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Working in Europe, Leaving EuropeDeparture conditions/formalities, Pension rightsGermany

Pension scheme


If you leave Germany, please remember to consider your situation regarding your German pensio contributions and how this might impact your status in your new country of residence. Also keep in mind that statutory and occupational pension schemes have different provisions and requirements. 

If you work in several countries over the course of your professional life, your payments to the respective pension insurance fund will generally be recognized for pension purposes in each EU/EEA country, Switzerland and countries with bilateral social security agreements. Your rights from your pension insurance remain intact. This means that when you reach retirement age, you can receive pension payments from any of these countries if you meet the requirements under the corresponding national law.

In German statutory and the occupational pension schemes, you accrue pension entitlements if you have been insured in a pension scheme. The relevant conditions for being insured are explained in the pension scheme for incoming researchers and in the Pension ABC on the website of the European Tracking Service (ETS) Project.

Qualifying periods and accumulation of insurance times spent in different countries:

Similar to other European pension systems, the German statutory pension scheme requires a certain contribution period in order to qualify for a pension. The minimum insurance period to be entitled to a German old-age pension upon retirement is 5 years.

As an internationally mobile researcher, it is important to know that social insurance in the Member States of the EU  and EEA states  is coordinated according to the EU Regulation 883/2004 on the Coordination of Social Security Systems.

According to this, Member States of the EU  , EEA states  and Switzerland as well as Partners to a bilateral Social Security Agreement ("Sozialversicherungsabkommen") have to acknowledge periods during which pension rights have been accrued in these countries and have to count them together when checking required periods of qualification.

Periods during which pension rights have been accrued in countries which do not have a Social Security Agreement ("Sozialversicherungsabkommen") with Germany may not be added to the German periods in order to fulfil the prerequisites for entitlement. It is generally a good idea to inform yourself beforehand about the regulations valid in your country.

Once you retire, the pension you have accumulated in different countries will then be paid by each single country individually. There are just a few exceptions aimed at avoiding mini-pensions. All social security providers award pensions on the basis of their own national legislation. This means, that under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to a pension in several different countries.

As soon as contribution payments into your occupational pension scheme terminate, your occupational pension scheme will end in accordance with your employment contract. Your entitlement to an occupational pension depends on the pension scheme you have been insured with as some pension schemes require a minimum qualifying period (e.g. VBLklassik). To find out if and under which conditions you are entitled to a occupational pension, please refer to the Pension ABC on the website of the European Tracking Service (ETS) Project.

As a rule of thumb you cannot claim for a refund if you have met the entitlement requirements to one day receive a pension. Whether you are entitled to a refund or not, mainly depends on these factors:

  • your citizenship (EU; EEA, other nationalities);
  • your place of residence and
  • the regulations of the chosen pension scheme.

If a refund is possible in your situation, please refer to the Pension Compass of the the European Tracking Service (ETS) Project.

Pension entitlements cannot be transfered within the statutory pension scheme due to the regulations regarding the recognition of contribution periods (Social Coordination).

Transfer of pension capital values is, however, possible under certain conditions within the occupational pension system, but this depends on the pension scheme you have been insured in. This regulation applies to the German Versorgungsanstalt des Bundes und der Länder (VBL) (in German). Whether a transfer is possible mainly depends on your pension provision within the VBL: VBLklassik or VBLextra (in German).

  • In the VBLklassik (in German) scheme, a transfer of entitlements is generally not possible. The only exception currently applies to the personnel of the European Union (EU), the European Patent Organisation (EPO) and European University Institute (EUI).
  • In the VBLextra (in German) scheme, a transfer of pension capital values may be possible. Each transfer must be handled carefully and individually as there is neither a European nor a German law regulating cross-border transfers of pension capital values.

    For more information on this, please refer to the Pension ABC on the website of the European Tracking Service (ETS) Project.

Regarding the statutory pension scheme, contact the Deutsche Rentenversicherung in order to clarify your insurance periods and receive an attestation of your insurance record.


Further Information

  • European Tracking Service (ETS) Project

    Detailed information on the German Pension Landscape and matters concerning pension entitlements, pension contributions and benefits.

    European Tracking Service (ETS) Project
  • Pension entitlements in the German statutory pension scheme

    Information on European law, social security agreements and the German statutory pension scheme for people living abroad

    Deutsche Rentenversicherung 
  • FAQon pension entitlements in the German statutory pension scheme

    Frequently asked questions on pension entitlements in the German statutory pension schemes

    Deutsche Rentenversicherung 
  • Pensions for researchers
    Information about EU-wide social security protection and transfer of pension rights

  • RESAVER (Retirement Savings Vehicle for European Research Institutions)

    RESAVER is a Pan-European Pension Plan that enables mobile employees to remain with the same pension arrangement when moving between countries and when changing jobs.