No wonder Germany is a great place to live and work, but being an expat in Germany, you might need to leave Germany at some point in your life. It might be because of family and personal needs or a new job at another location globally. Whatever the reason is, you should know basic and practical things to do before you leave Germany. Your reason for leaving Germany might be exciting for you but sad at the same time. Undoubtedly, you might be affiliated with the place you live in and the people you live with. Remember that all good things have an end (happy or sad), so prepare for the new beginning. This article is for all expats and foreigners working or studying in Germany. Continue reading it till the end to get some critical information about leaving Germany.
Related Topic: How to Take a Sick Leave in Germany
Essential Things to Do While Leaving Germany
Whether you are leaving Germany for your new job to live with your family or going on a new adventure, you should remember the below essential points while leaving Germany. Do not take it easy and straightforward to leave Germany. It is not just about booking your flight, packing your luggage, and going to the airport for your travel. There were formalities you did at your arrival, and the same is the case while planning to leave Germany. Plan it carefully to avoid any additional taxes and bills after your departure. Here are the essential things you should do while leaving Germany.
Notice to Your Employer in Germany
You should check for your notice period if you have a work permit. It may be three months or more than three months. You should prepare for the departure well before your notice period starts. If your employment contract is unlimited, you should submit a written and signed resignation letter to your employer. Ensure that you resign from your employment professionally and respectfully.
Inform Your Landlord
Inform your landlord about leaving Germany right after you make your final plan. Remember that German law protects the tenants, so you would never face any hurdle while terminating your rental contract. Being a resident in an apartment or house, it is highly recommended to give notice to the landlord before the three months of leaving Germany. If your tenancy contract has a shorter notice period than three months, you can notify your landlord accordingly. If your landlord allows you to find a new tenant, you can refer and enjoy a shorter notice to your landlord. It is always good to give a written notice to your landlord to avoid any inconvenience. It is legally compulsory to send the notice to the landlord through postal mail, as more than an email with an attachment of the letter is required. You must also submit the notice letter with the signatures of all listed persons on your rental contract.
Conditions are different if you are living in Germany for a short period and have a short stay rental agreement or are under a fixed term agreement. Check your contract or agreement before you do the formalities for leaving Germany. If your landlord does not have a new resident in the apartment, you can ask your landlord for proof that your contract is cancelled and you are no longer a tenant.
Terminate Your Insurance Policy
Most of the insurance policies have a standard clause of termination. According to the standard termination clause, the term is usually three months before the renewal of an insurance policy. To check the conditions for your insurance policy termination, you need to check your insurance policy documents carefully so you may have a better idea about the termination of your following insurance policies;
- Personal liability insurance
- Legal insurance
- Bike theft insurance
- Home contents insurance
- Any other insurance
If you got your insurance policy from a digital insurance provider, you can cancel it anytime with only one click online. Other insurance providers have a specific notice period before you submit a written termination letter.
Cancel Your Health Insurance
There are two kinds of health insurance plans people usually have, as mentioned here;
If you have a public insurer for your health insurance, you would only need to send him a copy of your deregistration certificate. Your deregistration certificate is enough to prove that you do not need a health insurance policy anymore.
If your insurer is private, the scenario can be complicated compared to the public insurer. Some private insurers simply reject the termination of insurance policy, which causes trouble for the expats moving out of the country. They demand strong proof that you are permanently leaving Germany. You can submit a copy of your deregistration certificate or a one way flight ticket as proof that you are leaving Germany. In some cases, where you cannot resolve the issue, you can ask for legal advice from your lawyer.
Sale Out Your Car
If you have a car, there are two options;
- Sell it or
- Take it with you
No matter which option you choose, you are required to deregister your car. For the deregistration of your car or vehicle, you need the following two things;
- Registration certificate
- Licence plates of your vehicle
If you want to sell your car stress free, you can use online selling platforms. These platforms ask for details of your car to generate a quotation of the final sale price of your car. Once the price is final, you should make an appointment to handover the car to the branch. Rest assured, the platform will do everything. You must ask for the driving record from your car insurer. This is very beneficial as you will have enough money when moving to a new country.
Another option is to move your car with you. In that case, you should know about your new country's import rules and regulations. You can also get services from the moving companies to move your car or vehicle.
Your Driving Licence Reclaim
If you have changed your foreign driving licence to a German driving licence, you need to reclaim it before you depart from Germany. Contact your home country to find out if the German authorities have sent your foreign driving licence back or kept it. Contact the relevant department in your home country and confirm directly.
Contracts with Service Providers
Before you leave Germany, you need to cancel all agreements you have. You get services from different German service providers when you live in Germany. Sitting in peace and listing all contracts you have signed is highly recommended. Notice period of each service provider can vary and depends on the terms and conditions of the agreements you signed at the time of your arrival in Germany. A few service providers would demand a written notice from you, while others would terminate the services with only one click.
Sign Out Your Mobile Phone Agreement
Most people coming to Germany sign a contract with a mobile phone provider right after they reach Germany so they can easily interact with their family members. What kind of payments you need to pay depends on the type of contract you sign up with your mobile phone provider. This can be the most challenging and complicated thing to sort out while leaving Germany, so do it as soon as possible.
The scenario is different for different deals. Here, we have mentioned a few cases for better understanding.
Let us discuss these deals in detail.
Pay As You Go Deal
If your agreement is simple with a “pay as you go” deal, you can simply write a letter to inform the end of your contract to your mobile phone provider. You can make it more accessible through a few clicks on the Internet.
Pay Monthly Deal
If you signed up for a “pay monthly” deal with your mobile phone provider, things can be more complicated. Most German mobile phone contracts tend to last up to 24 months, so your mobile phone provider can force you to pay until the final month of your contract. This can be simple if your previous contract is finished, and your next contract is auto renewed by your mobile phone provider. As you did not take out the new contract, you can give a one-month notice before moving out from Germany according to German consumer laws.
Terminate Your Internet Contract
This is the only thing in which leaving Germany gives you the right to terminate internet services. The only thing you need to do is to provide the written notice before the three months of moving abroad.
Cancel Your Cable TV and Phone Agreement
Like the internet connection termination, your cable TV and phone agreement will also be cancelled when you leave Germany. The notice period is usually three months, so you can write to your cable TV and landline providers to inform them about your decision to move to another country. Your provider may ask you to pay a one off termination fee. Remember that according to German law, a one off termination fee is never more than the cost of a new connection.
Finish Up The Utility Agreements
No one can live without utility needs, and so do you. Being an expat in Germany, you would have energy or water contracts to live a smooth and easy life in Germany. While leaving Germany, you should cancel your utility contracts, too. To cancel your utility contracts, you must send a written notice to each utility provider to tell them you are leaving Germany.
Remember to check your meter reading before cancelling your electricity contract in Germany. As you must pay your last bill, be careful at your last moment so you may not be charged for the additional electricity units when you move out.
End Up Your Memberships
You can have memberships by paying membership fees to pass your free time. While leaving Germany, you need to cancel your memberships. In Germany, you may have memberships like;
- Social clubs
Remember to cancel all memberships on time by sending a written letter to all. If your contract still needs to be finished, you must hand over your deregistration certificate after receiving it.
If you have a habit of going to the gym, you must have a gym membership in Germany. Do not think you are leaving Germany, so your gym membership will automatically be cancelled. Think again; you need to do the formalities before leaving Germany. Not doing so can be problematic, as gyms in Germany can sue you in court. According to similar case histories, it is noted that the German Federal Supreme Court ruled the case in Gym's favour. It is highly recommended to do the following during your period in a gym in Germany;
- Talk politely with the gym staff during your gym visit hours.
- Try to find someone willing to take up your gym membership. This way, you would not need to cancel your gym membership.
- On the other hand, we highly recommend expats in Germany refrain from taking up gym membership in the first place after moving to Germany.
Discuss with The German Federal Pension Fund
Being an employee in Germany, you must have accrued some pension benefit entitlement if you are contributing towards the pension from your salary. While leaving Germany, you must discuss the scenario with the German Federal Pension Fund. If you are an expat who moves from one place to another occasionally, you may lose the pension contribution you have made out of your salary every month. It is good to discuss with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German Federal Pension Fund) and ask them what claims you accrued regarding your pension contribution reimbursement. Remember to ask for the pension payment you will receive when you retire. Your claim to contribution or German pension refund depends on several factors;
- Your nationality
- Treaty of your country with Germany
- Your next country
Deregister and Get Your Deregistration Certificate
If you remember the time when you reached Germany, you registered yourself. Similarly, you must deregister yourself and tell the German authorities you are leaving Germany. You can also unregister yourself from the country you are moving to. Still, it is excellent and easy to deregister before leaving Germany to get your deregistration certificate. Getting a deregistration certificate is essential and will help you terminate and cancel many of the agreements in Germany.
There are different scenarios to deregister. Some of them are mentioned here.
- Being business person
- Being self employed
- Being freelancer
- Being student
- Being parents of kids enrolled at school
- Being kindergeld receiver
You must deregister your business if you are a freelancer, business person, or self-employed. You can check the deregistration form on your city's website. Submit the deregistration form along with your ID to the concerned authorities.
If you are a student leaving Germany before finishing your studies, you should unregister yourself from the university you are attending.
You need to deregister kids from schools or kindergarten if you have kids. As you know, attendance of students from age 6 to 15 is compulsory in German schools, so you need to inform their school while giving a valid reason like moving abroad. You would also share the last day at school by mentioning the date on a signed letter. Remember to collect the transcript or any certificate that will help you further enrol your kids in a new school at a new place.
The German government offers kindergeld to the parents to meet some expenses for their kids. If you are receiving kindergeld, informing the concerned department that you are moving to another country is crucial. If you fail to do so, you will continue to receive the kindergeld benefit, which will cause you to pay heavy fines. If there are any changes in the kindergeld benefit, you need to inform the local authorities via an application form.
Deregistration Time Frame
The deregistration timeframe is minimal, unlike 3 months notice period. It is only seven days before you leave Germany.
How to Deregister?
Fill out the deregistration form and send it to the authorities via postal mail or email. Some offer an online service, but deregistration is highly recommended in person, as you will get the deregistration confirmation on the spot. On the other hand, you need to wait for the confirmation for days or even four weeks. You must share your new address to receive your deregistration certificate in this scenario. This confirmation is necessary to cancel any ongoing or new contracts straightforwardly.
Here is the straightforward process of deregistration;
- Get an appointment from an individual citizen office of your city.
- Fill in the deregistration form.
- Attach a copy of your ID or passport.
- Complete your deregistration application.
- Attend the authorities on the day of the appointment.
- Present your deregistration application and get the confirmation.
Basic Instructions to Follow During the Deregistration Process
While going through the deregistration process, you must follow these instructions carefully, so keep them in mind. Here are the instructions;
While getting an appointment, remember to get an individual appointment if you are unmarried. Non married couples are required to book the two appointments.
If you are married, you can have a single appointment for your case.
Each city in Germany has its own registration office so that you can find it online for your city.
Deregistration forms are different for all cities in Germany, massive ones.
When you submit your ID or passport by mail, attach the colour copy to avoid any delays in the deregistration process.
If you want to deregister from your new country, you must do so within two weeks after leaving Germany.
What If You Do Not Deregister?
There are a lot of consequences if you do not deregister, whether you do this intentionally or not.
- It is your legal obligation in Germany; if you fail, it would result in a fine of up to 1000 Euros.
- You would be asked to pay the taxes as you are still resident in Germany.
- Health insurance is compulsory in Germany, so your health insurance provider will continue to charge you for the policy and service.
- Your visa and resident permit are for a specific timeframe. If you do not deregister, you will overstay, a severe factor resulting in trouble when you plan to revisit Germany.
Resident Permit after Deregistration
Keep your resident permit with you as you move abroad, even after deregistration. You do not need to submit or return your resident permit after deregistration. It will remain valid six months after leaving Germany and expire automatically afterwards.
If you have an EU blue card, it will expire 12 months after moving abroad.
You will have a permanent German resident permit if you have been in Germany for over 15 years. It will also expire 12 months after moving abroad.
Redirection Service (All Mails and Letters)
As you are moving abroad, getting all your mail and letters to your new country or address is crucial. You need to tell the authorities about your new address so they can activate the redirection services for all the posts they will receive on your behalf. Your posts will automatically be forwarded to you for up to 24 months. The price of the redirection service starts from 23.90 Euros for six months. Your local postal office may charge additional fees when your posts and letters are redirected to the new address.
No More Radio or TV Tax
There is good news, and you will be excited after reading this. While leaving Germany, you are not required to pay TV taxes any more. If you have planned to leave Germany, you do not need to pay the TV taxes or TV licence fee for the rest of your stay in Germany. What you need to do is send a written letter along with a copy of your deregistration certificate.
Bank Account Closure
Well, this is the most crucial step to consider while leaving Germany. Wait to close your bank account in advance as you need money till the last day of your stay in Germany. Bank account closure is simple, easy, and straightforward in Germany, so that you can do it on your last day or during your last hours. You can close your bank account online or in person on the same day if you have a direct bank. If you want to keep your bank account open even after leaving Germany, this will give you additional benefits. After leaving Germany, you can quickly pay your last electricity bill and make other transactions. Otherwise, you can use funds transfer applications or online platforms to save additional bank fees.
Final or Remaining Balance in Your Bank Account
Money is everyone's need at all times, and so is yours. It is essential only to transfer some funds to another bank account or get a balanced amount in cash. If you have enough cash in your bank account till the last days, you can make transactions to make any payments pending before leaving Germany. Your bank will give you the final cash balance when you leave Germany, or you can transfer the amount on your request to your other account. Your bank will also cut your card to avoid any inconveniences in the future.
Unpaid Bills after Leaving Germany
Stay in Germany when payment of your bills is pending. Doing so may result in a lot of legal financial. And other issues. Service providers do not bother to collect funds themselves; they submit your case to professional debt collectors. These debt collecting companies will not give up and keep you asking until you pay the bills. They will send you multiple reminders and will follow you abroad. These companies will add up their fees, and your debt and amount of bills will be increased, so only move out of Germany if you pay your bills.
Creditors like insurance companies usually try to handle the case themselves. They will send you continuous reminders and update your record file with the debt information. This can cause trouble when you plan to return to Germany. So, ensure your bills are paid on time before leaving Germany to ease your life in a new place.
Landlord and The Apartment
Say a formal goodbye and make a handshake with your landlord. It is better to check the final meter reading with the landlord. Ask your landlord to visit the apartment and show him the condition of the apartment to avoid any problems later. Return the keys to your landlord after inventory checks if the apartment was furnished. If anything is damaged or broken, your landlord may ask you to pay for it. If you think about it, you can renovate your flat in the same condition you received from your landlord.
Handover the flat or apartment to your landlord and document it in writing, and take pictures of the empty apartment too to avoid any claims later on. When both parties (you and the landlord) agree that everything is good, you can request your landlord to return the deposit. The frame to get the deposit back is around 6 months
Friends and Acquaintances
Meet your friends and loved ones in Germany as you cannot meet again in a shorter period.
If you have your furniture, there are multiple options to adopt. You can sell it, give it away, or take it. Moving companies offer services if you want to move your furniture to your new home. You can check various websites and Facebook groups for multiple options if you want to sell or give away.
Apply for The Tax Refund
Being an expat, you would be worried and thinking about the tax refund. No worries! It is possible, but you must apply for a tax refund from your new country. Nothing will happen automatically after leaving Germany. To file your tax declaration for the taxes after the beginning of the next fiscal year, you need to find a professional, certified, and experienced tax advisor. The tax refund and return depend on the advisor and how you present your case, and your advisor files your tax return on your behalf. Some online consultation platforms allow you to find English-speaking consultants to file your tax return.
That is it! You know everything about German formalities to do when leaving Germany. Never leave Germany in a hurry, and plan it properly. We wish you a delighted move to the new country. Pat yourself and have an incredible journey ahead. Cheers!