You must give a 3 month notice before leaving your old apartment1. Your lease can specify a shorter notice period (Kündigungsfrist), but it can’t be longer than 3 months1.
You must cancel before the 15th day of the month. For example, if you cancel on January 12, your lease will end on March 31. If you cancel on January 18, your lease will end on April 311, 2.
You end your lease by writing a cancellation letter. You can use a cancellation letter generator. Send the cancellation letter to your landlord by registered mail.
You can ask your landlord to end your lease sooner1. You help them find a new tenant, and you leave when the new tenant moves in. It’s easier for you and for the landlord, but they can refuse to do that1. If they say no, you must wait 3 months for your lease to end.
Phone, internet and electricity contracts often have a cancellation period (Kündigungsfrist). If you want to end your contract, you must do it during that period. If you don’t cancel your contract, it’s renewed automatically. For example, you must cancel your Vodafone contract at least 3 months before it ends.
You can cancel your internet contract if the company can’t offer the same service at your new address. For example, if Vodafone does not offer the same internet connection at your new address, you can cancel your contract1.
Most contracts must be cancelled by mail, or on the company’s website. You can use websites like aboalarm to write the cancellation letter.
You can also transfer your phone, internet and electricity contracts to your new address. This is often your only option.
When you give the apartment keys back (the Wohnungsübergabe), you will fill a handover document (Übergabeprotokoll). In this document, you describe the state of the apartment, and what needs to be repaired1.
In your Übergabeprotokoll, you should record everything. Take a lot of pictures, and consider bringing a lawyer with you during the handover1. This prevents the landlord from discovering “additional damages” later, and from using your deposit to fix them1. The landlord can’t make you pay for damages that are not described in this document1. Don’t let the landlord fill the Übergabeprotokoll alone. Don’t sign it unless you agree with everything in it.
The landlord has 6 months to return your deposit. If nothing needs to be repaired, you will get the whole deposit back. If something needs to be repaired, the landlord will use your deposit to pay for the repairs.
Related guide: How does the Kaution work in Germany?
You can order cardboard boxes (Umzugskarton) from Zapf, Karton.eu and U-Karton. The ones from Zapf are very good quality1. You can also buy cardboard boxes from Bauhaus, Hellweg, and other hardware stores.
You can ask stores to give you their old boxes. Some people also give or sell their old boxes on eBay Kleinanzeigen.
If you can’t move everything yourself, you can hire a moving company. Zapf is often recommended1, 2, 3. It’s more expensive, but all your goods are insured.
If you don’t have many things to move, you can hire the help of a “man with a van”. You can find them on eBay Kleinanzeigen. They are often cheaper than a moving company.
Robben und Wientjes rents moving trucks at a good price. You can also use car rental app like Miles. It’s cheaper to rent a moving truck than to pay a moving company, but you must do everything yourself.
You will need to park the moving truck somewhere while you put your boxes in it. You can reserve a parking spot with a sign, but you need permission from the city1, 2. You can get permission at the Bezirksamt for at least 21€, or use a service like Halteverbot Berlin 24 for around 60€. You must ask for permission 2-4 weeks in advance1, 2, 3. If you have an underground garage, it’s cheaper and easier to park the truck there.
Selling your things
The best way to sell or donate your things is to use eBay Kleinanzeigen. There are also Facebook groups where you can donate them.
Related guide: How to buy and sell used things in Berlin
Throwing furniture away
You can’t leave your old furniture in the street. You must request BSR to pick it up (for a fee) or take it to one of their 15 recycling centres. You can also sell or donate your old furniture.
Related guide: How to sort your trash and recycle in Germany
Deutsche Post offers a mail forwarding service. It costs less than 30€ per year.
If you leave Germany permanently, you must deregister your address. This is called the Abmeldung. When you deregister your address, you stop paying health insurance and TV tax.
If you are moving to another address in Germany, you don’t need to do this. When register your new address (Anmeldung), the old address will be deregistered automatically.
Related guide: The Abmeldung – how to deregister an address in Berlin