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The Guide

Bayerische Bühnenversorgung

What is the Bayerische Bühnenversorgung?

The Bayerische Bühnenversorgung (supplementary retirement institution for German stage workers) – protection for theatre artists in old age and in the event of occupational disability

Artists and cultural workers (over the age of 17) who are employed by a theatre in Germany and work (predominantly) in an artistic capacity receive old-age insurance – in addition to pension insurance – as well as insurance coverage against occupational disability and survivors' insurance through the Versorgungsanstalt der Deutschen Bühnen (VddB).

It is important to note that this insurance is compulsory and binding for salaried employees – artistic employees have no choice about taking out such insurance. This also applies to artists residing abroad who are working as guest performers at a German theatre, for example.

The insurance relationship is established automatically when the artist starts working for a theatre and is required by law. It ends when the stage employee leaves the employment relationship. Continued insurance coverage is possible for periods between engagements (for a minimum monthly amount of 12.50 euros) (Leaflet 20 - Continued Insurance). Otherwise you are considered to be covered under a non-contributory plan, which means that you are not entitled to all benefits (Leaflet 21 - Non-contributory Insurance).

In general:

  • Employment for artistic activities at a theatre is the decisive factor. See the Abgrenzungskatalog (list of benefit exemptions, in German only) for details on relevant activities.
  • The duration of the employment relationship is irrelevant; even short-term employment relationships, for example in the context of guest performances, are subject to insurance requirements. This applies if a person has a contractual obligation to deliver more than seven performances and rehearsals per production.
  • Nationality does not matter: The insurance obligation also applies to foreign stage employees, even if they are only employed once or occasionally by theatres in Germany. See also the information sheet Pflichtversicherung von Gästen (compulsory insurance for guest performers – in German) and Leaflet 11 – Insuring Guests.

The monthly contribution for insured parties is 9% of the monthly income that is subject to contributions (the income is subject to contributions up to a fixed monthly income threshold). Half of the contributions are paid by the theatre (employer's contribution) and half by the insured party (employee's contribution), with the employer withholding the employee's contribution from the wages paid and transferring the total contribution to the Bayerische Versorgungskammer.

Theatres are obligated to inform their salaried employees about the insurance and register them with the VddB (electronic registration via the employer portal of the pension institution). They are also responsible for calculating, paying and settling the contributions.

The Bayerische Versorgungskammer provides extensive information – information sheets, FAQs – on questions concerning insurance, contributions, guest performances, voluntary insurance, etc. on its website, some of which is available in English.

>>> Follow this link to the Downloadcenter.

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Can self-employed artists insure themselves through the VddB?

As of 2017 self-employed artists have been able to take out voluntary insurance if certain conditions are met:

  • Self-employed artists on the independent dance and theatre scene who engage in artistic activities on a long-term (regularly for a period of three years on the independent dance and theatre scene) and gainful basis (regular annual income of at least 3,900 euros) can take out voluntary insurance. The notification from the KSK, among others, can be used as proof of permanent, gainful artistic activity.
  • Self-employed persons at VddB member theatres – choreographers, stage and costume designers, puppeteers, directors, stage musicians, etc. – can also take out voluntary insurance.

Voluntarily insured parties are entitled to old-age, occupational disability and survivors' benefits; they are not entitled to any reimbursement of contributions or compensation.

You can apply for insurance coverage using the relevant forms, which can be found here. You will need to pay a monthly basic contribution of 12.50 euros and may also pay an additional optional contribution (up to 16% of the income threshold).

Detailed information can be found here: information sheet Freiwillige Versicherung selbstständiger freier Künstler (voluntary insurance for self-employed freelance artists, in German only).

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Can artists residing abroad be exempted from the obligation to hold this insurance cover?

No. Artists from abroad who are employed by a theatre in Germany are also subject to the obligation to take out this compulsory insurance, even if the employment is only temporary.


Can artists residing abroad be reimbursed for contributions paid?

Under certain conditions, it is possible to have contributions reimbursed in full or on a pro rata basis. See the Leaflet 22 - Reimbursement of contributions and severance pay for more details

  • Anyone who has worked at a German theatre for at least 12 months and paid contributions accordingly can apply for reimbursement.
    > The prerequisite is that contributions have not been paid for longer than 120 months or for 60 months after 31 December 2000, or 36 months after 31 December 2017. If contributions have been paid for longer than these respective periods, reimbursement is not possible; in this case, a pension is paid out in old age.
    > Another requirement for reimbursment is that you have not worked at a theatre in Germany for 24 months prior to requesting reimbursement. This means that if you live abroad and were employed for a guest performance in Germany, you can apply for reimbursement no earlier than 2 years after the end of the employment relationship.
    An application form is available on the website.
  • Those employed for less than 12 months are not eligible to have their contributions reimbursed in full. However, they have the option of having what is known as an "Eigenanteilsrente" paid out, i.e. the employee's share of the contributions paid can be reimbursed, usually in the form of a one-off payment. However, this is only possible once you have reached the (German) standard retirement age of 67.
  • A sudden occupational disability can also be a reason for the reimbursement of contributions if you have previously paid contributions for at least 12 months but not yet 36 months.

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Do you work at theatres in Germany regularly?

If you reside abroad and work regularly at theatres in Germany, you can choose to continue insuring yourself between engagement, paying a minimum contribution of EUR12.50. You can then receive what is known as "Ruhegeld" (pension) from the retirement institution in old age. These benefits can also be paid out abroad.
Voluntary continued insurance between engagements is recommended, even though the "Ruhegeld" (pension) is usually not very high. The amount of the pension is determined by a percentage of the contributions paid. The rates vary depending on the period for which a contribution has been paid and on the year of birth and the age at which the contributions were paid.

Leaflet 20 - Continued Insurance

Leaflet 32 - on the amount of the pension (in German)


How can I access these benefits?

You must submit an application for the old age pension and the reimbursement of contributions.
Detailed information, application forms, etc. can be found in the download centre on the website.

Special regulations known as "Tänzerabfindung" (dancers' compensation) apply to dancers. You can find information on the Tänzerabfindung and how to apply for it here.


Contact the Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen

In any case, it is advisable to seek clarification from the Versorgungskammer regarding your own situation. Staff can be reached by phone (don't despair if you cannot reach them right away!) or via the contact form.



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Check lists

Temporary work in
Germany and France pdf

Checklist Health insurance
abroad pdf