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Opening a bank account in Germany doesn’t have to be a hassle — all you need is to pick the right account and prepare your paperwork before getting started.
This guide will cover how non-residents can open a bank account in Germany, including a step-by-step breakdown of the application process.
Yes, you can open a German bank account if you’re moving to Germany for work or study. Most German banks accept German residents or foreigners with valid visas. Many accounts also require you to be above the age of 18.
While it’s not a legal requirement to have a German bank account when you live in Germany, it’s certainly more convenient and cost-effective to manage your finances locally than from an overseas bank account. Especially for day-to-day transactions such as paying rent, bills, public transport or withdrawing cash from the ATMs.
The two main types of bank accounts in Germany are:
A current account (or checking account), is the standard type of bank account in Germany used for day-to-day transactions such as salary crediting, bill payments and making EFTPOS purchases with a linked debit card. A Griokonto comes with an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and a German debit card known as Girocard.
If you’re an expat living in Germany, you’d probably need a Griokontoto transfer funds between your bank account in your home country and your new bank account. German banks also tend to offer both general current accounts and specialised accounts (for students and youth), so make sure to choose one that best suits your needs.
In Germany, there are two different types of savings accounts – limited access savings account (Sparkonto) and fixed deposit account (Festgeldkonto).
A Sparkonto is an interest-bearing savings account that can be opened alongside a Girokonto, so that you’d be able to deposit money from your current account to accrue interest. These accounts may be high-yield accounts that come with high interest and stricter eligibility requirements, or low-interest accounts available to most applicants. If you need to access your balance in the Sparkonto, you may do so anytime.
On the other hand, a Festgeldkontohas is a locked-in period whereby you set aside a minimum deposit for a specific period of time to earn higher interest rates. This means that you’d only be able to access the money from this account after the term ends.
Here are the top banking picks for expat residents:
Local German bank accounts have their own unique sign-up process requiring your relevant identification or visa and proof of residence. German bank providers include Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Comdirect and DKB.
Best for English-speaking expats
Headquartered in Frankfurt, Commerzbank is one of the largest banks in Germany and provides most information in German and English.
It has physical branches all around the country, as well as mobile and online banking platforms.
Best traditional bank for expats
Deutsche Bank is a major German bank in Germany and offers a range of savings and current account options designed for different customer profiles. Its facilities also include a mobile app and an online banking portal with both English and German support.
You may also want to consider opening an account with an international bank that has branches in Germany, especially if these banks are available in your country.
If you wish to sign up for an international bank account in Germany, you should follow the bank’s specific sign-up process which may resemble an international registration process instead.
For instance, you may not be asked for a German utility bill or proof of residence in Germany. Additionally, most international banks offer their services in English, a huge point of consideration if you aren’t familiar with German.
These are some of the top international banks in Germany:
Digital banks in Germany have the most flexible registration requirements. They are available in multiple countries and offer great benefits to expats, such as holding multiple currencies or low ATM fees. To sign up you will usually only need your national identification card and proof of income.
Here are some of the most popular digital banks in Germany:
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
The bank account you should choose ultimately depends on your reason for opening an account and features that suit your needs.
Here are common features that non-residents want when they open a German bank account.
Whether you’re applying for a digital bank account or a traditional bank account, most providers today offer online registration. Simply visit the provider’s website and fill out the online application form to get started. Alternatively, you can always visit a local bank branch to open your account.
If you are registering for an online bank account, you’d be required to complete a quick identity verification process through a webcam, selfie, email verifying code, or PostIdent.
To open an account in Germany:
Once you’ve checked that you’re eligible to apply, start gathering your essential documents. This generally includes:
If you have yet to move to Germany and wish to get your local bank account set up in advance, find out if the German bank of your choice offers that option (although most of them don’t allow the online opening of overseas accounts and requires in-person verification at a branch).
Alternatively, check if the German bank has any arrangement with a correspondent bank or a branch in your country. Or consider a digital or mobile bank account.
Choosing the right bank account for you will make your shift into Germany much easier. You can settle your day-to-day transactions without worrying about incurring foreign currency exchange fees or be charged a fee every time you withdraw cash – assuming that you decide to use the bank account in your home country for local transactions.
Since the process of opening a bank account in Germany as a non-resident is a straightforward process, make sure to take the time and compare all the options available before applying for one that best suits your needs.
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