Vouchers as a gift: this is how long they are valid for

Envelope with voucher

Even in this period, vouchers generally have a limitation period of three years. If the limitation period for the voucher has already expired and it is not possible to redeem it in time due to corona, this period is extended in our opinion. If a redemption was made in the 6 months prior to the end of the limitation period (e.g.B. between the 1. November 2020 and the 31. December 2020) is not possible, we believe that this period must be extended (§§ 206, 209 BGB.)

It is best to contact the provider early to arrange the extension of the voucher. However, there is currently also a special risk for the purchase of vouchers: If a company files for insolvency, it is questionable whether you as a buyer can obtain redemption or. can expect a replacement.

Time limit

If you take a close look at your voucher, you will surely find an imprint somewhere, such as "to be redeemed by . " or "valid for two years. So you have to redeem your voucher within a certain period of time.

In the majority of cases such a time limit is regulated in the small print, the general trading conditions, and is usually legally not to be objected to; because one must concede to the dealer to calculate its stock of goods in certain time periods.

However, if the time limit is too short, this is invalid, so that you can still demand redemption of the gift certificate after the time limit has expired. In two rulings, the Munich Higher Regional Court has already determined that a gift voucher for a purchase of goods from an Internet retailer may not be limited to a period of one year (ruling of 17.01.2008 (29 U 3193/07) as well as judgement of 14.04.2011 (29 U 4761/10)). In this case, a validity period of only one year represents an unreasonable disadvantage to the consumer. If a validity period is too short, the voucher is valid until the statute of limitations.

What applies if the store refuses to redeem the voucher when the deadline has expired??

Although you can then no longer demand the redemption of the voucher, we believe that you are entitled to be reimbursed for the monetary value of the voucher. In our opinion, the provider must refund you the monetary value against return of the voucher. Because he has received money for this voucher from your donor at that time. If he were allowed to keep this, he would be unjustly enriched, as the lawyers say. However, the merchant may retain his lost profit; after all, if the voucher had been redeemed on time, he would have made a revenue transaction. How high this lost profit can be is a question that must be answered in each individual case. However, if the statute of limitations has run and the provider invokes it, then you can also no longer demand money. This was also the decision of the Oldenburg Regional Court on 20.08.2013 (Az. 16 S 702/12). This also applies if the voucher period was too short.

Statute of limitations: How long are vouchers valid for??

Even if there is no time limit on a gift voucher, the voucher cannot be redeemed for an unlimited period of time. Generally there is a Limitation period of three years. Subsequently, the provider must neither redeem the voucher nor refund the monetary value noted on it minus its lost profit. Therefore, you must also an unlimited voucher at the latest redeem within three years. The period begins however always only at the end of the year, in which the coupon was acquired. Example: you are given a voucher for your birthday that was purchased in May 2019. You must redeem the voucher by 31 December at the latest. December 2022 redeem.

Voucher for the theater – special redemption period

Sometimes the redemption period results from the nature of the service. If, for example, you have been given a voucher for a particular theater performance, it goes without saying that the voucher can only be redeemed during the season of that particular play.

What applies if the customer would prefer to receive the monetary amount paid out?

If the store does not respond to this request, you have bad cards. Because the dealer is not obligated to pay you the amount of money, since the gift coupon was intended straight for the redemption against commodity. This often also results from printed general terms and conditions, which stipulate that cash payments are not possible.

Can a gift voucher also be redeemed partially, piece by piece?

You have received a gift voucher of 50 Euros and would like to buy a book for 12 Euros in January, a CD for 15 Euros in February and a sweater for 23 Euros in March at the X department store. Such partial redemptions are not regulated by law. However, as the gift recipient, you may have a legitimate interest in partial redemption. If these partial services are reasonable for the merchant and do not mean a loss for him, there should be nothing to prevent it. You should therefore take the position that the merchant must also partially redeem the voucher. The remaining amount can then be noted on the old voucher or handed over in the form of a new credit note. A claim of the customer on payment of the remaining coupon sum does not exist against it probably.

There are vouchers that mention the recipient by name. Can only be redeemed by the named person?

As a rule, a voucher is transferable, so that it can also be redeemed by another person. Because the store does not care which person redeems the voucher. In the case of "gift vouchers" it is of course certain from the outset that they will be passed on to someone else. If a name is written on the voucher, this is only to give the voucher a personal touch. However, this does not mean that only the recipient may redeem the voucher.

Exceptions always apply only if the service from the voucher is tailored to a very specific person or if the promised service requires certain conditions that not everyone meets (for example, health requirements for a balloon ride).

Can the offerer require an additional payment, if the achievement became more expensive in the meantime?

It all depends on what the voucher was issued for. If it is a voucher for a certain amount of money, for example 30 euros, you may have to pay more for a certain service, if the service has become more expensive in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the voucher describes a specific service – for example, a "foot massage", In our opinion, price increases in the meantime are irrelevant.

What happens in the event of insolvency of the supplier?

The voucher can no longer be redeemed when insolvency proceedings are opened. Who owns a thus expired voucher, however, has a claim against the supplier, who is now broke. This can be filed with the insolvency administrator for the so-called "insolvency table" register. All claims come into one pot. Once the company’s assets have been liquidated and the insolvency proceedings have been concluded at some point, all those who have a claim receive a certain share of their claim. However, this share is usually well below five percent of the original voucher amount.

On the other hand, if the provider is not insolvent but has merely abandoned or closed its business, we believe the vouchers retain their value. If, due to the closure of the business, it is no longer possible to redeem the voucher at the business, the supplier must therefore refund the value of the voucher to you.


You see, a voucher can sometimes also cause problems. When purchasing a voucher, pay attention to any redemption period and inquire whether the voucher can also be redeemed in partial amounts. Unlimited vouchers must be redeemed at the latest by the end of the third year after the purchase of the voucher. If you want to completely avoid possible problems, just give away a voucher made by yourself.

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