How to take vacations in Germany

This guide explains how vacations work for employees in Germany.

Vacation days

In Germany, all employees get paid vacation days.1

Work days Minimum vacation days
1 day per week 4 days per year
2 days per week 8 days per year
3 days per week 12 days per year
4 days per week 16 days per year
5 days per week 20 days per year
6 days per week 24 days per year

If you work 5 days per week, you get at least 20 vacation days per year, plus paid public holidays.2 Employees under 18 years old get more vacation days.

When you get a job offer, you can negotiate more vacation days. Most full-time employees get 25 to 30 vacation days.3

When you start a new job, your vacation days days are prorated: you unlock 1/12 of your vacation days every month.4 This is true even if you don’t have a probation period. After 6 months, you can use all of your vacation days.5 More information here.

You must use your vacation days

You must use all your vacation days before the end of the calendar year.6

Sometimes, there is an emergency at work, and that’s not possible. In that case, you have until March 31 the next year to use your vacation days.

Some employers let you save some of your vacation days for another year.

Your employer must let you take at least one 2 week long vacation per year.6 They can’t force you to only take short vacations.

You must ask your employer

Before you go on vacation, you need permission from your employer.7 Don’t plan your trip before your employer approves your vacation!

In some companies, you just ask your manager. In other companies, you request vacations on a website, and your manager approves the request. It’s different for every employer.

If you take a long vacation, tell your employer a long time in advance. If you only take a few days off, it’s less important. Some employers are more flexible than others.

Your employer can refuse to let you take vacations if…8

  • The timing causes serious problems
    For example, if you take vacations during the busiest period of the year.
  • Another employee has priority
    For example, parents need to take vacations at the same time as their children, so they have priority during school holidays.9

Public holidays

German employees also get 10 to 13 paid public holidays every year. Each state has different public holidays.

Public holidays in Berlin

On public holidays, you don’t work, but you still get paid. You celebrate the holidays of the state where you work, even if you live in a different state.10

Sabbatical leave

Sabbatical leave is a long, unpaid vacation from work. People usually take a sabbatical to travel, study, relax, or work on personal projects.

Sabbatical leave in Germany

Sick leave

If you are sick, you get paid sick leave. You don’t need to use your vacation days. If you are sick while on vacation, you get your vacation days back.

Sick leave in Germany

Educational leave

You can take time off to improve your education. During that time, you still get paid. This is called educational leave (Bildungsurlaub)

Educational leave in Germany

If you change jobs

If you quit or lose your job, you don’t lose your unused vacation days (Resturlaub).

Use your vacation days

Most of the time, you must use your remaining vacation days during your notice period.11

If you stop working before July 1, you get 1/12th of your vacation for each full month you worked this year.13

Example: You have 30 vacation days. Your last day of work is April 15, so you worked 3.5 months this year. You can take 3/12 of your vacation days; one for each full month of work. 3 / 12 * 30 = 7.5 vacation days. This rounds up to 8 vacation days. You can use 8 vacation days.

If you stop working after July 1, you can use all your remaining vacation days.

Example: You have 30 vacation days. Your last day of work is July 15. You can take 30 vacation days.

Get paid for your unused vacation

If you can’t use all your vacations before you leave, your employer must pay them to you (Urlaubsabgeltung).12 This can affect how much ALG I you get.

Get an Urlaubsbescheinigung

Get an Urlaubsbescheinigung from your employer. If you find a new job, your new employer might ask for it. This is how they know how much vacation days you should have this year.

Sources and footnotes
  1. §1 BUrlG 

  2. Wikipedia 


  4. §5 BUrlG 

  5. §4 BUrlG 

  6. §7 BUrlG 


  8. §7 BUrlG, 


  10. Wikipedia 


  12. §7 Abs. 4 BUrlG,