If you are employed as a researcher, you will automatically have pension insurance in Germany. Currently, your pension insurance contribution is around 19 percent of your gross salary.

This contribution is split equally between you and your employer. Your share – 9.4 percent – is deducted directly from your salary.

Multiracial group of happy elderly people taking selfie with mobile phone

Self-employed and voluntarily insured persons should pay the entire contribution. If you are voluntarily insured, you can choose between minimum and maximum contribution.

For EU citizens

If you are an EU citizen, you can have the periods in which you made pension contributions in Germany counted towards the pension entitlement in your home country when you return. This is also the case if you are from a non-EU country with which Germany has signed a social security agreement.

You will receive a German pension depending on the length of time you were insured in Germany. The minimum insurance period to qualify for a standard old-age pension is five years. Insurance periods completed in other EU member states and those countries with which Germany has a social security agreement can also be taken into account. In this case you will need to have been insured in Germany for at least one year.

If your home country is neither an EU member state nor one of the countries with which Germany has a social security agreement, the periods in which you paid German insurance contributions will not normally be taken into consideration in your home country. In this case, you should check with your insurance provider at home to find out which regulations apply to you.

Good to know

If you do not have pension insurance due to your employment status – because you are on a scholarship, for example – you can always take out voluntary pension insurance. Seek advice from the German Pension Insurance (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) to find out whether this makes sense for you.

Germany has social security agreements in place with more than 20 countries, among them the US, Brazil, India, Morocco, Australia and – with a special agreement – China. These regulate the acquisition of pension rights and the payment of pensions in the respective country.

People who work or have worked in different European countries are subject to so-called European law. This term refers to all regulations regarding social security at the European level, for example the addition of insurance contribution periods to calculate your pension entitlement.

You have to apply for payment of your pension. You can also submit your application to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung from abroad.

In German, the English word “pension” is a bit of a false friend. There are two translations for pension: “Pension” and “Rente”. While “Pension” refers specifically to the pension that civil servants receive, “Rente” is the pension for everybody who paid into the public pension insurance system.

If you become a civil servant in Germany – which is possible even without a German passport –, you are exempt from the pension contributions usually deducted from the salary.