If you wish to retire in Germany and are no longer associated with the U.S. military, you will lose your SOFA status and consequently will become a tourist. A regular U.S. citizen can stay in Germany for 90 days without requiring a residence permit. You will fall under this category as soon as you retire.
What you have to do is apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
If you live in the City of Kaiserslautern (city includes: Dansenberg, Einsiedlerhof, Erfenbach with Lampertsmühle and Stockborn, Erlenbach, Hohenecken with Espensteig, Mölschbach, Morlautern with Waldhof, and Siegelbach) then the office in Rathaus-Nord, Benzinoring 1, is the appropriate office for you.
If you live in Kaiserslautern County (county includes: Bann, Bruchmühlbach-Miesau, Enkenbach-Alsenborn, Erzenhausen, Eulenbis, Fischbach, Frankelbach, Frankenstein, Gerhardsbrunn, Hauptstuhl, Heiligenmoschel, Hirschhorn/Pfalz, Hochspeyer, Hütschenhausen, Katzweiler, Kindsbach, Kollweiler, Kottweiler-Schwanden, Krickenbach, Lambsborn, Landstuhl, Langwieden, Linden, Mackenbach, Martinshöhe, Mehlbach, Mehlingen, Mittelbrunn, Neuhemsbach, Niederkirchen, Niedermohr, Oberarnbach, Olsbrücken, Otterbach, Otterberg, Queidersbach, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Reichenbach-Steegen, Rodenbach, Schallodenbach, Schneckenhausen, Schopp, Schwedelbach, Sembach, Steinwenden, Stelzenberg, Sulzbachtal, Trippstadt, Waldleiningen, and Weilerbach), then you would need to contact the Foreigners’ Registration Office in the County Administration (Kreisverwaltung), Lauterstr. 8.
You will have to provide the following:
• Proof of income (Einkommensnachweis). Submitting copies of your retirement pay is usually sufficient.
• Proof of health insurance (Krankenversicherung). If you remain covered through the U.S. system, then submit proof of this. Otherwise, you will have to acquire health insurance on the German economy.
• Passports and photos of you and each family member.
If you are married and your spouse is not German, the above items are also required of your spouse. You will also need to submit a marriage certificate, regardless of your spouse’s nationality. It is advisable to start early on these things, however, as long as you have SOFA status, you cannot start this process. When you lose your status, you will be considered a U.S. tourist who just entered the country. After this, you can stay in Germany for 90 days without needing a status.
As soon as you lose the SOFA status, you should begin the process of applying for a residence permit. Make an appointment at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde). Call 0631-365-2245/2584 for the Kaiserslautern City Administration and 0631-7105-201/401 for the County Administration. Take the above items to the appropriate office. Your documents will be reviewed. There is no fixed time for the process. It can be a matter of two weeks or longer. Therefore, it is highly recommended you begin the process as soon as you lose your SOFA status.
Usually, a residence permit must be renewed annually. Also, you will not receive German health benefits if you do not pay into the German health care system through employment. Therefore, you will only receive a residence permit if you already have your own health care. If you do end up working on the economy, you will then pay for German health insurance, which entitles you to receive German health benefits. There is no specific job you will need to acquire in order to stay in Germany. Most retirees have sufficient income through their pension.
(Courtesy of German-American Community Office)