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. 🙂

FAQ

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,

172 Comments

  • Reply Shashi 20/01/2021 at 19:53

    Hi I am a UK citizen.. I worked in Germany for just less than 5 years and that was over a decade ago. I know I was not allowed the refund earlier, prior to Brexit. Has that changed now after Brexit please. Also what is the best way to keep your details – address, bank account etc. updated with the German pension authority please.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/01/2021 at 10:08

      Hey Shashi. I’m not sure if there is clear information about this yet, since the transition is still ongoing. I’d ask a professional.

  • Reply Sam 19/01/2021 at 17:37

    Hi there, can anyone please confirm if you have to pay taxes on the pension refund received? Either in Germany or the Home country.
    Thank you,
    Sam from Canada

  • Reply Elmy Villarico 16/01/2021 at 09:09

    Hi I am a Philippines citizen but after working in Germany for 2 years, I am now living in Denmark still part of EU.
    Does the reciprocity agreements between EU member applies to me? Again, I am Philippines citizen but working in Denmark after I move out from Germany until now.

  • Reply Dharmanna Gaded 12/01/2021 at 05:34

    My two years wait is over, so now can i apply pension refund and I am basically from INDIA , currently staying in INDIA , i need some info on claim process like I need to fill Form V0901 and I have my local(INDIA) bank details but can I use my friend bank account for refund the amount, he stays in Germany.

    • Reply Raju 18/01/2021 at 05:48

      I have got my contributions refunded from India and have followed the following process:
      Fill the docs A3490, R851, V0901, “Lebens- und Staatsangehörigkeitsbescheinigung” and print. Get all of them attested from Consulate except R851 ( R851 will be attested by your bank). Also, I can send you the correct R851 form, email on spraju87(at)gmail(dot) com. I have got my refund directly to my SBI account in India.
      Get the copies of following docs attested too from Consulate (whichever you have original) :
      1. Passport Copy 2. Social Insurance Copy 3. Health Insurance Copy 4. Abmeldung Copy
      After all attestations are done, send it through normal post to the following address:
      Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund,10704 BERLIN,GERMANY

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2021 at 12:10

        Thanks Raju. I appreciate your input.

  • Reply Hassan 05/01/2021 at 17:52

    I was in Germany from 2014 March to 2020 June. I started working fulltime in the Dec of 2016 and before that I worked on student jobs. Would the total time be less than 60 months in my case or not?

  • Reply Giuseppe Chinnici 31/12/2020 at 13:56

    I am Italian. I live in the UK and worked in Germany for 2 years, between 1973 and 75. I would like to get my pension contributions refunded. Does anyone know if tax has to be paid on the pension contributions once they are refunded (either in Germany or the home country)? I am in possession of the VERSICHERUNGSKARTE.

    • Reply Sam 19/01/2021 at 17:39

      Giuseppe, Did you find out the answer? I am wondering the same thing. Thanks.

  • Reply Adam 30/12/2020 at 04:32

    I live in Australia and worked in Germany for 3 years. I would like to get my pension contributions refunded. Does anyone know if tax has to be paid on the pension contributions once they are refunded (either in Germany or the home country)? I have a letter from DRV stating they advise the Finanzamt of the contributions being refunded once it’s processed.

  • Reply AR 16/12/2020 at 00:35

    Hi,
    is this only valid for DRV or also if someone has pension fund in Aerzteversorgung instead of DRV.
    I plan to leave but was told from the Aerzteversorgung , its not possible to get my share back. according to them I can only apply for rente after 67 or keep paying for the fund and get a better rente.

  • Reply Steve Ferguson 03/12/2020 at 14:56

    Hi I’m a uk citizen about to claim my uk state pension ..I worked in Germany for 9 years …how do I claim my German pension ? Thank you Steve

  • Reply Zaman 28/11/2020 at 21:13

    Hi ,
    I am from Bangladesh and still working in germany since 2016.
    I have been planning to go Canada 2022 and live there permanently.
    How do I get My pension refund from germany ? Now I am 30 + .

    Or what i need to do to get refund?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2020 at 10:38

      Hey Zaman. Follow the steps highlighted in the post.

  • Reply Dayeon 22/11/2020 at 11:52

    Hi, thanks for your very kind information.

    I have been working in Germany less than 2 years. And, I am going back to South Korea.
    Is there any paper works I should do now when I am in Germany? Do I need to contact to any pension office now?
    Or can I just wait for 2 years from now to start the paper work?

    I just want to make the things clearer. Thank you so much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2020 at 09:56

      Hey Dayeon. Yes, first need to wait 2 years.

  • Reply Jason Parmar 17/11/2020 at 10:17

    Thank you for putting this together, fantastic!

    I have an issue and no idea what to do here.
    I have been living in Germany for a year and am moving back to the UK permanently in December (just weeks before Brexit where the UK leaves the EU).

    Do you know if the pension system reciprocity agreements between EU member states applies to me?
    Or do I wait 2 years to apply via the embassy?

    Thanks!

    Jason

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/11/2020 at 10:28

      Hey Jason. For now, nothing is certain i’m afraid. You will have to wait and see. I believe those agreements will remain yes but i don’t know if that will enable you for a full refund in the future.

  • Reply Katya 11/11/2020 at 20:56

    Hi, I was working in Germany less than 5 years (+/- 3.5Y). I am Russian and after Germany I was always living in EU. I am residing in Spain and plan to retire here. Will my German pension be combined with my EU pension from other countries? Can I claim it?
    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/11/2020 at 11:11

      Hey Katya. You can chose either options.

  • Reply Tracy 06/11/2020 at 23:21

    Hi, I’ve been working for 8 years in Germany and in 2 years I plan to return back to my homeland. As I’ve been woekimg more than 5 years in Germany, am I still allowed to withdraw all my pension? I’ve got friends telling me if I work for more than 5 years in Germany, I can’t take back my full amount and I can only get back my pensions after retirement by the form of monthly payment to me. Hope someone can advise me. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/11/2020 at 10:59

      Hey Tracy. Please read the contents of the post again. All the answers are there.

      • Reply Josh 04/12/2020 at 08:30

        Hey Bastion,
        I don’t see anywhere in the article about what happens if you’ve been in Germany longer than 5 years. I read it fairly thoroughly too.

  • Reply Emir 26/10/2020 at 09:48

    Hi,

    I am a Croatian (EU) but I am going to move to Serbia (also have their nationality). Does this apply for me to? Can I get the pension back?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2020 at 10:42

      Hey Emir. Citizenship is not a relevant criteria.

      • Reply Emir 04/11/2020 at 07:54

        Thanks 🙂

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