Contract cancellation when leaving Germany

How to cancel contracts as soon as possible before the agreed date of termination

This article will help you understand…

  • how to correctly cancel a contract as soon as possible (step-by-step guide)
  • the different options to cancel contracts in Germany (ordinary and extraordinary cancellation)
  • the legal conditions and our best practices with different types of service providers

We – Amtio – a specialised service provider for bureaucratic tasks for non German speaking clients, hope to give you a good overview and valuable information on how to cancel your contracts in Germany.

You’d like assistance?

Do I have an exceptional right to get out of my contracts immediately when moving abroad?

Do I have an exceptional right to get out of my contracts immediately when moving abroad?

As per German law, moving abroad in general is a valid reason to cancel contracts extraordinarily. However, some contracts include specific clauses which regulate this in detail. Hence, whether you can cancel your contract extraordinarily depends on the individual terms of your contract referred to as “extraordinary contract termination reasons”.

Our experience:

Speaking from our experience as a specialised service provider for bureaucratic tasks in Germany, we are convinced that most contracts can be cancelled extraordinarily when leaving Germany.

However, there are certain points to keep in mind: 

fee in order to cancellation

Some companies (especially phone providers) will ask for a fee in order to cancel extraordinarily – read more here

you have to use the correct (legal) terms and provide valid documents when handing your cancellation

Make sure to use the correct (legal) terms and provide valid documents/ proof when handing in your cancellation

it may take several steps of communication

It may take several steps of communication with the company (Why? Because they would like to keep you as their paying client 😉 )

You will find out later in this article how the cancellation process looks in detail.

Background knowledge on German terms: what is the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary contract cancellation?

Ordinary cancellation: Cancelling a contract ordinarily means that you terminate the contract within the period of notice which is stated in the contract. For this type of cancellation you don’t need to provide any specific reasons or proof.

Extraordinary cancellation: Cancelling a contract extraordinarily means that you want to terminate your contract before the agreed ending period stated in the contract. For this type of cancellation you need to provide a valid reason as well as proof documents.

background knowledge

Whether an ordinary or an extraordinary contract cancellation applies, depends on the terms of your contract. First of all, it depends on whether your contract is limited or unlimited. 

Unlimited contracts are usually easier to cancel as you always have the right to terminate the contract within a certain period of notice (usually this ranges between 2-6 weeks).

Limited contracts are a bit trickier as it is usually not possible to terminate these contracts before the ending date agreed on in the contract. Therefore, your only chance to get out of these contracts is by handing in an extraordinary cancellation request.

Please note: Any cancellation is usually only valid if it’s delivered in writing. If you cancel your contract verbally, the cancellation is most likely not valid. Therefore, make sure to always submit your cancellation in written form.

How to cancel your contracts when leaving Germany –  step by step guide

Preparation

Check your contract and the terms regarding ordinary and extraordinary cancellation in advance. If it is not possible to end the contract ordinarily, you should formulate your termination letter as an extraordinary cancellation.
Note: if you’re unsure about the termination options, you can always ask your service provider.

Letter of termination

Formulate your termination letter. You should state whether this is an ordinary or an extraordinary contract cancellation. Also, make sure to indicate an address where you would like to be reached as the official way of communicating is often via postal letters. Make sure to sign the letter and put a current date on it, otherwise it’s not valid.

Submission of cancellation

Check the website of your service provider (which you are about to cancel) for the right postal address or email address to submit your cancellation to. Please note, the easiest way to deliver your cancellation is via an “online channel” where you can log in and have your own profile with all your contract information saved (in case your service provider has this). However, the downside of it is that you need to have a profile for this. Otherwise, you can deliver your cancellation by email or mail – tracked mail is still the safest option here as you then hold proof that your letter of termination has arrived at a certain date.

After the cancellation

Patience required as you now have to wait for two to four weeks. In some cases it can take even longer until your cancellation is processed.

Follow-up

If you haven’t heard back about your cancellation after 4 weeks, we suggest following up by calling the service provider and asking for a clarification. For the call, ensure to have your contract details ready, as due to data protection they are not allowed to give you any information without validating you are who you are.

You don’t want to deal with the cancellation of your contracts yourself?

Cancellations can be tricky and time consuming and we are here to support you. As a specialised service provider for non-German speaking clients since 2015 and (among other bureaucratic tasks) take care of contract cancellations. If you’d like us to take care of your contract cancellations, we guarantee a worry-free and hands-off process. All you have to do is send us your contract information.

Which supporting documents do you need in order to cancel your contracts extraordinarily?

Signed contract cancellation letter incl. all relevant information
Signed cancellation form provided by the company (if mandatory)
Deregistration certificate stating your move-out-date of German address
Proof of your new residency abroad, this can be a registration certificate, a rental contract or a job contract (of course you can blacken out parts which contain sensitive information)
Future (postal) address to receive the final invoice to
If it is a gas/ electricity contract which you want to cancel, you usually have to additionally provide them with your meter reading

What are the usual periods of notice to cancel contracts extraordinarily?

In limited contracts the service provider determines the period of notice. Therefore, in order to find out the period of notice please have a look into your contract fineprint or ask the respective service provider (some also state the contract conditions on their website).

the usual periods of notice to cancel contracts

Based on our experience for unlimited contracts the period of notice usually ranges between 2-6 weeks. However, for accurate, specific information once again check your contract terms and conditions.

Legal conditions and best practices from our experience

Following, we will give an overview of our contract cancellation learnings from different service providers, divided into different categories.

What should I know about different types of service providers before cancelling my contract with them?

Subnavigation

Cancellation of phone service provider contracts

Cancellation of internet provider contracts

Cancellation of (health) insurance provider contracts

Cancellation of gas/ electricity provider contracts

Cancellation of gym memberships

Cancellation of public transportation contracts

Cancellation of phone service provider contracts

Cancellation of phone service provider contracts

In order to be eligible for an extraordinary cancellation with phone service providers, note that the condition is that the service provider cannot offer your purchased service at your new place of residence (abroad). 

If this does not apply, you can terminate your limited contract extraordinarily. However, it is german law that the contract ends with a notice period of 3 months. This means that you have to pay the basic service fees for another 3 months after the termination was confirmed.

We experienced the latter with almost all German phone service providers, such as o2, Vodafone and Mobilcom1For further reference, please view https://meine-kuendigung.de/umzug-ins-ausland-vertraege-kuendigen/

Cancellation of internet provider contracts

Cancellation of internet provider contracts

For internet providers the same rules as for phone service providers apply: it is important that the provider cannot offer your purchased service under the same conditions at your new place of residence (abroad). 

The same conditions include the same amount of charges as well as the same network coverage.

If this applies you can terminate your limited contract extraordinarily. However, internet providers usually have a shorter period of notice than phone connection providers (less than three months)2For further reference, please view https://meine-kuendigung.de/umzug-ins-ausland-vertraege-kuendigen/

Cancellation of (health) insurance provider contracts

Cancellation of (health) insurance provider contracts

Getting out of a contract with insurance providers is usually easier than getting out of contract with a phone service provider. If you have departed Germany in most cases your insurance does not apply anymore. Thus you have a right to cancel your insurance contract.  

For German statutory health insurance the following legal regulations apply:

§ 190 Abs. 13 Nr. 2 SGB V: “Membership of the persons referred to in Section 5 (1) no. 13 shall end at the end of the day preceding the day on which:

1. another entitlement to coverage in the event of illness is established, or

2. the place of residence or habitual abode is transferred to another state.”3For further reference, please view https://wirelesslife.de/gesetzliche-krankenversicherung-auslandsaufenthalt/

We took care of many health insurance cancellations, e.g. with providers like Techniker Krankenkasse, Hanse Merkur etc., and all of them went smoothly.

Cancellation of gas/ electricity provider contracts

Cancellation of gas/ electricity provider contracts

The cancellation of your contracts with gas and electricity providers depends on the kind of contract you signed:

If you receive electricity/ gas from the basic supply (municipal utilities), you can terminate the contract in writing with a two-week notice period, indicating that you are about to move out.

However, if you have a fixed-term contract with an alternative electricity/ gas provider, the termination may differ. The decisive factor here depends on what your providers terms and conditions state – you can often find a so-called “relocation clause” in the terms and conditions. 

From experience, we can say that the majority of electricity/ gas providers allow their customers to opt out of the contract when they move out of Germany. The notice period however differs.4For further reference, please view https://www.cec-zev.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/eu-verbraucher/bilder/Broschueren_mit_Titelfotos/Umzug_ins_EU_Ausland.pdf 

We had positive cancellation experiences with all well-known providers such as Vattenfall, E wie einfach, eprimo and SWM.

Cancellation of gym memberships

Cancellation of gym memberships

The termination of your gym membership depends on the terms of your contract. Usually, the contract term is 12 or even 24 months and you can not get out of your contract with an ordinary cancellation before that period is over.

Further, if you do not cancel in time, the contract is automatically extended for another year. 

Unfortunately, in 2016 a court has ruled that a move abroad whether for private or professional reasons, does not constitute grounds for termination of the gym contract without notice (BGH XII ZR 62/15 from 04.05.2016). 

Some gyms might make exceptions – this is worth a try – but most of them do not accept early termination. Thus, we suggest to either friendly ask the personnel at your gym about cancellation possibilities or to transfer your running contract to someone else.5For further reference, please view https://meine-kuendigung.de/umzug-ins-ausland-vertraege-kuendigen/ and https://www.cec-zev.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/eu-verbraucher/bilder/Broschueren_mit_Titelfotos/Umzug_ins_EU_Ausland.pdf

In our experience, cancellation with gyms like Superfit can drag on for months.

Cancellation of public transportation contracts

Cancellation of public transportation contracts

Public transportation providers usually differ in their terms and conditions.

From our experience, an extraordinary cancellation is possible if you provide proof of your deregistration in Germany as well as your new residency abroad. We had positive experiences with BVG and Sbahn Berlin, where the contract cancelation process went smoothly.

You don’t want to deal with the cancellation of your contracts yourself?

We have your back. Our team of bureaucratic experts will support you in your contract cancellation matters and ensure you get the best possible outcome.

Liability clause

Please note that we can not guarantee that the above described information applies to ALL service providers and ALL contracts as there can always be hidden and individual clauses stipulating deviations.

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