Leaving Germany | A Checklist Based on My Firsthand Experience

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Leaving a place you’ve called home can be tough. In this article, we’ll guide you through a checklist of what to do when leaving Germany, based on my personal experience of spending 12 years there before moving to the US. Whether you’re leaving for good or just for a while, this checklist will definitely assist you in making a smooth move.

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Preparing for my move from Germany to the US took a lot of time and effort. I created a huge Excel spreadsheet to make a comprehensive checklist from scratch. In this checklist,  every task was listed, the timeline was included, and the status was updated regularly

With so much to do before leaving Germany, it was easy to feel overwhelmed and forget important details. But having this spreadsheet kept me organized and allowed me to keep track of everything

I also included an assignment column to designate which tasks were for me and which were for my husband. This helped us to share the workload and stay on track. 

Use a checklist to manage your move

I highly recommend using a similar tool to manage your own move. Whether you prefer a digital or physical planner, having a checklist and timeline for each task will keep you organized and reduce stress. 

Now, I’m sharing my knowledge and experience with you by providing you this checklist. I hope that this checklist can make your move easier and less stressful.

Now, let’s get started!

Leaving Germany – The ultimate checklist



German contracts

1. Switch or cancel your mobile phone contract

2. Cancel the contract for your internet, phone, and tv

3. Cancel your German utility contract

4. Review all other subscriptions and contracts

5. Cancel the TV tax


6. Cancel your German health insurance

7. Review other insurance contracts


8. Deregister from your university

9. Deregister your kids from daycare, Kindergarten, or school

10. Inform your employer

11. Deregister your business

12. Deregister yourself


13. Cancel the government benefit

14. Check your residence permit

15. Know your German tax implication


16. Review your German bank account

17. Review your credit card

18. Review your investment in Germany

19. Review your pension in Germany


20. Sell or bring your German car


21. Book a moving company

22. Set up a mail forwarding service

23. Move out of your German home

24. Do research about your new destination

Leaving Germany – German contracts

1. Switch or cancel your mobile phone contract

Should you cancel your German mobile phone contract?

When leaving Germany, it is important to consider what to do with your German mobile phone number. In our case, we chose to keep it at least for the meantime. This is because our number is linked to several services that require SMS verification or login codes.

While we know that we will need to change our German phone number to our new US one eventually, we want to avoid doing so all at once. Changing our number at each individual portal could be a hassle. So, it’s best for us to keep our German mobile number for a little while longer to make the transition smoother.

However, this doesn’t mean we want to keep paying for our German mobile phone contract. So, what we did was switch to a pay-as-you-go plan with our current provider. This allows us to keep our German mobile phone number without paying anything if we don’t use it while in the US.

How to cancel your German mobile phone contract?

But if you’re thinking of canceling your German mobile phone contract, it may be more difficult if you have just signed up for a new contract. Many contracts require you to commit for a fixed period, typically 24 months, in exchange for a cheaper price.

If your contract has already passed the fixed period, you can cancel it by giving a one-month notice. The same goes for flexible contracts.

2. Contract for your internet, phone, and tv

After leaving Germany, you won’t need your internet, phone, and TV service at your German home anymore. I know this can be a hassle to deal with. But it’s important to take care of canceling your contract before you go to avoid any unnecessary charges.

Just like with a mobile contract, you should be able to cancel your internet, phone, and TV contract by giving one month’s notice after the initial contract period has passed (usually 24 months). 

When my family and I were preparing to move out of Germany, we made sure to contact our provider early on to figure out the cancellation procedure and notice period. This helped us to avoid any issues with overpaying for services that we didn’t need.

3. Cancel your German utility contract

If you’re planning to move out of Germany, it’s essential to cancel your German utility contracts for services such as energy and water. However, the process can differ depending on the type of contract you have.

If you use the default electricity service (Grundversorgung), you can terminate your contract with a notice of just two weeks in advance. However, if you use other energy providers, the situation may be different.

You’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your contract to see if there is a relocation clause (Sonderkündigungsrecht bei Umzug). It allows you to cancel your contract if you move out of Germany. Typically, you’ll need to give your provider six weeks’ notice before your move date.

Once you’ve confirmed your move-out date, it’s important to inform your provider that you plan to cancel. If you’re using the relocation clause, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your move. This typically involves sending them your deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung).

By taking the necessary steps to cancel your utility contracts before leaving Germany, you can avoid being charged for services you’re no longer using and ensure a smooth transition to your new home.

4. Review all your subscriptions and contracts before leaving Germany

If you’re planning on leaving Germany, it’s crucial to review all of your subscriptions and contracts to determine which ones you need to cancel before you go. 

To start, take a look at your bank account and make a note of all the regular automatic payments you’re making. You might be surprised at how many subscriptions you’re still paying for without even realizing it.

A magazine that we always threw away

My husband and I did this exercise recently and discovered that we were paying for a magazine subscription that we never read – we always thought it was just an advertisement when it arrived in our mailbox.

After living in Germany for a while, it can be challenging to remember all of the subscriptions you’ve signed up for. Don’t forget to consider any clubs, memberships, or other types of subscriptions you’ve joined as well. For example, a newspaper, magazine, or online streaming subscription.

Which subscription to keep or cancel?

Once you have a clear idea of all your subscriptions, you’ll need to figure out which ones you can cancel before leaving Germany. Keep in mind that for some subscriptions, you may be able to continue using them in your new destination country

For example, my husband and I decided to keep our Netflix and Spotify accounts because we can still use them in the US. However, for subscriptions like Amazon Prime, we’ll need to cancel and reapply with our new US address when we get there.

How about your Gym membership?

If you’re a gym-goer in Germany like me, it’s important to know that gym contracts typically have a minimum term of 6, 12, or even 24 months. Once you sign on, you’re usually committed for the full term and won’t be able to cancel early without penalty

If you do want to cancel your contract, be sure to do so in time and consider any notice periods specified in the contract. If you miss the deadline, your contract may be automatically renewed, leaving you stuck with it for even longer.

Any relocation clause in the contract?

What’s more, if you’re planning to move out of Germany, canceling your gym contract may not be as simple as you think. You’ll only be able to cancel early if your contract includes a relocation clause.

So, it’s essential to carefully review your gym contract and check for any relocation clauses before signing. And if you’re planning to move out of Germany, be sure to talk to your gym as soon as possible to see if you can work out a solution.

In the worst case, you may have to continue paying until the end of your contract. So, it’s better to be prepared.

5. Cancel the TV tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)

TV tax is a mandatory license fee for public service broadcasting that every household in Germany must pay. Before leaving Germany, it’s important to make sure you cancel this tax. Or you’ll continue to pay even when you’re not living in Germany anymore.

Luckily, canceling the TV tax is a pretty easy process and can be done online. Just make sure you have your deregistration certificate on hand. You’ll need it to complete the cancellation process.

Leaving Germany – Insurance

6. Cancel your German health insurance

Depending on where you are moving to, you may have to cancel your German health insurance. There are 2 types of health insurance: public health insurance and private health insurance in Germany.

Public health insurance

If you have public health insurance, canceling it is relatively straightforward. All you need to do is provide your deregistration certificate to your insurance provider. 

In our case, we have TK public health insurance, and we were able to inform them of our move using their app and upload the deregistration certificate there. After that, we received confirmation that our insurance contracts had been canceled.

The abeyance contract (Anwartschaft)

It’s worth noting, though, that if you plan to return to Germany in the future, public health insurance might offer you an abeyance contract (Anwartschaft).

This contract requires you to pay a monthly fee. But you won’t receive any coverage. However, if you do end up returning to Germany later on, the public health insurance company can ensure that they’ll accept you back.

For high earners who stay with public health insurance

For example, let’s say you’re currently earning over the threshold for public health insurance but opt to stick with it. Then, you move out of Germany and cancel your public health insurance. 

When you return to Germany in the future, you’ll have to apply for public health insurance again. If by then, your income is over the threshold, public health insurance in Germany may not accept you. And you may be forced to switch to private health insurance instead.

Earning more than the threshold when you return back to Germany

The same situation applies if you’re currently using public health insurance because you earn below the income threshold. If you return to Germany in the future and are earning more than the threshold by then, private health insurance might be your only option.

We didn’t choose the abeyance contract

In certain cases, it may make sense to get an abeyance contract, particularly if you expect to earn more in the future and plan to return to Germany.

In our case, we decided against it because we were not sure how long we’ll be in the US. And the monthly fee for us was 120 Euros per month per person, which we felt was too expensive for just keeping the contract without any coverage.

Private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, you will have to contact them to see if they can still cover you in your new destination country. Every company is different. They will tell you the requirement and procedures if you decide to cancel your private health insurance.

7. Review your insurance contracts before leaving Germany

Cancel insurance contracts that you don’t need

As we prepared to move out of Germany, we realized that we had accumulated several insurance contracts over the years. It was overwhelming to think about what we should do with them all.

We started by reviewing each policy to determine whether it would be applicable in our new home country.

For example, we canceled our car insurance and home contents insurance since we wouldn’t be using a car or living in a house in Germany. We also canceled our legal insurance. It was a relief to be able to cross some policies off our list.

Keep insurance contracts that are still relevant

But some contracts were more complicated. For example, we weren’t sure whether our liability insurance and accident insurance would still be valid in the US.

After speaking with our provider, we learned that we would be covered for the first five years of our US stay. We decided to keep these policies for now and explore other options once we’re settled in the US.

On the other hand, we were pleased to learn that our life insurance and disability insurance policies would continue to cover us globally. It was reassuring to know that we wouldn’t have to worry about finding new coverage in the US.

The abeyance contract (Anwartschaft)

When it comes to some of our insurance policies, my family and I have opted for the abeyance contract. Essentially, this means that we pay a small monthly fee to keep our policies active while we’re living in the US.

Our dental insurance

We really value our dental insurance and want to ensure that we can maintain our coverage when we come back to Germany in the future.

Without an abeyance contract, we’d have to apply for a new dental insurance policy when we return to Germany. And we may not be able to access the same level of coverage as now.

Let’s say we have any dental issues while we are in the US that can be considered “existing conditions”. These issues would then be excluded from future insurance coverage without an abeyance contract.

When living in Germany, I pay 10 Euros per month for my dental insurance. During the abeyance contract period, I’ll only be paying 1 Euro per month. It’s a small investment to make sure that I don’t have to stress about dental insurance coverage down the road.

Check the cancellation procedures

Evaluating our insurance contracts before our move was a time-consuming process. But it was necessary to ensure that we had the appropriate coverage for our needs. 

We carefully considered each policy’s terms and conditions, notice periods, and cancellation procedures to make informed decisions. By doing so, we feel confident that we are only paying for the policies we truly need, resulting in significant cost savings.

Leaving Germany – Deregistration

8. Deregister from your university

If you’re planning on leaving Germany while still enrolled in a German university, you may have to deregister from your university. You should talk to your university and see what steps you need to take.

9. Deregister your kids from daycare, Kindergarten, or school

If you have children in daycare, kindergarten, or school in Germany, it’s important to inform them about your move. In Germany, school-aged children are legally required to attend school. So, failing to register your child’s absence could lead to complications.

In our case, both our kids were attending daycare and kindergarten. Each had its own notice requirements, with daycare requiring three months’ notice and kindergarten requiring only one month.

We had to provide a signed letter confirming our intention to cancel the contracts. And it was important to do so within the required notice period to avoid unnecessary fees.

Other benefits of notifying the schools in advance

Our daycare and Kindergarten were able to prepare my children for the move and even organized a farewell for them. It also gave the teachers and other children time to prepare for my children’s departure. 

Additionally, it’s a good idea to request a transcript for your children if you plan to enroll them in a school in your new country. In our case, we needed a transcript for our children to apply for schools in the US as it was required for the admission process.

You may also want to schedule a meeting with the teachers before moving out of Germany. This can give you insight into how your child behaves at school and any specific needs they may have. As these meetings usually only happen once or twice a year depending on your school’s policy, you may want to request one in advance before your move.

10. Inform your employer

Once you’ve made the decision on leaving Germany, it’s important to inform your employer too. Take a look at your employment contract to determine how much notice you’re required to give before resigning. 

If your contract doesn’t specify a notice period, typically you’ll need to give four weeks’ notice, either to the 15th or at the end of the calendar month.

Remember to ask for a reference letter from your employer when you resign. It’s always helpful to have a recommendation from a former employer. For more details, check this out: Decoding your Reference Letter in Germany (Arbeitszeugnis)

Additionally, if you plan to close your bank account in Germany, it’s essential to coordinate with your employer on where to send your last salary.

11.  Deregister your business

If you’re a business owner, remember to deregister your business before leaving Germany. I went through this process myself, so I can tell you what to expect.

To deregister your business, you can either visit your local trade office (Gewerbeamt) or do it online. I chose to do it online, which was quick and easy. 

I filled out some basic information and paid a fee of 30 EUR. This fee varies depending on your state Within a few days, I received a confirmation of deregistration (Gewerbeabmeldung).

You may also receive a letter from the tax office later on requesting information about the end of your business. You’ll need to fill out a questionnaire and send it back to your tax office promptly.

12. Deregister yourself before leaving Germany

If you’re planning on leaving Germany, one of the most important things to do is to deregister yourself (Abmeldung). There are a few ways to do this, depending on your registration office. You can do it in person, by post, or through an online portal. And the best part is that it’s free of charge.

When my family and I deregistered ourselves, we first tried to do it online. However, we found the process a bit confusing and were unable to input the necessary information. In the end, we decided to go to the registration office in person. 

It turned out to be a great decision because we were able to get our deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung) on the spot. If you choose to deregister by post, it can take a few weeks until you receive your certificate in the mail. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s best to do it in person to avoid any delays or issues.

You can find the nearest registration office on this website. Just choose “Einwohnermeldeamt” and enter your postal code.

When do you need to deregister?

You can only deregister yourself up to seven days in advance before your departure. Although you can still deregister yourself within 14 days after you’ve left Germany, it’s best to do it before you leave. This is because you’ll need the deregistration certificate to cancel many German contracts, such as health insurance or TV tax. 

Also, if you deregister after leaving Germany, the registration office may only send the certificate to a German address, which can cause delays and complications. Therefore, it’s better to avoid these troubles and deregister yourself before leaving Germany.

Why must you deregister?

If you’ve registered a German address before, you’re legally required to deregister yourself when leaving Germany. It doesn’t matter if you’re a citizen or a foreigner. Not doing so could cause you trouble later on.

Cancel contracts

To avoid any complications, it’s essential to obtain your deregistration certificate. You’ll need it to cancel many of your German contracts, including health insurance and the tv tax (Rundfunkbeitrag). Additionally, some insurance may require it if you want to cancel the contract before the end of their term.

German tax

If you fail to deregister, the German tax office may continue to believe that you’re still living in Germany and liable for taxes. This could result in a financial penalty or other legal issues. 

Government benefits

Besides, it’s important to let the government know about your move if you’re receiving any kind of payment, like child benefit. If you don’t inform them and provide them with the deregistration certificate, they will keep sending you money even after you’ve left Germany. This could result in you receiving funds illegally, and you will have to pay back everything you received plus any fines that may be imposed on you. 


Remember that not deregistering yourself could lead to a fine of up to 1,000 EUR if you’re caught. So, it’s always best to take care of this important task before leaving Germany.

Read also: Deregistration in Germany: Why and How to Deregister (Abmeldung)

 13. Cancel government benefit

If you’re currently receiving government benefits in Germany, such as parental or child benefits, it’s important to remember to cancel them when leaving Germany.

Otherwise, you may continue to receive payments even after you’ve moved out of Germany. If it’s discovered that you’re receiving benefits illegally, you could be forced to pay back the money you received, as well as any fines.

We sent letters to cancel

In my case, we were receiving child benefits and family money (Familiengeld) from the German government. So, we informed the government of our move from Germany to the United States.

We wrote letters to the appropriate offices and included our deregistration certificate from Germany. Eventually, we received confirmation that our benefits had been canceled.

14. Check your residence permit 

When it comes to your residence permit in Germany, it’s important to understand what you need to do. If you don’t plan on returning to Germany, then there’s no need to take any action.

Your residence permit will expire

Your residence permit will expire automatically after a certain amount of time. Depending on the type of permit you have and how long you have lived in Germany, this could be after 3, 6, or 12 months.

My residence permit won’t expire even after leaving Germany

In my case, I do plan on returning to Germany, as I have a German husband and two children with German passports. So, I reached out to my local administrative district office (Landratsamt) to find out what I needed to do to keep my permanent residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) valid.

They provided me with a letter stating that my permit will not expire as long as I remain married to my German husband. This applies even if I live outside of Germany for an extended period.

Check with your Landratsamt

Note that every case is unique. So, I highly encourage you to check with your Landratsamt if you plan on returning to Germany and want to keep your residence permit valid. 

Another interesting thing:

I had some trouble getting in touch with the Landratsamt at first. Despite emailing them multiple times, I didn’t receive a response for two months. When I finally called, I was told that I needed to send a letter to get a response. So, if you’re in a hurry, I suggest writing to them directly. This is annoying but hey, you are still in Germany.

15. Know our German tax implication 

You  may still need to file taxes after leaving Germany

Leaving Germany doesn’t mean you can forget about taxes. In fact, taxes were one of the things my family and I spent a lot of time researching before our move, especially since we still have properties in Germany.

Depending on your specific circumstances, you may need to keep filing German taxes even after leaving Germany. And even if you are not required to, you might still want to file your taxes to claim a refund.

There are various ways to submit your tax return in Germany. You can find different options in this article: Tax Return in Germany – Complete English Guide

Get professional help

But if you’ve already left Germany and don’t want to handle the tax paperwork on your own, you can turn to Taxback.com for help. Their team of tax experts will assess your situation and make sure you get the maximum tax refund possible.

Inform the tax office of your new address if needed

Besides, you may have to inform the German tax office about your new address when leaving Germany. Typically, the tax office is automatically notified once you deregister yourself in Germany.

However, in our case, we first moved to a temporary apartment in the US before settling into our permanent home. That meant we had to make sure the tax office had our final US address on file to avoid missing any important correspondence.

We found the process to be quite straightforward by using ELSTER to update our new address. Now, we are receiving letters from the tax office to our new US address.

 Leaving Germany – Finance

 16. Review your German bank account

Should you keep or close your German bank account?

If you have a bank account in Germany, you might be wondering whether to keep it or not. It really depends on your situation. If you still have ties to Germany such as property, or if you plan to return in the future, it might be a good idea to keep it open.

In my case, my husband and I own rental properties in Germany. So, we definitely need to keep a German bank account even after we move out of Germany. We use it to receive rental income and pay any property-related expenses.

Since we still have to file German taxes, it’s just easier to have a German bank account to pay taxes or receive refunds.

We switched to a free bank account before our move

Before our move, we had four German bank accounts. But since we’re moving abroad, we had to cut down the number of accounts.

Our accounts were free because we were receiving salaries in Germany. But once we move abroad, we would have to pay a high monthly fee. So, we decided to switch to a free bank account.

We did this well in advance of our move because it can be complicated to open a German bank account once we’re no longer German residents.

We slowly transferred all our transactions to the new account, including rental income, mortgage payments, and insurance or contract payments that would still be ongoing after our move.

How to close the German bank account

To close the account, we just went through the online banking portal and indicated the date on which we wanted to close it. We chose a date two months after our move to ensure that any leftover transactions could still be processed.

Once the account was closed, the residual balance was automatically transferred to the new free German bank account we had opened.

The best alternative account 

Open a free WISE account before our move

One thing I highly recommend is opening a WISE account. It’s a free account that allows you to keep your money in over 40 currencies. We were able to get an IBAN in EUR currency. So, we could still receive and pay money in EUR.

We also got an account number in USD, which was helpful for us as we were moving to the US. We used that USD account number for any transactions we needed before we found a US bank to get a checking account.

After leaving Germany, we can still keep our WISE account. We just need to inform WISE about our address change from Germany to the US.

Open a free account with Wise now!

20230312 new WISE logo_formerly transferwise_money transfer cheap

Use WISE to transfer money abroad 

If you need to transfer the rest of your Euros to your destination country, using WISE is a much better alternative than doing a traditional bank transfer.

The fees and exchange rates are much cheaper. And you can use their price checker to see the currency conversion fees upfront. 

17. Review your credit card

Do you still need your German credit card?

As my husband and I were preparing to move to the US, we took a closer look at our credit cards and realized that we had quite a few that wouldn’t be practical to keep.

It makes more sense for us to use a local credit card in the US that is in USD, as opposed to using a foreign card that can result in expensive fees. 

We had some credit cards in Germany that were specifically for cashback when shopping in Germany. But since we wouldn’t be in Germany anymore, it wouldn’t be beneficial for us to keep them.

Instead, we decided to apply for new credit cards in the US that would offer us cashback for our purchases there.

How to cancel your credit card in Germany?

Canceling our German credit cards turned out to be easier than we thought. It was a relief to find out that some of the credit cards could be canceled online through the banking portal or the mobile app.

As for the other credit cards, they were linked to our checking accounts. So, when we applied to close our checking accounts, we were given the option to cancel the credit cards at the same time

Apply for a WISE visa card before our move

One great tip is that we applied for a WISE visa card before leaving Germany. With the WISE visa card, we could spend in the US immediately after moving out of Germany.

The fees are much lower than using a traditional credit card if you want to spend in another currency. Overall, WISE is a cheap and convenient banking alternative that is available to you no matter where you live.

20230312 new WISE logo_formerly transferwise_money transfer cheap

18. Review your investment in Germany

If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you know that I have invested in various stocks and ETF plans in Germany. When my family and I decided to move to the US, we were faced with the daunting task of figuring out what to do with those investments.

We reached out to our German brokers to see if we could keep our accounts open even after our move. But unfortunately, it was not possible.

We had to close all our broker accounts!

As it turned out, no brokers here in Germany would want to deal with the paperwork and legal requirements that come with our move to the US. This meant that we had to close all of our broker accounts, which was a bit frustrating.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend checking with your broker to see what your options are depending on where you’re moving to. If you do end up having to close your broker account, it’s important to plan ahead and figure out what you want to do with your investments.

19. Review your pension in Germany

Your German public pension

If you are working in Germany and have contributed to the German pension fund, you should check if you are eligible for a refund when you move abroad outside of the EU.

The amount of refund you can receive will depend on various factors such as your nationality, where you are moving to, and the duration of your contribution

You may get back quite some money

For example, my friend who moved to Germany from the US for two years was able to get a refund of 8,000 EUR after moving back to the US. So, it’s a good idea to check if you are eligible for a refund if you plan to move out of Germany.

In case you are not eligible for a refund, you can still receive your pension payment when you retire, even if you are living abroad. 

So, check with the German pension fund (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) to understand the implications of your pension if you plan to move abroad. They can provide you with specific information based on your situation.

Your private German pension plan

If you have a private pension plan in Germany, it’s important to check with your provider about the implications of moving abroad. In our case, we have both Riester and Basis Rente, which were great choices for us while we were living and working in Germany.

With Riester, we received a government bonus for contributing. And with Basis Rente, we were able to save a lot on taxes.

Our private German pension plans don’t make sense anymore

However, since we moved to the US, these pension plans don’t make as much sense for us anymore. We won’t receive the government bonus, and we don’t have as much taxable income to claim. Despite this, we don’t want to cancel our contracts because they’re good contracts.

Besides, we may return to Germany in the future and want to continue with them. However, since we’re paying for the US government pension plan, we would like to stop contributing to our German private pension plans.

Change the contract to zero contributions

We contacted both Riester and Basis Rente. And we were able to change our contracts to zero contributions. This way, we’re able to keep our contracts going without paying any contributions.

When we return to Germany in the future, we can resume contributing and benefit from any government bonuses or tax advantages.

If you also have a private pension plan, be sure to review your contract and speak with your provider to see what your options are and whether you want to continue contributing to the pension after moving abroad.

Leaving Germany – Car

20. Sell or bring your German car

Deregister your car in Germany

If you have a car in Germany, you will have to decide what to do with it when leaving Germany. If you leave Germany and deregister your German address, you will have to deregister your car in Germany as well.

For deregistration, you can do so at the vehicle registration office (KFZ-Zulassungsstelle). 

Sell or bring your German car?

Before our move to the US, we were thinking if we should ship our German car to the US or sell it in Germany and buy a new one in the US. At the time, there was a car supply shortage in the US. And car prices were high. 

After researching shipping costs and regulations, we thought it was too expensive and risky to ship our German car. Besides, we didn’t know if we could get the same repair and maintenance service for our car brand in the US. So, in the end, we decided to sell our car in Germany before our move.

If you’re in a similar situation, you should weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to sell or bring your car. If you choose to bring it, make sure you meet all the legal requirements for exporting and importing it to your destination country. You may also need to register the car and complete other paperwork in your new country.

How to sell your car in Germany?

We found it easy to sell our car using wirkaufendeinauto. The platform provides a free sale price estimate for your car, and the process is straightforward.

After uploading our car’s data, we received an unbinding offer for the sale price. The platform also helped us deregister our car, making the process hassle-free.

Your German driving record

When my family and I moved to the US and bought a car there, we were surprised by how expensive car insurance was for us because we had no driving record in the US. 

Fortunately, the insurance company asked for our driving record from Germany. We were able to easily download it online from the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), a German federal authority for road traffic. 

The best part is that we could even download our records in English! By providing our German driving record to the US insurance company, we were able to significantly reduce our car insurance premium in the US.

How to download your driving record?

To download your driving record from KBA, all you need is your German ID/resident permit and a smartphone with an NFC function. Alternatively, you can use your computer if you have a card reader connected to it. 

I was really impressed with how digitalized the process was, and I didn’t need to write a letter to request my driving record!

Car lease

Leasing a car in Germany? Keep an eye on the lease period! 

When my family and I moved from Germany to the US, we had two cars – one we owned and the other one we leased. We still had 12 months left on the lease before it expired. So, we contacted the leasing company to see if there was any way to end it earlier.

Unfortunately, we were informed that breaking the lease was nearly impossible. Even if we returned the car one year earlier, we would still be responsible for paying the remaining monthly leasing fees for the next 12 months.

So, if you plan to move out of Germany, check with your leasing company ahead of time. Some leasing companies may allow you to transfer the lease to someone else who is willing to take over the car for the remainder of the lease period. But there’s no guarantee they will allow it.

 Leaving Germany – Relocation

21. Book a moving company

When I first moved from Hong Kong to Germany, it was just me and my luggage. So, the physical move was a breeze.

But now, after 12 years of building a life with my husband and two kids, we have accumulated a house full of furniture and belongings that would make moving by ourselves nearly impossible.

Thankfully, we had help from a moving company to assist us with our relocation from Germany to the US. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I highly recommend considering the use of a moving company.

It takes a lot of the stress and heavy lifting off of your plate. And it allows you to focus on the other important aspects of the move.


The easiest way to ensure you get the best deal and service is to get free moving quotes. Fill in the below form from Sirelo and you will get free quotes from up to five moving companies that are internationally recognized. You can then compare the different moving companies and choose the one that best suits you.

22. Set up a mail forwarding service

If you’re getting ready to move out of Germany, don’t forget to set up a mail-forwarding service (Nachsendeauftrag) before you go. Trust me, it’s much easier to do it in advance rather than trying to catch up on missed mail later on.

When my family and I moved out of Germany, I made the mistake of setting up the service too late. As a result, we missed a few important letters during the first few days after our move.

So, I highly recommend planning ahead and setting up the forwarding service as soon as you know your move-out date.

You can even forward your mails abroad

One of the best things about the Deutsche Post mail forwarding service is that it works even if you move abroad. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we were still receiving our mail in the US after we had set up the service in Germany.

You can choose to forward your mail for either 6 or 12 months at a low cost. And the registration process is very easy to complete online.

In our case, we first moved to a temporary apartment in the US before we found our permanent home. So, we had to set up the forwarding service twice – once for the temporary apartment and then again for our new home address.

It’s important to remember that even after you inform all parties of your move and your new address, it may take some time for them to update their records. We were still receiving letters to our German address months after we had already moved to the US.

23. Move out of your German home

Give notice to your landlord

If you have a rental apartment in Germany, it’s important to inform your landlord in advance that you will be leaving. This will ensure that you give them the required notice, which is typically three months in Germany.

You should do this on time. Otherwise, you may have to pay rent for the apartment even after you have moved out.

To quit the apartment, you will send your landlord a letter. An email is not sufficient. To ensure that your landlord has received your letter, you should send it with a confirmation of receipt (Einschreiben).

Before the handover day

Make sure your apartment is clean when you move out. You will also need to agree with your landlord to see if any repairs or renovations are needed. 

For example, you may need to repaint the walls. You can do this yourself or hire someone to do it. Sometimes, your landlord may hire someone to do it and deduct the cost from your rental deposit.

In our case, we hired a company to help us. They cleaned our house, painted the walls, and closed all the holes in the walls when we moved out. This was practical for us because our house was quite big. And we didn’t have much time on the last few days in Germany before our flight.

On the handover day

It’s a good idea to have a formal handover with your landlord. This involves documenting the condition of the apartment with a protocol (Übergabeprotokoll). You should take pictures of every part of the apartment to document its condition. 

You should also check the meter readings for utilities like water, gas, and electricity, to see how much you have used. If you have rented a furnished apartment, you will also need to do an inventory check with your landlord to ensure that everything is in good condition when you move out. You will also need to return all the keys to the apartment on the day of the handover.

For property owners in Germany

If you own a house in Germany, you’ll need to decide what to do with it when moving out of Germany. You have two options: sell it or rent it out.

In our case, we don’t want to sell our house. It’s our beloved home and we plan to return to Germany in the future. So, we’ve decided to rent it out.

There are two ways to do this – either by finding tenants ourselves or by hiring a management company (Hausverwaltung) to take care of everything.

DIY or hiring a management company?

Finding tenants on our own was too much work for us, especially when we had to prepare for our move. So, we decided to hire a management company to help us.

They took care of finding tenants, doing all the paperwork, and informing us of the legal requirements as landlords. Additionally, this company also manages our house and tenants while we are living in the US. So, we don’t have to worry about anything.

If you are looking for a management company to handle your property, you can look for one near your property. Just search for “Hausverwaltung/ Mietverwaltung” in your area.

Decide about your furniture

When moving out of Germany, you will need to decide what to do with your furniture. You have a few options such as shipping it to your destination country, selling it in Germany, or giving it away for free.

In our case, we decided to ship most of our furniture to the US. We loved our furniture and it was more cost-effective to bring it with us than to buy new furniture in the US.

Remember to check the voltage!

However, we had to sell all of our big electronic appliances in Germany because they would not work in the US due to the different voltage. So, it is important to check the voltage of your destination country. We also asked the new tenants if they wanted to buy our appliances. 

Ship it or sell it

If you want to ship your furniture, it makes sense to book a moving company to help you. You can get some free moving quotes here.

If you want to sell your furniture, you can try different portals in Germany. My favorite one is to use ebaykleinanzeigen

24. Do research about your new destination

If you’re planning to move out of Germany, be prepared to set up everything again at your new destination.

For example, your mobile phone, internet, TV, utilities, insurance, bank account, credit card, etc. Basically, anything you cancel in Germany, you would have to set it up new in your new country.

We did a lot of research

When my family and I moved from Germany to the US, we had to do a lot of research beforehand. We tried to understand how taxes work in the US, find a new broker for our stock investments, and figure out how to set up my business and file taxes for it. We also researched buying a car and getting car insurance in the US.

I highly recommend doing your research before your move and not waiting until after you’ve already relocated.

One important thing to consider is health insurance, especially if you have children who may need medical attention. In our case, we wanted to make sure we had coverage from day one because medical expenses in the US can be extremely costly.

I wish there was a blog like mine but for moving to the US!

As I was researching my move to the US, I longed for a blog that could offer me guidance and support. And I was disappointed to find nothing really similar. This experience fueled my desire to continue this blog that would help others who are going through a journey similar to mine.

Even though I have moved to the US, my passion for supporting those who are relocating to Germany remains strong. I am committed to continuing with my blog. And I hope to provide valuable resources about Germany for those who need it most.


Leaving a place you’ve called home is bittersweet. Having spent the last 12 years in Germany, I can understand the mixed emotions you’re feeling. But with this checklist, you’re well-prepared.

Remember to take care of administrative tasks, say goodbye to loved ones, and reflect on your experiences.

Best of luck on your next adventure!

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Are you planning to leave Germany? Leave a comment below and share your experience!


About the author

Originally from Hong Kong, Sindy spent 13 years in Germany before moving to the US. Her blog is your ultimate resource for navigating Germany, offering pro tips on bureaucracy, job hunting, education, culture, family life, and more.

With a "been there, done that" attitude, Sindy, a certified public accountant, draws on her extensive finance and accounting background to provide professional insights with a friendly touch.

Having navigated German life with her German husband and raising two kids there, Sindy brings a personal touch to her advice. Let this blog help fellow expats like you navigate the ins and outs of life in Germany!

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