pensions For Members

EXPLAINED: Can you take your German pension with you when you move abroad?

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Can you take your German pension with you when you move abroad?
A plane takes off from the Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport in January. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Soeren Stache

If you’ve worked for a few years in Germany, you’ve probably contributed a decent sum toward your pension fund. But if you plan to leave the country, whether or not you can take that nest egg with you depends on a few factors.


Full time employees in Germany are generally obligated to contribute nearly one-fifth of their income into a pension fund. 

The required retirement contributions are intended to support you later in life, and if you intend to retire in the Bundesrepublik, they probably will. But for those who leave Germany before retirement, reclaiming pension funds can get a little complicated.

Between EU countries pensions are combined automatically

Moving pensions is easiest between EU countries. Workers moving from Germany to another country in the EU will be able to combine their German pension contributions with those that they make in the new country, as is mandated by EU law.

For example, if you worked and made pension contributions in Germany for two years, and then moved to Poland and worked for another three years, your total pension would be equal to five years' worth of contributions.

The same is true in reverse, for workers from other EU countries who move to Germany. 

Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland also apply these rules.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Do your pension contributions abroad count in Germany?

The minimum requirement that applies here is that you must have worked for at least one year within each country for those contributions to be transferable.


Can you bring your pension savings to a home country outside of Europe?

For foreign nationals from outside of Europe, the rules get a little more complicated.

Some countries have agreements with Germany that allow workers to collect their full pension when they leave the country.

Currently Germany maintains these co-called social security agreements with 21 countries including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, South Korea and the US. A full list of countries is provided on the German Pension Insurance website (Deutsche Rentenversicherung).

Additionally, Deutsche Rentenversicherung notes that “the German pension insurance scheme is for the time being protected by the Brexit deal through the withdrawal agreement.” So citizens of the UK can still claim their German pensions if they return home.

To receive one’s full pension – that is the sum total of their own contributions as well as their employer's contributions – they must have worked and contributed to their pension for a total of 60 months (five years).

However, in accordance with the aforementioned EU law, time spent working in different EU countries can be combined. So if you worked for two years in Italy and three years in Germany, you’ve still passed the five year threshold for pension withdrawals.

Non-EU citizens that worked less than 60 months in Germany may still be entitled to their German pension contributions. 

In this case, after living two years outside of Germany, you can file a claim with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung to receive the employee pension contributions you’ve made, even before retirement age. But you won't be able to claim your employer’s contributions.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about Germany's new pension reforms

More information about pensions and the application to file a claim can be found at Deutsche Rentenversicherung.



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