In Germany, some insurances are mandatory, others are optional.
There is a highly developed social security system that provides people with financial security, for instance, in case of illness or unemployment. All employed individuals are required to participate in the social insurance system (health, pension, unemployment, accident and long-term care insurance). There are exceptions for freelancers, the self-employed, civil servants and people who are employed only part-time.
Employers and those who are employed finance the social insurance system jointly with equal contributions. Only the accident insurance contributions are paid in full by the employers.
If you are in Göttingen on a scholarship, you are generally exempt from the compulsory social insurance – with the exception of health insurance. You must take out private health insurance on your own. The Welcome Centre is happy to assist you with this.
If you have an employment contract in Göttingen, social insurance is compulsory for you. As a rule, you will be automatically insured (up to an annual gross income of €64,350) in statutory health, pension, unemployment, long-term care, and accident insurances. After you begin your job, your place of employment will register you with the statutory health insurance you have chosen, which then informs the other social security institutions. The contributions are deducted monthly from your gross salary.
After registration, you will receive your social security card with your national insurance number from the German pension insurance. Please inform your employer of this number. Keep your social security card safe, as you will need it again and again (e.g., when you change jobs).
For citizens of an EU or EEA country or Switzerland, the transferability of social security entitlements (e.g. pension entitlements and healthcare) is regulated by ordinance. The general rule is:
- You are insured in the country in which you are gainfully employed.
- A person can only be covered by the social security legislation of one country. An exception is made for employees who are posted abroad for less than 2 years. They can remain insured and pay contributions in the country from which they were posted.
If you work in several countries at the same time, special rules determine which social security law applies and where you have to contribute.
- More information on transferring rights: EURAXESS Germany Social Security
Social securityHealth insurance
- Information on health insurance
The pension system provides financial security in old age. It is there to provide you or your survivors a pension as soon as you are no longer able to work (e.g. due to old age, accident or death). It not only pays a pension in retirement but also provides measures to maintain your working capacity (e.g. treatment).
Participation in the German pension system is compulsory for all employed people and some freelancers and self-employed people. Other freelancers and self-employed people can participate in an optional pension plan. It is also possible to participate in a private pension plan.
A fixed percentage of your salary is automatically deducted from your gross salary for your pension. You are automatically enrolled in the statutory pension system when you become employed.
More information on pensions:
- German state pension system website
- EURAXESS Germany pensions
- Advice centre of the German state pension system in Göttingen
If you have worked in different countries throughout your career and have contributed to their social security systems, you will be entitled to a pension in several countries. You should enquire about your entitlements with the insurance institutions of the different countries as soon as possible for planning purposes. Please note that the minimum qualification period in order to be entitled to a pension may vary from country to country.
As a general rule, there is no provision for pooling pension entitlements (for example, in the country where you reside when you retire). Exceptions exist only to avoid small pensions that do not provide a living wage. The insurance institution of each country in which you have acquired an entitlement grants pensions according to its national regulations.
The European Union provides for special circumstances. EU member states must take into account your period of employment in other EU member states when considering your entitlement to a pension. Pensions are pooled and paid into the country where you currently reside. This also applies to other states with which Germany has bilateral social security agreements.
If you leave Germany and return to a country with which Germany has no official social security agreement, you can have paid contributions to the statutory pension fund reimbursed. You can apply for this at the German pension office.
Statutory unemployment insurance offers financial support in the event of unemployment. The prerequisite is that you have been employed in Germany for at least 12 months within the last 48 months and are available to the labour market. Previous periods of employment from EU/EEA states and Switzerland can be taken into account. In addition, you will receive compensation in the event of a forced reduction of hours, work stoppages due to weather conditions or the insolvency of your employer.
Enrolment in statutory unemployment insurance is compulsory for employed people. You pay a fixed percentage of your salary for employment insurance, which is deducted from your gross salary each month.
Self-employed people cannot take out statutory unemployment insurance. There is no comparable private unemployment insurance.
If you receive unemployment benefits, the employment agency pays health insurance, long-term care insurance and compulsory contributions to the pension insurance institution on your behalf.
- More information on unemployment insurance: EURAXESS Germany unemployment insurance
Accident insurance protects you against the costs and financial consequences of accidents at work and job-related health problems. However, it does not provide comprehensive protection. You are only insured on the way to and from work and during work hours. Statutory accident insurance only applies within Germany.
Statutory accident insurance is compulsory for all employed people in Germany. In addition to the statutory accident insurance, you can take out private supplementary insurance. In contrast to statutory accident insurance, private accident insurance also protects you in the event of accidents worldwide, and outside working hours. Freelancers and the self-employed can take out statutory or private accident insurance as they wish.
Contributions to the statutory accident insurance are paid in full by your employer. You do not have to pay any contributions.
- More information on accident insurance: EURAXESS Germany accident insurance
Long-term care insurance provides basic cover if you are no longer able to care for yourself due to illness or old age and need help. You are automatically enrolled with the health insurance.
Statutory long-term care insurance is compulsory for all employed people. Freelancers and the self-employed have long-term care insurance according to their health insurance.
You pay a fixed percentage of your salary for long-term care insurance, which is automatically deducted from your gross salary. Childless employees pay a surcharge of 0.25% of their gross salary.
- More information on long-term care insurance: EURAXESS Germany long-term care insurance
Other insurancesPersonal liability insurance
Personal liability insurance protects you against the financial consequences of damage caused by you (or your child or pet). The scope of insurance depends on the provider and the individual rate.
Claims for damages can be high, especially if people are injured. Therefore, you should make sure that the sum insured is sufficient.
- More information on liability insurance: EURAXESS Germany liability insurance
In Germany, as the owner of a car, motorcycle, quad bike or motor scooter, you must take out vehicle liability insurance.
Vehicle liability insurance covers, among other things, damage to other people’s vehicles as well as property damage and personal injury. There is a statutory minimum amount that is covered by the insurance.
Often, this amount is not enough to cover all damages. Therefore, you can take out additional insurance (partial or comprehensive insurance). Partial-coverage insurance covers damage to your own vehicle, such as glass breakage, damage caused by wild animals or theft. Comprehensive insurance additionally covers damage caused by vandalism and damage to your own vehicle as a result of an accident for which you are responsible.
The prices for car insurance vary considerably. Use comparison portals to find cheap rates with the scope of benefits that suit you best.
The International Office
The Welcome Centre is not barrier-free. Please contact us if you need assistance.