Resignation letter in Germany [With Downloadable Template]

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by Jen

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Updated

If you are ready to hand in your resignation letter to your current employer and looking for an excellent template, you have landed in the right place!

In this guide, we will provide you with a downloadable English and German resignation letter template for you to use. Additionally, we will highlight important things you need to know so you can write a resignation letter that your German employer will accept.

6 Tips to Write An Amicable Resignation Letter

1. Use The Right Communication Medium

German law says that only a written letter on paper counts as a legal termination letter. No digital delivery method is accepted (e.g., email, WhatsApp message, SMS). So be ready to print out and physically sign your termination letter.

2. Find The Notice Period

Make sure to read the section in your employment contract titled “Kündigung” or “Termination” to know the notice period. The notice period is the most critical detail of information you will need to be able to write a correct resignation letter.

Example of notice period in a contract in Germany
Sample of the notice period in a German contract

The notice period starts to count from when your employer received your termination letter. If you have the opportunity to hand your termination letter in person, do so; this is a respectful way to finish your work contract with your employer on good terms.

If it’s not possible for you to schedule a meeting with your supervisor, then you should send the resignation letter by post. If it’s important for you to leave on good terms, you can schedule a call with your supervisor to talk about your resignation and then mail the letter per post (not email).

If you are sending your termination letter by post, make sure to send it with tracking to know the date your employer got it. You can send the letter with receipt confirmation (Einschreiben Rückschein).

Related GuideHow To Send A Letter In Germany [A Postal Guide In English]

3. Write Your Resignation Letter In German

If you work in an English-speaking environment, the chances are high that you received your employment contract in both German and English. Most of these contracts have a clause indicating that only the German version is binding.

Sample of paragraph indicating German version is the binding version.
Sample of paragraph in German work contract indicating German version is binding

Therefore, you should highly consider writing your resignation letter in German. I once had an English boss, and we worked in a German company. Even though we spoke English 100% of the time, I wrote my resignation letter in German.

4. Use “Sie” instead of “Du

The resignation letter in Germany is considered a very formal form of communication. Therefore, you have to address the reader as “Sie,” no matter how good your relationship with your boss is.

5. Address Your Resignation Letter To The Right Person

Most of the time, you will need to address the termination letter to your boss. However, some employers request that you also hand in a copy of your resignation letter to the HR department. In this case, you should check with your HR department to whom you need to address your letter.

If you need to create a copy, address the right person in each copy of your resignation letter. So one letter should be addressed to your boss and the other one to the HR employee.

6. Proofread Your Termination Letter

If there are any typos in the sender’s or receiver’s information, your letter could be invalid. So make sure to double-check that all the information is spelled correctly.

Sample Resignation Letter in German

Sample of Termination Letter in Germany
Sample Resignation letter in Germany

You can download our German cover letter template, which you can then edit to your needs.

Formal Structure Of The Resignation Letter In Germany

Resignation letter format in Germany
Format of German Resignation Letter

1. Margins

In Germany, formal correspondence follows the DIN 5008 norm. Which states the following margins on a DIN A4 (standard German letter paper format):

  • Left margin: 2,5 cm
  • Right margin: 2,0 cm
  • Top margin: 4,5 cm
  • Bottom margin: 2,5 cm

Please take these margins as a grain of salt. Your employer will not reject your termination letter if you don’t abide by them. If you download our templates, you won’t have to worry about these margins, as the files already have them set properly.

👇 Download: English and German Termination Letter Templates

2. Your Personal Information

It is up to you to put your personal information right or left-aligned. I prefer right-aligned.

  • Name
  • Address: Make sure you put an address where you can access the mailbox as your ex-employer might send any documents you requested to this address per postal mail. If you’re moving and don’t have a fixed address yet, you can also provide an address of a friend you trust who can later send the documents to you when you have settled.
  • Postal code, City
  • Phone Number: Make sure to put a phone number to which you will have access after your employment has ended. Choose your personal phone number over your work one. Sometimes your ex-supervisor or HR department might need to contact you to follow up on something. This makes it easier for them to reach you.
  • Email: The same rule applies here as with the phone number paragraph above. Make sure to put your personal email address.

3. Company’s Information

The company’s information should be left-aligned. For example, if you use an envelope with a window, the recipient’s information will be visible if you left-align it.

  • Company name
  • Contact person
  • Address
  • Postal Code, City

4. Date

The date on which you wrote the letter. It should be right-aligned.

5. Subject Line

You must use the word “termination” in the subject line, so the intent of your letter is clear. If you wish to, you can add your end date and your employee ID. Remember to calculate the notice period based on what your contract states.

Here are some examples:

  • DE: Kündigung
    EN: Resignation
  • DE: Kündigung meines Arbeitsvertrages zum DD.MM.YYYY 
    EN: Termination of my work contract on DD.MM.YYYY
  • DE: Meine Personalnummer: XXX-XXX-XX
    EN: My employment number: XXX-XXX-XX

6. Salutation

Remember, this is a formal letter, so you should use the formal greeting of “Sehr geehrter Herr” (male) or “Sehr geehrte Frau” (female).

7. Job Resignation Paragraph

The first paragraph is the most important one of the termination letter. You need to specify your last day at work, regardless of pending vacation days.

How I have done it in the past is set my last day of work based on the notice period, of course. Then, once my resignation letter has been accepted, I coordinate the pending vacation days with my supervisor.

Germans are direct, and there should be no fluff in this letter.

DE: Ich kündige hiermit fristgerecht und ordnungsgemäß meinen bestehenden Arbeitsvertrag zum DD.MM.YYYY.

EN: I hereby terminate my existing employment contract in a timely and proper manner as of DD.MM.YYYY.

8. Reason (Optional)

You don’t need to indicate a reason for your resignation in the letter by law. So feel free to skip adding one.

9. Request Acknowledgment Of Receipt

You should request your employer to confirm they received your contract termination (Kündigungsbestätigung). However, your employer is not obliged to do so. So if you send your termination letter through postal mail with acknowledgment of receipt, you can use that as proof of when your employer received the letter.

If your employer agrees to give you a confirmation of receiving your termination letter, they might do so by:

  • Providing you an official letter
  • Signing a copy of your termination letter with the date they received it

DEBitte bestätigen Sie mir den Erhalt der Kündigung und das Kündigungsdatum des Arbeitsverhältnisses schriftlich.

EN: Please confirm receipt of the termination and the termination date of the employment relationship in writing.

10. Request For A Work Reference

By law, your employer must provide a work reference after you have finished your employment relationship with them. However, it is always a good idea to also request this in your termination letter.

Depending on the company’s bureaucracy, this letter might take a few weeks to arrive by postal mail. 

The work reference letter is very important in Germany, and your employer will deliver a “clean” letter; without any folds and staples.

DEAußerdem bitte ich um ein qualifiziertes Arbeitszeugnis, welches Sie mir an die oben genannte Adresse zukommen lassen können.

EN: I would also like to ask for a qualified work reference, which you can send to the address above.

11. Request For A Holiday Certificate (Urlaubsbescheinigung) (Optional)

A holiday certificate (Urlaubsbescheinigung) is a letter from the employer you’re leaving stating how many vacation days you have taken in the current calendar year. Some new employers request this certificate to check how many vacation days you have taken in the calendar year so they can calculate how many vacation days you have left to avoid giving you “double” vacation time.

In my experience, only one employer has asked me for this certificate in Germany. However, it is always good to request it if you don’t have a new employer lined up after your employment relationship has ended. Just in case the new employer requests it, you already have it.

Related GuideWhat Applies To Vacation When Changing Jobs?

An example asking for a work reference and a holiday certificate:

DEAußerdem bitte ich um ein qualifiziertes Arbeitszeugnis sowie eine Urlaubsbescheinigung, welche Sie mir an die oben genannte Adresse zukommen lassen können.

EN: I would also like to ask for a qualified work reference and a holiday certificate, which you can send to the address above.

An example asking only for a holiday certificate

DEAußerdem bitte ich um eine Urlaubsbescheinigung, welche Sie mir an die oben genannte Adresse zukommen lassen können.

EN: I would also like to ask for a holiday certificate, which you can send to the address above.

12. Say Thank You (Optional)

Last but not least, you can dedicate a small paragraph of your letter to thank your employer for the time you were in their team.

DEVielen Dank für die gute Zusammenarbeit und das Vertrauen, das Sie mir geschenkt haben. Ich konnte in den vergangenen Jahren viel lernen und mich persönlich sowie beruflich weiterentwickeln. Ich wünsche Ihnen und dem Unternehmen für die Zukunft weiterhin viel Erfolg und alles Gute.

EN: Thank you for the good cooperation and the trust you have placed in me. I have been able to learn a lot over the past few years and develop myself both personally and professionally. I wish you and the company continued success and all the best for the future.

13. Complimentary Closing

Finish the termination letter with an official German closing.

DEMit freundlichen Grüßen,

EN: Kind regards,

14. Your Signature & Name

Print your full name, and make sure to sign with a pen and not digitally. Ideally, you print the letter in black ink and sign it with a blue-ink pen.

Final Thoughts

After handing in your resignation, continue to work normally and with motivation until your last day of work. Calling in sick constantly or not working well will not reflect well on you. Leaving your job on good terms is very important as your new employer might want to reach out to your old employer for a recommendation. So think of this as you reach the end of your employment relationship with a company.

If you are looking for a new job, we have a whole section dedicated to working in Germany that can help you create a German-style resume, cover letter, and tips on applying to jobs in Germany. On the other hand, if you are moving away, make sure to check our leaving Germany checklist.

👇 Download: English and German Termination Letter Templates

Disclaimer: Neither myself as the author of this article, nor Simple Germany as a business, are qualified to provide labor advice under German law. We cannot provide specialist legal services beyond any of the general tips contained herein. For legal advice, we strongly recommend you consult a labor attorney. 

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About the Author
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Jen is originally from Guatemala and moved to Germany in 2012 to start a new job without any knowledge of German or life in Germany. Jen’s mission is to help fellow expats beat bureaucracy and to have a smooth time while they settle into their new life in Germany.