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... about Commencement of Imprisonment (Preparation for Prison)

Prior to starting a penalty of imprisonment, you have to do and prepare certain things. It makes the process easier, especially financially and makes it easier for your relatives.

Preparation of Prison

After pronouncing of the judgement, the judgement shall not become legally binding unless:

  • no appellate remedy are possible (not contestable), or
  • no appellate remedy is filed within a specified period, or
  • or a waiver of right to appeal has been filed.


Once the judgement becomes legally binding, it can be enforced by the public prosecution office.

The convicted person will then receive a summons for the commencement of imprisonment. This is not the case if the convicted person is already in a penal institution, e.g. in remand detention.


The summons for the commencement of imprisonment will be sent as a letter to the address which the court has on file. The convicted person is requested to report to a specific penal institution within a specified period. The letter describes exactly when and where to go. The deadline is normally set for at least 1 week. That way, some important matters can still be dealt with.


There may also be an immediate commencement of imprisonment, but this is rare and usually occurs when the risk of flight is assumed.


Should the convicted person not respond within the set period, coercive measures follow. Police will then find the person. If the person is then arrested by the police, they will be taken into the assigned penal institution, with only those items and clothes that were at hand.


During the admission, it is taken into account whether the person has reported within the given period (voluntary surrender) or had to be taken in by police. In most cases, a quick admission to open prison or an early relaxation of conditions of imprisonment are not possible if you have not voluntarily reported yourself within the given period.


If the convicted person does not have any means to get to the assigned penal institution, they can report to a nearby penal institution or police station as well.


Once the summons for the commencement of imprisonment has been issued, there are ways to avoid or postpone it. For more information, see Alternatives to Incarceration.

Preparation for Prison

Before starting a prison sentence, a few things should be done and prepared. You make a lot of problems easier for yourself, especially financially, and you may make things easier for those close to you.  


Depending on the requirements there are different options:

Living alone and deprivation of liberty under 6 to 12 months

If you are imprisoned for 6-12 months or less, you can apply at the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt) to take the rent for 6 to 12 months. This also applies to remand detention. Eligible are persons who otherwise cannot afford to keep the apartment and who would suffer social difficulties as a result of loosing the apartment.

The application usually has to be submitted at the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt). Here is an application from Anhalt-Bitterfeld as an example: 

Living alone, rent will not be covered and cannot be raised

If there is no option to keep the apartment, it should be cancelled immediately. If the apartment is cancelled, electricity and water must also be cancelled as well as internet contracts and other contracts related to the apartment.  If you do not cancel, high and unnecessary debts will incur.

Furniture and household items must be securely stored, for example with relatives, acquaintances or in storage rooms (paid).

The apartment may also be subleased with the consent of the landlord. Everything should be discussed in detail and written down so that the mandatory payments will actually be made.


It is also best to read the meter readings beforehand. Apartments should only be subleased if the other person is trustworthy enough. Otherwise, high costs may arise.

Housing can be financed and rental costs can be covered

If you keep your apartment, you should make sure that the home is properly locked, gas and water are switched off, and that all appliances are disconnected from the grid.

Not living alone

If you are not living by yourself, you should clarify before the commencement of imprisonment whether the remaining person is able to pay for the apartment alone.

If the person is receiving benefits from the job centre (Jobcenter), only the costs for the remaining persons will be covered, for example for a partner and child. In this case, the apartment will be considered too big for the remaining persons and rent will not be fully covered.


Should the remaining person not be able to pay for the apartment by themselves, they will most likely have to move.


This should be well discussed to avoid later difficulties and misunderstandings. If the penalty of imprisonment lasts less than 6 to 12 months, an assumption of costs may also be applied for at the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt).

Obligations for other Persons

  • Relatives, acquaintances or other persons/institutions must take over the care of people in need of help.
  • You must inform the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) in the case of underage children left behind.
  • You must hand over animals to relatives, acquaintances or to animal shelters.
  • If you received any benefits prior to your imprisonment, you must inform the agency providing benefits.
  • In case you were receiving housing benefit, you must notify the appropriate housing benefit office.
  • Your family will have to take care of maintenance themselves during your imprisonment.
  • Family insurance ends with imprisonment. Family members will have to get their own health insurance.

Other Obligations to Pay

  • You must notify statutory representative, if necessary, the Youth Welfare Office when children or juveniles are entitled to maintenance. Maintenance may be reduced or suspended for the duration of the arrest in accordance with section 323 of the Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO) unless the ground for arrest was a violation of the maintenance.
  • You should discontinue subscriptions to magazines and newspapers.
  • In the case of a club membership, you should apply for a suspension of contributions or cancel the membership.
  • You must submit a mail forwarding (Postnachsendeantrag) so that all future letters will arrive in the penal institution. This is of importance because writs of execution and payment orders are deemed delivered as soon as they are in the mailbox.
  • You should deregister radio and television.
  • In the case you have ongoing insurance contracts (e.g. household, legal protection, life insurance, etc.), it is necessary to agree on a non-contributory suspension of these contracts if they continue.

Important Documents

You should either take the most important documents, which are also required at a later point, with you to the penal institution (they will be stored there) or give them to close and trustworthy relatives or friends.

Important documents include:

  • Social insurance identity card
  • Health insurance
  • Confirmation of employment (Arbeitsbescheinigung)
  • Driver's license
  • Identification number
  • Certificates
  • Statutory pension insurance
  • Other insurances if necessary
  • Documents relating to debts/creditors/dunning procedures, if necessary


National identity card and or birth certificate should be taken into the penal institution.