Deregister in Germany or not? I also asked myself this question before my world trip. So I researched on the internet and called around. I quickly discovered that reliable information is hard to come by. It was really tedious to get the picture. So that it doesn’t happen to you, I have put together a mini-guide for you, in which I show you the legal framework, as well as the pros and cons.
Another note, I am not an expert on the subject. All information I have researched or it is my own experience. If you don’t have much time, you can find a summary at the end of the article.
The German Federal Registration Act (BMG)
The registration law is clear on this point. As soon as you move out of your apartment, you have to deregister from Germany. Here you can see the full text of the Federal Registration Act (BMG).
BMG §17 (2) Anyone who moves out of a dwelling and does not move into a new dwelling in Germany must deregister with the registration office within two weeks of moving out. A deregistration is possible at the earliest one week before moving out; the update of the registration register takes place on the date of moving out.
New registration law from November 2015
In the past, long-term travelers often just registered with their parents or friends, you can still do that of course, but it is done a bit differently. Because in the meantime you have to present a certificate at the Burgeramt to register your new residence.
This certificate is usually issued by your landlord or administrator, he is obliged to do so. In your case, it can be issued by a friend or family member with whom you are living as a subtenant. But you are both taking a risk.
Warning. In case of false statements or violations, a fine of up to 1.000 Euro from you and up to 50.000 Euro can be demanded from the housing provider. (BMB §54 fine regulations)
If you sublet your apartment
Also in this situation you have to deregister from Germany according to the registration law. But you could better argue in case of problem that you are only temporarily absent and have fixed return plans. The fact that your rental contract continues and that your furniture is still in the apartment speaks in favor of this. Maybe you can think of other arguments, like a sabbatical contract with your employer.
During your trip around the world you are in a gray area. Strictly speaking, you have not emigrated abroad and do not have a permanent residence at the moment, but are traveling the world. For such a case there are no clear rules.
Deregister from Germany
The deregistration is done quickly.
When I deregistered for my world trip, I went to the Burgerburo in the city hall. The clerk was completely out of her depth at the first moment and first had to find out by telephone. In the form I had to fill in a country I am moving to. Here I simply entered the first country I traveled to. Otherwise she still needed my identity card.
Then everything went very quickly and I had my Deregistration certificate in hand.
The Identity card I didn’t have to hand it in, it just got a fancy new sticker: "No main residence in Germany".
Tip: Keep your deregistration certificate well and take a picture of what you are filing online. If you need a new passport on the way, it is helpful.
But what consequences does a deregistration have for you??
This is not answered so fast, because without a permanent residence in Germany you give up a lot of rights and duties.
Once again the note: I am not an expert and can only report from my experience.
What does this mean for health insurance?
If you have a permanent residence in Germany, you are obliged to pay health insurance. Theoretically, even if you are registered in Germany, but are currently traveling the world. Then you would pay an expensive health insurance without being able to use its benefits at all, because it is not valid in non-European countries.
Cancel health insurance in Germany
But here’s the good news, you can cancel your German health insurance at the beginning of your trip if you can prove that you have health insurance abroad. Most health insurance companies accept the cancellation without any problems.
As a compulsorily insured, you can deregister with a corresponding proof, at the health insurance company. All voluntarily insured persons must comply with the relevant notice periods, which is usually two months to the end of the month.
No qualifying period necessary
In the past, it made sense to keep your German health insurance or to take out a qualifying insurance. That way you had an assurance that your insurance would pick you up when you returned from your trip around the world or in case of an emergency.
Since the health reform in April 2007 this is no longer necessary.
Now your previous statutory health insurance company is obliged to accept you again. You don’t have the risk of being without health insurance. Even if you are incapacitated or no longer co-insured through your parents after the trip. Even if you got sick while traveling or had an accident, which requires a follow-up treatment in the home country.
NoteThis applies to a world trip, if you stay abroad for several years, it will be more difficult to be accepted again in your old health insurance. Be sure to keep the documents for your international health insurance in case they ask for it.
The only exception to this is if you are voluntarily insured
If you were self-employed before the trip and have voluntarily insured yourself in the statutory health insurance, your old health insurance does not have to accept you again after the trip. That doesn’t mean that they won’t insure you again, but they don’t have to.
So far it has always worked for me, but sometimes I had to trick a bit. If, for example, you do not become self-employed after the trip and instead look for a salaried job or do a marginal self-employment, it is easier to be reinstated in your old health insurance.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should take a Anwartschaftsversicherung sign up with your old health insurance company. This is how you can bridge the time of the trip. The costs are about 50 to 100 Euro per month.
How is it with former private insurances?
In case of a private health insurance the case is different, because you can go back to your old insurer, but he does not have to accept you again at the old conditions. Therefore it makes sense to have an insurance during the world trip. This way you make sure you can go back to your old plan without a health check.
Check with your insurance company, how high the costs for a qualifying period are.
Conclusion on health insurance
With the legal health insurance it makes no difference whether you have a permanent residence in Germany during your world trip or not. In private health insurance and as a voluntarily insured in GKV you should take out a Anwartschaft.
link tip: Health insurance at home: a lot of information about rights and obligations during and after the trip
What does this mean for current contracts?
Some contracts state that you must have a permanent residence in Germany. Check the terms and conditions of your contract or ask the provider directly. If this is the case, your stay abroad is a reason for cancellation.
If this happens, for example, at your bank, through which your current account and your credit card runs. Would it be really uncool to suddenly find yourself without a credit card?. If the bank really cancels your contract when they see all your money withdrawals abroad. I’ll leave that open.
By the way, there are banks that do not require a permanent residence in Germany. At the moment this is the case with DKB and comdirect. Find out therefore before.
Specify new postal address
Probably you will also need some contracts for the world trip (mobile phone, insurances, subscriptions, memberships, etc.).) cancel your account and keep only what is necessary. For the rest, you can take your chances and just give a new postal address. This could be the address of a friend or your family who agreed to receive your mail.
At Tax office For example, I gave my parents as "authorized recipient" and my mail went to their address. This means that they could accept my mail, but did not have to respond to requests or reminders. This was ideal for me as being self-employed meant there was still a bit of paperwork in my absence. So I was always up to date. Alternatively, I could have hired a tax advisor.
Conclusion on contracts
In some contracts a permanent residence in Germany is required and a trip around the world would be a reason for cancellation. Find out in advance how it is with your current contracts during your trip. And change your postal address, so that you remain reachable.
Further consequences for deregistration from Germany
- No entitlement to social security benefits
- Almost always an existing business must be deregistered
- Under certain circumstances you are no longer liable to pay taxes in Germany – further information
- No longer listed in the electoral register, voting must be applied for
- Right to extraordinary termination (electricity, telephone, internet contracts, subscriptions, etc).) – only important in case of short-term departure, otherwise cancel in due time
- Quicker and easier to get a new passport on the road in case of loss or theft (present deregistration certificate). -> What you have to do now? How to get a new passport? And what is a temporary passport?
- You will not be issued an international driver’s license. -> Check how long your old one is valid and get a new one before deregistration.
- Without a registration address (main residence) no official and judicial letters from the tax office or the police can be delivered, which must be answered promptly (deadlines, fines)
No car registration possible?! According to Tommy (a reader) it is also possible without §46 FZV Abs. 2 – "If there is no domicile, seat, branch or office in the country, the authority of the place of residence or place of stay of a person entitled to receive is competent."
Summary: Do you have to deregister your residence in Germany?
One more hint, I am not an expert in this topic. All information I have researched or from my own experience.
German registration law
According to the registration law the case is clear. You have to deregister from Germany within two weeks if you do not move into a new home in Germany.
If you want to avoid this, you need a certificate from a friend or family member that you are living with them as a subtenant. With this you can re-register at the registration office. But beware, in case of false declarations or violations, you may be fined up to 1.000 Euro from you or up to 50.000 Euro will be required from your housing provider. Even if you sublet your apartment, you must deregister.
Deregister from Germany
You can deregister quickly and easily at the registration office. You will receive a Deregistration certificate and in your identity card is noted "No main residence in Germany".
Consequences for health insurance
If you have a permanent residence in Germany, you are liable to health insurance. But you can cancel your health insurance if you can prove that you have health insurance abroad.
For the statutory health insurance, it makes no difference whether you have a permanent residence in Germany during your world trip or not. After your return, your previous health insurance has to accept you again. Even if you got sick on your travels or had an accident that requires follow-up treatment at home. Therefore, nowadays you no longer need a qualifying certificate.
Exceptions are private health insurances and voluntarily insured in the geseztlichen health insurance company, they are not obliged to insure you at the old conditions after your return. Here it makes sense to take out an insurance policy to ensure that you have health insurance after the trip.
Consequences for current contracts
In some contracts a permanent residence in Germany is required and a trip around the world would therefore be a reason for cancellation.
Find out in advance how it is with your current contracts during your trip. Inform everyone of your new mailing address so they can continue to contact you. This can be the address of a friend or family member whom you trust and who will receive your mail.
There are a few points, but they probably do not have much weight for you. For example, you can’t just go vote or you can’t register a new business. More interesting is that you have the right to extraordinary termination (electricity, telephone contracts, subscriptions, etc.).). You can apply for a new passport faster and easier abroad in case of loss or theft.
Not an easy topic
Hopefully I was able to help you with my mini-guide to the topic of deregistering in Germany. Officially you have to log out, but both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, decide for yourself what you feel more comfortable with.
Link Tip: Sebastian from Wireless Life has been living in China for a couple of years now and he has studied the topic very intensively. In his articles he highlights everything from the point of view of a digital nomad: