Some Americans like to stay in Germany after their official connections to the U.S. military have ended. Maybe they have lost their jobs with the Army or Air Force, their sponsors have left the country, or they become divorced from a spouse who was stationed in Germany.
“Whatever the reason, personnel are required to properly out-process and relinquish any documents, such as ID cards, ration cards, SOFA certificates, U.S. Army Europe vehicle registrations, fuel cards and unused VAT forms that entitle them to tax-free privileges,” said Fred Evans, chief of customer services at U.S. Forces Customs-Europe.
Subsequent use of these documents is illegal, he added.
Americans who plan to stay in Germany after their official connections to the U.S. military have ended must also obtain a residence permit from German immigration authorities.
U.S. civilians and contractors who are fired, retire or resign from U.S. government jobs lose their right to be in Germany based on their job status, as well as their tax and customs privileges, on the date that their change in status occurs.
This individual logistical support also ends on the day a dependent child turns 21 years of age (or 23 if enrolled in higher education) or establishes a separate residence. The same applies when someone is divorced from a U.S. citizen with individual logistical support in Germany.
However, family members keep their Status Of Forces Agreement status and full logistic support for 90 days if their sponsor leaves Germany due to reassignment on a permanent change of station move or after their sponsor has died.
This support extends to entitlements such as use of Army post offices, government housing and Department of Defense schools.
Sponsors who are leaving Germany must tell their local U.S. forces customs office if family members plan to stay in Germany beyond the 90 days, Evans said.
U.S. government organizations have a responsibility to ensure that any employees who lose individual logistical support in Germany properly out-process and hand over relevant documents to the proper agencies.
Organizations should also report violations to their U.S. forces customs office.
For more information about your SOFA status, or customs and tax benefits, call the Stuttgart Customs Office at 431-2657/07031-15-2657.