition .

You will find a step-by-step guide on this website and how to get your university degree recognized.

Vocational training / training certificates

It is the same for any vocational training or training certificates in general. Those vocational training certificates are vital for having a foreign professional qualification recognized. There are certain types of professions where this is mandatory.

You can find more about this kind of professions in a list from Bundesagentur für Arbeit.

The “Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung” bibb released an online form in English. There you can check whether you need recognition or even need to go to school for some time.

Letters of recommendation are crucial for your application

Letters of recommendation from former employers are a critical element in your application.

In Germany, it’s common to receive those after leaving a company. If you have such references from your former employers from your country, I recommend getting those translated into German.

It’s common to attach all “Arbeitszeugnisse” or letters of recommendation to applications from the past ten years.

In Germany, it’s also not very uncommon to ask for a “Zwischenzeugnis” or interim reference from your current employer. You may add those references if you can ask your current employer.

Nowadays, it’s getting even more common that sometimes employers will call one or two of your former employers to find out more about you as an employee.


If you are a job starter, you might have gone through some internships during or after university or your vocational training called “Ausbildung” in Germany. If you have any reference letters from those internships, get those translated into German.

An internship is indicated in the resume if the activity performed is directly related to the job advertisement. The clearer this connection is in content and subject matter, the better.

For example, suppose you are applying for a machine operator job and have already worked on a machine under supervision and guidance.

In that case, you will emphasize this aspect in particular.

Voluntary work

Employers highly value voluntary activities in Germany. They are a sign of commitment and other interests outside of work.

Suppose you have previously volunteered for an animal welfare organization, the environment, immigrants, or other humanitarian areas. It is worth having endorsements translated. But you might want to consider not to mention every “Ehrenamt” or voluntary work to your future employer.

Before you mention a volunteer activity in your application, think about what conclusions it draws about you. Ideally, your involvement is:

  • Relevant to the job: Your involvement’s moral values and ideals fit the company. The skills and soft skills you’ve acquired will help you in your job.
  • Social: Commitment in which you directly help other people (e.g., caregiver in an older people’s home) is more welcome than, for example, board membership in a fishing club.
  • Non-hazardous: If there is a risk of injury (such as volunteer firefighting), employers may conclude that you may be out.
  • Not too time-intensive: The focus should be your job, and you should always have enough time and energy to work.
  • Long-term and regular: character development takes time. Voluntary activities that only last a few days or are only one-off are of little use in this respect.

There is only one type of engagement you should not consider mentioning: political engagement. And you should make sure that you are not mentioning too many social engagements as it might leave the impression that you are more interested in voluntary work than your work.


As you can see, many documents can support your success in getting a new job in Germany. That is why you should include in your job application in Germany following documents: school to university degrees, vocational training certificates, reference letters from former employers, and references for your voluntary work.


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