ICT card

ICT card (intra-corporate transfer)

The ICT Directive enables companies from outside the European Union to transfer their employees (managers, specialists, trainees) within the company to the EU. The ICT card is therefore a temporary residence permit for employees for temporary employment in a domestic branch of a company based outside the EU.

The requirements for obtaining an ICT card

Certain employees can be issued with an ICT card for an internal transfer to a German subsidiary. However, they must meet certain requirements for this:

  • Activity as a specialist or manager
  • Affiliation to the group of companies
  • Intra-company transfer for more than 90 days
  • Valid employment contract
  • Professional qualification

Activity as a specialist or manager

The person to be transferred must be employed as a manager or specialist by both his or her employer and the branch office in Germany.

A manager in this context is a person who is employed in a key position and primarily manages a branch, department or subdivision of a company.

A specialist in the sense of residence law is a person who has indispensable specialized knowledge in a field of activity, in a procedure or in the administration of the establishment in which he or she is to be employed.

Other requirements

In addition, the employee to be transferred must have been an uninterrupted employee of the group of companies for at least six months prior to the transfer and at the time during the transfer. The transfer itself must be scheduled for more than 90 days. A valid employment contract must also be available for this duration, including a secondment letter if necessary. In addition, proof of return to a part of the company outside the EU after the end of the intra-company transfer must be available. Furthermore, a professional qualification must also be proven, which relates to the job in Germany. Last but not least, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required; this is obtained from the Foreigners' Registration Office or from the German mission abroad.

If these requirements are met, the ICT card can be issued for the duration of the intra-company transfer, but for a maximum of three years.

It must also be noted that at least six months must have passed between the last stay as part of an intra-company transfer and the intended new stay.

ICT card for trainees

Trainees from a non-EU third country can also be issued an ICT card. To do so, they must fulfill the above-mentioned requirements, hold a university degree and work as a trainee at the German subsidiary for more than 90 days.

A trainee as defined by the ICT Guideline is a university graduate who undergoes a junior development program in order to qualify for later activities within the company or group of companies.

Provided these conditions are met, an ICT card may be issued for the duration of the transfer, but for no longer than one year.

Authority competence

The ICT card is applied for in the member state in which the transfer is to be completed. In the case of an intended stay in several company branches, it depends on the member state in which the longest period of stay is planned. This is also called the first EU member state, even if chronologically the stay first takes place in another member state.

If a transfer to Germany is planned, a visa must be obtained from the German mission abroad before entry. Which documents are required for this depends on the respective foreign mission and can be requested from them.  

It is not possible to apply for the ICT card directly in Germany. This also applies to citizens of so-called privileged states (USA, Japan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Israel and New Zealand).

Advantages of the ICT card

The ICT card enables the rapid transfer of key personnel within a company.

It can also be applied for in the form of a so-called Mobile ICT Card. The Mobile ICT Card is a residence permit for employees transferred within the company who already hold an ICT residence permit from another EU member state.

Thus, the ICT card significantly simplifies mobility within all EU member states once a member state has issued it. The ICT residence permit enables companies to deploy their employees flexibly within the EU. In addition, the ICT card creates a certain degree of planning security, as its issuance is not at the discretion of the authorities. This means that if the legal requirements for issuing an ICT card are met, there is a legal entitlement to have it issued. Further details on the Mobile ICT Card can be found here .

Does an ICT card have to be applied for in every EU member state?

If it is planned that during the intra-company transfer an activity will be taken up in several EU member states, the ICT card does not have to be applied for individually for each state, but only for the state in which the longest stay is planned. There are various possibilities for the stay in the other EU member states. A notification can be sent to the BAMF within the framework of short-term mobility for transferred employees or a Mobile ICT Card can be applied for.