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What is a final warning?

How many reminders must be sent before a debt collection agency may be called in? Is there a legal regulation on this? And what can I do to prevent debt collection proceedings?
We bring clarity to these issues!

Editorial Team Germany | Oct 4, 2022 4 min
Do you know what a final warning is?

Final warning - customer service or legal regulation

In recent years, it has become common practice to send 2 - 3 reminders pointing out the existing payment obligation to a defaulting customer. However, this procedure is purely a goodwill gesture on the part of the companies and serves the sole purpose of customer-friendliness. There is no legal obligation to send several reminders before taking further steps.

If the debt is due and the customer is in default of payment, a company has the right at any time to instruct a debt collection service provider or lawyer or to initiate judicial dunning proceedings.

The final reminder is therefore an appeal in the interest of the customer.

Default in payment and costs

Therefore, no "final" warning is required to put a debtor in default.

Default in payment already arises beforehand - in fact already when a justified claim is due and is not settled within the applicable payment period.

Dunning costs must be paid by the debtor as damages caused by delay. There is no legal regulation on the maximum amount of reminder costs. Flat-rate costs of up to 5.00 euros are permissible. Damages caused by default also include the costs incurred by hiring a debt collection agency or a lawyer.

The "final reminder" is thus the last opportunity to settle the debt without having to pay additional collection costs or lawyer's fees. You should not simply let this opportunity pass.

Consequences after last reminder

In most cases, the creditor's "final reminder" is followed by the transfer to an external service provider, such as a debt collection agency. From then on, the collection service provider takes over the collection of the outstanding debt with various measures. These measures also include contacting the debtor and finding a solution in out-of-court proceedings.

It is advisable to contact the debt collection agency directly after the first reminder letter and to inquire about possible options. If there is no payment or no reaction on the part of the debtor, the debt collection agency has the option of initiating judicial dunning proceedings in order to secure the claim for the creditor in the long term and to acquire an enforceable title.

The final dunning letter from a collection company

So if you have received mail from a debt collection agency, you have usually already been reminded by your original contract partner by mail or e-mail.

There is also no minimum number of reminders prescribed for debt collection agencies - nor is there a legal regulation that a separate notice must be issued before legal proceedings are initiated. However, most debt collection companies explicitly inform the debtor before initiating such measures in order to give him the opportunity to react before incurring further costs.


The "final reminder" is also the last opportunity to settle the debt without having to pay additional collection or lawyer's fees. This opportunity should not be missed.

At the latest, if you have received mail from a debt collection agency, you should contact them directly in order to prevent further escalation and to save yourself a legal dunning procedure.

If we have written to you, you will find our contact details on our letters and in the e-mails. You can also use the contact form on our homepage to send us a message.


Please understand that for reasons of readability we only use the grammatically masculine form when referring to persons. This always refers to people of any gender identity.