NEW*: German Pension Refunds for Europeans & Refunds of 5+ Years Contributions!
I am European. Can I get a refund of my german pension contributions?
How much money will I get back? Can I get a german pension refund leaving Germany after 5 years?
In this article you will learn how to get a German pension refund, and also how to get a German pension refund after 5 years of working in Germany, and why that is possible.
Also you will get an answer to the question: How much money do I get back? And you will understand how and why you as a national of a European member state can get a refund of your Deutsche Rentenversicherung contributions.
This comes to you as a surprise? The truth is that despite what most of the self-proclaimed experts say – also Europeans qualify for German pension refunds and it does NOT matter how long you have been working in Germany.
First of all, congratulations! You asked the correct questions. And to give you a simple, quick answer what this article is all about: YES. Europeans can get a refund and we will show you how.
Why does everybody else say that I cannot get a refund?
Well, as simple as that: They do not know better and keep repeating after others who know nothing about refunds.
You can find the same misunderstanding everywhere: Only Non-Europeans and people who have worked for less than 5 years can get a refund.
It is indeed true what the Deutsche Rentenversicherung writes: If you are a non-European citizen and you have worked in Germany for less than 60 months you might be eligible for a refund of your contributions. This is one of the possibilities to get a refund.
But turning this statement into the wrong message, that ONLY if the above mentioned applies to you, you will be able to get a refund and everyone else cannot – is just wrong on so many levels:
The Germany Social Security Law defines refund eligibility with two citeria: Obligation and the right to pay voluntary contributions.
What do these criteria imply?
1) You are not eligible for a refund as long as you are obliged to pay into the German pension system. That is always the case, when you work in Germany.
2) Also, you are not eligible for a refund, if you are given the right/option to pay voluntary contributions to the Germany pension system. This is the case, when reside in Germany but you are unemployed or you are working as a freelancer/self-employed or when you reside in any European member state (EU), a country of the European Economic Area (EEA), in Switzerland or in one of the following 22 non-European ”contract states”: Albania, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada/Quebec, Chile, India, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Philippines, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, the United States and in the near future also: Moldova.
All the above mentioned countries and areas have bilateral social security agreements with Germany which allows you to pay voluntary contributions to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung and therefore, you are not eligible for a refund. You can read more about that topic in our article about contract states and nationalities.
So how can I get a refund as a European?
You are eligible to get a refund of your contributions, when the above mentioned criteria do not apply to you anymore.
And for you that is only the case, once you reside in a non-contract state.
Non-contract states are all countries that are not mentioned in the bilateral agreement part above.
Why am I eligible for a refund based on where I reside?
Simply, because between these countries and Germany no bilateral social security agreements exist. Popular countries amongst expats for example are the Emirates, Russia, China, Singapor and other south east asian countries.
As a European, residing in a non-contract state automatically takes you out of the criteria equation.
”Europeans are eligible for a refund if they reside in a non-contract state and have passed the mandatory waiting period of 24 months after their last contribution in Germany.”
In a non-contract state, logically, you are no longer obliged to pay contributions to the German statutory pension scheme while working there.
And also, you are not given the right to voluntarily keep paying contributions to the German system anymore. Even if you would really want to voluntarily keep paying contributions to further grow your German pension savings – it is impossible. The German system does not allow you to do so.
Instead, and because of that, NOW you are able to get a full refund of your obligatory contributions once 24 months mandatory waiting time have passed. In case you paid voluntary contributions, you can get 50 % of them refunded.
The mandatory waiting time of 24 months starts from the next month after your last contribution. Many say – another big misunderstanding – the waiting time only starts, once you have left Europe. That is not true.
It starts the month after your last paid contribution in Germany. Where you reside until the waiting time has passed, does not matter at all.
That being said, if your last contribution was two years ago and you reside in a non-contracting state now, you can apply for a refund today. If you want help with that, contact us.
It does not matter where you have been residing during the wait. All that matters is that 24 months have passed after your last German contribution and that at the moment of application you reside in a non-contract state.
”The 24 month waiting period starts from the next months after your last contribution in Germany. NOT from the date you left Europe!”
I worked for more than 5 years! Can I also get a refund?
Despite what you hear and read elsewhere – the amount of time you worked in Germany does NOT affect your refund. It does not matter if you have worked for more or less than 5 years, in order to get a refund!
How much money will I get?
You are curious how much money your refund will be? It can be quite a big amount. Our current (Sep. 2019) average refund is 12,700 Euro based on a 3 year average time spent working in Germany. Your refund is based on your gross salary and the amount of months you have been working in Germany. To find out how much exactly you will get paid back, use our free pension refund calculator. It will give you an estimation right away.
* OK, let us be honest: This information is not new at all. It just is new to most expats. The possibilities for refunds have always existed. But this information is new to 99% of the readers – most likely including you.
Why is there so much wrong information out there? It seems that the first agencies and bloggers misunderstood the way refunds work and never bothered to actually to look into how they are designed legally.
And the reality of the internet is that everyone follows and repeats what the self-proclaimed experts say. So in that way it can actually be considered NEW information.
As of today, besides us there is no single source in the internet that seems to know anything about eligibility and refunds!
How do we know how it works? We have been getting refunds for our clients for more than 12 years. Amongst them Europeans, people who worked for more than 5 years, Non-Europeans, nationals of contract-states, nationals of non-contract states. We know exactly what works and how – from our daily experience.
We have made it our mission to inform everybody who is eligible for a refund that he/she is and how it works.
Feel free to contact us for further information or if you want experts to take care of your refund.