You made it through the Anmeldung (registration) in Germany, survived the foreigner’s office and maybe even filled out a German income tax return form at one point. If you now decide to leave Germany and move to another country, there’s just one bureaucratic barrier left for you to overcome: How to deregister in Germany (a process called Abmeldung).
In this article you’ll learn why you shouldn’t skip the deregistration in Germany, when you need to do it and most importantly, how to deregister in Germany. With our step-by-step guide you’ll be ready to move in no time. Let’s do it!
- Why do you have to deregister in Germany?
- You don’t have to deregister if…
- How to deregister in Germany: Step-by-step
Why do you have to deregister in Germany?
Alright, so you decided to leave the country. Why shouldn’t you just leave and be done with it? As you most likely know by now, German bureaucracy can be a pain, so why bother with an Abmeldung if you’re planning on starting a new life elsewhere anyway? The answer is simple: If you don’t, you might get fined.
Moreover, without confirmation of de-registration (Abmeldebestätigung) you will not be able to cancel payments for health insurance, TV and radio tax (GEZ). You will also be able to cancel other contracts such as phone, internet or electricity even if the minimum contract term hasn’t ended. Imagine having to pay twice, just because you didn’t deregister properly! Another bonus of the Abmeldung is a potential refund on your pension payments after two years, if you’re eligible.
Reasons for deregistering in Germany:
- You will not have to pay taxes in Germany anymore
- An Abmeldebestätigung helps you cancel health insurance, phone, internet and any other contracts you had in Germany
- Two years after deregistration, you might get a refund on pension payments made in Germany
- Not deregistering might end in a fine up to 1000 Euros
When to start the deregistration process
The earliest time to deregister is seven days before you leave. Depending on where you live, it can take longer to get an appointment at the Bürgeramt (local registration office) if you want to do it in person, so make sure you book it as early as possible.
There is also the option to deregister after moving to a new country, which has to be done 14 days after your departure.
You don’t have to deregister if…
Just to be clear: You only have to deregister, if you’re leaving the country for good, and you registered in Germany at one point during your stay.
If you’re only moving within Germany, you don’t have to get the Abmeldung. Good news, right? Unfortunately, you’ll still have to make an appointment with the Bürgeramt for an Ummeldung to inform them that you’re changing your address. However, that process is not as extensive as deregistering.
If you’re only planning on leaving temporarily because you want to study in another European country for example, you don’t have to deregister if you’re returning to the same address afterward.
How to deregister in Germany: Step-by-step
The steps to deregistering in Germany are rather simple but important. Make sure you don’t miss your appointment or forget to bring a document. Deregistering too late can result in a fee! On the bright side, doing it costs you nothing. These are the different steps:
1. Gather your documents
To deregister in Germany, you will need to bring your ID and the IDs of any family members coming with you. You will also need to bring the deregistration form, which you can download on the website of the registration office near you. If you have a residence permit, you have to bring that, too.
2. Book an appointment at the registration office
The earliest time you can deregister is seven days before you leave. Depending on where you live in Germany, you will have to book the appointment with the registration office further in advance. Especially in bigger cities like Berlin, this might be necessary. The appointments can be booked online on the registration office website or over the phone in some cases.
3. Submit your documents
Go to your appointment at the registration office in person and hand in the documents. It is also possible to send a representative to do it for you, if you cannot do it yourself. This person will need a signed document by your attorney stating that they have the right to do it for you, as well as a copy of your ID or passport.
4. Use your deregistration confirmation to cancel liabilities in Germany
Once you’ve handed in your documents, you will receive a confirmation for your deregistration. You can now use this document to cancel any contracts and other liabilities that you had during your time in Germany. Notice periods may vary.
If you can, plan your departure in advance
Well, it might not always be possible to plan months in advance and prepare everything you need to do before leaving on time. However, like most things in Germany from the Anmeldung to registering a car, it could take a little longer to gather all the documents you need and to get an appointment at the next registration office. Deregistering is necessary if you don’t want to pay tax and insurance in Germany anymore. While most workers in registration offices in Germany speak English, it can be helpful to refresh your German language skills for your appointment.