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Repatriation is the process of moving back to your country of origin, either away from or back to Germany. It can occur voluntarily, when you make the decision to leave the country you have been living in and return to your homeland – or forcibly, if your host country requires you to leave for legal reasons. When you make the decision to repatriate, you will find that the process of returning home involves nearly as much bureaucracy as when you first left the country. For this reason, it is best to start planning your departure in good time, say at least three months in advance.
Top of the to-do list is taking care of immigration matters. If you have lived abroad for a long period and renounced your original citizenship, you should look into current entry requirements for your country of origin. If you are considering restoring your original citizenship, have a look at your home country’s immigration authority website. Before you leave Germany, you will be required to deregister your presence, either at the local town hall or online. Expats living in Germany should check the requirements with their local authorities.
Another important step is to deal with your accommodation arrangements. If you are renting, make sure to inform your landlord about your departure within the agreed notice period to avoid incurring additional costs. Similarly, if you were previously renting out a property in your home country, inform your tenants of your return in due time. Any property you own in your host country might take a while to sell, so it is a good idea to put it on the market a few months before you plan to leave. At the same time, make an early start on house-hunting back home. For further useful information, see our Accommodation articles relating to your respective country.
Furthermore, it is important to inform the tax authorities that you are leaving the country. If you depart in the middle of a particular tax year, you may still have tax obligations in that country for the remainder of that tax year. At the same time, you should register with the tax authorities back home. Make sure to look into current tax regulations, as these might have changed since your departure. For tax matters in Germany, see the Federal Central Tax Office website.
Remember also to cancel all subscriptions and services in your host country. Think of your newspaper subscriptions, sports club memberships, internet and TV provider, TV licence, mobile phone contract and so on. Make sure to look into cancellation policies well in advance as certain service providers might have a set notice period. At the same time, start looking for these services in your home country and comparing the prices they offer.
It is also important to inform your bank that you are leaving the country. You should consider whether you want to keep your bank account open for a while longer, in particular if you are still expecting income in that country. However, note that certain banks may charge their clients extra if they live abroad. Another thing to keep in mind is to tell everyone that your address has changed! In this respect, it is recommended that you arrange for your post to be forwarded to your new address for a certain period if you are an expat departing from Germany. Finally, you will have to take care of the removal of your personal items, vehicles, and pets. For useful advice on this, consult our Expat Briefing articles on Relocation and select the applicable country you are returning to.
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