The ultimate checklist on leaving and returning to Germany

The ultimate checklist on leaving and returning to Germany

Moving abroad is no easy task, especially when you don’t understand the language or the systems in place. As it turns out, the same is true when moving away from a foreign country. Especially if you’re leaving or returning to Germany!

Just as many found out too late that moving to Germany for work means you can write off the moving expenses like the airplane ticket on your tax return, many find out much too late that when they leave Germany, they can actually get their pension payments refunded to them. 

If you’re leaving Germany, check out our article on the pension refund here!

What to watch out for when leaving Germany

If you’re leaving Germany, you’ll need to watch out for a few important things: 

Abmeldung — Deregistration

When you first arrived in Germany, one of your first experiences was probably trying to obtain the coveted Anmeldung, or registration. Well, it turns out that you need to get a deregistration form too when you leave. This will play a key role in getting your pension refund back. If you want a quick calculation to see how much you’ll get back, you can use the calculator from All About Berlin as a benchmark.

Cancel your work contract 3 months in advance

You’ll need to cancel your working contract 3 months before leaving Germany. The only exceptions to this are if you are not working full-time or your employer has signed an agreement with you for an earlier termination date.

Cancel everything early

Contracts for things like your apartment have to be cancelled three months in advance. For your phone bill, gym and other local contracts you have, you can provide proof that you’re leaving with the Abmeldung (deregistration), plane tickets or new working contract to cancel early. 

Cancel in person and get written proof that this has been done. Remember that sometimes you will need to receive a letter in the mail, sign it and send it back to cancel some contracts. 

Mark your bank account as “dormant”

When you do this, make sure that you look back at each automatic payment to switch over to your new international account like Netflix, Spotify or Amazon. If your account ends up in the negatives, the bank might decide to start an international address inquiry which is quite expensive.

Prepare your pension refund documents

As mentioned in a previous article, you can get your pension payments back if you have worked in Germany for less than five years. After five years, you’re entitled to recieve pension benefits, so you are no longer eligible at this point.

Interested in how much you can get back from your German pension insurance? German Pension Refund will do a free calculation for you and send an estimate.

List of common contracts in Germany: 
  • Phone 
  • Work
  • Rental
  • Rundfunk (TV)
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas
  • Internet
  • Insurance
  • Bank
  • Gym

Things to watch out for when returning to Germany

Returning to Germany is a bit tricky in terms of some paperwork like insurance, but easier for things like getting a new gym subscription or phone plan, or or signing up for an electricity provider. If you’ve already gotten your pension refund, you’ll start out at zero again for your contributions as if nothing happened. 

Things to watch out for: 

Anmeldung — registration

Even if you formerly lived in Germany and are returning, you’ll still need to go through the process of getting the Anmeldung again. It’s a pain, but you need it. 

Reopening your German bank account

If you marked your old bank account as “dormant” then you can reactivate it at the bank with an appointment. If you closed the bank account entirely, you’ll need to open a new one. 

Sign up for health insurance

This is a tricky one depending on where you are from or your age. If you’re over 55 or you opted out of public health insurance, you might not be eligible to sign up for public health insurance anymore. You can contact us, and we’ll look through the plans with you to find out what best suits your situation.

How Feather and German Pension Refund can help

Both Feather and German Pension Refund believe in helping people navigate through Germany’s complex bureaucracy. For Feather, this means creating a platform where people can read their insurance documents in English at any time as well as submit claims in English. This also means that we can help you when you’re leaving or returning to Germany.

Explore our insurance plans below:

German Pension Refund does the same for people leaving Germany by providing them with detailed information on getting their refund back while also handling the most complicated documents:

Let us know if you have any questions about leaving or returning to Germany!