Who is eligible for a pension refund in Germany?

The German statutory pension insurance is not very inclined to refund contributions. That is why you must meet particular requirements to have the pension

Refunding contributions from the German statutory pension insurance can be challenging due to certain restrictions in place. The purpose of these restrictions is to discourage premature decisions to reimburse contributions, as doing so terminates the insurance relationship and forfeits all pension entitlements within the statutory pension insurance system.

While the refund amounts can be substantial, the process itself is known for being lengthy, complex, and confusing.

Generally, there are three main categories of individuals who may be eligible for a pension refund:

  • Civil servants and individuals in similar positions to civil servants.
  • Individuals who have reached the standard retirement age but do not meet the general waiting period requirement.
  • Foreigners who have worked in Germany and subsequently emigrated.

However, it’s important to note that even within these groups, specific criteria must be met to qualify for a pension refund. These criteria may vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific regulations of the German pension system.

Requirements for the German pension refund

 Pension Refund Germany

You can have your pension contributions paid out early if you meet the following three basic

To qualify for an early payout of your pension contributions, you need to fulfill the following three basic requirements:

  • You should no longer be liable to pay contributions in Germany.
  • The last contribution payment you made must be at least 24 months ago.
  • You must not have the option to voluntarily contribute to the German pension insurance scheme

Whether you have the option to make voluntary contributions depends on your nationality and current residence. The German Pension Insurance categorizes potentially eligible individuals into four groups:

  • German citizens
  • Citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK)
  • Citizens of contracting states
  • Citizens of non-contracting states

In the following section, we will provide an introduction to these groups and specify which countries belong to each category.

German Pension Refund – Who is eligible?

Eligibility for a pension refund primarily depends on your citizenship and current country of residence. If you still have the option to make voluntary contributions to the German statutory pension insurance, you are not eligible to have your pension contributions paid out. Let’s check your eligibility! Press the button to use our free eligibility check.

Is a pension refund possible for German citizens and nationals?

German citizens

Regrettably, as a German citizen, you are not eligible for a pension refund. Regardless of your current country of residence, having German citizenship grants you the option to voluntarily contribute to the pension insurance scheme until you reach retirement age. Therefore, German citizens are typically not entitled to a pension refund, even if they hold dual citizenship.

However, there are certain circumstances in which German nationals can receive a payout of their contributions. These include situations where individuals have civil servant status or have reached the legal retirement age but have not fulfilled the general waiting period requirement. In such cases, eligible German citizens can have their contributions paid out according to the conditions mentioned earlier.

Is a pension refund possible for EEA citizens, Switzerland & UK?

If you live in a country in the European Economic Area, you have almost no chance of a successful pension refund. This is because you are treated as a German citizen by EU law.

In this case, you can only claim your pension rights once you have reached German retirement age. If you are not entitled to “normal” German pension benefits you can request a refund. The prerequisite for reimbursement is that you have paid into your pension insurance for at least five years. From 2023, the retirement age in Germany will be 66, but please note that it will be gradually raised to 67 by 2031.

EEA is the European Economic Area abbreviation, including all 27 EU countries, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Switzerland is neither part of the EU nor the EEA. Nevertheless, it is linked to the EU by many treaties, which means that Swiss citizens are on an equal footing with EU citizens in most areas. The same rule has applied to the UK since Brexit.

Suppose you are a citizen of the EEA states (except Germany), Switzerland or the UK. In that case, you can also voluntarily pay into the German pension insurance scheme until you reach retirement age. German pension refund is therefore only possible once you reach retirement age.

Which countries belong to the European Economic Area (EEA)?

Is a pension refund possible for contracting states?

Contracting states are countries that have a social security agreement with Germany. If you are a citizen of a contracting state, you have a favorable opportunity to receive a pension refund from Germany. You qualify for the refund if:

  • You have worked in Germany for less than 5 years and currently reside in a contracting state or a non-contracting state.

Please note that in most cases, if you have made pension contributions for more than 59 months, you will not be eligible for a refund, regardless of your place of residence.

Which countries are among the contracting states? 

Is a pension refund possible non-contracting states?

As a citizen of a non-contracting state, you have a high probability of receiving a refund of your pension contributions.

If you are not a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or a country that has a social security agreement with Germany, you fall into the category of a non-contracting state. Non-contracting states are those that have not established a social security agreement with Germany. As a citizen of a non-contracting state, you are not eligible to voluntarily contribute to the German pension insurance scheme, regardless of your current place of residence. This circumstance greatly increases the likelihood of a successful pension contribution refund.

You have a very good chance of receiving a pension refund if:

  • You currently reside in a contracting state, regardless of the number of years you have worked in Germany.


  • You currently reside in a non-contracting state, irrespective of the duration of your employment in Germany.

Which countries count as non-contracting states? 

Non-contracting states refer to countries that are not part of either the contracting states or the European Economic Area (EEA). Examples of non-contracting states include Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, various African countries, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Korea, and more.

If a country does not fall within the EEA or the contracting states, it is categorized as a non-contracting state. This means that it has not established a social security agreement with Germany.

Complete list of Non-Contracting States

Afghanistan, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Is., Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Rep.m, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Dem. Rep., Congo, Repub. of the Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Gaza Strip, Georgia, Ghana, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, North, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macau, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Fed. St., Monaco, Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, N. Mariana Islands, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Pierre & Miquelon, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkmenistan, Turks & Caicos Is, Tuvalu, UAE – United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, Wallis and Futuna, West Bank, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Pension Refund Germany

In short: Who is eligible for the pension refund in Germany

Only those who live outside the EU or EEA (European Economic Area) and do NOT have EU or EEA citizenship are entitled to pension reimbursement in Germany. This is because you can always make voluntary contributions to the German pension insurance within the EU/EEA.

In addition, the last contribution to the German pension insurance must be at least 24 months ago and you must have left Germany.

Take the eligibility test now and get your money back!

How much German pension refund can I get 2023?

The amount of pension refund you can receive from the German Pension Insurance in 2023 depends on various factors.

The German Pension Insurance is a crucial part of the social security system, providing support to individuals during retirement, illness, and unemployment. When you are employed in Germany, you automatically become entitled to this social benefit. The pension benefits are financed through contributions made by both employers and employees.

As of 2023, the contribution percentage for both employers and employees stands at 9.3%, totaling 18.6% of the employee’s gross income. However, it’s important to note that only the employee’s personal contributions can be refunded, which amounts to 9.3% in 2023.

The exact refund amount will depend on the duration of your employment in Germany and the level of your gross income. Your pension contributions are calculated based on the 9.3% of your monthly income, up to a certain assessment limit (€7050).

Pension Refund Calculator

Before considering a refund of your pension contributions, it is beneficial to have an estimation of the potential amount you may receive. Our pension refund calculator is designed precisely for this purpose. Using the calculator is straightforward: just input your gross monthly income and the total number of months you worked in Germany, and the calculator will provide an estimate. It calculates the refund amount by multiplying these values by the percentage of your gross salary that you have contributed to the German pension insurance.

Feel free to give it a try and use our pension refund calculator to get an estimate of your potential refund amount.

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