Access to the SOEP data


We are delighted in your interest in the SOEP and are happy to explain the data access process. To guarantee the confidentiality of our respondents’ data and to ensure that all SOEP data are being used solely for research purposes, we provide data to users on the basis of a data distribution agreement—a contract data users sign before ordering the data. The data can be used free of charge in scientific research and can be analyzed using the standard statistical software packages (Stata, SPSS, ASCii). Users can also access small-scale regional datasets from work stations at the SOEP Research Data Center or using the SOEPremote system.


To process your application, we need the following:

  1. the full office address (including telephone and fax number) of the person in charge of the research project (in the case of a student or doctoral thesis, the supervisor);
  2. the title of the research project or research program in which you wish to use the data.

If you should have any further questions, please contact the .

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Data protection

Each individual employee who works with SOEP data in your research group must be obliged to adhere to data protection regulations. You can obtain copies of the relevant forms together with the contract on data distribution. If you have run out of copies, you can obtain a sample for a data protection form | PDF, 70.3 KB here.

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Termination of the contract / change of job

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, 129.15 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

Notes on the Data Distribution Contract

The data distribution contract only covers the data protection conditions for use of the SOEP data.

Your data order must be placed separately.

The SOEP data may only be used for research purposes.

  • Students (including doctoral students) should ask a supervising professor with the same institutional affiliation to submit the application form for a data distribution contract.
  • Researchers working on a project team should ask the project head to submit the application form 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. Please note the various data protection regulations specified in the point below.
  • Data protection regulations differ 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.
  • Individuals (without an institutional affiliation) are not permitted to use the SOEP data. We recommend that individuals interested in using the data seek research partners at a university or established research institute.
  • Research institutions that are not part of a German university or a member of one of the four German research organizations must provide proof that their institution is engaged in independent, non-profit scientific research. This may be documented, for instance, in the institution’s statues. This proof must be submitted with the application form for a data distribution contract.
  • In some cases, permission is granted to use the data in privately commissioned expert reports, but a usage fee is charged. Please contact SOEP Director Prof. Stefan Liebig directly with details on your planned project.
  • 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, 354.54 KB , cosigned by the signatory to the existing contract to .