Checklist: What you need to know when leaving Germany for good
Permanently departing Deutschland? Use this handy checklist to see what you need to do next to successfully leave the country - and bureaucracy - behind.
If you’ve been renting your flat in Germany, let your landlord know in advance that you’re leaving. The majority of contracts require this at least three months in advance.
Don’t forget renovation works (so-called ‘Schönheitsreparaturen’) that might have been included in your contract as well. Make sure you discuss with your landlord to determine when you can expect to receive your deposit back. Unfortunately there is no legal maximum timeline for them to return this to you. However, in general, four weeks after you’ve vacated the flat is reasonable.
If you live in a shared flat (WG) check with your flatmates how your leaving impacts the contract. Sometimes, landlords will allow you to have a sub-rental situation, or someone to replace you. In this case, a termination notice template found here will be useful.
Right before you leave, do the last repairs on your flat or home if they’re included in your tenancy contract.
When you leave, take a picture of the utility’s meters, such as gas, electricity and water, to prove your consumption to your supplier and/or landlord. Make sure you inspect the place, with the landlord if possible, and return the key. Your landlord should sign a paper during the handover confirming that the place is in order and that all the key copies have been returned.
In advance to leaving, you should get in contact with your electricity and gas suppliers to terminate your contracts. You can use this termination template.
Don’t forget to terminate all other contracts you may be responsible for, including electricity, internet, phone, water, other insurances as well as recreational things such as your gym membership or any other club memberships. Make sure you start planning three months in advance, as some memberships may have notice periods.
Most internet contracts are for long term periods, and you may need to bring your Abmeldung (more on this down below) to prove that you are leaving the country for good and need to terminate the contract. Customers who move away are covered by this law: TKG-Novelle §46 VIII and are allowed to cancel their contract outside of the minimum duration with a three month notice period if moving country. This termination letter template is applicable to internet providers and this one for mobile providers.
If you have any subscriptions you do want to keep up, such as streaming subscriptions, make sure to update your address and payment details as well as making any other changes.
For your post you can set up a post forwarding contract with the Deutsche Post here to make sure you don’t miss any important letters once you’re in your new home. A standard forwarding service lasts a year, with the option of extension for an extra cost.
Let your employer know in advance that you are leaving the company and where the last salary should be paid . A termination notice template in German can be found here
Get in touch with your insurance company/broker in advance to terminate your policies. For healthcare insurance talk to your provider to determine if there is a way to transfer rights for your pension, you may decide to let the German system hold onto it for you.
Check your situation as a taxpayer. If you leave Germany permanently and don’t return to live for more than 183 days a year its likely you won’t be taxable in Germany anymore. This however doesn’t stand if you have property or assets that generate income in Germany or if you do return for more than 183 days a year.
Check with your tax advisor (Steuerberater) if you have any other questions. You are able to submit a tax return after leaving Germany.
If you’re self-employed make sure you let the Finanzamt know that you are leaving the country. This form is applicable for Berlin.
If you are eligible for unemployment benefits in Germany it may be possible to transfer those benefits to your new country’s system. This is especially doable if you are movable to another country within the EU.
Pension contributions refund
If you have worked in Germany for less than five years and are not an EU citizen you can get a refund on your pension contributions. You can find a step by step guide on the process of how to do this here.
Let your bank know that you are departing and book an appointment if needed. Make sure to cash out any remaining money in your accounts if you don't plan on coming back.
Plan what you’re going to sell and what you will keep. Sites such as Ebay Kleinanzeigen are a handy resource to sell or give away your things. Also check Facebook groups.
If you want to hold on to your furniture, you can book a moving company to move the stuff you want to keep.
Just like when you first came to Germany you registered with your address, you must also de-register when you leave. You can fill out an ‘Abmeldung’ form which you'll find at your local Bürgeramt or online. It can also be done via post. You have a maximum of two weeks after leaving Germany to de-register your address.
If you’re leaving Germany you’ll want to say goodbye to any friends you’ve made here, and enjoy your favourite spots one last time. But don't be a stranger – you'll be welcome back any time.
Tschüss and bis bald!