Organising bodyDFB
Founded1963; 61 years ago (1963)
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
DivisionsRegionalliga Nord
Regionalliga Nordost
Regionalliga West
Regionalliga Südwest
Regionalliga Bayern
Number of teams90
Level on pyramid2 (1963–1974)
3 (1994–2008)
4 (2008–present)
Promotion to3. Liga
Relegation toOberliga
Current championsVfB Lübeck (Nord)
FC Energie Cottbus (Nordost)
Preußen Münster (West)
SSV Ulm (Südwest)
SpVgg Unterhaching (Bayern)
Current: 2023–24 Regionalliga

A Regionalliga (German pronunciation: [ʁeɡi̯oˈnaːlˌliːɡa], plural Regionalligen) is a regional league in numerous sports governing bodies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, usually located in the upper tier of the sports leagues.

The term is often associated with the German football league system where it is the fourth tier. Until 1974, it was the second tier in Germany. In 1994, it was reintroduced as the third tier. Upon the creation of the new nationwide 3. Liga in 2008, it became the fourth tier. While all of the clubs in the top three divisions of German football are professional, the Regionalliga has a mixture of professional and semi-professional clubs.

History of the Regionalligen


From the introduction of the Bundesliga in 1963 until the formation of the 2. Bundesliga in 1974, there were five Regionalligen, forming the second tier of German Football:

The champions and runners-up of the respective divisions played out two promotion spots to the Bundesliga in two groups after the end of the season.

In 1974, the two 2. Bundesligen, Süd and Nord became the second tier of German Football and the Regionalligen ceased existing for the next 20 years.


In 1994, the Regionalligen were re-introduced, this time as the third tier of German Football. There were initially four Regionalligen:

Between 1994 and 2000, promotion to the 2. Bundesliga was regulated without much continuity. It was a problematic rule, as becoming champion of a division did not automatically mean promotion for that team. The champions of the South and West/Southwest divisions were automatically promoted, however, along with one of the two runners-up. The champions of the North and Northeast divisions had a play-off to decide who would get the fourth promotion spot. This rule was justified because there are more clubs in the southern part of Germany than the north.

In 1998, the promotion rule was changed again: the winner of the play-off between the North and Northeast division champions was promoted, while the loser faced the runners-up from the West/Southwest and South divisions in another play-off for the remaining promotion spot.


In 2000 the number of Regionalligen was reduced to two:

The new divisional alignment was not bound to certain states any more so teams were moved between the divisions in order to balance club numbers. This led to some clubs in the Southern division being geographically further north than some northern clubs, and vice versa.

The champions and the runners-up of both divisions were promoted to the 2. Bundesliga.


In 2008, the Regionalligen were demoted to become the fourth tier of football in Germany after the introduction of a new nationwide 3. Liga. However, there was an expansion to three divisions:[1]

"Covering" meant that the single divisions were annually re-aligned to geographic location by a DFB committee in order to have 18 teams assigned to each division every year. This led to teams assigned to a division other than their geographical one. An example for this is BV Cloppenburg, who was assigned to the Western division for the 2008–09 season despite being located in Lower Saxony.


In October 2010, yet another reform of the Regionalligen was decided upon, with the number of leagues expanding to five and beginning play in the 2012–13 season. Under this new format, the old Regionalliga Nordost would be re-established and the new Regionalliga Südwest and Regionalliga Bayern would be created. The Südwest would take clubs from the southern portion of the Regionalliga West and also everything from the Regionallia Süd outside of Bavaria. It was also decided to limit the number of reserve teams per Regionalliga to seven.[2]

The five league champions and the runners-up of the Regionalliga Südwest play-off for the three promotion spots in a home-and-away series. The new leagues consist of up to 22 clubs in their inaugural seasons but were reduced to between 16 and 18 clubs. The Regionalligen are not administered by the DFB but rather by the regional football associations. In regards to reserve teams, initially only seven were permitted per league, however, this rule may be subject to change under certain circumstances. Reserve sides of 3. Liga teams are not permitted in the Regionalliga.[3]

The reorganisation of the Regionalligen so soon after the last changes in 2008 became necessary because of a large number of insolvencies. These were caused by a lack of media interest in the leagues combined with large expenses and infrastructure demands. The five Regionalligen from 2012 are:[3]

Some regional football associations also made changes to the league system below the Regionalliga in their area. From the 2012–13 season, the Bavarian Football Association split the Bayernliga into a northern and a southern division, and increased the number of Landesligen from three to five.[4]

At the end of March 2023, the Western German Football Association (WDFV) confirmed the Regionalliga West's status as a professional league for the first time with regard to the 2023–24 season's licensing procedure. North Rhine-Westphalia had already classified the league as such in the 2020–21 season to enable the "numerous professional footballers" to continue practicing their profession. At that time, for example, the game operations in the four remaining regional leagues had been stopped prematurely.[5]

Changes to promotion rules from 2018

At the 96th DFB-Bundestag in December 2017, delegates decided to change the promotion rules and, without success, reduce the number of leagues to four. To achieve this, a temporary solution was put into place for the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons. Four teams were promoted and there were three guaranteed promotion places from the champions of the five regional leagues. The champion of the southwest league, which gave up its second playoff place, were promoted automatically in the next two seasons. Additionally there were two teams promoted from the other four regional leagues. In the 2018–19 season, the champion of the northeast league was also promoted directly. The winner of the third guaranteed promotion place was decided by the drawing of lots. The remaining two regional league champions of the 2018–19 season faced off in a two-legged playoff determining the fourth promotion place. The two regional leagues whose teams took part in the playoff automatically had promotion places for the 2019–20 season. As a result, the third division has had four relegation places.[6]

At the 97th DFB-Bundestag in 2019, a working group under DFB vice-president Peter Frymuth unsuccessfully proposed a system involving four rather than five regional leagues.[6] Instead, the delegates reformed the promotion scheme from the 2020–21 season, in which there continued to be four promotions to the 3. Liga. The Regionalliga West and Südwest each provide a fixed direct promotion. Another direct promotion place is assigned according to a rotation principle among the Regionalligen Nord, Nordost and Bayern champions. The representatives from the remaining two Regionalligen determine the fourth promoted club in two-legged playoffs.[7]


The history and development of the Regionalligen in maps:

League setup

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A club that wants to play in the Regionalliga must meet two conditions. First, the team must qualify for the league. Second, the club must obtain a license from the DFB. This license is granted if the club can prove that they are financially sound, that their stadium conforms to the security regulations, and that they have a working youth section.


The champions of three divisions are automatically promoted; the remaining two take part in the promotion round to the 3. Liga at the end of the season for the fourth promotion. Reserve teams are also eligible for promotion unless the respective first team is playing in the 3. Liga.


At least the bottom two teams of each division are demoted to their respective Oberliga. In the Regionalliga Nord, the fourth-to-last team is also demoted if it loses a play-off against the Oberliga Niedersachsen runner-up. The third-to-last team participates in the play-off if the Nord champion is promoted and no team relegated from the 3. Liga is from the north. The actual number of teams relegated from every division depends on the number of relegations from the 3. Liga and promotions from the Oberliga.

As clubs in the Regionalliga must have their teams licensed by the DFB on a per-season basis, a team may also be relegated by having its license revoked or by going into administration. Reserve teams are also relegated when the respective first team is relegated to the 3. Liga.

Squad rules

Matchday squads in the Regionalliga must include at least six players of German nationality and under the age of 24, two under the age of 21, and a maximum of three non-EU players.



Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga West Regionalliga Berlin Regionalliga Südwest Regionalliga Süd
1963–64 FC St. Pauli Alemannia Aachen SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen KSV Hessen Kassel
1964–65 Holstein Kiel Borussia Mönchengladbach Tennis Borussia Berlin 1. FC Saarbrücken Bayern Munich
1965–66 FC St. Pauli Fortuna Düsseldorf Hertha BSC FK Pirmasens 1. FC Schweinfurt 05
1966–67 Arminia Hannover Alemannia Aachen Hertha BSC Borussia Neunkirchen Kickers Offenbach
1967–68 Arminia Hannover Bayer Leverkusen Hertha BSC SV Alsenborn SpVgg Bayern Hof
1968–69 VfL Osnabrück Rot-Weiss Oberhausen Hertha Zehlendorf SV Alsenborn Karlsruher SC
1969–70 VfL Osnabrück VfL Bochum Hertha Zehlendorf SV Alsenborn Kickers Offenbach
1970–71 VfL Osnabrück VfL Bochum SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen 1. FC Nürnberg
1971–72 FC St. Pauli Wuppertaler SV SC Wacker 04 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen Kickers Offenbach
1972–73 FC St. Pauli Rot-Weiss Essen Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin FSV Mainz 05 SV Darmstadt 98
1973–74 Eintracht Braunschweig SG Wattenscheid 09 Tennis Borussia Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen FC Augsburg


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Nordost Regionalliga West/Südwest Regionalliga Süd
1994–95 VfB Lübeck Carl Zeiss Jena Arminia Bielefeld SpVgg Unterhaching
1995–96 VfB Oldenburg Tennis Borussia Berlin FC Gütersloh Stuttgarter Kickers
1996–97 Hannover 96 FC Energie Cottbus SG Wattenscheid 09 1. FC Nürnberg
1997–98 Hannover 96 Tennis Borussia Berlin Rot-Weiß Oberhausen SSV Ulm 1846
1998–99 VfL Osnabrück Chemnitzer FC Alemannia Aachen SV Waldhof Mannheim
1999–2000 VfL Osnabrück 1. FC Union Berlin 1. FC Saarbrücken SSV Reutlingen 05


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Süd
2000–01 1. FC Union Berlin Karlsruher SC
2001–02 VfB Lübeck Wacker Burghausen
2002–03 Erzgebirge Aue SpVgg Unterhaching
2003–04 Rot-Weiss Essen Bayern Munich II
2004–05 Eintracht Braunschweig Kickers Offenbach
2005–06 Rot-Weiss Essen FC Augsburg
2006–07 FC St. Pauli SV Wehen
2007–08 Rot Weiss Ahlen FSV Frankfurt


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga West Regionalliga Süd
2008–09 Holstein Kiel Borussia Dortmund II 1. FC Heidenheim
2009–10 SV Babelsberg 03 1. FC Saarbrücken VfR Aalen
2010–11 Chemnitzer FC Preußen Münster SV Darmstadt 98
2011–12 Hallescher FC Borussia Dortmund II Stuttgarter Kickers


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Nordost Regionalliga West Regionalliga Südwest Regionalliga Bayern
2012–13 Holstein Kiel RB Leipzig Sportfreunde Lotte KSV Hessen Kassel TSV 1860 Munich II
2013–14 VfL Wolfsburg II TSG Neustrelitz SC Fortuna Köln SG Sonnenhof Großaspach Bayern Munich II
2014–15 Werder Bremen II 1. FC Magdeburg Borussia Mönchengladbach II Kickers Offenbach Würzburger Kickers
2015–16 VfL Wolfsburg II FSV Zwickau Sportfreunde Lotte SV Waldhof Mannheim SSV Jahn Regensburg
2016–17 SV Meppen Carl Zeiss Jena FC Viktoria Köln SV Elversberg SpVgg Unterhaching
2017–18 SC Weiche Flensburg 08 FC Energie Cottbus KFC Uerdingen 05 1. FC Saarbrücken TSV 1860 Munich
2018–19 VfL Wolfsburg II Chemnitzer FC FC Viktoria Köln SV Waldhof Mannheim Bayern Munich II
2019–20 VfB Lübeck1 Lokomotive Leipzig1 SV Rödinghausen1 1. FC Saarbrücken1 (no champion)
2020–21 (no champion) Viktoria Berlin1 Borussia Dortmund II SC Freiburg II FC Schweinfurt2
2021–22 VfB Oldenburg BFC Dynamo Rot-Weiss Essen SV Elversberg SpVgg Bayreuth
2022–23 VfB Lübeck FC Energie Cottbus SC Preußen Münster SSV Ulm 1846 SpVgg Unterhaching
1 Awarded on points-per-game basis after season was not completed
2 Play-off winner


  1. ^ "Official DFB article on the 3rd Bundesliga and Regionalliga" (in German). DFB. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  2. ^ "DFB-Bundestag beschließt Reform der Spielklassen" (in German). DFB. 22 October 2010. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b "DFB weitet die Spielklassenreform aus" (in German). 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Die Ligenstruktur – Auf- und Abstieg" (in German). Bavarian Football Association (BFV). 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Regionalliga West ist offiziell eine Profi-Liga, WDFV bestätigt Status". FuPa. 13 April 2023. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Änderung der Aufstiegsregelung in der Regionalliga beschlossen". (in German). DFB. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Eigener Ausschuss und neue Aufstiegsregelung zur 3. Liga" [Own committee and new promotion scheme to the 3. Liga]. DFB. 27 September 2019.