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,

56 Comments

  • Reply Ena 18/05/2019 at 13:04

    Can anybody help with this question, please. We left Germany in October 2018. My husband worked for his German company for a further two months from the UK. He then retired. His early retirement settlement was paid in January. His tax class was changed from 3 to 6 in October. When he files his tax return are we likely to get any money back? Does anyone know why it was changed?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:23

      Hey Ena. I can’t really answer any of those questions on such little details in a comment section. Might be worth talking to an expert on that matter.

  • Reply Anandi Praan 18/05/2019 at 11:33

    Hi, your website is really very helpful. Please keep up the good work. All the best for your work.
    If I stay more than 60 months and after that returns to my country.
    1) What will happen to pension fund?
    2) Will I get pension? if yes When and how I will get it? Please share the pointer if you have any.
    2) Will I get the pension in my country at the age of 67 (ツ)?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:21

      Hey Anandi. 1) It’s mentioned in the post. 2) yes, you would receive it from the German pension system 3) yes.

  • Reply Maria 12/05/2019 at 17:43

    Hello there, thank you for this informative article but, I have one question that seems to me not to be covered. I worked in Germany for 12 months, and I have dual citizenship Serbian and Hungarian – meaning non-EU and EU citizenship. I live in Serbia (I lived here before moving to Germany and after that) and have never lived in Hungary (or any other EU country before obtaining EU citizenship – I lived in UK many years ago but had only Serbian citizenship at the time). Am I eligible for refund or not? Thank you in advance and kind regards 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 14:10

      Hey Maria. Honestly, no idea. Maybe ask a tax expert and let us know?

  • Reply sukumar 07/05/2019 at 00:00

    Hi , i have worked in germany for 3 years between 2012 and 2016 and i could not pay some credit dues to the bank , currently i am in india , will it be having any affect to get my pension funds if i try ton withdraw my pension funds ? and i have PR from Germany .
    i heard that people say if i have PR i cant apply for pension funds etc .. is it true ? can u please let me know on these points.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/05/2019 at 10:19

      Hey Sukumar. What do you mean with “PR”?

  • Reply Mike 01/05/2019 at 00:19

    Thanks for the post.
    In this post you mentioned: «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.»

    Assume, I’m eligible for a refund and I filled the refund request for the part I contributed.
    But what happens with the part of my employer’s contributions? Can I get it after reaching valid (for that time) retirement age or I just have to say «bye-bye» to the employer’s contributions part in case I leave Germany?

    Thanks.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/05/2019 at 22:47

      Hey Mike. It seems so yes.

  • Reply ramanarao kamma 25/04/2019 at 08:18

    Anybody knows if we can get refund from France too under similar conditions?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:22

      Hey Ramanarao. You should probably check from a french source, i’d say it’s quite likely.

  • Reply Dhey 24/04/2019 at 04:05

    Hi thank you for this site because it helps a lot. My questions is if my contribution is exactly 60 months Di I have the right to apply it for refund instead. I think it’s practical to get it refunded so that I can use it to start a small business. Please let me know. Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:16

      Hey Dhey. Well the rule does say under 60 months so either you get in touch to see if that is still possible, or you try an application anyway and see if it works.

  • Reply Ilija 18/04/2019 at 15:07

    Hi.
    In my documents it says in need to submit a V6110RM form. Any idea what that is? Maybe something from the Embassy?
    Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/04/2019 at 20:12

      Hey there. I can only guess this is a form related to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, but can’t really help you further sorry.

  • Reply Steve Marshall 18/04/2019 at 14:05

    Hi,
    Thanks for the article.
    I’m leaving Berlin after 6 months of work (and paying into a pension through my company).
    As a UK passport holder am I right in reading currently I can’t get a refund as UK is still in EU – however if/when Brexit finally happens then I could request a refund?
    And if the UK remains in the EU, I could only access the pension funds at 67, and not before?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/04/2019 at 20:11

      Hey Steve. I guess the only answer there is at the moment is a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Part of the Brexit magic. 😉

  • Reply Sam 14/04/2019 at 07:16

    Hi- I have a question. What if a person has worked for a little more than 5 years in Germany and then left the country and went outside EU. I assume in such case, they will get pension after retirement and not the refund, is that correct? I am assuming pension will be very less as that will be based on just ~5 years of contribution? is that correct? i am asking because i have no idea how is pension amount calculated in Germany. Is there any website or article which can help me understand that? thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:06

      Hey Sam. You can use this official calculator to know how much you’d get. As stated in the post, you need to have worked less than 5 years to be eligible for a refund.

    • Reply Lily Agg 18/04/2019 at 11:11

      Hi , I worked in Germany for 1 year only and paid a lot into a pension? Will I ever access this, or can I contact someone and move it to my UK pension? Or will it just be gone?

  • Reply Al 30/03/2019 at 13:29

    Hi, Great article. Thanks for posting. I am a US citizen. I contributed in Germany for less than 5 years. I now live and work in another EU country. However, I am not eligible for the retirement funds in that country and I do not contribute to any retirement system there. I have been outside of Germany for more than 2 years. Would I be eligible for a refunds?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/03/2019 at 20:34

      Hey Al. As mentioned in the post, you are eligible but if you are still the EU zone, you can’t apply yet. You need to have left the EU/EEA/CH region.

  • Reply vinod 29/03/2019 at 16:43

    Hi,
    I studied in Germany and during my studies I worked(not a Pratikum) and paid Social contributions for almost a year. After I finished my studies I started working full time. My question is: Do the one-year social contributions count for the 5-year period or the 5-year period counts only after ex matriculation

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/03/2019 at 20:28

      Hey Vinod. It’s 5 years of contributions to the system, regardless of how it happened, if you were a student or not.

      • Reply Michelle Lis 11/04/2019 at 13:52

        If I have dual citizenship, one in USA, one in Poland, then does this apply? I came here on a visa but then just went to the city hall and with my polish passport after it expired. Does it work like I then get the pension (or refund) from Poland?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:23

          Hey Michelle. Good question and the truth is: i don’t know. Sorry.

  • Reply Sara 28/03/2019 at 03:50

    Hello, thank you for the detailed useful article, but I have an inquiry, I have worked in Germany for 2 years from Jan/2016-end of Dec/2017, and I have completed the waiting period of 2 years in my home country ouside EU, and planning to apply for a refund, I however have been going through my documents and found out that I have the “ Lohnsteuerbescheinigung for 2016 “ from my Arbeitsgeber ONLY. And not for 2017, can I still apply for both years , Is it somehow available in their system? or do I have to go through the hassle of contacting my employer to send me the missing “ Lohnsteuerbescheinigung from 2017 “ as well ?, For my request to go through. Kindly advise.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/03/2019 at 20:18

      Hey Sara. You will probably not need it. It’s more important to have your social security ID/number at hand.

  • Reply amit 21/03/2019 at 14:46

    Hi,
    thanks a lot for the clear explanation about the for refund ofthe German Pension system.
    I have one question Suppose if person is contrbuting to AV and RV for more than 60 months for example 8years.
    1) Is it possible to claim pension refund after colling period of 2 yeras.
    2) If yes what is the process?
    3) If no then why person should work for more than 5 years in Germany ? – just for curosity how this system is designed.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:01

      Hey Amit. 1) No. 3) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Reply Srini 14/03/2019 at 07:23

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    As am planning to apply German pension refund. As I am finding difficult to get an appointment as there is no appointment in next couple of days in any Berlin’s Deutsche Rentenversicherung office, And as I am leaving back to India next week permanently.

    Could you please clarify the following:

    1. I came to Germany from India in October – 2018 and worked in Berlin till February 2019 and paid 5 months Rentenversicherung (RV) and Arbeitslosenversicherung (AV). So I am eligible for claiming my part of RV and AV?

    2. Could you please let me know the appropriate forms that I need to fill?

    3. Could you please let me know where (Address) should I send the filled forms and supporting documents?

    4. Since I worked in Berlin, so should I apply for German pension refund only in Berlin’s Deutsche Rentenversicherung or can I apply anywhere across Germany’s Deutsche Rentenversicherung office?

    Thanks in advance for your support.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 09:09

      Hey Srini. Have you read the post? Literally all questions are answered there.

    • Reply Rekha 30/04/2019 at 14:54

      Hello,

      I want to go back to India this December but I will be completing 5 years by June. Is there anyway I can get refund of my pension contributions. Like ..change the employment to consultant instead of permanent etc. Please advice. I really need the money now 🙂

  • Reply Karolia 14/03/2019 at 00:07

    What if I am EU citizen but I am about to move to outside of Europe (Canada)? I’ve worked 15 months in Germany

    Thank you for the article. I found it very useful.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 08:54

      Hey Karolia. Then i suppose you are eligible.

  • Reply Joel 09/03/2019 at 00:55

    Hi Bastien,

    I worked in Germany for 3 years. Im planning to leave and work in Latam for a longer than 2 years period. In case I get the money back, could I work again in Germany? Or should I then have any restriction? Thanks, Joel

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/03/2019 at 14:09

      Hey Joel. Yes, it’s possible.

  • Reply ziad ajaj 05/03/2019 at 17:05

    hey ,, i worked in germany almost 7 years,, then i left to jordan almost 6 month ago,, there were giving unemployment salary
    i worked in jordan these months
    they called me and they asking me to give them there mony back cuz they found out that i worked there these months
    any one can give me an answer how i have to deal wit that

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/03/2019 at 23:10

      Hey Ziad. Can’t really help you there. I suppose you have to follow their instructions.

  • Reply Galina 20/02/2019 at 20:14

    I am US citizen. I worked in Germany from 2001 to 2004 years. Am I eligible for Rentenversicherung refund? If so, how can I get my refund. Currently I am living in USA.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:27

      Hey Galina. I mean: it’s literally the content of this post. Just read it.

  • Reply Henrique Tramontina 19/02/2019 at 21:59

    Hi,
    I am Brazilian and I moved to Berlin for work 3 years ago. While living here I got my Italian citizenship, but I never changed my employment contract or anything like that. The only thing I did was add my dual citizenship on my last Anmeldung.
    I’m now moving to Canada and I’m just a bit confused if the fact I got my Italian citizenship could affect my right to get the pension refund.

    Thank you, your blog is really helpful! 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:22

      Hey Henrique. Citizenship status is not related to the refund. Only place of residence after you leave the country is.

  • Reply Sohail 28/01/2019 at 18:23

    Hi,
    I studied in Germany and worked as a student in two separate jobs. I did pay social security for almost two years starting from mid of 2007 until the end of 2009. I left Ger,mau at the end of February 2014 and stayed outside the Europe until end of 2017. Now i am back in Europe (not Germany) and want to get the social security back.
    Considering the situation i mentioned above, am i eligible to apply for it ?

    Thanks..

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 10:06

      Hey Sohail. Eligibility conditions are clearly stated in the post. Is there anything unclear?

      • Reply Sohail 30/01/2019 at 12:44

        What i am confused about is that i worked for less than 5 years but i didn’t work continuously. My first job was in the mid of 2007 and last job was in December 2013. So the overall time period is more than 5 years but the total working time is less than 5 years. So am i still eligible ?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:24

          Hey Sohail. You contributed last than 5 years so it’s most likely ok.

  • Reply Kiran 25/01/2019 at 13:28

    Hi
    I came to Germany in Apr-2011 and paid 4 months Rentenversicherung (RV) and Arbeitslosenversicherung (AV). As per Indo-German social security deal my Employer told not required to pay RV and AV for first 4 years.
    So I got back my RV and AV which I paid for Apr-2011 to Jul-2011. Until Mar-2015 I have not made any contribution to German Pension system.
    I started to pay first time from Apr-2015 on wards and I continued till Sep-2016 (Total contribution 18 months)
    Now I have completed the waiting period of 24 months.
    So I am eligible for claiming my part of RV and AV?
    Could you please let me know where (Address) should I send the V901 filled form and supporting documents?
    Thanks in advance for your support.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/01/2019 at 20:40

      Hey Kiran. The conditions for eligiblity are stated in the beginning of the post, it seems like you are eligible. As stated in the post, you should get in touch with the last office you were in contact with. There is a link to find contact details.

  • Reply Rebekah 28/12/2018 at 04:57

    My husband left Germany around 25 or 30 years ago. At that time he was working for the State. When he left, he took his contributions. Is he now entitled to claim his employers contributions. His legal advisor at the time said that he could but now the pension department has said he cannot. He is now 70 and has very little money.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/12/2018 at 20:45

      Hello Rebekah, i suggest you contact an expert on this topic because this is likely based on where your husband was stationed, what he was doing, what he decided at that time, etc. Also, maybe laws have changed since then. That’s probably wiser (and worth it!) to contact one. Good luck with it.

  • Reply Nara 01/12/2018 at 18:35

    Hi!
    I’m a us citizen and worked in Germany for less than the 60 month period. I am moving to another EU country for a new job, so if I understand your blog correctly, I wouldn’t be able to request a refund until I leave the Eu permanently and then have to wait 24 months to apply for a refund? Do you know if I can roll the German pension into another eU country (Italy)?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/12/2018 at 21:01

      Hey Nara. Yes, you need to leave the EU/EEA/CH zone to apply for a refund. I guess, in theory you can “roll-it over” but only if you retire there. You can still apply for the refund after you have left German/Italy.

  • Reply Ana 14/11/2018 at 01:45

    Do you happen to know what happens if I am a EU citizen, but I am planning to move and live in the US for example?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/11/2018 at 21:15

      Hey Ana. In this case, i would look at the agreement between the US and Germany for that matter and see how your situation looks.

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