The energy revolution requires the expansion of renewable energy projects. There is currently a particular focus on the north-south power line to transport green electricity from the windy north to the consumption centers in southern Germany. This energy is mostly generated by wind turbines in the German Territorial Sea or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Baltic and North Sea and requires continuous repair and maintenance by German and foreign specialists.

In order to meet the increasing demand for trained specialists, in 2023 the legislator made it easier for domestic and foreign companies to apply for the necessary residence permits. Read here which requirements must be met so that companies can quickly employ the necessary foreign skilled workers on offshore wind turbines and offshore connection lines.

1. Definitions / requirements
  • German Territorial Sea / Exclusive Economic Zone: German waters in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are divided into the 12 nautical mile zone (known as the Territorial Sea) and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which begins at the 12th nautical mile and ends at the 200th nautical mile from the German mainland (baseline).
  • Sovereign rights: While the Territorial Sea is German territory and subject to the jurisdiction of the respective federal state, the bordering coastal state can only exercise sovereign rights and jurisdiction to a limited extent in the Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • Work on wind turbines at sea and offshore power lines: Another requirement for the simplified application for the necessary residence permit is that foreigners are employed to carry out activities for the construction and repair of wind turbines at sea and offshore power lines. This also includes loading and unloading work in the port and other activities of other members of the crew of the ships used for this purpose.


2. No involvement of the Federal Employment Agency in the Territorial Sea or the Exclusive Economic Zone

Involvement of the Federal Employment Agency (approval for employment) is not (longer) required for foreign skilled workers working on offshore wind turbines and offshore connection lines in the Territorial Sea.

Due to the limited sovereign rights of the Federal Republic of Germany, this applies (even more so) to the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The exemption from consent covers a period of up to 24 months.


3. However: Residence permit requirement

However, the simplification of the application procedure brought in by the legislator is limited to the fact that the Federal Employment Agency is no longer involved. However, the obligation to apply for a residence permit in accordance with Section 4 of the Residence Act (AufenthG) still exists for third-country nationals in the Territorial Sea area:

“For the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the residence permit requirement under Section 4 (1) only applies to third-country nationals staying on German territory. This also includes the Territorial Sea (twelve-mile zone).”

In the case of a third-country national staying or passing in the Exclusive Economic Zone, a distinction is required: if the foreign skilled worker “enters” the Exclusive Economic Zone directly without entering the German mainland or the German Territorial Sea, no residence permit is required. However, if the foreign skilled worker enters the country via a German airport, for example, in order to board a ship at a German port, a visa or residence permit is required.

In the event of non-compliance, there is an immediate obligation to leave the country, the threat of removal, an entry ban and even criminal prosecution.


4. Recommendation / mass procedure

To ensure that the project runs smoothly, to avoid economic risks vis-à-vis project partners and to enable the project to start as quickly as possible, please feel free to contact us.

We are familiar with the special aspects of such procedures and can also implement mass procedures at short notice through our application portal (read more about this under this link). We ensure the smooth and timely implementation of your project from a residence and employment law perspective through consultation with the competent authorities


If you have any questions about our services or need assistance with applying for a residence permit for Germany or a visa for Germany or obtaining German citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact us. We support you in applying for all types of visas and residence permits for Germany.

Book a free consultation here!


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