By Anna-Maria Pfeffer
Attorney Stuttgart Law Center
Anybody in Germany who possesses or uses a cell phone has either a prepaid card, or at some point they signed a contract with a provider. So, how do you terminate this contract?
If you are familiar with the rules, then terminating a German cell-phone contract should not be too difficult. First of all, it is important to note that the service members Civil Relief Act, which gets you out of a contract pretty easily back in the States, does not apply in Germany. Therefore, any extraordinary termination due to military reasons of any kind has to be treated as if simply leaving the country upon one’s own voluntary decision, which means that you are the one responsible for the move, not your provider or the military.
When starting the process of terminating a cell phone contract, it is important to know the conditions of your contract. Usually, a cell phone contract in Germany has a minimum duration period which, in most cases, goes up to 24 months. If the contract is not terminated within due time upon the end of the minimum duration period, the contract normally automatically renews for another 12 months.
The termination period is usually three months before the end of the minimum duration period or before the end of the renewal period. If you would like to terminate your contract, it is absolutely necessary that you do so in time. Furthermore, written cancellation (a letter) must be received within the termination period. If this is not the case, the contract will be, automatically renewed. As proof, it is recommended to use registered mail with delivery receipt (“Einwurfeinschreiben”).
If you receive your orders and will have to leave the country before your minimum duration period expires, the acceptance of an extraordinary contract termination depends on your provider, because according to current case law, orders are not a recognized reason for an extraordinary contract termination. Fortunately, most of the providers are open for a compromise when moving abroad and justification (e.g. orders) has been provided. However, depending on your contract terms, you are likely to pay at least three months of your monthly fees and a final bill including the costs for a cell phone which has been provided to you.