Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Germany?

Aug 24, 2021Banking and Finance, Living in Germany

The German bank account is a necessity when living in Germany. Germany has quite a strict banking system, but overall, it’s possible to open a bank account as a foreigner. Your banking option will depend on whether you have a residency in Germany or not.

Generally, foreigners can easily open a bank account almost in any bank in Germany, assuming they have a registered address or residence permit in the country. Whereas, non-residents will have only limited options such as direct and online banks.

Opening a bank account in Germany as a foreigner is definitely possible. In end, if you are living in Germany on a regular basis, you MUST have an account in the local bank. In this article, you will learn which groups of people can open a bank account in Germany and how to do it in the right way.

Bank account in Germany for foreigners

Foreigners can easily open a bank account almost in any bank in Germany, assuming they have a residence permit in the country. Whereas, it’s will be harder to do for non-residents.

Also, EU nationals will have no problem opening a simple bank account with a German bank, non-EU nationals have to prove some additional documents including the registration in Germany. Requirements will vary from bank to bank.

Both EU and non-EU citizens can open an account in person or online by verifying their identity via special tools. In some cases, it’s even possible to open a German bank account from abroad.

Bank accounts at Bunq, DKB, ComDirect, N26, and Revolut are particularly easy to get as a foreigner.

Requirements to open a bank account as a foreigner

If you want to open a bank account in Germany, you need to consider several requirements. There are also banks that will want to see only minimal documents from you, we will talk about them later on.

Firstly, in Germany, foreign citizens are required to register their local address at the registration office of a responsible municipality within three months after arrival.

As a result, you will get a confirmation of the address registration and thus can open a bank account in Germany almost in any bank.

Documents for opening bank account

General documents you will need to open a bank account in Germany as a non-EU foreigner:

  1. German residence permit
  2. Anmeldung (address registration)
  3. Identity document (passport)
  4. Job contract or confirmation that you are a students (optional in some banks)
  5. Evidence of income (depending on the account you want to open)

Besides the standard requirements following criteria can influence a bank’s decision:

  • Your credit score
  • Reason for opening an account
  • If you need an apostille or legalization and if it’s accepted
  • Your country of origin
  • EU sanctions against your country of origin

If you possess all the above documents, you can open a bank account in any German bank.

The situation is different for foreign citizens who are self-employed entrepreneurs. You might have a bit harder time when opening an account.

If you don’t fullfill some requirements you can open an online bank account in Germany or get a virtual card. Read the full article on this topic and pick the best option for yourself.

An online bank account can be easily opened via the internet. These accounts have all the advantages that a normal German current account offers.

The country of origin or residency

Your options and possibilities to open a bank account in Germany will also depend on the country you come from, especially whether it’s an EU or non-EU state.

EU citizens can easily open a bank account in Germany, even if they aren’t living in the country. In fact, banks are required by law to open a standard current account for you.

EU citizens also don’t need any special documents for the application.

All non-EU citizens must provide the confirmation of their address registration in Germany (Anmeldung). At least this requirement applies in most German banks.

Identity proof

Identity proof is necessary if you are opening a bank account online. Every bank in Germany is required by law to verify the identity of the new customer.

There are different verification options available (depending on the bank):

  1. PostIdent: Verify your documents at the German post office, where the clerk checks your identity. You need to be in Germany.
  2. VideoIdent: Verifying your identity by a video call using identification service of the bank. This option might be only available for certain nationalities or passports.
  3. Notary: Use a foreign bank or a lawyer in your home country to verify your identity. In this case you can open a bank account from abroad, but there are still chances that the bank doesn’t recognise the document.

The PostIdent verification method

The PostIdent verification method is only available for someone physically located in Germany. To verify your identity you need to bring the application form and a valid ID to a Deutsche Post location.

Then simply present it to an employee there. The process is free of charge for you – the bank will pay the fee.

The VideoIdent verification method

VideoIdent is the best option to verify your identity and open a bank account from abroad or in the comfort of your home. The process is quite simple.

After you have submitted the application for a bank account and all required information, the bank will ask you to make a video call via the phone, tablet, or computer.

Verification by mobile phone is especially recommended due to the better camera. During the call, you’ll be asked to show your ID to the camera.

After that, you will receive a TAN via SMS or email which you need to submit back to the bank. The entire process takes only a few minutes to complete.

If you are in Germany the easiest way of verification is via the VideoIdent.

After completing the application online you will receive a final document which you need to print and sign (or sign digitally).

Do you have a residence permit in Germany?

As we have mentioned most banks will require from you either a residence permit or the address registration in Germany. In case if you have applied for your residence permit, but haven’t received it yet, banks still might accept your application.

However, some might not. Nonetheless, having a residence permit in Germany will give you an almost 100% success rate in opening a bank account as a foreigner.

Are you an international student in Germany and looking for the best banking account? Read the full in-depth article on that topic.

Open bank account without residency in Germany

But can you open a German bank account in Germany without residency at all? Yes, it is possible, but only in a limited number of banks.

Whether or not you can open a bank account without residency in Germany depends on the conditions of the respective bank. Traditional branch banks such as Sparkasse or Volksbank usually refuse to open such an account.

However, you can do it in so-called direct banks. Such banks are usually operating online, hence, they offer more flexibility also when it comes to the requirements.

Which banks will open an account without a residency?

A checking account can be opened at DKB without residency in Germany. Another provider is Comdirect Bank. Bank N26 is active in 23 European countries.

Open German bank account from abroad

Some people even would like to open a German bank account from abroad. Maybe you are planning to move to Germany or just want to open an account while living abroad.

Keep in mind, if you aren’t in Germany and not living here, you have limited banking options in the country.

Banks like Bunq, DKB, ComDirect, N26 and Revolut will open a bank account for EU citizens living outside of Germany. Where Bunq and Revolut aren’t German banks but operate in Germany and their bank accounts are completely comparable with a German one.

Comdirect opens bank accounts via VideoIdent for people in Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, and Luxembourg. At N26, anyone residing in the EU can get an account.

Moreover, Bunq opens a current account for people residing in the EU and non-EU countries. Nonetheless, it is easier to open up a German bank account after you have relocated to the country.

To confirm your identity, an applicant will need to go through the normal verification process as usual, by using PostIdent or VideoIdent methods.

Other methods of identity verification while abroad

If you don’t have access either to PostIdent or VideoIdent verification processes, you can also have a local bank or a lawyer (or a notary, certified accountant, or tax adviser) to verify your identity.

A bank, for example, will confirm your identity directly on the application form for the German bank account and will send it directly to the bank in Germany.

This option isn’t available in all countries. You need to check in one of the local banks.

Open a bank account with DKB from abroad

DKB is a German bank that is well known among foreigners in Germany and beyond. They are also accepting customers who live abroad.

The account with DKB is free as long as you have a monthly turnover of at least 700 EUR. In addition, cash withdraw is free of charge worldwide.

To open an account, simply fill out the application form online. As soon as it is reviewed DKB will inform you of the possibilities for identity verification in your country.

After you have completed one of the above-mentioned identification processes, your account will be opened.

Which banks will open a bank account for a foreigner in Germany?

Many German banks will open an account for a foreigner providing they have:

  • passport
  • adress confirmation
  • residence permit in Germany
  • proof of employment or income

However, we have picked the easiest banks to apply for as a foreigner in Germany.

DKB

Non-German citizens can easily open an account with DKB, provided they are residing in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland.

DKB or Deutsche Kreditbank is a solid classical German bank with very attractive options for foreigners.

With DKB you can enjoy a free account and free cash withdrawn at all Visa ATMs in Germany and abroad (over 1 million worldwide).

By signing for DKB you will receive two cards: a European debit card and an international Visa card.

A bank account with DKB offers you:

  • Free bank account
  • Free online banking
  • Free VISA card
  • Interest paid on credit card balance
  • Free worldwide cash withdrawals
  • Zero foreign transaction costs
  • Free securities account
  • Monthly credit card and bank statements online
  • Discount on membership in very popular gym McFit 15,00 EUR instead of 19,90 EUR
  • Free cash withdraw and payments with Visa card in Germany, Europe, and worldwide
  • Numerous other discounts, e.g. shopping, entrance fees
  • No yearly fee

1822direkt

Bank 1822direkt is a part of the well-known Sparkasse bank in Germany. At 1822direkt you can choose between different banking options:

The application and setup are made online, so you don’t have to spend time going to the branch. 1822direkt has minimal requirements for foreigners, you just need to have an address in the country.

Besides that the bank account is free for everyone under 27 years old.

Free online bank account

  1. Free account management.
  2. Including 4 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany.
  3. Free debit card.
  4. Optional overdraft facility (creditworthiness required)

Classic free bank account

  1. Free account management when with monthly turnover over 700 EUR.
  2. Including 6 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany (there are over 25,000 of them).
  3. Free debit and credit cards.
  4. Overdraft facility: you will receive a credit of 1,000 EUR at your disposal (creditworthiness required).

Premium bank account

  1. Account management for 9,90 EUR per month
  2. Free debit and credit cards (Visa gold)
  3. Including free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany.
  4. Overdraft facility with 1% interest (creditworthiness required).

All accounts are manageable via online banking.

What 1822direkt bank account offers?

  1. Free bank account for people under 27 years old
  2. Free cash withdraw in Germany
  3. Free cash withdraw abroad in the EUR zone
  4. You can an choose between Visa or MasterCard
  5. Get a credit card
  6. Transfers, standing orders, direct debits, payments with the card, are free of charge
  7. If you move abroad, you can keep the account and continue to use them
  8. To keep your account free of charge (for people over 27 years old) you just need need to do a one single incoming transfer per month.

Open a free bank account online

The application is simple and made within minutes online. After that you will confirm your identity via PostIdent-procedure and your card will be on a way!

Bunq

Bunq is a relatively new banking concept founded in the Netherlands. They operate in 5 languages, so there is no problem if you don’t speak German.

If you reside in the EU, Bunq is a great option, it will allow you to use banking not only in Germany but also in other countries at no cost. Hence, you can open a bank account also when living outside of Germany.

Bunq doesn’t offer free accounts, but their fees are very reasonable and definitely worth the money. Bunq is one of the best online banks so far, the app has an amazing user interface and is simple to navigate.

Bunq banking account and card provide:

  • Instant transfers/payments
  • Easy payment requests – send requests to friends. Receiving payments in Euros is free
  • Easy and low-cost international transfers/payments with Transferwise (Wise)
  • You can have 25 sub-accounts, 3 spending cards, 5 virtual cards, and contactless payments for more flexibility
  • Free ATM withdrawals
  • Contactless payments
  • Advanced budgeting features and instant payment notifications
  • Shop safely with disposable virtual cards
  • If you are a freelancer – special account for you with simple payouts, taxes, and invoice management

The personal premium account costs 7.99 EUR per month, with that you will get 25 sub-accounts, multiple debit cards including MasterCard and Maestro, and a travel card at no extra cost, all will be shipped to you. They offer a 1-month free trial, during which you can test the product.

Free Bunq Travel Card

Bunq travel card will help you to travel abroad and still make payments and withdraw money with no problems.

How to sign up for Bunq?

Signing up for Bunq is typically quick and easy. It takes 5 minutes and only a phone is required, forget about going to the office. To sign you need:

After everything is verified, you can top up the account with money via bank transfer, credit card, debit card, or Sofort. Finally, your debit cards will be shipped to your address at no extra cost.

Are you looking for the best credit card in Germany? Check out this article – we made the choice easier for you.

ING

If you are looking for a free Visa card ING is the way to go. Application with ING is simple and online.

If you are an international student in Germany you can get a free student bank account. The offer is valid for students or individuals younger than 28 years old.

When opening account with ING you will receive a debit Visa card and a normal German giro card. You can use them to withdraw money without commission in any ATMs in Germany and Europe.

ING current account offers:

  • 0,00 EUR account management for students
  • Girocard + VISA card
  • Cash withdraw in EU without fees
  • Optional 500 EUR credit at 6.99% p. a.

To open a bank account with ING you will need:

  • Passport
  • Proof of address
  • Filling the application form

Bank will also request information about your occupation and income. If you are currently unemployed, then it would be a good idea to open the account at a later point of time. This is the “lowest” position at the creditworthiness check.

A disadvantage of ING is the lack of their physical presence in Germany, the company has very few offices and only in the following cities: Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Nürnberg, and Berlin.

Are you an international student in Germany and looking for the best banking account? Read the full in-depth article on that topic.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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