The term “transfer” refers to the transfer of a player’s registration from one club to another. Players may only leave their current club before the end of their contract if the club agrees to a premature termination of that contract.

The club to which the player is moving generally pays a transfer fee to the selling club, as compensation for the premature termination of the contract.

FIFA regulations specify that a player may only change clubs within two seasonal ‘transfer windows’, specified by the respective association. Since the 2003/04 season, the summer and winter transfer windows in German professional football have run from the 1st of July to the 31st of August, and the 1st to the 31st of January respectively (see “How a transfer works” for more information).

A player can also play for another club for a set period of time. This so-called loan system requires a written agreement between the player and the respective clubs. The minimum loan period is the time between two transfer windows. Another condition is that a loaned-out player must maintain a contractual commitment to the club to which they return once their loan expires.