What is Meant by European Law and Which Countries are Involved?
The term, “European law”, refers to all regulations passed at European level in the field of social security. These are primarily
European law currently applies for the following member states of the European Union:
Cyprus (Greek part)
European law is also applied in relation to
and the EEA countries:
Furthermore: If our internet site refers to “member state” for the sake of simplicity, this term refers to all countries named earlier to which European law applies.
This includes, in particular, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Although the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) declared on 29th March 2017 that it will leave the European Union, European law still applies in full until it leaves.
Who regulates European law?
European law on pensions insurance was created for people who work or have worked in different European countries during their working lives. It is intended to ensure that they suffer as few disadvantages as possible on the issue of social security.
European law is a directly applicable law within the European Union that takes precedence over German law and makes contradictory German regulations invalid. However in doing so, existing entitlements according to German law must not be removed or reduced.
The most important fundamentals of European law are:
To whom does European law apply?
European law benefits nationals of the member states of the European Union, THE EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland as well as their surviving dependents.
The regulations also apply to stateless persons and migrants, including their respective surviving dependents residing in a member state, EEA country or Switzerland.
Furthermore European law can also apply under certain conditions to people who do not have the nationality of a member state (so-called third country nationals).
You can find out more information on European law in the free-of-charge flyer, “Living and Working in Europe”.
Information from the European Commission on your Rights in the Individual Countries
On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) on the question of whether to continue to be a member of the European Union (EU). The majority of the population voted to leave (‘Brexit‘).
The United Kingdom government therefore declared its intention to withdraw from the EU on 29 March 2017, thus setting in motion the two-year deadline for withdrawal under the EU Treaty. Within these two years, the negotiated withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU was not ratified by the UK Parliament. The withdrawal period was in the meantime extended to 31 October 2019. Until that date, European law will continue to apply in full with respect to the United Kingdom.
Should the withdrawal agreement be ratified before the United Kingdom leaves the EU, European law will continue to apply in regard to the United Kingdom during an implementation period until 31 December 2020 (orderly Brexit). There will be no changes for individuals paying into statutory pension schemes, nor for those who become eligible for a pension for the first time or file their application again (due to a change in circumstances) until 31 December 2020. There will also be no changes for those who are already receiving a pension before that date. Applicable arrangements from 2021 would still have to be agreed between the United Kingdom and the EU or bilaterally between the United Kingdom and Germany.
If the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, European law will no longer apply from that date (a no-deal or disorderly Brexit). For this case, Germany has passed the, "Act on Transitional Arrangements in the Field of Social Security and in Other Areas after the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union." The EU has also made provision for this case. The EU has issued a, "Regulation Establishing Contingency Measures in the Field of Social Security Coordination Following the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union."
Both legal frameworks are intended to create transitional legal certainty in the area of social security and to cushion undue hardship by European law ceasing to apply to the United Kingdom, insofar as is it possible to do so unilaterally. If you were subject to UK law at any time before exit day, these legal measures are designed to give you confidence that the previous legal framework will continue to apply. In the areas of statutory pensions, this applies in particular to pension entitlements. As a result, in a no-deal scenario, the German statutory pension insurance system can use time spent paying social security contributions in the United Kingdom for assessing pension entitlements and calculating pensions. It will even be possible in certain cases to use time spent paying social security contributions in the UK after exit day. This can be done using existing practice under European law.
It is therefore important to note that your rights with respect to German statutory pension insurance will remain largely protected regardless of the outcome of the Brexit process: either through the withdrawal agreement after an orderly Brexit or through German and European transitional regulations after a no-deal Brexit.
Further developments will determine exactly which regulations will apply after a no-deal Brexit to persons who are currently paying social security contributions in Germany, the United Kingdom or any other country where European law applies due to their place of residence, a job or activity or their employer's registered office.
With which countries has Germany signed social security agreements?
The Federal Republic of Germany has currently signed mutual social security agreements with 20 countries. These agreements essentially regulate the acquisition of pension eligibility and the payment of pensions in the respective countries.
On the issue of pension insurance, the Federal Republic of Germany is allied with:
|States – Country||Flag||date signed|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1.9.1969|
|Canada and Quebec||1.4.1988|
|Republic of Korea||1.1.2003|
|Republic of Moldova||1.3.2019|
The Federal Republic of Germany has currently signed a special agreement, a so-called delegation agreement with the following country:
Peoples` Republic of China
The delegation agreement regulates that employees, who are temporarily sent by their company to work in another agreement country, do not have to pay double contributions to pension insurance and unemployment benefit (double insurance). Further regulations concerning, for example, the acquisition of pension eligibility or payment of pensions are not covered in the agreement.
Who does the Social Security Agreement Apply to?
The social security agreement primarily benefits the nationals of the respective agreement countries. Depending on the agreement however, they can also be applied to the benefit of other persons who are not nationals of the respective agreement country.
In the respective member states and/or agreement countries, different eligibility requirements apply. Each insurance agency checks individually whether there is a pension entitlement according to its national legal provisions and, if so, pays its pension. It is therefore possible that you may receive a pension from several countries, depending on where you have accrued periods of insurance and whether the eligibility requirements are fulfilled in each case. There is no “European pension” or “overall pension” that one member state and/or agreement country pays on behalf of the others.
In addition to other requirements such as reaching a certain age, a minimum insurance period known as the qualifying period must be fulfilled to be eligible for a German pension.
This period can differ considerably, depending on the different German pension requirements. For example: in the case of the old age pension for particularly long-term insured persons, it is 45 years, whereas for the regular old-age pension it is only 5 years. According to European law, the German periods of insurance and the qualifying periods in the other member states are added together in the calculation of these qualifying periods. The law with the agreement countries includes similar provisions.
Furthermore the different qualifying periods for the special payments for miners can be fulfilled by adding together periods spent mining in other member states or in some agreement countries.
In addition to the qualifying periods for various German pensions, some other requirements need to be fulfilled in order to be eligible; for example, compulsory contributions to pension insurance must have been paid owing to a job or activity that is subject to compulsory insurance during certain periods before commencement of pension payment. Here too, respective periods in a member state or an agreement country can be taken into account in the calculation.
The other member states or agreement countries also have to take into account the German periods when checking their eligibility requirements.
Please note that periods of insurance can only be added up within the member states and separately between the Federal Republic of Germany and its agreement countries, but not also among one another. For example, if you have worked in the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Canada, the German periods of insurance can be added up with the British and Irish ones according to European law or the German periods can be added to the Canadian periods of insurance according to the German-Canadian convention. It is not possible to add together all the periods accrued (German, British, Irish and Canadian), to fulfil the qualifying period of 45 years, for example.
Exceptions are possible only in the case of new agreements, for example, the agreement with Brazil and Uruguay. These new agreements also enable periods of insurance in several member states and the respective agreement country to be added together.
The periods of insurance from a country with which the Federal Republic of Germany has not signed a social security agreement cannot be added to the German periods of insurance to fulfil the eligibility requirements.
In these cases, the requirements for a pension, such as reaching the age limit or being an invalid, are determined entirely by the respective national law. For example, it can happen that you have a pension entitlement from one country from your pension insurance, whereas the requirements for a pension in another country are only fulfilled at a later date because there is a higher age limit there, for example. In your own interests, you should always find out from the respective country, the earliest point at which you can receive a pension, and the latest point at which you are able to make a pension application. You can receive advice and help in our information and advice centres or from the foreign insurance agency.
If you live in another member state or a country which has an agreement with Germany (agreement country), you can file an application for a German pension through the insurance agency of your respective country; a time limit may apply. If you live in Germany, you can make your application for a pension from another member state or agreement country with Deutsche Rentenversicherung; a time limit may apply. This also applies to legal challenges against decisions of foreign insurance agencies.
If you make a pension application in one country, and have accrued periods of insurance in several member states or agreement countries, this application simultaneously counts as an application for a respective pension in the other country. In other words: you only have to make one application. The insurance agency, with whom you file the application, informs the other foreign insurance agency/agencies and initiates the pension procedure.
Therefore you should always make sure you report all of your periods of insurance in all member states or agreement countries when you make your application.
If you have accrued periods of insurance in a country, with which the Federal Republic of Germany does not have a social security agreement, then you need to contact the relevant foreign insurance agency yourself.
If you live in Germany, you will find further information about the procedure in the chapter “Pension” under “Making an Application”. You can also download and print out the German application forms.
If you live in a member state or agreement country, we recommend that you make your pension application via the insurance agency in your country of residence.
Please note that very different age limits apply in the various countries. In one particular country, for example, an old-age pension can begin at the age of 60; in other countries, however, only at the age of 67. Always find out about your pension entitlements from the relevant foreign countries in advance.
To calculate your pension, the principle applies that every member state or agreement country pays only the pension from its own insurance periods and according to its own legal provisions.
Adding together the periods of insurance only takes place to fulfil the minimum insurance periods and the specific legal insurance requirements. Payment of an entire pension represented by only one country, taking into account the periods of insurance of the other countries, does not take place.
Very small pensions form an exception to this rule. In these cases, European law and some agreements allow that periods of insurance of other countries to be taken over if this means that a particular minimum number of insurance months (for example, less than one year), is not attained.
If you were employed in several member states or agreement countries, you will receive an individual pension from each country in which you have accrued periods of insurance in so far as the respective eligibility requirements are fulfilled, with the “smallest pension” rule being an exception.
Furthermore, European law contains specific rules on pension calculation according to which, periods of insurance of other member states could also influence the German pension calculation. In this case, the foreign periods of insurance can have a positive effect on your pension.
You can find out more on pension calculation according to European law in the information flyer “Living and Working in Europe”.
Living in the European Union
If your usual country of residence is in the European Union, you will usually receive your full pension as you would if you lived in Germany, accrued from all contribution and contribution-free periods. This also applies to pension entitlements from periods that were accrued outside the territory of today’s Federal Republic of Germany, but are included in the German pension, such as Reich territory contribution periods or contribution and employment periods according to the Foreign Pensions Law.
The same applies if your usual country of residence is Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. However, to be entitled, you must be a citizen of these countries or a citizen of the European Union or a surviving dependent (widow/widower) of someone from these countries.
A reduction can occur in some cases, if the already existing pension is based on the 1975 agreement with Poland and therefore the Polish periods are included in the German pension. The same applies when the German pension is based on the agreement of the former GDR (East Germany) with Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Czechia (Czech Republic) or Hungary. If a delay occurs, the agreement mentioned can no longer be applied.
Residence in an Agreement Country
If you are normally resident in a country with which Germany has signed a social security agreement, limitations may also apply.
Pensions cannot be paid from periods that were accrued outside the territory of today’s Federal Republic of Germany, but are included in the German pension, such as Reich territory contribution periods or contribution and employment periods according to the Foreign Pensions Law.
Normally in the agreement countries, there is also no eligibility for a pension because of a complete reduction in earning capacity when eligibility is based solely on the closed German part-time employment market and not based on your performance capacity. Eligibility for complete reduction in earning capacity based on the closed Germany part-time employment market is only permitted in the agreement countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Kosovo, Morocco, Montenegro, Serbia and Tunisia.
Residence in a Non-Member Country
If you are normally resident in another country – apart from one in the European Union, or the countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland or one of the other countries with which Germany has signed a social security agreement – then the same limitations apply as with the agreement countries.
This means that pensions cannot be paid from periods that were accrued outside the territory of today’s Federal Republic of Germany, but are included in the German pension. A pension based on a complete reduction in earning capacity may also not be paid when eligibility is based solely on the closed German part-time employment market.
Added to this is the fact that periods in the territory of the former GDR (East Germany) that were evaluated according to west German standards owing to place of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany on 18.05.1990, are currently still evaluated at the lower east German standards in non-member countries.
In addition, pensions based on partial reduction in earning capacity in cases of being unfit for work and pensions for miners based on limited capacity for work in the mining industry can only be paid if eligibility already existed in Germany.
Bank Transfer Abroad
If you normally live outside Germany, your pension can be paid into your bank account from a German bank. Deutsche Rentenversicherung pays the transfer costs. In exceptional cases, it is possible for you to nominate a person of trust who has a bank account in Germany to receive the payment, as long as they forward the money to you.
It is also possible to have your pension paid into your own bank account if the bank is one of the SEPA countries of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. Deutsche Rentenversicherung also pays the transfer costs in these cases.
Of course it is also possible for you to have the money transferred to your own bank account in a country other than those mentioned. In these cases, Deutsche Rentenversicherung, in cooperation with the pensions service of Deutsche Post AG, uses the standardised, most economical payment methods and converts the pension into the currency of the respective country. Just like in Germany or in the other countries mentioned above, Deutsche Rentenversicherung pays the transfer costs to the first bank authorised by you. It is not possible to pay any bank charges, currency conversion fees or exchange rate losses that occur during the transfer. These must be paid by the beneficiary.
In order to pay the pension, Deutsche Rentenversicherung requires the international bank code (BIC) and international account number (IBAN) of the beneficiary. In addition, payment declarations are also included, with which the bank also confirms the account details. For Italy and Canada/USA, there are special payment declarations.
In the case of usual residence outside Germany, the pensions service of Deutsche Post AG checks annually, mid-year, if the beneficiary is still alive. He/she receives a written Life Certificate, which must be confirmed and returned immediately. All authorities and pension funds as well as financial institutions of the country of residence and, if necessary, the German diplomatic missions carry out checks.
Some countries such as Belgium, Finland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain, register the death of the beneficiary so that in these cases, a written Life Certificate is not required.
Please note that even a pension which has already been approved can, in some cases, be reduced or even cancelled, if you transfer your usual place of residence to another country. Usually your pension will not change, but there are exceptions.
You are therefore legally obliged to register a change of address. By doing this, you can find out the amount of pension you are entitled to receive in another country and avoid having to pay any money back at a later date.
If possible you should inform the pension service of Deutsche Post AG at least two months before you move, so that your pension can be transferred without interruption. This is because even if the amount of pension does not change, the transfer takes time owing to technical reasons. The address is:
Deutsche Post AG
Niederlassung Renten Service
Tel: +49 221 569 2777
Tel: +49 221 569 2778
Alternatively you can also inform the pension fund responsible for you.
In order to check your continued eligibility, please give the following information if known:
Please tell us as much of this information as possible and also quote your insurance number.
Advice and Information
Of course you can also find out from us about your pension eligibility in another country before you decide to move. You are welcome to make an appointment for a personal consultation at one of our information and advice centres.
Naturally Deutsche Rentenversicherung can also send you written information about your German pension eligibilities in a specific country. It’s enough to inform your pension insurance fund with a short message. Give your current nationality and the country as well as whether you plan to live there permanently or temporarily. Please make it clear in your request that you are only requesting information about a – possible – move, in order to avoid confusion. If you do then decide to move, please let us know in good time.
Health Insurance and Long-term Care Insurance
Naturally it is going to be important to you how you receive health and long-term care insurance in another country. This will depend on how you were insured up to now, which country you are moving to and whether you are moving temporarily or permanently, and if you also receive a pension from the country you are staying in. There are special regulations valid for the countries of the European Union and the countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Under certain circumstances Deutsche Rentenversicherung can also grant you a supplement towards your health insurance contributions in another country.
If you have questions regarding your continued health and long-term care insurance abroad please get in touch with your health insurance company.
German Liaison Offices
Deutsche Rentenversicherung operates as a liaison office for insured persons who have also accrued periods of insurance abroad and/or who live abroad.
We are your contact partner if you
Queries and applications referring to agreement law and European law are processed by different insurance agencies. If you have lived or worked in one or several member states or agreement countries, you will be looked after by either
The German insurance agency you paid your most recent German contributions to is fundamentally always responsible for you.
If you paid your most recent German contribution to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (formerly, Bundesversicherungsanstalt für Angestellte – BfA –), then that is your contact partner.
If at any point in time you paid at least one German contribution to Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See (formerly Bundesknappschaft, Bahnversicherungsanstalt und Seekasse), then that is your correct contact partner.
If you paid your most recent German contribution to a regional pension fund (formerly a Landesversicherungsanstalt – LVA –), then the regional pension fund that is responsible for the relevant member state or agreement country is responsible for you:
|Agreement or Member Country||German Statutory Pension Fund Responsible|
|Australia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Oldenburg-Bremen|
|Austria||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Belgium||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Brazil||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nordbayern|
|Bulgaria||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Mitteldeutschland|
|Canada||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Nord|
|Chile||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland|
|Croatia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Cyprus (Greek part)||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg|
|Denmark||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Estonia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Finland||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|France||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland-Pfalz (in certain exceptional cases also Saarland)|
|Greece||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg|
|Hungary||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Mitteldeutschland|
|Iceland||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Westfalen|
|India||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Ireland||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Israel||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland|
|Italy||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Schwaben (in certain exceptional cases also Saarland)|
|Japan||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Braunschweig-Hannover|
|Republic of Korea||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Braunschweig-Hannover|
|Kosovo||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Latvia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Liechtenstein||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg|
|Lithuania||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Luxembourg||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland-Pfalz (in certain exceptional cases also Saarland)|
|North Macedonia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Malta||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Schwaben|
|Montenegro||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Morocco||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Schwaben|
|Norway||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Philippines||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Braunschweig-Hannover|
|Portugal||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nordbayern|
|Republic of Albania||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland-Pfalz|
|Romania||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nordbayern|
|Serbia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Slovakia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Slovenia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern Süd|
|Spain||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Rheinland|
|Sweden||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|Switzerland||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg|
|the Czech Republic||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bayern-Süd|
|the Netherlands||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Westfalen|
|Tunisia||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Schwaben|
|Turkey||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nordbayern|
|United Kingdom||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
|USA||Deutsche Rentenversicherung Nord|
Our Advice: If you have not paid any German contributions yet or do not know to which German agency you paid your most recent German contributions, then simply get in touch with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund. They will find out the German pension fund responsible for you and will be happy to forward your question or application.
Foreign Liaison Offices
You can find out the contact partners for insured persons and pensioners at foreign liaison offices in our list of links of pension insurance agencies in other member countries and agreement countries.
The European Commission also publishes information about the agencies responsible for social security in their member states via the publicly accessible database EESSI Public Directory of European Social Security Institutions: