Pension scheme

Leaving Europe, Working in Europe | Departure conditions/formalities, Pension rights | Germany

If you leave Germany, please consider the situation regarding the pension provision in Germany and the country of your next stay. Have in mind the different treatments of the statutory and the occupational pension schemes.

If you work in several countries in the course of your professional life, your payments to the respective pension insurance fund are generally recognized for pension purposes in each EU/EEA country, Switzerland and countries with bilateral social security agreements. Your rights from the 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 respective national law.

In the German statutory and the occupational pension scheme you can 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 to qualify for a pension. The minimum insurance period for an entitlement to a German old-age pension 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.

Following this principle, 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 with respect to a certain qualifying period required.

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 recommendable to inform yourself beforehand about the regulations valid in your country.

Once you retire your pension accumulated in the different countries should 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 the 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 in case of entitlement to 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.

Transfer of pension entitlements is not possible in the statutory pension scheme due to the recognition of contribution periods (Social Coordination).

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

  • In the VBLklassik 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 a transfer of pension capital values may be possible. But each transfer has to be handled carefully and individually, since there is neither a European nor a German law which regulates 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
  • FAQ on 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.