Social security number in Germany - is there one?

There are several reasons taxes are significantly higher in Germany than in the UK, US or Australia, but the country’s extensive social security system is probably the biggest factor. It provides far greater protection for citizens, but with size comes greater complexity. Here are a few pointers to help you find your way.

Will I get a German social security number?

Well, sort of. 

When you start a new job, your employer will register you for your Sozialversicherungsausweis as part of the registration process for payroll tax. This is a document with a unique ID that is similar to the social security number in the US. It proves that you pay into statutory social security schemes, such as health insurance. Remember, whether you choose public or private health insurance, this cover is mandatory in Germany.

If you pay into a German pension, you will receive another document called a Rentenversicherungsausweis, which has a different unique ID.

By the way: We know taxes and contributions are complicated at the best of times, and even more so in a foreign country. If you need guidance, check out our simple guide to German taxes!

What does social security in Germany cover?

The clue is in the name. Sozialversicherung translates literally as ‘social insurance’. Employees pay various contributions from their salary to create a comprehensive safety net of state benefits, including:

The German social security system is set down in the Sozialgesetzbuch, also known as the Social Code or SGB for short. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has produced a comprehensive English-language guide to the German social security system, which you can download here.

What about my US social security arrangements?

Beneficiaries of the US Social Security Administration should direct all queries regarding US social security entitlements and payments to the SSA Federal Benefits Unit at the US Consulate General in Frankfurt. 


To get your social security number you need to contact Deutsche Rentenversicherung. They also provide English support.

If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.

ottonova is fully regulated by the BaFin and therefore fulfilling the requirements (§ 257 7Abs. 2a Satz 1 SGB V and the § 61 Abs. 5 SGB XI) for you to be able to apply for a visa with your ottonova insurance, which also includes our Expat tariff of course.

The process to get your finalized contract with us typically takes around two weeks. Tariffs in private health insurance in Germany are based on the age when you enter the system and your health status.

ottonova for Expats.

You have so much to do when moving to Germany, don’t let your health insurance slow you down. Let ottonova make your life easier.

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