Back to Germany

Have you been living abroad for quite some time? Are you planning to return to Germany? Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons that you’re considering this move, Germany is looking forward to having you back and welcomes skilled professionals with good job op-portunities and a flourishing economy. Read on and we’ll guide you step by step as you prepare for your return.

General information

If you’re a skilled professional returning to Germany after a longer stay abroad, your pro-spects of getting a foot back on the ladder are excellent. If you’ve been seconded to a post abroad, your company will probably refer you to a relocation agency that will give you all the information you need and take care of the most important work. However, if you’re planning your return by yourself, there a few points to consider. Our guide to “working in Germany” has answers to many important questions around issues like how to apply to a new job in Germany, social security and the German tax system. For information on “bringing your family to Germany”, “schools”, “kindergarten”, or “flat hunting”, please consult our guide to “living in Germany” and our sections on “training and learning”.

Health and disability care insurance

In 2009, Germany made it mandatory for every person living in the country to buy health in-surance, either under the statutory system or from a private provider. So don’t forget to regis-ter yourself and your family with a healthcare provider as soon as you arrive in Germany. Whether you’re eligible for private or statutory healthcare or can choose between the two will depend on the type of insurance you had prior to leaving Germany, on the length of your stay abroad, and on your job in Germany. If you’re returning from an EU Member State, a country within the EEA or Switzerland, you should ask your insurance provider to issue you with form E 104, which will serve as proof of insurance for the time you had insurance cover under the foreign country’s healthcare system. This will help ensure that you can benefit from full cov-erage as soon as you come back.

A point to remember: your initial point of contact should be the healthcare provider you had before you left Germany. Ask them about the insurance plans you can choose between when you come back to Germany.

Social security

If your job in Germany is subject to social security contributions, your employer is required to register you with the statutory social security providers (unemployment, pension, health, disability care and accident insurance). Your employer’s HR department should do this automati-cally as soon as you start your job – provided that you and your family have registered with a German health insurance company. Click here for additional information on the social security systems in the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland.

A point to remember: your first pay slip will state the amount you and your employer are pay-ing in social security contributions. This makes it easy for you to check that your employer has actually registered you. 

Unemployment

If you have yet to find a job, register with your local employment agency (Arbeitsagentur)
If you’re not taking up employment immediately upon your return to Germany, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. You will need to visit your local employment agency in person to register. If you’re not resident in Germany, you’re not subject to the requirement that you must notify the agency three months prior to the end of your employment. However, this requirement is not waived for those who’ve been abroad on secondment or working abroad whilst living in Germany.  In these cases, you can meet the notification requirement by contacting the agency over the phone, in writing, or online, or you can register immediately upon your return to Germany.

  • If you want to register yourself as jobless, you can call this number: 0049- 911 1203 1010 (without phone charges)
  • Or you can use this link
  • For additional information on registering as a jobless person, please go the website of the Federal Employment Agency.

Proof of entitlement to unemployment benefits
If you’ve been paying into an unemployment insurance scheme in the EU, the EEA, or Switzerland, you can transfer these entitlements to Germany. You will need to ask the competent employment agency in your host country for form PD U2. Please contact your local employment agency for further information on the portability of benefits from other countries.

Unemployment benefits
As a general rule, those unemployed in Germany are entitled to financial support only if they have previously had a job subject tosocial security contributions in Germany prior to registering themselves as unemployed and filing an application for unemployment bene-fits. This is why most people returning to Germany are not entitled to unemployment ben-efits. However, if you do take up employment in a job that is subject to social security contributions after returning to Germany and then become unemployed, any time you’ve spent working in the EU, the EEA, or Switzerland can count towards your entitlement in Germany. This will only be the case, however, if you’re able to furnish proof of employment for these periods. The exact rules here differ vastly between different countries, which is why you should consult the EURES website to find out what proof you can obtain and what it is you need, and to arrange a meeting with a local EURES advisor. For an overview of the various national rules, consult the European Commission’s website on “Your rights country by country”. You will also find detailed information on the leaflet "Unemployment benefit & employment abroard". Please contact your local employment agency for further information on the portability of benefits from other countries.

Pension insurance

You may be entitled to transferring the pension entitlements you have obtained abroad to Germany. However, this applies only to countries in the EU and the EEA and for Switzerland, and only to any of these countries that you spent at least a year working in. You will need to furnish form PD U1 as proof of insurance. Click here to go to a register of foreign agencies that can issue form PD U1. Click here to learn more about your pension entitlements and their various components. If in doubt, contact Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German Pension Insurance) for advice.  

A point to remember: It’s a good idea to collect all your certificates, diplomas etc. that can serve as proof of employment.

Information on this website

Personalised information and advice

Adjusting to your new environment

Getting off to a good start in Germany

Tips on job hunting, application and support programs

Information on the internet

Federal Office of Administration

Information for those returning to Germany (German)

German Pension Insurance

Information on international provisions around pensions (German, English, Spanish, French)

Raphaelswerk e.V.

Personal advice (German)