Below are some frequently asked questions that many people have about aspects of life as part of the SOFA agreement. NATO SOFA is the basis of the legal status of military, American civilians and family members living in Germany. As part of an additional endorsement, employees in Germany also enjoy privileges that are not granted to other service members stationed in other European countries. These agreements concern the status, entry and departure of the host country, military training on the territory of the host country, justice, prosecutions, taxes, import and export laws, driving privileges, employment, the post office, school education, housing and much more. For each mission abroad, the status of the Bundeswehr is governed by a bilateral or multilateral agreement with the host country. The SOFA agreement is complemented by another agreement that specifically applies to the six NATO countries (including the United Kingdom and the United States) that have a permanent military presence in Germany, the Complementary Agreement (or SA). SOFA was signed in 1951 and the SA was signed in 1959 and last updated in 1998 at the end of the Cold War. With its 83 articles, the SA to SOFA is much more detailed than SOFA itself (with 20 articles in Roman numerals – z.B. XX), and most of the time it is confused with the SOFA itself. The most important multilateral agreement is the NATO Troop Status Agreement, which applies between NATO partners to operations on the territory of other NATO countries. States participating in the NATO Peace Partnership (PfP) may accede to the Status of Troops Agreement of 19 June 1995 (Bundesgesetzblatt 1998 II p.1340). This agreement extends the scope of the NATO Agreement on the Status of Armed Forces to operations in PfP partner countries.
Military operations under the auspices of the European Union will now be governed by the EU Agreement on the Status of the Armed Forces, signed on 17 November 2003 in Brussels by representatives of the Member States and ratified by Germany in June 2005. The presence of NATO troops stationed in Germany on the basis of a special agreement is subject to the NATO Agreement on the Status of the Armed Forces (SOFA) of 19 June 1951 (agreement between the contracting parties to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Status of their armed forces, Bundesgesetzblatt 1961 II p.1190) and the additional SOFA agreement of 3 August 1959 (agreement complementing the agreement between the contracting parties to the North Atlantic Treaty on the status of (Bundesgesetzblatt 1961 II P.1218). The additional agreement contains detailed provisions on all matters relating to troops stationed in Germany. Following German unification, it was deeply revised by the agreement of 18 March 1993 (Bundesgesetzblatt 1994 II, p.2594). The temporary deployment of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) armed forces and other third countries to Germany requires an agreement under the Visiting Forces Act of 20 July 1995 (Bundesgesetzblatt 1995 1995, p.554, Bundesgesetzblatt 2002 II P.2482). Under Article 1 of the Act, the federal government can make such agreements with foreign states effective regarding the entry and short-term presence of their armed forces in Germany for exercises, overland transit and legal instrument training. So far, the federal government has concluded such agreements with Poland (agreement of 23 August 2000) and the Czech Republic (agreement of 31 July 2003).