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What is an attachment?

If consumers do not meet their payment obligations, the creditor can make use of various legal possibilities to achieve a settlement of the arrears. One of these is the attachment. However, this is only permissible if certain legal requirements are met.

We will explain to you under which conditions an attachment is possible, what types of attachment there are and what rights and obligations you have in such a case.

Editorial Team Germany | Jun 21, 2023 3 min

What are the differences in an attachment? 

In the case of an attachment, a fundamental distinction is made between:

  • the attachment of movable property and
  • the attachment of claims and other pecuniary rights such as wages or salary, pension, etc..

Movable property includes vehicles, furniture, technical equipment, jewellery, securities, etc.. Immovable property, on the other hand, is real estate and land.

The attachment of claims and other assets is carried out by means of an attachment and transfer order. Such a resolution is issued by the enforcement court at the request of the creditor. 

What requirements must be met for an attachment? 

Attachment measures are only possible under strict legal conditions: 

The basic prerequisite for any attachment is a so-called executory title. This can be a court judgment or a writ of execution. Before an attachment can take place, the debtor must be served with this title in a formal procedure. Only then can the creditor apply for a court order of attachment and transfer.

Important: The bailiff is not obliged to clarify who the seized property actually belongs to before the attachment. It is only important that the thing is in the debtor's custody.

What is a pre-attachment?

The so-called pre-attachment is particularly relevant for the attachment of claims that a debtor has against third parties, for example against their employer. Due to a pre-attachment, the employer as third-party debtor may no longer make any further payments directly to the debtor even before the actual attachment. In this way, the creditor secures his or her rank in relation to other creditors who may also want to seize the debt. 

However, the pre-attachment loses its effect if the creditor does not actually carry out the attachment announced by the pre-attachment within one month.

How can an attachment be terminated?

An attachment is only lifted when the creditor’s titled claim, including the costs incurred by the attachment, has been settled in full. 

The person in debt has control over how long an attachment is maintained. By making additional voluntary payments besides the attachment, the debt can be settled more quickly.



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.