Since 2002, when the Prostitution Act (Act Regulating the Legal Situation for Prostitutes) came into force, sex work is no longer regarded as immoral. It has been recognised as an activity which one can engage in as an employee and/or on a self-employed basis. However, this recognition is not sufficient for migrant sex workers (non-EU members) to enter the country and obtain a residence permit for the purpose of prostitution.


The new Prostitution Law in Germany

The newest legal regulation of sex work in Germany is the Prostitution Protection Act, applicable since July 2017. Since then it is mandatory for every sex worker to personally register before they start working or if they already are working in sex work.

This registration involves two obligatory consultations: a health and a legal one. Depending in which federal state and city it is proceeded, it may take place at a health centre, governmental building or even a police station.

The health consultation is confidential and must be performed before the legal consultation and registration. Both consultations shall provide sex workers with information about their rights and obligations, on health and social counselling centres in the city, and on how to access help in an emergency. 

After the registration a certificate is handed out. Sex workers are obligated to carry with them both the health and the registration certificate while working, in order to be able to show them to the brothel manager, the owner of an escort agency, or during a police control.

The registration certificate is valid throughout Germany. Federal states may, however, issue their own additional rules about where the registration certificate is valid. 

To register sex workers need following requirements:

- The certificate that the person attended the health consultation.

- A registered address (Meldeadresse) or an address where they can receive post. Some authorities accept an address in the home country.  

- Two recent passport photos, a valid ID or passport, and sometimes a document confirming the named address (Meldebescheinigung)

- Non-EU members must provide a work permit

- Both the health certificate and the registration can be issued on an ALIAS name.

Depending on the federal state, the registration may be free of charge or not. Both consultations – the health and the legal one - should be held in a language that the person understands.

More information on the new Prostitution Law under the section SEX WORK of this website.


Citizens from EU member states

Citizens of the EU member states have the freedom to stay as employees, for purposes of finding work or of vocational training. In addition, they have the right to a self-employed occupation without establishing themselves.

They are allowed to be dependently employed or self-employed in the prostitution sector. They must register their occupation with the tax authorities or trade office.


Citizens from non-EU states

Migrants from non-EU states may also theoretically be self-employed and accordingly apply for a residence title under §21 AufenthG. As a rule the person must have:

- An investment of at least € 250.000

- The creation of at least 5 jobs

- The viability of a “business plan”

- If over the age of 45, they must also have an insured retirement pension


Migrants from non-EU countries need a residence and a work permit to be able to engage in sex work in Germany.

However, self-employed activity as well as dependent gainful occupation is allowed for the following people:

  1. Those with a residence permit as a family member of a German citizen (Same-sex couples in Germany may have a so-called “civil partnership” which by law is treated much the same as a marriage).

  2. Those with a residence permit as a family member of a foreigner with a residence permit. If the husband does not have such an entitlement, the person may work after two years at the earliest.

  3. Those with residence permits for people with a right to asylum.

  4. Recognised refugees.


Conditions for obtaining the German citizenship:

- 8 years of residency in Germany, or

- 7 years of residency and absolved integration course (this becomes 6 years on special integration circumstances)

- proved German language proficiency of at least B1

- financial security to provide a living without any help from the state, also for family members

- no criminal record

- attend and pass a citizenship test

- renunciation of any previous citizenships



Obtaining an entry visa for the purpose of taking up work in the prostitution sector in Germany is not possible. Although sex work is regarded as an activity it is not listed as an acceptable occupation. The Employment Agency cannot accept or forward jobs into the prostitution sector. Therefore no residence permits for this purpose can be issued.


Further Information  (Information on the new Prostitution Law in seven different languages)