Tax Professionals' Guide to relocating to Hamburg


Germany’s second largest city with over 1.7 million habitants and the country’s biggest port, Hamburg is one of the top destinations for expatriation in Europe. Hamburg has a reputation of being Germany’s Gateway to the World, thanks to the position and the port. Over 13,000 ships from all over the globe call at the port, from cruise ships to the industrial tankers that drives Hamburg’s economy. This brings real wealth to the city and Hamburg has the highest GDP in the country.


The Big Four accounting firms all have their offices based in Hamburg. PwC Hamburg office has around 860 employees and 40 partners and the office is also the headquarters of PwC’s national Maritime Competence Centre.

There are also a large number of German corporates who based their EMEA HQ in Hamburg.

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Working in Hamburg

Due to the transient nature of the city, you will be welcomed by a strong expat community who organise events and meetings on a regular basis. You can use or InterNations to find local groups and get to know other internationals. Facebook groups such as Expats in Hamburg and New in Hamburg are a way to interact with locals and get accurate answers to any questions you may have.


Income tax varies according to personal circumstances and is implemented at a progressive rate. There is a surcharge of up to 5.5% of the tax itself, imposed by the German government to cover reunification costs with the former East Germany.

Income tax is based on salary bands with the maximum tax rate being 45%. The table below is copied from PwC:


Getting around Hamburg is very easy as there is a comprehensive public transport system. This includes buses, trains and ferry lines, which makes getting from one side of the city to the other very straightforward. There are also underground, over ground and tram lines. However, many residents find it easier to cycle in Hamburg. The city is very bike-friendly with sufficient cycle lanes, extra wide roads and many car-free zones. Even if you don’t bring your bike with you, Hamburg offers a public bike system. The bikes are kept in docking stations across the whole city so you can easily borrow one and return it to any other station.


There are three options for health insurance while living in Hamburg: the government-regulated public health insurance system (GKV), private health insurance from a German or international insurance company (PKV) or a combination of the two. Health insurance is a necessity in Germany and you have to be insured to some extent if you are planning on living in the country.


The biggest and most well-known international school is the International School of Hamburg. There are over 750 students currently at the school, representing more than 50 nationalities - so your child won’t feel out of place! Alternatively, there’s the Phorms School Hamburg which is situated in the centre of the city and is a bi-lingual English-German school for all ages. You can also send your child to a public school where enrolment is currently supervised by SIZ (School Information Centre). If your child’s grasp of German language hasn’t developed sufficiently for immediate enrolment, SIZ will put them through a year-long preparatory course.


Rent in Hamburg is significantly higher compared to other German cities. You can expect to pay anything from €800 for an apartment in the city centre. Sites such as Xpat Rentals and Nestpick will aid you in your rental search. Wandsbek is the best area for families wishing to rent a comfortable property in the city limits, as it is the largely residential area with a lot of houses on offer. 

This post has been kindly written by tax recruitment specialists, Kingpin International, who publish a series of lifestyle news on living and working in European cities.

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