Social Security Number Germany [What, Why and How in 2021]

Germany is known for its comprehensive social security system. However, to benefit from it as a foreign employee, you will need to obtain a social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). This article will tell you what the social security number in Germany is, exactly how to receive it and what to do with it.

What Is The Social Security Number In Germany?

Germany’s social security number is a unique 12-digit number with which all of your social security contributions can be tracked. These consist of health, pension, long-term care, and unemployment insurance. Every employee in Germany has to contribute to the statutory social security system and must have a social security number to get paid properly. In most cases, you have to provide this number to your employer. These social security deductions get automatically subtracted from your German payslip.

You will also need your social security number later on when you want to claim benefits or get your retirement pension.

Related Guide: Unemployment Benefits Germany [2021 Expat Guide]

If you are a freelancer or self-employed and you have private health insurance, you may not have a social security number, as you don’t contribute to the German social system.

Are The Social Security Number And Social Insurance Number The Same In Germany?

Yes, they are. The social security number in Germany has many equivalent names. The most common ones are:

  • Sozialversicherungsnummer (social insurance number)
  • SV-Nummer (abbreviation for social insurance number)
  • Versicherungsnummer (insurance number)
  • Rentenversicherungnummer (pension insurance number)
  • RV-Nummer (abbreviation for pension insurance number)
  • RNVR (abbreviation for pension insurance number)

How To Get Your German Social Security Number?

How you can get your German social security number depends on what kind of health insurance you have – public insurance or private insurance

Getting Your Social Security Number With Public Health Insurance

The easiest way to get your social security ID in Germany is by signing up with a public health insurance fund. By doing so, you will automatically be registered in the German social security system.

You will receive the official letter from the German pension fund, including your Sozialversicherungsausweis with your insurance number via post four to six weeks after signing up with your public health insurance provider. Be sure to store that paper in a safe place. 

To know your number faster, you can request a membership confirmation (Mitgliedsbescheinigung) from your health insurer about 3-4 days after signing up. Most public health insurance funds offer this service online.

If you are with Techniker Krankenkasse, you can follow these steps to get your Rentenversicherungsnummer:

  1. Log in to Meine TK
  2. Go to Anträge und Bescheinigungen
  3. Click on Allgemeine Versicherungsbescheinigung herunterladen
  4. Click on Bescheinigung herunterladen

Getting Your Social Security Number With Private Health Insurance

Through your insurance service provider

If you sign up for private health insurance through the services of Feather Insurance, they will request your social security number for you. They are specialists in the field and focus on finding the best health insurance solutions for expats in Germany. Get a free price estimate and consultation.

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Through your employer

If it is your first job in Germany and your employer hired you from abroad, your employer might offer to get a social security number for you through their digital payroll system. 

You will receive the official letter from the German pension fund, including your Sozialversicherungsausweis (social security card), with your insurance number via post four to six weeks after your employer has registered you. Be sure to store that paper in a safe place. 

Through the German pension office

In case your employer asks you to provide your social security number, you will have to get it yourself from the German pension insurance fund (Deutsche Rentenversicherung). You can either fill in their contact form and request your Sozialversicherungsausweis. The form is in German, and I recommend using Chrome’s Google translate option. In this case, you can expect to receive the important paper with your Versicherungsnummer four to six weeks later via postal mail.

In case you need it more urgently, you can go to the closest office of the Deutsche Rentenversicherung and request it in person. They can usually print it out on the spot. Be sure to bring your passport. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, you need to make an appointment beforehand via phone. Take a look at the contact details of all the German pension offices.

What Does The Social Security Number In Germany Look Like?

The social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer) in Germany has 11 numbers and 1 letter. The number consists of five parts with the following attributes:

  • 1-2: number of the local pension insurance office
  • 3-8: your date of birth (DD/MM/YY)
  • 9: the first letter of your last name
  • 10-11: serial number telling your gender (00-49 = male and 50-99 = female)
  • 12: a random check digit
Example of a German social security number

This is what your social security card, which you receive as a letter from the German state pension insurance, looks like:

Example of the social security card in Germany
Source: Deutsche Rentenversicherung

In case you lost this paper, you can order it again online from the German pension fund. You have to select ‘Neuausstellung eines Sozialversicherungsausweises wegen Verlust / Zerstörung / Unbrauchbarkeit’. To do that, however, you need to know your social security number.

Where Can You Find Your German Social Security Number?

There are several documents you can find your social security number in Germany on:

1. Your social security card (Sozialversicherungsausweis)
2. Your membership confirmation (Mitgliedsbescheinigung) from your public health insurance
3. Your payslip

Example of the social security number on a German payslip
Example of the social security number on a German payslip

Conclusion

All employees in Germany, regardless of being a citizen or expat, need to get a social security number. Your public health insurance, employer, or German pension insurance fund will register you to receive your social security card via postal mail. Your employer needs this number to subtract the correct social contributions from your salary. Be sure to always keep your social security card in a safe place.