This is how you get your pension contributions refunded after leaving Germany

Part of working, next to paying the bills and following your career path, is putting money aside for when you retire. Maybe you’re dreaming about using that money to live quietly in a cottage by the sea or to travel the world. Picture it already: doing whatever you want with your time, spending it with your loved ones and pursuing your passions. Until then, like most Germans, you’re probably looking forward to getting your hard-earned pension someday.

But what if you don’t plan on living in Germany much longer? Don’t worry, those monthly pension contributions won’t just disappear! Keep reading to find out how you can get a pension refund after leaving Germany.

Pension Refund Germany

Pension refund Germany: let’s take a look at the requirements

Most people in Germany automatically pay into the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, or German pension system, each month. You and your employer evenly split the contribution, which is set at 18.7% of your gross income. This is the same for all employees, regardless of their citizenship, contract length or existing private pension contributions. In addition, contributions are made on your behalf even while you’re sick, on unemployment benefits or in occupational training. Once you retire, you receive a regular pension from the government based on your contributions to the system.

Please note that it’s not possible to receive the full 18.7% refunded; only your half will be refunded to you.

If are not an EU citizen and you contributed for less than 5 years (60 months) to the German pension system, then you might qualify for a refund of your contributions according to the exceptions outlined in Article 210 in the sixth book of the code of social law (§ 210 Sozialgesetzbuch Sechstes Buch (SGB VI)). However, there might be additional conditions depending on social security agreements between your country of residence/citizenship and Germany. Currently, there are agreements with the following countries:

Albania, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada / Quebec, Chile, India, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Philippines, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and the United States.

Even if you qualify for the pension refund Germany offers, you still need to apply to receive it.

Finding out how much you might get back

Ok, so now you have an idea about whether you qualify for a refund. But how much will you get?

While living in Germany, you should be receiving yearly pension information in addition to any paperwork from your employer. Of the contributions made to the pension system, only the ones you made (not your employer) are eligible for a refund.

It can be difficult to calculate the amount on your own though. Use a tool like the German pension refund calculator to estimate your pension after retirement and how much you’ve already paid into the system. This one is in German, but only requires your birth year and gross income for each year you lived in Germany. Under “Solidargemeinschaft und Rendite” (collective insurance and return) you can see an estimation of the net contributions to your account, including employer contributions (Gesamte Nettozahlung in die Rentenkasse inklusive Arbeitgeberanteil).

No matter what the German pension refund calculator says, the pension refund Germany offers depends on your specific situation. To get more detailed information about your potential refund, contact a Deutsche Rentenversicherung representative and ask for an overview of your account. This is a free service and just requires you to make an appointment.

You can book an appointment online very easily here.

The process for applying to get a German pension refund

The application process itself is straightforward but I recommend gathering all relevant documentation while you’re still in Germany, so you’re prepared for the application.

  1. First, there’s a two-year waiting period, which starts when you leave the EU/EEA/CH region, as Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 Article 10(2) states that you’re not eligible for a pension refund while residing in a member state.
  2. Once that period is over, you should go to your local German embassy to get the right paperwork (Form V0901 for English or V0902 for French) and check any specific requirements for your country. Forms for specific countries can be found here.
  3. Once the forms are completed, send everything to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung office you were most recently in contact with. The contact information is listed on their website.

And now the wait begins…

While the process isn’t difficult, waiting for the pension refund Germany will send you takes 2 to 6 months. Once that goes through, all contributions so far are removed from your account. You’ll no longer receive pension payments from Germany and if you ever return, you’ll have to start from scratch.

What now? Well, you could take all that money to the casino and try your luck, invest it, use it to start a business, travel the world, add to your savings account… the choice is yours!

I hope you got a clearer idea on how to get your pension refund Germany. Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions.

Hopefully, you can do or buy something nice with it. 🙂


Can i also just wait until i’m retired to get the money?

Yes. Regardless of your citizenship or location at your retirement age (German retirement age: 67), it is also possible to have the German system directly transfer you the pension in monthly installments. However, those installments are likely to be very small as you contributed less than 5 years into the system. It’s usually more beneficial to get a refund and invest that money some other way.

I am a EU citizen; can i get a pension refund too?

No. As long as you live the E.U, the pension system reciprocity agreements between EU member states applies.

Sources; 1, 2,


  • Reply Plamen Petkov 20/10/2020 at 20:28

    Hello ,
    I am Bulgarian national ,worked 3 yrs in Germany from 2015 till 2018,
    From 2018 I live and work in United Kingdom and I am a UK resident.
    Can I get my pension contributions after passed 2 yrs and I reside in non EU country?
    Thank you!

    Plamen Petkov

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/10/2020 at 09:50

      Hey Plamen, please refer to the guide again for criteria.

  • Reply Rob Taylor 18/10/2020 at 13:56

    I am trying to reclaim pension as I worked in Bavaria for about 13 years. (1989-2002). Then returned here to the England. How does our change in status, for example, leaving the Union, affect my claim ,if at all?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/10/2020 at 10:20

      Hey Rob. That is pretty tough to say because there are negotiations still ongoing and the fate of the post-Brexit UK is not decided on many levels.

  • Reply Ben Adu Gyamfi 22/09/2020 at 17:30

    Am living in Germany for about 8 years and i will like to go back to Spain please can I get my pension money back.

  • Reply Christine Anne Hardy (previously DISLEY) 12/09/2020 at 11:11

    I am a UK pensioner (aged 80) and worked for 1 year in West Germany in 1967. Can I get that year’s tax refunded paid to me all this time later\?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/09/2020 at 13:33

      Hey Christine. I don’t have the answers to this. You’d probably need to ask a professional about that. Sorry.

  • Reply Nino 02/09/2020 at 13:53

    Hello, the address link of Deutsche Rentenversicherung offices is broken. I was insured in Baden-Württemberg by AOK. Can you give me the address of the office where I can send my Pension Refund Application? Thanks a lot. Nino

  • Reply Anna 29/07/2020 at 13:59

    Hey! I am a Norwegian citizen, therefor in the EEA but not in the EU. Can I still get my pension money back?

  • Reply Jagadeesh Pradeep 11/07/2020 at 03:58

    I worked in Germany for 6 years. Now i plan to move to India. Is there any way to get back my rente?. I know it’s only possible if it’s less than 5 years. But, are there any exceptions to claim back my rente?

    • Reply Chan 18/07/2020 at 10:50

      Actually I went to the office and asked. They said there is no five years limit. But not sure if they also see the nationality. Maybe you should go there and ask for your case.

  • Reply Tania 08/07/2020 at 15:27

    What about if you go back home to Switzerland?

  • Reply Johannes Kühn 05/05/2020 at 13:53

    Hi Neil,
    as a South African (non-contracting state) you can apply for a refund of your contributions, no matter how long you have contributed, 24months after you have left Germany and reside back home.

  • Reply Neil 28/04/2020 at 14:02

    Good day,

    I´m working now 7 years in Germany and plan to move back to South Africa in the next few months. I just see everywhere less than 5years but nowhere what happens after 5 years. I can only guess that after 5 years you can not claim your money back and have to wait till you are 67 years to get your monthly pension. Thank you for your response

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