Leaving the Country? This is How to Cancel German Health Insurance

It might come as a surprise for some relocating to Germany that health insurance is compulsory. This paired with the fact that a lot of expats are uncertain about their length of stay in Germany naturally leads to us to getting a lot of questions about how easy it is to cancel German health insurance once you’ve left the country permanently.

The last thing that you want is to be bound to a health insurance contract. No one wants crazy exit terms, lengthy notice periods and extortionate cancelation fees, right? Well, the good news is that it’s extremely easy to cancel German health insurance when you decide to leave the country. The problem however, is that many expats aren’t aware of the importance of formally cancelling their contract. As a result, these expats can unknowingly leave a paper trail of unpaid contributions and debt collection letters behind them, causing a lot of undue hassle if they want to return to the country.

How to Cancel German Health Insurance

So, if you plan to leave Germany, these are the simple steps you need to take to avoid this headache and cancel your German health insurance (whether that be public or private) properly:

Step 1: Obtain your Abmeldung Certificate: remember when you first arrived in Germany and you had to apply for your Anmeldung (residence registration) at your local town hall or Bürgeramt after receiving your proof of address from your landlord? Well, guess what? You have to do the exact same thing but in reverse when you change your address and leave the country too! Make an appointment at your local authority.

Step 2: Provide your Abmeldung to your health insurance provider: it’s as simple as that! Forward your Abmeldung to your health insurance provider with the details of your move and the request to cancel your German health insurance policy. Bring proof that you are leaving the country permanently. This could be in the form of a one-way flight ticket or a new employment contract.

Frequently asked questions on how to cancel German health insurance:

What if my insurer refuses to cancel my health insurance contract due to hidden terms?

This is something you need not worry about. Health insurance is obligatory in Germany. The flipside to this is that you are free from this obligation if you choose to leave the country permanently.

What if I’m employed?

Won’t my employer alert my insurance provider for me? If your employer contributes to your health insurance premiums and you cease working with that employer because you leave the country, they will merely inform the insurance provider that you are no longer their employee. If you haven’t cancelled your health insurance and your employer alerts your insurer that you no longer work at that company, the insurance provider will likely send letters to your German residence requesting you confirm your new employment status with no knowledge that you have in fact, left the country!

What will happen if I don’t cancel my health insurance before leaving the country?

You will continue to be billed for your premiums. Once your insurance provider stops receiving your monthly payments, you will start receiving follow up letters chasing payment. In extreme circumstances, default summons and perhaps even an arrest warrant. Not to mention a growing pile of debt which will in turn impact your credit rating in Europe!

But why should I care if I’m leaving the country anyway?

Yes, if you leave the country and never return, you may never have to pay the money back. But what if you’re required to move back to Germany? Perhaps for a job opportunity or because your move didn’t quite work out? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the option? Not to mention that it’s good to leave somewhere with a clean slate and your affairs in order. That way you can look forward to your fresh start, hassle-free!

Moral of the story? It's best to obtain your Abmeldung so that you can cancel your health insurance plan. Having your Abmeldung also allow you to cancel services with other German authorities including radio licensing fees.