If you want to open a bank account in Germany, you’ll be able to choose between traditional and online banks. From this article, you’ll get to know all the basic information about the process.
A foreigner can open a bank account in Germany quickly and easily. You might try to do it from abroad before you relocate. But if you apply for an account after becoming a German resident, your choice of banking institutions will be much more extensive. From this article, you’ll get to know about the types of banks and accounts in this country and the primary factors that you should pay attention to.
Types of Banks in Germany
Savings and Cooperative Banks
In German, they are called Sparkassen and Volksbanken. These are local banks that cater primarily to long-term customers and smaller businesses. Their main mission is to foster regional economic development. They have large branch networks which can be found in city suburbs as well as rural areas.
Such banks operate nationwide — and here are some of the largest and most famous brands.
- Deutsche Bank
They cooperate as the Cash Group, which means the following: no matter which bank’s ATM you choose within the group, you’ll be able to withdraw cash for free. Other ATMs may charge you as much as 5€ per withdrawal.
Online and Mobile Banks
The number of German banks that offer only online services is gradually growing. These are some of the most well-known institutions.
- DKB Cash
- O2 Banking
Compared to conventional banks, their online counterparts are usually cheaper. Also, they might be more flexible and offer better customer service.
Some online banks issue MasterCard or Visa cards. When you need to withdraw cash, you can do it in any cash machine that has the logo of the corresponding card system. Alternatively, an online bank can team up with a traditional one — so you’ll be able to use the ATMs cash machines of that bank.
Types of Accounts in German Banks
German banks offer their clients the following types of accounts.
- Girokonto. With this standard account, you can receive paychecks and pay bills. In most banks, Girokonto is available only to German residents.
- Sparkonto. You might want to get such an account to save money and earn interest. You should be able to open it even if you are not a German resident.
- Digital and mobile accounts. These are available through banking apps.
Documents that You Need to Open a Bank Account in Germany
In most cases, you should be ready to provide the following documents.
- Valid passport
- Current German residence permit
- Address and proof of registration
- Proof of employment and income
- Duly completed application form
- Initial deposit
If you don’t work, instead of providing proof of employment you should prove that you’re a student. Student accounts usually have age limits — typically, you should be able to open one if you’re aged 29 or younger. You might not need to pay fees for using such an account.
Some banks require new clients to provide their SCHUFA credit ratings. If you don’t have it, just look for an institution that doesn’t require it.
German Online Bank Account Requirements
To open an online bank account in Germany, you will need to verify your identity. You might be able to use the following methods.
- Email verifying code
PostIdent is an approved method of identifying your personality in Germany. It involves a fee — but normally, the bank should pay it for you. When PostIdent was just launched, you would need to download a verification sheet from the bank’s website and send it through a post office. Today, you can use the PostIdent app and identify yourself through a video chat or an electronic identity card. This system accepts only passports or IDs but not driving licenses.
Factors to Consider When Opening a Bank Account in Germany
When choosing a bank in Germany, you should pay primary attention to the following factors.
- Choice of services
- Maintenance and withdrawal fees
- The network of branches and ATMs
- Online services
- Customer support
Mind that not all German banks have English-speaking support.
Instead of applying directly to a bank, you might consider using alternative payment services, such as Genome. You can apply for an account online and it will be approved right away. You’ll be able to open as many multi-currency accounts as you need, for free. Currency exchange rates will always be kept low.
How to Open a Bank Account in Germany for Your Children
In many banks, you’ll be able to open current and savings accounts for your kids. Some institutions might require that you have an account with them too. You’ll need to provide a passport or ID for both yourself and your child. The exact list of products available to young clients might vary considerably from bank to bank.
What to Do If You Are Refused a Bank Account in Germany
A bank has a right to refuse you if you lack a German residency, or fail the credit check, or for some other reason. That would be a rare case — but if it happens, you can apply to another bank. If you want to complain about treatment from a certain institution, you should get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman in Germany. EU/EFTA citizens can also complain to FIN-NET which is the EU financial dispute resolution network.
Hopefully, this article came in handy, and now you better understand the process of opening a bank account in Germany. Banking institutions in this country are highly reliable and the professionalism of their staff should impress you. The scope of banking services in this country is nearly the same as anywhere else in Europe, so you should feel comfortable when carrying out your financial operations.