Find general information on pension matters for persons abroad. For detailed information and consultation on your specific case, please contact the German pension authority.
“Lebensbescheinigung” - Life Certificate
Once a year, pensioners abroad must send the completed and verified “Lebensbescheinigung” to their pension authority in Germany. The verification would usually be done by local South African authorities (for example commissioner of oaths, notary public, banks or SAPS). If necessary, the verification can also be done by a German Mission abroad.
In case the pensioners can no longer sign the form themselves, the relatives or care-givers should contact the German pension authority to discuss alternatives.
Please remember to send the “Lebensbescheinigung” before the end of the Deadline (generally mid-August.
Does the pension authority have up to date information?
Always make sure that the pension authority in Germany has your current address. A failure in being able to contact you may, in worst case, result in them stopping your pension payments.
Your can contact the pension authority directly or use the service of the German Post to inform them of changes.
Taxes on Pensions
Since 2005, a gradual taxation of pensions has been instituted. The percentage of the pension that will be taxed depends on when the pensioner reached pension age - if they reached the pension age in 2005, 50% of the pension remains tax-free, if they reach pension age in 2020, only 20% will remain tax-free.
Pensioners abroad are subject to special provisions: A pensioner who resides abroad is usually only subject to limited taxation - meaning that there are no tax exemption limits and the pension will be taxed from the first Euro. There is, however, the possibility of applying for unlimited taxation, which would result in a lower tax liability.
What if I don't react?
Since 2011, the revenue office has been contacting pensions abroad and inviting them to make an annual tax declaration. If this has not been followed up upon by the pensioner, the revenue office would have fined the pensioner or estimated the taxes due - if the overdue taxes have not been paid, the revenue office would have seized the German bank account or pension claim.
On the website of the revenue office, you will find further information - please note that the German Mission cannot offer tax consultations.
Applying for Deferred Payment
You can ask to allow you to pay overdue taxes in instalments and use the following suggested text:
Passing of a pension recipient
In the event of the death of a pension recipient, the relevant pension authority must be informed immediately. Payments will then be stopped. The message that the pension recipient has passed away must be sent directly to the pension authority by the relatives or the executor of the estate. The following information or documents are required for this purpose:
- Death certificate of the pension recipient (original if possible).
- Name of the pension authority and the pension insurance number
- Name and contact information of the next of kin or the executor of the estate.
If the deceased was receiving pension payments through Deutsche Post, please email to the Pension Service immediately, or use the following link to report the death.
The pension recipient or the pension recipients estate is eligible to receive pension payments for the month in which the death occurred. In most cases, payments are made either at the beginning or end of the previous month. There is no legal right to pension payments received after that date and they may have to be refunded.
Please note that even after notification of death, it may take several weeks for payments to stop. Since pension payments are usually made at the beginning of the month, overpayments are not exceptional. If the pension is transferred directly to a bank account, the pension authority will reverse the overpaid pension. Therefore, dependents or executors should not close the bank account until the overpayments have been reversed.