Social Security in Germany

with Sebastian Hoffmann



    This webinar deals with the basics of the German health insurance system. You will learn the difference between private and statutory insurance, how health insurance for employees works and the basics of the “Künstlersozialkasse” (KSK). As in the webinar on taxes, special attention will be paid to "hybrid workers" who work both as employees and as self-employed. You will also get a general overview of the German pension insurance system, the “Versorgungskammer der deutschen Bühnen”, unemployment insurance and other insurances. At the end, there will be a short overview of the coordination of social security in Europe, which is important if you work outside Germany.

    The webinar was recorded in 2023 as part of the qualification programme by DIS-TANZ-START. Please note that the content may no longer be entirely up-to-date/ current.



    • When you move to Germany from another country, do you need to get health insurance in Germany?
    • You are insured through the “Künstlersozialkasse”. Do you need to inform them when you start an employment contract (on payroll)?
    • You have a client who wants you to work as an assistant on a freelance basis. The client decides on what you should do. Is this possible?
    • You have a client who hires you for freelance artistic work. The client says that they must deduct the “Künstlersozialabgabe” from your fee. Is this correct?
    • When you work as a freelance artist, you are covered in the case of work accidents. Is this true?
    • During your studies, you are already working as a freelance artist. Can you get insurance through the “Künstlersozialkasse”?


    • In general, yes. If you move to Germany to work for an indefinite period, the responsible social security country is Germany. If you just come to Germany for a temporary work assignment and live in another European country, you must apply for the A1 certificate before coming to Germany. That way, you can remain insured by the country you live in during your temporary stay in Germany.
    • Yes, you must inform the KSK anytime you start or end an employment contract. Depending on your gross salary and on your profit estimate from your artistic self- employment you submitted to the KSK, the responsibility for health insurance could (temporarily) switch to the employment contract, or the insurance through the KSK can end, or nothing changes.
    • Probably not. Working in a hierarchical way is generally not considered a freelance activity. Instead, your client must give you an employment contract. It doesn’t matter how long the project is or if it’s part-time or full-time. Instead, the main criteria to distinguish between freelancing/self-employment and employment are the degree of hierarchy between contract partners and the degree of integration into the client’s business structure.
    • No, that’s illegal. The “Künstlersozialabgabe” (Social Insurance Contribution) must always be paid by the client on top of the fee, directly to the KSK. The contribution co-finances the KSK’s subsidy for health and pension insurance payments. The “Künstlersozialabgabe” must always be paid by clients who hire freelance artists to use their work in Germany, no matter if the artists are insured through the KSK or if they live in Germany or not.
    • As a freelance artist, you don’t automatically have accident insurance. That means that while your health insurance covers hospital stays and doctor’s appointments, you don’t have access to additional insurance benefits after work accidents (such as compensation payments or access to rehabilitation treatments). It can make a lot of sense to buy private work accident insurance, especially if your work is potentially dangerous (dance, circus).
    • Yes! If you already work as a freelance artist, you can check if you’re eligible. If your studies are your main activity, you’ll likely still pay health insurance through your student health insurance plan. That means that you only pay pension insurance through the KSK. As soon as you finish your degree, you just need to notify the KSK and you also receive subsidized health insurance through the KSK.