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Data Access

We are delighted in your interest in the SOEP and are happy to explain the data access process at the SOEP Research Data Center (RDC SOEP).

Requirement: A Signed Agreement with DIW Berlin

  • SOEP data are personal data that are subject to special protections in Europe. Because of this, there are special conditions for using the data (see Terms of Use below). By signing a data distribution contract, you agree to comply with these conditions.
  • We will sign your data distribution contract after checking your application (PDF, 392.45 KB). The box on the left explains who is entitled to submit an application and who must sign it.
  • Only when the contract has been signed by both parties can we process your request for SOEP data.
  • Small-scale regional information and other particularly sensitive data can be used on site at the SOEp Research Data Center. Aome of the data can also be used via SOEPremote. For more information, see the Regional Data section.

  • Students (including doctoral students) should ask a supervising professor with the same institutional affiliation to submit the application for a data distribution contract.
  • Researchers working on a project team should ask the project head to submit the application for a data distribution contract.
  • Projects with staff at different institutions should note that each participating research institute is required to sign a data distribution contract. As a rule of thumb: Wherever researchers will be working with the SOEP data, a data distribution contract is required.
  • Individuals (without an institutional affiliation) are not permitted to use the SOEP data.
  • Staff members or students who join a project after a data distribution contract has been signed should be added to the contract to work with the SOEP data by submitting the contract addendum form (PDF, 411.39 KB), cosigned by the signatory to the existing contract.


Only for Scientific Use
  • Respondents in the SOEP study are assured that the data will only be used for scientific purposes. To ensure that the data will only be used for scientific research, we check whether applicants work at a scientific research institution. If you work at a research institution that is not a German university or a non-university reseach institute recognized by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), applicants are required to submit proof of independent scientific research at the institution together with their application. Proof can be provided, for instance, in the form of their organization’s statutes.
  • SOEP data cannot be used outside of a research institution.
  • Commercial use of the data (e.g., in expert opinions paid for by third parties) is possible only to a very limited extent and for a user fee. Please contact SOEP Director Prof. Dr. Stefan Liebig with your specific request.
Data Protection
  • Users are required to sign a contract promising to use the necessary care in handling the data. This includes that only the individuals named in the contract may work with the data, and that all technical and organizational precautions have been taken to prevent misuse (which makes it difficult to use private laptops, for example, and prevents us from sending download links to private e-mail addresses).
  • Any publication that could lead to the data being linked back to specific respondents is prohibited, and any linkage of the SOEP data with other datasets is only permitted with the approval of the SOEP.
  • Every member of your research group who will be using the SOEP data must agree to adhere to the data protection regulations. This can be done by photocopying the templates enclosed with the data distribution contract or using the downloadable template (PDF, 76.51 KB). The signed forms must be kept in your possession.
  • Data protection regulations differ both within and outside the EU: Within the EU or the countries of the EEA (and Switzerland), users can access the SOEP-Core dataset (100%). Outside these countries, users can access the international SOEP-Core dataset (95%); in some cases, special scientific use files are provided.
  • There are special data protection requirements for the use of regional data. More information is provided here.
  • Only significantly altered and fully anonymous datasets may be used in teaching (siehe SOEP in the College Classroom)
Duration / Termination of Data Use
  • The data distribution contract is linked to a specific research project. Over the duration of your project, you are free to order and use additional waves of the data. If your project is extended, please simply let us know by email, and if you plan to use the data in another project, please submit the form for an addendum to an existing data distribution contract (PDF, 411.39 KB).
  • According to the data protection provisions, all users are responsible for destroying or deleting the SOEP data (including all backup copies, auxiliary files, and dump files) when they terminate their data distribution contract and/or leave the institution where the contract was signed so that no one else can work with the data. Please use the Termination of Contract (PDF, 100.61 KB) or Change of Affiliation (PDF, 97.08 KB) form to document how this has been carried out.

    For a change of address only, use the Change of Address (PDF, 0.91 MB) form and send it to

As soon as the contractual conditions have been fulfilled, you can order the SOEP data using our online form. We offer various data formats for use with the standard statistical software (SPSS, Stata, ASCII, etc.). If the dataset you require is not listed there, please contact our hotline.

After your order has been checked and processed, you will be able to download the data for a limited period of time.

A little time after you ordered the data, the time-limited download link will be sent to you by e-mail (FDZ SOEP Cryptshare <>). To download the data, you will need two passwords, which will be sent by text message to your cellphone. One of these, your personal password, will allow you to download the data. The second, a wave-specific password, will allow you to open and unpack the zip file.

Please contact us immediately if you do not receive either the e-mail or the text message.

Note the expiration date on the download link: you will only be able to download the data up to that date!

  • © DIW Berlin

  • © DIW Berlin

The SOEP-Core dataset contains all federal states and a distinction between urban and rural areas.

To obtain more granular regional data, special contracts are required. To use data on municipal size classes as defined by Boustedt, for instance, and/or to use regional planning data (geocodes), a data protection concept must be submitted that is designed to fit the conditions at your research institution. This concept must be signed by the contractual partner, all data users, and the data protection officer of your institution. You are welcome to send us your draft in advance to for review.

Detailed information can be found under Regional Data.

SOEP-IS: Polygenetic Scores

As part of the study "Genetic Analyses of ‘Trios’ in the SOEP-IS", so-called polygenetic scores of the respondents were created in the SOEP-IS. In genetics, a polygenetic score (PGS) is a number that summarizes the estimated effects of various genetic variants on the phenotype – i.e., the totality of all morphological, physiological, and possibly behavioral characteristics – of a person. SOEP’s PGS data thus provides a valuable resource to study individual differences, inequalities, life-course development, health, and interactions between genetic predispositions and environment.

More information on this study can be found on SOEPcompanion or here.

Data access to these scores requires that interested users draw up a research plan and obtain a positive vote from an ethics committee and send it with the subject "Polygenetic scores" to After a positive internal review of both documents, the data will be delivered to the users in the regular procedure.

Applications for the data distribution:

For your information:

Contract Management

You want to change your existing contract or add more people?

Data Protection


Contact Person


Philipp Kaminsky, and Antonia Meier
User support and contract management for the Research Data Center of the SOEP in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department