A checklist to moving out of Germany for good

So this is it, isn’it? That long dreaded moment. That next stage in your life. That hard-to-make decision. This relief. No matter how you are approaching this event, you know you will be soon leaving Germany for good.

Alongside the emotional roller-coasters of leaving job, studies, friends or family behind, you also need to prepare for all the practical and administrative steps ahead. Think about how Germany made it difficult to move here; do you really think they are going to make it easy for you when leaving? 😉

moving out of Germany checklist

It doesn’t matter if you have been in Germany 6 months or 6 years, it’s important to have everything in order and not leave any loose end behind. I have assembled this moving out of Germany checklist to that effect. Hope this helps you to deregistration from Germany.

Unregistration from Germany; the easy way.

My moving out of Germany checklist

5-months before departure

  • Accomodation/Flat: Let your landlord know that you will be leaving the country and hand-out a notice. Most contracts require this 3 months in advance. Plan any renovation works that might have been included in the contract too. If you live in a WG, check with your flatmates how it impacts the contracts and how they share the rent. Some landlords will allow a sub-rental situation to replace you in the WG. You can use this termination notice template for that.
  • Electricity/Gas contracts: Get in touch with your electricity and gas suppliers to terminate the contract as well. You can use this termination template for that.
  • Phone/Internet: Get in touch with your phone or internet providers to let them know that you would like to end the contract.  Exception for the minimum duration is the case of moving abroad. Subject to the TKG-Novelle §46 VIII, customers who move abroad and who are not able to reach the service of their previous provider there, can cancel their contract with a three months period of notice even if the minimum duration of their contract is not over yet. You can use this termination notice letter template for internet providers and this template for mobile phone contracts.
  • Job: Take to your current employer if you have one and let them know if good enough time that you will be leaving the company. Make sure to to plan ahead where your last salary will be transferred, if you close your bank account before the end. If you need a termination notice template in German, here is one.
  • Insurances: This might be a good time to get in touch with your insurance company/broker to either terminate your policies, or continue paying them from abroad or if possible transfer the contract to a local branch.
  • University: If you are a student, you might want to check with your university if you need to unroll from it or other requirements.
  • Furniture: Start planning what stuff you are going to keep and what you are going to sell.
  • Healthcare: talk to both your new health insurance and the old to determine if there are any ways to transfer hard-earned rights for your pension. You may also want to simply let the German system hold it for you.
  • Children: If you have any kids, let the school or kita know that you will be moving out.
  • Unemployment benefits: If you haven’t found a job in the new country but you can claim unemployment benefits in Germany, check if it’s possible to transfer those benefits to the new country’s system. This is often doable, especially within the E.U.
  • Taxes – Finanzamt: Check your situation as a tax-payer. If you leave Germany for good and don’t come back later to live here more than 183 days a year, it’s likely that you won’t be taxable in Germany anymore. However, if you have property or assets generating income in Germany, or if you spend more than 183 days a year here, it is likely you will still need to pay taxes.

Moving out of Germany checklist: 2 months before departure

  • TV tax: Get in touch with the GEZ people and let them know that you will be leaving the country. It’s good enough reason for you to stop paying the Rundfunkbeitrag. You can use this termination notice letter template for that.
  • Bank accounts: Let your bank know about your departure so you can book an appointment with your bank counselor if needed and cash-out any remaining money you have in your accounts. You can also terminate most contracts with a simple from, indicating the bank account to transfer it all to.
  • Moving your stuff: Book a moving company to send the stuff you want to keep back home. You may want to look at services like Eco Parcel for only a few boxes or Move24/Movinga for a whole house/flat.
  • Flat/Accommodation: Talk with your landlord to determine when and how you will get your deposit back. There is unfortunately no maximum legal timeline for the landlord to return the money although 4 weeks after is considered reasonable.
  • Tax return: Check with your Steuerberater for any tax related questions. You will be able to submit a tax return after leaving Germany.
  • Pension contributions refund: If you are not an EU citizen and worked with Germany for less than 5 years, you are eligible to a refund on your pension contributions during that time. It can be a few thousand euros sometimes! More info about pension refund here.

Moving out of Germany checklist: 1-3 weeks before departure

  • Flat/Accommodation: Do the last repairs in your flat/home if your tenancy contract planned for this. When you leave your home, make a picture of all the utilities meters (electricity, gas, water). It will be useful to prove your consumption to your suppliers or/and landlord.
  • Flat/Accommodation: Inspect the place with the landlord and return the key. Your landlord should sign a paper during the handover certifying that the place is in order and that all key copies were returned.
  • Letters – Post: Set-up a post forwarding contact with the DeutschePost (Nachsendeantrag) , just to make sure you don’t miss any importance letters or documents after leaving the country. You can do that online here.
  • Goodbyes: Go party and enjoy the Berlin scene one last time.
  • Bürgeramt registration: Fill-up an “Abmeldung” form (this form here for Berlin) to unregister at the Bürgeramt. This can be done via post too. It must be done until maximum 2 weeks after moving out of the place.
  • Finanzamt registration (for self-employed people): Make sure to let the Finanzamt know that you are leaving the country as well (this form here for Berlin).
I hope this little moving out of Germany checklist was helpful. Don’t hesitate to add points in the comments that might be useful for other people.

(Source: giphy.com)

Tip: it’s best practice to send all your notices in paper form by registered post (Einschreiben) to be able to prove you were early enough in the process.
Tip 2: If any of your internet/insurance/insurance providers are making issues to cancel your contract before hand, even though it’s your right. You can use the deregistration confirmation from the Bürgeramt as proof that you are indeed moving away from Germany.
Sources: 1, 2, 3
Background picture: Photo by Matan Segev


  • Reply Daniel 28/09/2019 at 11:11

    Hey Bastien, many thanks for the very helpful post.
    Could you please explain in more in detail the options for the unnemployment benefits, or let me know where I can find more information?
    I lived and worked in Germany for about 3 years, and now I’m moving to Spain for studying for a year.
    Do you think unnemployment benefits might apply and who should I contact?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/09/2019 at 22:56

      Hey Daniel, have you seen this post? ALG1 are meant for people searching for a job, so in my opinion, you won’t be able to use them for that purpose.

  • Reply Monica Okuma Matsuno 23/09/2019 at 14:54

    Hi! Excellent article, super useful to have a smooth move when leaving the country!
    Regarding the residence permit card (Aufenthaltskarte), do you know if it is necessary to send the plastic card back when you leave Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/09/2019 at 16:32

      Hey Monica. I don’t believe so.

  • Reply Alex Wenner 08/09/2019 at 19:48

    Hello Bastien,

    Thanks for the great post. I’m a Blue Card holder and been living in Berlin with my wife for a year now. I have to go back to my home country and probably stay there for a couple of years due to personal issues. We want to come back and live in Germany again in the future.

    A couple of questions:

    1- What would be the steps to do to make sure we have a smooth return in the future?
    2- I don’t want to get refunded on my pension as I want to be back and settle permanently. Is that an option?
    3- Is there a way to ask German Foreign Office to NOT void the Blue Card and hold it for 2-3 years?
    4- Upon my return, can I use this one year living in Germany accounted for the 33 months requirement for settlement permit or when you leave the counter resets?

    Thank you a lot in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/09/2019 at 20:53

      Hey Alex. I don’t want to comment on your situation as it might have specifics that i might not know off. It’s maybe best to an immigrant lawyer, or alternatively, call the official hotline here.

  • Reply nishant 02/09/2019 at 12:31

    Hello, I’ working as full time employee. Right now Me, my wife and my kid living together, however, my wife and kind moving back to India. for few months. and I’m also changing my apartment.
    so do I have to de-register her ? and what about my tax class .. is it also change.. or kinder geld also change?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:49

      Hey Nishant. If your wife won’t be a german resident anymore, she would need to deregister indeed. Since you will become single again, as far the German side is concerned, your tax class and any family related financial support would also change.

    • Reply Srinivas 11/09/2019 at 19:28

      Hey Nishanth!
      Can you please email me at sree.tallapalli@gmail.com

  • Reply Raju 27/08/2019 at 21:43

    Hello, what if I stay in Germany for 8 years and then want to go back to India and no plans to come back? Can I still get my pension refund? Or should I wait till I retire in some other job in India after so long?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2019 at 09:39

      Hey Raju, there is a dedicated post about the pension refund this way.

  • Reply Kapil Sharma 15/07/2019 at 13:57

    More people should know about this page. Wonderful way of sharing knowledge and helping other people. My query is with regards to movement within Europe. I am a Greek national and currently living and working in Germany as a nurse in a government hospital. I am planning to move to Austria in October 2019, only for 6 to 12 months, therefore I wanted to know if I need to to Abmuldeng in Germany before moving to Austria? OR we can leave without Abmuldeng so that when we come back to Germany we do not have to do Anmuldeng again. Also, my wife, an Indian national will be moving with me to Austria from Germany. We will move back to Germany after 6 to 12 months. Thanks & Best of Luck.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/07/2019 at 09:53

      Hey Kapil. Yes, you would need to unregister when leaving Germany.

  • Reply Saumitra 18/05/2019 at 11:50

    Hello Bastion,
    Thanks for this helpful post. I am planning to leave Germany and I had swapped my driving license as described here: https://www.settle-in-berlin.com/german-drivers-license-test-driving-school-berlin/
    Can you also help us understand how to get our old licenses back?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:22

      Hey Saumitra. Good question. Is it not that you should ask for a swap in your home country when you are back home again. Depends on the rules for your country i guess?

  • Reply Sanjay 14/05/2019 at 12:04

    Hi, Thanks for such nice information in one place. My question is for pension contribution refund and I have already gone thru your separate section for this topic, but couldn’t get much information particularly on my case.
    Next month I am about to leave Germany for good for now and have no plans to come back at least for next a year. I worked for almost 3 years here on deputation on a project from my company and my company was submitting tax for me and filling tax return for me every year and getting it back. This tax return does not come to me. I was not getting any salary in Germany, instead, I was getting various living allowances + salary from my home country. I have a SSN number and TIN in Germany. My company was responsible for my German tax, medical insurance and other such benefits. Now please tell me, am I eligible for pension contribution refund? If yes, I would really appreciate if you could explain the process and documentation required for this.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 14:26

      Hey Sanjay. This edge case is beyond my humble knowledge sorry. My opinion is that you did not in fact, contribute to your pension in Germany, but everything stayed in India rahter. Why don’t you ask your company directly? I’m sure they are used to deal with those cases.

      • Reply Sanjay 03/06/2019 at 18:34

        Hey, Thanks for your answer. I’ll check on it at my end.

  • Reply Flora 06/04/2019 at 14:38

    Hi! Thanks for this. I left Germany to restart my studies in September 2018, did my Abmeldung but I did not deregister at my Finanzamt as I knew I would still need to file my tax return for the tax year 2018-2019. I am now looking to do that and am a bit stuck – should I fill it out as normal (even though I no longer have a German address)? And when should I send the tax deregistration form? One further complication… I am intending to move back to Germany later this year after finishing my studies – I am not sure how this would affect my position.

    I’d be very grateful for any advice!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/04/2019 at 10:00

      Hey Flora. You can submit your tax return as you would do normally for 2018 to your Finanzamt at the time, with your current address (source). If you were just an employee, there is no need to manually deregister from the Finanzamt, this is only for freelancers. What you intend to do in the future has no impact on this.

  • Reply Bheemanayaka 13/01/2019 at 11:44

    If I spend 87days in Germany and I am getting cross salary 6000EUR per month do I need to pay tax for 87 days ,if so how much approximately. Some rough figure is enough,?

  • Reply Ima 01/08/2018 at 09:21

    Hi, I would like to ask about Abmeldung and my visa. I have two years visa to do my studienkolleg. After one year live in Germany, I finally enrolled in Studienkolleg. I have finished my first semester and waiting the result, . So thinking that I might not passed the semester 1 ( I got the laparaskopy and should bedrest that make me missed some exam, and if i should retake semester 1 I will not finished my studienkolleg in two years), while in my home country the registration and test for uni entrance nearly close, I choose to back home to do the test. I will coming back if I actually passed the smt 1 to continue the semester 2, but if I am not I will leave Germany for good. So I did the abmelden already in order to terminate the home, phone and internet contract. But I keep my insurance and bank account open until I get the final decision. My question is, does this abmeldung terminate my visa to study (which due 7 months later )?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/08/2018 at 22:15

      Hi Ima. I’m not sure because i am no visa expert but i think this means you can’t renew it, but it’s still valid until the expiration date. Just an opinion though.

  • Reply George 24/07/2018 at 16:50

    This is very helpful, thank you! I have a question not covered: if you are registered as a freelancer, how do you de-register? I haven’t been able to find any information on this other than the advice to write an old fashioned letter to the Finanzamt advising them that I’m leaving the country and no longer working as a freelancer. Any idea whether this is sufficient, or is there a form similar to the one you fill in to register in the first place? Any advice gratefully received – thank you 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 22:55

      Hey George. Good question. So if you are closing down your Gewerbe, there is a form and a process for that. I don’t know where you live but if you google “Gewerbe abmelden [name of city]”, that should sort you out. Same for freiberuflich.

      • Reply Alan 12/10/2018 at 14:56

        Hey there! I left almost a year ago – obviously did the abmeldung but someone told me that was enough. I’ve just found the relevant tax deregistration form here: https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/325405/

        Do you think it’s likely there will be any repercussions for me not having done it immediately?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2018 at 11:10

          Hey Alan. In my opinion, if you have paid all your taxes in due time, there should not be any problem. I will append the post accordingly.

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