If you leave Germany forever and move abroad, you have to think about some important things, such as deregistering from your local municipal authority, canceling subscription contracts, canceling the Rundfunkbeitrag or closing of the bank account. We have listed the most important things for you.
Local municipal authorities
If you are leaving Germany and moving abroad, you have to unregister from your local municipal authority, the so-called Einwohnermeldeamt. The deadline for de-registration is different in each state in Germany (between one and two weeks). If you fail to de-register within that deadline, you risk being fined. To do so, you have to fill out a form online, send a letter or go in to the office during opening hours without an appointment. Please check the particular conditions of your local municipal authority for the correct procedure. You will get a written confirmation about your de-registration.
Good to know: In order to cancel a contract with telephone and internet services before the end of the contract term, many operators require a confirmation of your de-registration issued by your local municipal authority.
Fixed telephone, internet TV & mobile phone contracts
Generally, the contract term is about two years. If you do not cancel it within the deadlines (max. deadline allowed by law: 3 months), it will be renewed for another year.
You have the option to cancel the contract at the end of the contract term. Please be aware of the period of notice. You can find this deadline in the terms and conditions (max. 3 months). You should cancel the contract in writing by registered mail and ask for a written confirmation.
If you have already left Germany, you can cancel the contract before the end of the contract term if the provider does not provide his services at your new residence. This is mostly the case with fixed telephone and internet services. The period of notice in this case is about three months, however, the beginning of this notice period is disputed. A court ruled that it starts when you leave your residence, not when you send your cancellation (OLG München, decision from 18/01/2018, decision of OLG Düsseldorf). That means that you have to pay the monthly fees even though you cannot use the services. Most operators require proof of leaving the country such as written confirmation about your de-registration issued by the local authorities.
In order to cancel the contract, you should send a written cancellation by registered mail and ask for a written confirmation. Afterwards, you have to return the devices such as the router and the modem. Note that the return of devices such as the router and the modem in a store of the provider normally does not signify the cancellation of the contract.
Mobile phone contracts
If the mobile phone operator can provide his services to the conditions stated in the contract at your new residence, you cannot cancel the contract before the end of the contract term. This might be the case if you move into another EU country. Instead, you should cancel the contract by the end of the contract term. Please be aware of the notice period stated in the terms and conditions.
Sometimes customers receive a new mobile phone device when they sign a mobile phone contract. The prices of these mobile phones are normally cheaper than the prices of the mobile phones in a shop. If you cancel the contract before the end of the contract term, the operator might claim the compensation payment from you.
TV access included in the rental contract
It is possible that your landlord entered into the contract with the television provider. In this case you will not be able to cancel the contract yourself. Therefore, you should inform your landlord as soon as you know the date of your departure.
If you paid the licence fee for general public access to radio and television (so called Rundfunkbeitrag), you should inform the fee agency that you are leaving in order to stop your payment. It is recommended to send your cancellation via registered letter and to ask for a written confirmation. On this official website (link in German) you can find a form that you can use in order to give notice of departure.
Without a minimum duration, you can cancel your rental contract three months after notice is given (Kündigungsfrist). If are able to find a new adequate tenant to take over your flat, your landlord might be willing to let you cancel your rental contract with short notice. Please check the particular conditions in your rental agreement. Furthermore, in Germany, a change of job does not usually entitle tenants to an exceptional right to cancel a rental contract. Don’t forget to ask your landlord for the refund of your rent deposit (along with its interest) before leaving Germany.
If your contract does not specify a period of notice for cancelling the contract, you can cancel it at any time. If your account is in debit, you must reimburse the credit before closing your bank account.
Banking / Post redirection
If you are leaving Germany forever, you should close your bank account to avoid paying charges without using it. To close your checking account, you can send an informal letter to your bank, including your name and address and details of your new bank account in order to transfer the remaining balance. Make sure that there are no outstanding direct debits or standing orders. At the post office you can also redirect your mail to your new address abroad. Using this postal service (Nachsendeantrag), you can choose a time period of either 6 or 12 months. You should book this service at least five working days before moving.
Electricity, Gas, Water, District Heating
How to cancel the contracts for electricity, gas, water and district heating:
Cancelling the contract
If you obtain your gas and/or your electricity from a public utility company (Stadtwerke), you can cancel the contract with a period of notice of two weeks.
If you concluded a contract with an alternative electricity supplier and/or an alternative gas supplier, you can find the conditions for cancelling the contract in the terms and conditions of the supplier. Often they contain a clause allowing their customers to cancel the contract before the end of the contract term in the case of move house. You should contact your supplier within the appropriate amount of time.
Before moving out of your flat, you must make sure that your gas and electricity meter is read. Usually, you can do this by yourself and inform your provider with a written statement. Most providers offer a service on their website where you can fill in your final meter readings and unsubscribe easily online. If water is included in your rent, your landlord is in charge of reading the meter. If this service is not included, you can see to the meter reading in the same way as in the case of gas and electricity. The same procedure applies to district heating.
Garbage collection and bulky waste
If the garbage disposal is not included in your rent, you should cancel your contract with the waste management company within the appropriate amount of time. Check the details of your particular waste management company. In general, you will need a proof of your deregistration in order to cancel, either by a written statement or on the website of the company.
The pick-up of bulky waste is normally also included in the service. Therefore, if you are leaving your flat and there are items which you are not taking with you, you should call the waste management company in time to set up an appointment for the pick-up of any bulky waste.
Subscription, associations and clubs
How to cancel subscriptions to fitness centers, newspapers, public means of transport and club memberships.
Fitness centres and newspaper subscriptions
Before cancelling the contract, you have to check the contract term (usually 12 or 24 months) and the period of notice (usually three months). If you do not cancel the contract within the period of notice, the contract will be renewed automatically. The date the trader accesses the letter must be within the period of notice. The letter of cancellation should be in written form and signed by you. An e-mail is not considered as written form in this case. Ask in your letter for the confirmation of receipt. For evidential purposes, you should send it by registered mail.
Moving abroad is not a reason to cancel the contract before the end of the contract term unless a contract term foresees that right. In order to terminate the contract before the end of the contract term, you can try to negotiate with the fitness centre. They may agree to transfer the contract to a different person such as one of your friends or colleagues.
Public means of transport
If you have an annual season-ticket or a different kind of long term subscription for using public means of transport, you should contact the transport company/transport association to find out whether it is possible to cancel the contract before the end of the contract term. Usually you can also find this kind of information in the terms and conditions of the transport company. If you are not eligible to cancel the contract before the end of the contract term, you should make use of your right to cancel the contract by the end of the contract term within the period of notice. If you do not cancel the contract within that period of notice the contract might be renewed automatically depending on the terms and conditions. The date the trader accesses the letter must be within the period of notice.
Here you can find information about BahnCard subscriptions.