How to get your social security number in Germany

How to get your social security number in Germany

by Erin McGann

Updated November 7, 2022

One of the first things your German employer will ask you for is your Sozialversicherungsnummer, your social insurance number. It allows your employer to make your pension contributions, and should you leave Germany, you’ll also need it to claim those funds as well. It’s worth noting that this is different from your tax ID, which you will also need for your employer. 

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What is the social security number in Germany and how do I get one?

Much like the Social Security Number in the US and the National Insurance Number in the UK, the German Sozialversicherungsnummer allows an employer to make the necessary pension contributions for you. It is also sometimes called a Rentenversicherungnummer, SV-Nummer, RNVR, or Versicherungsnummer, although this last one can also refer to your health insurance number, so double check which one you’re being asked for. 

When you apply for public health insurance, you will get your Sozialversicherungsnummer automatically. If you have private health insurance, you will need to apply for it separately from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung. Once you’ve requested it, your Sozialversicherungsausweis, your social security card, will arrive in the mail in about two weeks, but can take up to six. If you need your number in a hurry, you can go to a Deutsche Rentenversicherung office in person and you will receive it that day. 

What do I need to get a German social security number?

You will need a residence permit, so you will need to have completed your Anmeldung. You don’t need to be employed yet to get your social security number, and a company can employ you and pay you, before you’ve received yours. Just be sure to inform your employer as soon as you receive your number. 

Is the German social security number the same as the tax ID number?

No, your social security number is not the same as your tax ID number, and they are issued by different government departments. But your employer will need both of these numbers from you. Your tax ID, or Steueridentifikationsnummer (IdNr), is issued by the Federal Central Tax Office, Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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How do I apply for my social security number online?

If you sign up for public health insurance, you will automatically be registered for your social security number. The big public health insurance organizations are Techniker Krankenkasse, Barmer, AOK and DAK. In some cases, your employer may apply for you, and you will receive your details in the mail. If you need to apply yourself, you can do so online at Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German). The process is in German, and you will need:

  • Your resident permit or ID card with the activated online ID function
  • Smartphone with NFC
  • AusweisApp2 on your smartphone
  • Computer running Windows or macOS and the AusweisApp2 (optional)

If you’ve been using a health insurance broker to source your private health insurance, sometimes they will get this process started for you, so it’s worth asking about it. 

Getting your German social security number: You can do it!

There is an overwhelming amount of unfamiliar paperwork involved when you move to Germany, but just take it one step at a time and you’ll get there. You can request your social security number from your public health insurer or the Deutsche Rentenversicherung if you’ve lost track of it, and it will also be on your paystub from your employer if you are a salaried employee. The good news is you will only have to do this once, as your social security number is for life. 

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Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favorite activity, along with sewing, cooking, and weaving. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.

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