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

91 Comments

  • Reply Nick 11/01/2021 at 14:06

    Hi Bastien
    I have a question for you. I am planning of moving to Germany from Australia, and as I am an Australian citizen what rights do I have in regards to buying a flat/unit in Germany and what is the procedure of getting German residency? (I wont to move permanently)
    Regards Nick

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/01/2021 at 10:30

      Hey Nick. Post about permanent residency here, and post about buying property in Germany there. Good luck!

    • Reply Anna 17/01/2021 at 15:01

      Hi Nick,
      can I ask you why you want to quit Australia for Germany? because I’m in Germany and I want to move to Australia. I’m searching different ways to get a Visa for Australia. I don’t know what to do.
      thanks

  • Reply James 09/01/2021 at 13:34

    Hey Bastien,
    Thanks for the post! I used this to leave Germany this year, but I have one question — which office/where do I submit my tax return to after leaving? My previous Steueramt or is there a special office for those who don’t live in Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2021 at 13:34

      Hey James. Your last known Finanzamt.

  • Reply Mustafa 04/01/2021 at 16:42

    Hi BASTIEN, my biggest worry is the furniture and the kitchen. When should I sell? and how can I survive without furniture when I’m still waiting to leave?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/01/2021 at 13:26

      Hey Mustafa. Good question. The best option is probably to find a new tenant yourself for your place, who also agrees to buy the furniture as well. This way, you both give up flat and furniture the same day.

  • Reply R 27/12/2020 at 00:24

    H Bastien! Thank you for the very informative post! I find the timetable a bit confusing – to cancel service, tv contracts, to inform healthcare, etc you need to send them Abmeldung confirmation, right? So shouldn’t I first send the Abmeldung form like a month in advance before departure and when I get the confirmation back, I can send it to all the services?
    Also, I have only public insurance paid by my employee and I wonder, if I end my work contract a bit earlier than my deregisteration/leaving the country day – do I need to pay for those days for my insurance by myself or is there a general covered period in Germany?
    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/12/2020 at 09:41

      Hey R. Thanks for your input. The timetable is only an indication. Rules differ from provider to provider so it’s hard to pinpoint the right timeline for each. Call your customer service and ask what the process should be. As for health insurance: in general, there is little bit of leniency on the Krankenkasse side on how that can all work out. I suggest to call them directly too and be open about it. I don’t think it should be an issue.

  • Reply Raul Duke 22/12/2020 at 15:49

    Hi Bastian, if I’m leaving, and my roomie is staying, do I still need to register with the TV tax? Also, if you know you’re leaving in two months, should you de-register immediately with the finance office or wait till just before? It’s the end of 2020 and I’d much rather only pay taxes to my home country in 2021 and not be burdened by a month in Germany as well.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/12/2020 at 20:45

      Hey Raul. TV tax: It’s one contribution per household. As long as somebody pays, it doesn’t matter that much. If you are not a German resident in 2021, then you won’t be liable to taxes anyway.

  • Reply bzibo 08/12/2020 at 13:46

    Hi Bastian,

    Thank you for this. Can you please elaborate on the child benefits(Kindergeld), what happened to it? Is there any way to keep having this support in a foreign country?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/12/2020 at 09:37

      Hey there. Kindergeld is only available to German residents.

  • Reply Nick 05/11/2020 at 13:28

    Hi there,
    I have one question about the termination letter for the flat, which confuses me a lot.
    In the letter I send to the landlord, which date should I mention as the date I am terminating the contract?

    If, for example, I send the letter today, should I add today’s date?
    Or should I add the date I will be able to move out? (1st of December)
    Or should I add the date that I am allowed to move out based on the 3 months notice period? (1st of March)

    Note that I plan to find a Nachmieter, so I hope they can let me terminate the contract sooner.

    Thank you so much for the help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/11/2020 at 09:54

      Hey Nick. You can find precise guidelines on how to write this termination letter here. You can state in the letter when you would like to move out, based on conditions stated in your contract and based on the date your landlord will receive the letter. That’s what matters: when the letter is received.

      • Reply Nicko 06/11/2020 at 16:17

        Thank you Bastien, very useful article.
        I am still a bit unsure though.
        The termination letter that my agency (ADO) has, has the following:

        Hiermit kündige/n ich/wir das Mietverhältnis für meine/unsere Wohnung zum: DATUM
        Ich bin/Wir sind auf der Suche nach einem Nachmieter:
        Ja, zum DATUM (Bitte nennen Sie ein frühestmögliches Auszugsdatum.)

        To my understanding, in the first DATUM I need to put today (06.11.2020) since I plan to send this form today, and in the second DATUM, the earliest date that the Nachmieter could move in (01.12.2020 in my case). Does this make sense?
        I tried to ask the customer support of my agency and they could not understand my question… 🙁

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/11/2020 at 10:54

          Hey Nicko. Yes, I also understand the formulation like you do.

    • Reply Juri 24/11/2020 at 22:55

      Hi Nick,
      I just went through the same thing. Basically you have to cancel the contract 3 months in advance. You should just write to your landlord a normal mail and forget about the form. Tell them that you are ending the contract in 3 months period, but have to leave earlier. In that case, they will allow you to sublet it till the end of your 3 month cancellation term. Usually you can sublet it to the same person that will take over the contract, but just make sure that the landlord will sign the contract with that person.
      Hope this helps.

  • Reply Taylor 12/10/2020 at 20:55

    Hello Bastien,
    This website has helped me immensely over the last 2 years. Thanks a million! I have a question for you about taxes, and perhaps something you could add to the list if it comes to anything! I am deregistering from the Finanzamt because I will no longer be a freelancer in Germany. Is it true that one needs to submit their tax declaration one month after doing this, rather than in the regular tax period (Jan-June-ish)? I’ve been referred to this page, but I don’t understand it so well https://www.haufe.de/finance/finance-office-professional/besteuerungszeitraumanmeldung-der-umsatzsteuer_idesk_PI11525_HI854151.html I’m hoping no, because doing it once a year is brutal enough!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/10/2020 at 11:02

      Hey Taylor. Great question. I will add this to a few posts. The process to unregister depends if you are a Freiberfuler or a Gewerbe. For Freiberufler, you do your declaration the next after, just as usual. For Gewerbe, you need to submit a so called “Aufgabegewinn” or “Aufgabeverlust” to your Finanzamt, after you official unregister. This might be best done with a Steuerberater.

  • Reply Challa 28/09/2020 at 17:23

    Wow that’s a great Article. Any idea about luggage ? Do you know about shipping luggage? I guess everyone will have so much stuff when leaving the country. Obviously cheaper

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/09/2020 at 13:49

      Hey Challa. It depends on the volume i suppose.

  • Reply Kate 16/09/2020 at 12:01

    Hi Bastian,
    Do you maybe know how to cancel a Blau Karte when moving out of Germany?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/09/2020 at 09:31

      Hey Kate. Your blue card loses its validity after 12 months out of Germany. Source.

  • Reply Cosmo 08/08/2020 at 21:00

    Hi Bastian,
    Very informative post. Thanks! I have a small question reg. de-registration as I will be moving out of Germany during early October.

    I have not booked my flights yet because I would have to catch a repatriation flight and its bookings are yet to open.
    Besides, it will all depend on availability. Hence, I do not have an exact date yet.

    Can I mention a tentative date of departure? For e.g. I mention 10th October and depart on 5th or vice versa. (The month remains the same).
    Would appreciate your prudent inputs. Thnx.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/08/2020 at 20:36

      Hey Cosmo. I’m not sure i understand right… You still have time until you enter the Abmeldung time window. Why the fuss?

      • Reply Abraham 13/08/2020 at 17:38

        As a student who is leaving and my anmeldung is at a friends house, besides that and the uni form i filled is there anything else i need to do?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/08/2020 at 14:06

          Hey Abraham. Can’t possibly tell you. Depends on services you used, whether your worked, etc.

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