Open a Bank Account for Expats in Germany

Procedure to Open a Bank Account for Expats in Germany

The procedure to open a bank account for expats in Germany might seem challenging considering the language barrier and the mounds of paperwork. This helpful guide gives you all of the information on opening a bank account in Germany and makes the process easier.

Opening a German bank account is one of the first things expats should do when they arrive in the country. It can help them buy international expat insurance, an apartment, find a job, get various services, and so much more. Needless to say, a German bank account is indeed a necessity for anyone starting their life in the country.

The German Banking System

The German banking system comprises three main pillars of banks; private commercial banks, public savings banks, and cooperative banks. Aside from this, there are also several international banks, online banks, and mobile banks in the country. 

If you move to Germany without a bank account, initially, managing finances will not be too difficult. This is because significant companies accept payments from major international debit and credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. 

However, if your account is with a bank that does not have a location in Germany, managing finances through it would be pretty tricky.

Types of German Bank Accounts

German banks offer different types of bank accounts to customers. They include the following: 

Current Account

These are the standard and go-to accounts for German residents since they help pay bills and receive salaries. Most German banks offer both current and specialized accounts for expats and residents.

Savings Account

You can open a savings account alongside your current account, and it is designed to help you save and earn interest over time. Such accounts can be either instant access for saving or fixed deposits. The latter can be either instant access that includes higher interest and a minimum deposit or a fixed period that the money has to stay in the account. 

Non-resident Account

Savings and current accounts are typically only available to German residents. Non-residents have specific bank accounts they can open while not having a permanent address. This is an excellent option for expats planning to move from their home country.

Digital and Mobile Accounts

There are several mobile-only bank accounts recently opening up in the country. Moreover, most banks also offer online banking via their banking apps.

Off-shore Accounts 

This is perhaps the best option for expats planning to move to Germany. It is also an excellent option for those who frequently travel from one country to another or have to transfer their funds to different countries. 

German Bank Options to Choose from

Expats can choose from various German bank options depending on their needs and preferences. They include the following:

  • TransferWise
  • Sparkassen and Volksbanken (Savings and Cooperative Banks)
  • Nationwide Banks (Private Banks)
  • Revolut
  • Online and Mobile Banks 

How to Open a German Bank Account?

EU nationals will not have a difficult time opening a German bank account. However, non-EU residents might face some difficulties since they require proof of income and jobs within the country and show their permanent address in Germany. 

Moreover, some banks might be reluctant to open bank accounts for expats since these people don’t have a previous credit history. It can be challenging for expats to get around the banking system and open an account for these reasons.

The best way to open a German bank account is to visit the bank yourself and provide them with all necessary documents. These include the following:

  • Your passport with a valid visa or residence permit
  • Evidence of income and employment
  • Permanent German residence
  • Proof that you are a student if you are opening an account as one
  • SCHUFA credit rating
  • Initial deposit 

When you open a German bank account, you might also be required to prove your identity. This will likely be done with a webcam or email verifying code. 

Moreover, if you plan to open a German bank account abroad, this option might only be limited to EU residents. The process is straightforward as you will simply need to submit your documents and sign them online.

Factors to Consider When Opening a German Bank Account

Before you open a bank account with one of the banks in the country, it is essential that you consider the following factors:

  • Research on all of the banking services they offer
  • If they provide customer support in English
  • If they give you term life insurance
  • What the maintenance and withdrawal fees are
  • If they offer online services
  • How extensive their banking network is 
  • If they help you open international expat insurance

Final Words

This was an all-inclusive, comprehensive guide on opening an account as an expat in Germany. If you find any difficulties with this procedure, you can quickly get in touch with our experts. We can help you with the process and paperwork and provide you with guidance.

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