If you worked in any of these countries, you could be due a Tax Refund

Don’t Leave Your Money in Germany! Your Complete Guide to German Pension Refunds

Updated 18/02/21

If you have worked in Germany, it’s likely that pension contributions were deducted from your salary each time you were paid.

Now, if you have left Germany, or have no plans to retire there, you may be wondering if you can claim back your pension pot.

The answer to that question depends on your personal circumstances.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together this complete guide to explain everything you need to know about your German pension refund. 


I am working in Germany. Do I have to pay into a pension fund?

Germany’s pension system is one of the best in the world.

Participation in the statutory pension insurance benefit - gesetzliche Rentenversichering (RV) is mandatory for anyone who is working in Germany (including many self-employed workers).

Up to a maximum contribution ceiling (Beitragsbemessungsgrenze), everyone must contribute 9.35% of their gross monthly salary (including expats) to their pension.

The employer matches the compulsory contribution of the employee and the sum is transferred to the employee’s personal pension account.

In 2021, this monthly contribution ceiling is €6,700 euros in East Germany and €7,100 Euros in West Germany.

What are German pension refunds?

If you paid mandatory contributions to the German pension fund for fewer than 5 years and now live outside of the EU, you may be eligible for a German pension refund. 

Keep in mind too that you will not receive your pension refund automatically. You must apply for it yourself.

Who can claim a German pension refund when leaving Germany?

Firstly, you may be entitled to a refund of your German pension if you are a non-EU citizen (a few exceptions: people from Israel, Macedonia and Serbia are NOT entitled to the pension refund) and you paid the mandatory contributions for less than five years.

If you have paid contributions for more than 5 years, it won’t be possible to claim a refund. However you will be able to apply and receive a pension each month when you reach the German retirement age.

If you haven’t reached retirement age, you must wait two years after you leave Germany before applying for your refund.

If you are a US national and you are currently living in the EU, you can’t claim your pension refund until you return to the States.

The average German pension insurance refund is €5410

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Who cannot claim a German pension refund?

In short, you will not be entitled to a German pension refund if:

  1. You are a European Union citizen
  2. You live in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland
  3. You are a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro or Serbia

In these scenarios, you can't get a refund for your German pension payments for now. However, when you turn 67 years old, if you still can't get a German pension, you can request a refund.

Finally, you will also be ineligible for a German pension refund if you worked in the European Union for more than 5 years. However, you may be entitled to receive your pension when you turn 67. 

I am eligible for a German pension refund! How do I claim it back?

You can either apply directly yourself with the German authorities. Or alternatively, if you would like some help, you can apply with Taxback.com.

Our experienced team will ensure you receive your maximum refund amount (we can even go back as far as 1994) and transfer your refund straight to your bank account anywhere in the world.

When can I claim my German pension refund?

If you are a non-EU citizen, you can apply for a refund if more than 24 months have passed since your last German Pension contribution.

What is the average refund amount – how much will I receive?

Taxback.com customers get an average pension insurance refund of €3,032. However, exactly how much you will receive will depend on your personal circumstances.

How long does it take to get your German pension refund?

After you submit your documents, it takes between 1 and 6 months to be processed. While you are not eligible to receive a refund until two years have passed since you left Germany, you can still start your application. This will help you to save some time when submitting your application.

Is my German pension refund taxable?

No, your refund is not taxable.

How to claim my German pension refund?

If you decide to claim the refund yourself, once you have your forms completed, you must add a copy of your passport and send it to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

Afterwards, you should wait up to six months before the Deutsche Rentenversicherung reviews your case. They will send you a ‘Bescheid’ letter, to the address you provided in the application form, which will contain the period of contribution and the amount refunded.

It’s important to be aware that, while you can apply in any language, Deutsche Rentenversicherung replies only in formal German. So, depending on your level of German, this can make the process more difficult.

Who can help me claim my German pension refund?

Many non-German nationals find it difficult to communicate with Deutsche Rentenversicherung, due to the language barrier and an unfamiliarity with the refund application process.

If you find the prospect of applying for your German Pension Refund to be daunting, Taxback.com can help you.

We take the stress out of applying for your German Pension refund.

Our agents will keep you updated throughout the process and communicate directly with the German pension office on your behalf.

Feel free to contact us, and ask us any questions. We have Live Chat Support and our tax experts are available 24/7.

How to apply with Taxback.com?

The process is as simple as possible. You will need to complete a simple registration form and send us copies of your final payment document, passport/ ID card, and current bank account statement. Email this to us, and leave all the tricky paperwork to our team of German tax experts.

The average German pension insurance refund is €5410

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Why choose Taxback.com?

  • Your maximum German pension refund guaranteed
  • Stress-free online process
  • We handle the paperwork
  • We transfer your tax refund from Germany to your bank account, anywhere in the world

About The Author

Kristina Valcheva - Digital content writer @ Taxback.com

Kristina is a digital content writer at Taxback.com. She has a strong interest in finance and technology, and her background is in media, journalism and sales.

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