Pension Refunds After Leaving Germany

If you worked in Germany (European and non-European nationals) you might be eligible for a refund of your pension contributions if 24 months have passed after you left the country. Different rules apply depending where you currently reside and if you have contributed for more or less than 60 months. 


Welcome to Germany Pension Refund, the leading expert platform for expats reclaiming pension contributions paid back in Germany – since 2007!

Here is a high-level, TL;DR preview of what you will learn in more detail in this guide. 

Feel free to jump to your specific case: 


Claim Your Refund Directly

Are You Eligible ?

Nationality, Residency & Contribution Time

Refunds for Europeans

Refunds for Contracting State Nationals

Refunds for Non-Contracting State Nationals

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While you were employed in Germany, compulsory pension insurance premiums of 9.3%* were taken out of your gross salary and paid to the “Deutsche Rentenversicherung”. If you are a European or a Non-European national, you can reclaim your German pension contributions after leaving the country, eligibility provided.  *Current rate, slightly higher in past years.

Are you curious how much money you can get back, given that you qualify for a refund?

Our free Pension Refund Calculator will give you an immediate answer. 


Do you qualify for a refund? You will find all information to find out if you qualify for a refund regarding your nationality. Different rules apply for Europeans, nationals of Contracting States, and nationals of Non-Contracting States. You can use our quick navigation links to jump straight to your answer. 


It is our professional mission to protect your money and to help you get a complete refund of your contributions. We are experts on this topic and our experience goes back until 2007. If legal actions are required, we team up with specialized law firms to claim your refund. 


Most German expat pension contributions remain unclaimed for different reasons.  

There is the lack of general knowledge and information about the refund possibility, a lot of misleading information about not qualifying for a refund online, many applicants simply give up during the complex refund process, and the language barrier. 


We can help you save a lot of time and effort besides the paperwork and end-to-end communication with the German authorities. Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding your refund, eligibility, residency, waiting period, or any other questions that might arise reading through our information.


Are You Eligible for a Pension Refund?

Germany Pension Refund Eligibility Gener

Being eligible for a refund is influenced by a number of criteria: your nationality, where you reside, how long you have contributed.


The main requirements – as a general rule – to qualify for a Rentenversicherung pension refund for expats are outlined in the German Social Code (“Sozialgesetzbuch”, SGB): 


§ 210 (1) No. 1 SGB VI grants you the right to reimbursement of your pension contributions if you are not subject to compulsory insurance and have no right to voluntary insurance

Both requirements must be fulfilled at the same time to reclaim pension contributions. You cannot claim your refund, if you are either not subject to compulsory insurance or not entitled to voluntary insurance! 


Fulfilling both requirements though, is not enough to qualify for a refund – a mandatory waiting period of 24 months must have passed since your last contribution was paid to the “Deutsche Rentenversicherung”, the German Pension Office. Only then a German pension refund can be claimed.



Nationality, Residency, and Contribution Time 


On a different note, despite what you might have heard or read before, your nationality and the period of time you paid contributions do not disqualify you for a refund! 


The Deutsche Rentenversicherung and the German Social Code distinguish between different groups of Expats, related to your nationality:



This group consists of nationals of the European Union member states (EU), nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), and nationals of Switzerland. For the sake of simplicity, we will use the terms “EU”and “EU” nationals. Check your eligibility.


Nationals of Contracting States

If your home country has signed a social agreement with Germany that covers refunds, and you do not belong to the first group, then you are considered a national of a contracting state. Current agreements exist between Germany and Albania, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada/Quebec, Chile, India, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Philippines, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, United States of America. Check your eligibility.



Nationals of Non-Contracting States

If you are not in group 1 or 2, then you are considered a national of a non-contracting state.

Check your eligibility.


Find out more about nationalities.

When it comes to refund eligibility, different rules apply, depending which group you belong to. In the following part you will learn what is required for you to qualify for a refund, depending on your group. The requirements become more complex, the more supranational and intergovernmental regulations take part.  


Non-Contracting State Nationals

Being a national of a non-contracting state means that Germany and your home country have not signed any social security agreements. 


Once you have left Germany, you are no longer subject to compulsory insurance.

If you reside within the EU, you are given the right of voluntary contributions, but that ends outside the EU: 


If you reside outside the EU, and 24 months after your last contribution in Germany have passed, you are eligible for a refund.


In your case it does not matter how long you have paid contributions (more or less than 60 months). You can get a refund of all contributions you paid back in Germany.


Check how much you will get back with our free refund calculator

If you are eligible, get your refund now!

Contracting State Nationals


Your home country has signed social security agreements with Germany. That does affect your eligibility for a refund as follows. 


In your case, the Deutsche Rentenversicherung makes a difference between contributions made for less than 60 months and contributions made for 60 months or longer (= eligibility to receive old age benefits in the future). 

Less Than 60 Months Contributed

If you reside outside the EU, and 24 months have passed since your last contribution was paid, you are eligible for a refund.

60 Months or Longer Contributed

To qualify for a refund, you must not reside within the EU, your home country or any other contracting state. If you reside in a non-contracting state, and 24 months have passed since your last contribution was paid, you are eligible for a refund. It does require some extra efforts though to explain, why you are an “exceptional case”. 


Check how much you will get back with our free Pension Refund Calculator

If you are eligible, get your refund now!


European Nationals

First of all, being considered European, covered by supranational regulations, you only qualify for a refund of your German pension contributions if you are an exceptional case. 


Legally you are treated equal to German nationals in terms of social security. You have the right to pay voluntary contributions to Germany residing worldwide (if you have paid at least one contribution to the German Pension Scheme), no matter where you live. 


But – once you reside in a non-contracting state – you can file for a refund claiming exceptional circumstances. In that case it does not matter how long you have been contributing (more or less than 60 months). It does require some extra efforts though to explain, why you should be considered an “exceptional case”.

Check how much you will get back with our free Pension Refund Calculator

If you are eligible, get your refund now!

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