Moving out of your apartment is probably the biggest feat you have to accomplish when leaving Germany. Your place of residence might have become your second home and you have accumulated some prized possessions over time. But now it’s time to say goodbye, and good planning can make your farewell a little easier.
Giving your landlord timely notice that you will be moving should be the most important task on your to-do list. The statutory notice period in Germany is three months, but you should check your rental contract for any differing regulations. You should mail a hard copy of your formal notice to your landlord by the third business day of a given month at the latest. Once your notice has been accepted, you should receive a written confirmation.
If there is no major damage in the apartment and everything else is in order, you are entitled to a refund of your security deposit, including interest. Ask you landlord when you can expect to receive the deposit and let them know where to transfer it.
Remember to cancel any utilities and telecommunication services on time. When you move out, you need to inform the utility company about meter readings so that they can calculate your total consumption. Extra payments may be necessary if you have consumed more than estimated.
You also need to de-register your broadcasting license fee payments (DE) if they are registered under your name. Besides filling out the form, you also need proof of your final departure from Germany, such as a confirmation of your residence de-registration (Abmeldebestätigung).
What to do with your possessions?
Deciding what to take back home and what to leave behind may be challenging. If you have already reached the limits of your baggage allowance, you may consider shipping a few boxes back home. In this case, make sure to compare different estimates and be aware of any customs regulations.
In case you want to sell some of your things, online platforms, local flea markets, and on-campus bulletin boards provide an easy way of getting some money for your belongings.
If you want to discard any bulkier items, make sure to recycle them properly. Electric appliances, furniture, and clothes don’t belong in household waste. You should take them to a Wertstoffhof (DE), a large recycling center for special waste. You can also recycle metal scraps or bulky plastics there.
You also need to arrange a date for the final apartment handover with your landlord. On this day, you will return all keys and inspect the apartment together. Make sure to have the damage protocol from when you moved in ready, so that you will not be held responsible for any damage you did not cause. Usually, the apartment needs to be at least besenrein (clean swept) upon handover, meaning that it should be emptied out and clean. Depending on the regulations in your contract, you may also be required to make minor Schönheitsreparaturen (cosmetic repairs), such as whitening your walls. If in doubt, check your contract or ask your landlord.
Just as you had to register your place of residence when you moved in, you also have to de-register it again when you move out (Wohnsitz abmelden). You can de-register either in person or by mail, enclosing a completed de-registration form and your passport or a copy of it. After you have successfully de-registered, you will receive a de-registration confirmation (Abmeldebestätigung). Keep it safely, since you may need it as proof of your departure from Germany when you cancel certain services.
NOTE: You can de-register no earlier than one week before and no later than two weeks after moving out.