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South Africans in Germany

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Sozialversicherung / Social Insurance

The following Social Insurances are payable in Germany when you are a full-time employee or trainee:

  • Krankenvesicherung / Medical Insurance
  • Plegeversicherung / Long Term care insurance. Nursing or home care
  • Rentenversicherung / Pension insurance
  • Unfallversicherung / Accident insurance – Should you become ill due to your profession you will be supported by the statutory accident insurance scheme. This will, for example, continue to pay your wages.
    It also assumes the cost for a further training course (retraining) should you no longer be able to work in your original profession.
    And it also pays pensions to widows and orphans.
    The contributions to this insurance will be paid by the company for which you work.
  • Arbeitslosenversicherung / Unemployment insurance – If you have a position with a company that is subject to social insurance contributions you are automatically insured against unemployment. Should you become unemployed you will receive support from your employment agencies and job centres. The Arbeitsagentur will help you look for work. They also offer you financial support to cover your living costs should you fulfil the conditions for this.
    You can find more information concerning Unemployment Benefit and Supplementary Unemployment Benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld und Arbeitslosengeld II here – available only in German).

You can download a very informative e-book from the Deutsche Rentenvesicherung. This is available in German only.

Additional Information

  • You should receive a Sozialversicherungsausweis / Social Security card.   – Your social security number will be on this card. – As an employee, you need a social security card. With this, you can prove to your employer, among other things, that you are a member of the statutory social security system. You receive your number the first time you start employment and register for social insurance.
    Karrierebibel explains, “If the employer knows that the new employee is taking on a job for the first time, they register them with the health insurance company or the mini job centre. You will then apply for your social security card from the German Pension Insurance. The Deutsche Rentenversicherung will send you the ID.”
    You can also read more from the AOK
  • You will get a yearly Meldebescheinigung zur Sozialversicherung / Social Security certificate from your employer. This certificate contains your gross salary for the previous year that is subject to contributions. The information is relevant for calculating your pension, and you should keep your copies until at least your retirement date.

How to apply for your Social Security number

Your Social Security number is used as identification for health insurance (public), pension, long-term care, and unemployment insurance. 
You can get this number in different ways, depending on your situation.

  • Public Health Insurance – You receive your number automatically when you first sign-up for public health insurance in Germany. If you are on private health insurance, you need to request it manually at your local Rentenversicherung office.
  • Employer – your employer might offer to apply for a social security number for you through their payroll system
  • The German Pension Office – You can personally contact the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, either online or by visiting their offices 
  • Your Insurance Broker – As your broker for assistance

You need to supply your employer with this number. 
Your social security card (Sozialversicherungsausweis) is a very important document which you must keep safe. You will also need it when applying for social benefits e.g unemployment benefits


Your Sozialversicherungsnummer has the following format: 12 123456 A 123.

  • The first 2 digits are the area number of the office that registered you
  • The next 6 numbers are your birthdate
  • The Letter is the first letter of your surname
  • The last 3 numbers are used to differentiate you from people with the same name and birthdate
Detailed information on the GRV Website(in German)

References and info on the web

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