How To Open a German Bank Account Online or From Abroad?

Need a bank account in Germany? There are various reasons why people from abroad (without a German address) need a German bank account. Access to the European banking system is beneficial and can be achieved by opening an account in one of the German banks. In fact, many expats, international students, digital nomads wouldn’t mind having a German bank account.

Foreign nationals can open a bank account either in Germany in a physical bank or online, whether they are located in Germany or abroad. Opening an online bank account in Germany is offered by the following banks:

  • Revolut
  • DKB
  • Bunq
  • Consorsbank

German banks are helpful in many situations, from doing money transfers in Germany or within Europe to withdrawing cash abroad.

Furthermore, many banks don’t have any monthly fees and most of their services are free of charge. Hence, you can withdraw cash abroad for free, pay, and make all necessary transfers.

Nonetheless, standard current accounts at traditional banks are only available to German residents. Hence, you will need to have an address in Germany. Yet, many digital and direct banks offer accounts to those living abroad.

Opening a bank account in Germany online

Nowadays, we have an abundance of online banks to choose from. Germany isn’t an exception. Hence, opening an account is also possible online without a German residence. Moreover, almost all banks in Germany offer services like opening bank account online.

However, as a foreign national, you must fulfill the requirements first. It includes providing an official ID, an address in the EU, or other additional documents.

Indeed, foreigners and Germans residing abroad can open a German bank account online. They should first check the offers of direct and online banks. The approval rate in such organizations is much higher than in traditional banks. These banks often don’t have branches and operate entirely online.

With a German bank, you can:

  • Withdraw cash abroad and in Germany
  • Make and receive money transfers within IBAN system
  • Have access to the overdraft facilities
  • Make payments with no additional fees

The most important step in opening a bank account in Germany is to verify the identity. The verification can be carried out in several ways, including visiting the bank or doing a video call.

Besides, the Postident procedure can also be used where you visit a post office in Germany. Some banks also require residence confirmation either in Germany or another European country.

Residents vs non-residents

Residents and non-residents have different rights in Germany. The fact, is that most German banks open accounts only for residents. Thus, you will need an official address and residence permit in Germany.

Non-residents can open an account at a branch bank when proving:

  • Documents confirming the identity
  • Apostille/legalization for foreign documents

Most importantly, non-residents will need to check whether Germany accepts apostille or legalization of their country of origin.

EU vs non-EU citizens

EU citizens

EU citizens have the right to have a bank account in Germany since 2016. This current account can be opened by any EU resident. In fact, banks are required by law to open a basic account.

Therefore, you don’t need any special identification documents as an EU citizen. However, confirmation of the registration (address) in Germany will give you a bigger choice in terms of conditions and various accounts.

For example, one can get a bank account with an overdraw option.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens have fewer chances and options when opening an account in Germany. For non-EU nationals, most German banks require a registration confirmation (Anmeldung).

Best banks to open bank account online in Germany

There are only a few banks allowing to open an account online in Germany. Some of them are German banks, some are foreign but operating in Germany.

Banks with online account opening in Germany are:

1. Revolut

Revolut has been my favourite bank since 2018. It’s the best bank you can find not only in Germany but in entire Europe. For everyone who is living or traveling abroad, this is the best option. 

Revolut is based in the UK; hence, all its services run in English. Besides Germany and the UK, Revolut is available for everyone living in EEA countries, Switzerland, Australia and the US.

Their bank account and services are totally free. After you sign up for an account, they will send you a debit card on your address in Germany or in other European country.

If you once go traveling and pay in a different currency, they won’t charge additional fees for it, and they will also convert your money at the best exchange rate.

Having a debit card and bank account with Revolut has been a massive help for me while living in Germany, but also while traveling all over the world.

Revolut offers: 

  • Free multicurrency, international bank account 
  • Free debit card – you pay only for a delivery
  • Credit card is optional
  • IBAN for Sepa transfers
  • Free money transfers 24/7 
  • Free multicurrency payments
  • Free withdrawals worldwide
  • Easy instant top-up
  • Instant transfers/payments
  • Mobile app with a great user interface and simple navigation
  • Customer support via chat 24/7

If a standard free account isn’t enough for you, you can check their premium plans. Revolut has two premium tiers. The first is called Premium, and it costs 7.99 EUR per month. The second is called Metal and costs 13.99 EUR. Paying this monthly price will get you a chick metal card.

Things to know:

Withdrawing money from any ATM is free for up to 200 EUR/200 GBP per month; after that, it costs 2%.

Verification method: Submit your ID via the mobile app or WebID (Video Ident)

2. DKB

Non-German citizens and residents can open an account with DKB – German direct bank. People residing in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland have the highest chances.

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).

With over 4,5 million customers, DKB is the third-largest direct bank in Germany. DBK is popular among Germans and foreigners alike. Furthermore, German citizens living abroad can conveniently open an account with DKB in 40 countries using the Video-Ident procedure, so they don’t need to travel to Germany.

For many years, DKB was the bank that opened the most accounts for people from abroad. Online application with DKB is easy and quick.

You can deposit money to the DKB account by bank transfer or free of charge at the few deposit machines in Germany. Foreign currencies can be deposited into the DKB account at the bank counter in Munich. However, the money will be exchanged as the account is exclusively in Euro.

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

DKB offers:

  • Free bank account
  • Free online banking
  • Money deposits in EUR and foreign currency possible
  • Free VISA card
  • Zero foreign transaction costs
  • Free cash withdraw and payments with Visa card in Germany, Europe, and worldwide
  • Account opening online with German ID, otherwise via PostIdent or from some other countries via identification by notary, lawyer or bank

Moreover, DKB doesn’t require having an address in Germany (Anmeldung). Plus, it uses WebID to verify your ID document.

Verification method: WebID (Video Ident)

3. Bunq

Bunq is a new banking concept founded in the Netherlands. It’s an online bank. They let you open an account online or from abroad. Everything is online, simple, and fast with the Bunq.

Moreover, you can use the card from Bunq in Germany and all European countries and beyond. They operate in 5 languages, so there is no problem if you don’t speak German. 

Choose between a cheap account for just 2,99 EUR per month or a premium for 8,99 EUR. Moreover, Bunq offers a free trial where you can test the account for one month.

Bunq offers:

  • Cheap bank account (2,99 EUR)
  • Immediate access to bank account
  • Free ATM withdrawals 
  • Fantastic user interface and simple navigation
  • Instant transfers/payments
  • English app and support

Verification method: Video call

4. Consorsbank

Consorsbank is an old and established German direct bank. Almost anyone can benefit from a bank account at Consorsbank, from international students to self-employed or employees. 

Consorsbank offers:

  • Free bank account till the age of 28
  • Free debit Visa card
  • Free credit card
  • Free payments and withdrawal in Germany 
  • Free payments and withdrawal in EURO countries 
  • Bonus: As a new customer, you receive 50 EUR on your account!

Things to know:

Fees

The bank account is free only for people up to 28. For someone over 28 years old, the account will be 100% free if their monthly turnover is a minimum of 700 EUR. Otherwise, they pay just 4 EUR per month.

Cash withdrawal in Germany

You can withdraw cash for free starting from 50 EUR in Germany with the Visa card in all Visa ATMs. 

Cash withdrawal and payments abroad 

You can withdraw money for free in all EURO countries. For withdrawal in non-EURO countries, you pay a fee of 2,10% of the amount. Yet, this fee you will see across most banks.  

Payments with a Visa card are free in EURO countries as well.

Credit card

You have the option to get a credit card with Consorsbank, however, it’s more on the expensive side – you pay a 60 EUR yearly fee.

Verification method: WebID (Video Ident)

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

6. TARGOBANK

Traditional bank TARGOBANK has been operating in Germany for over 90 years. Its bank account can be opened online. Bank will require you to print and sign the application. You will need to send it directly to the bank.

Although it’s possible to open the account online, you will need to be present in Germany.

TARGOBANK offers:

  • Free account with a monthly turnover of 600 EUR or more otherwise 3,95 EUR per month
  • Free online banking
  • Free cash withdrawal at 2,800 ATMs in Germany
  • Free transactions, payments, transfers
  • Overdraft option

You can also apply for a credit card with TARGOBANK.

Verification method: PostIdent.

Other banks that allow opening bank account online

How to open a bank account in Germany from abroad?

Opening a German bank account from abroad can be a challenge. Luckily there are some direct and online banks allowing customers from abroad. However, the number of such banks is limited.

These include the following banks:

In some cases, their offer is limited to EU residents or people with a German address.

Steps to open a bank account in Germany from abroad:

1. Select the bank

Well, there aren’t many banks with the option to open an account from abroad anyway. You can select one of the above-mentioned banks or check out a comparison platform such as Tarifcheck.

2. Fill out online application

The second step is to fill out the online account applications. The bank will ask for your personal data such as name, address, marital status, citizenship, residency, etc. Allow 5-10 minutes to complete the process.

What might you need to provide to the bank during online application?

  • valid passport or European ID card
  • first name and family name
  • email address
  • German home address and mobile telephone number
  • date of birth
  • nationality and the country in which you were born

3. Verify your identity by video call or at the post office

The last step is a requirement of any bank – you need to verify your identity before the account will be open. This is made to prevent money laundering and is required by the state. German banks offer various verification methods. The most common are the PostIdent and VideoIdent procedures.

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 one of 8,500 Deutsche Post (German post) locations.

You need:

  • Your ID card or passport
  • The relevant account application
  • PostIdent coupon received from your bank

Simply present it to the post employee. This process is free of charge for you – the bank will pay the fee.

An employee of the post office fills out the PostIdent-Coupon, checks your identification data, and sends the PostIdent-Coupon signed by you to the bank.

Moreover, the PostIdent procedure can also be used by persons without a German residence. Those who live abroad and want to open an account during a stay/holiday in Germany can also do so (tip: it is best to submit the account application shortly before traveling to Germany).

However, if you live abroad, you must provide conclusive confirmation about your place of residence. This could be a local tax assessment notice or current electricity, gas, or water bill.

Duration:

It can take several days for the PostIdent coupon to be received and checked by the bank. Therefore, the following presented legitimation via VideoIdent is the fastest procedure.

The VideoIdent verification method (Video call)

VideoIdent (video call) 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 100% online.

If you are abroad, the easiest way of verification is via the VideoIdent.

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. You’ll be asked to show your ID to the camera during the call. 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.

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

Duration:

It takes a short video chat (approx. 5-10 minutes) with a bank employee.

Other methods of identity verification while abroad

Suppose you don’t have access to PostIdent or VideoIdent verification processes. In that case, you can also use a local bank, credit institution, or a lawyer (or a notary, certified accountant, or tax adviser) from any EU state 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, however, isn’t available in all countries. For instance, Germany rejects apostilles or legislation from some countries. You can see more details below.

Citizens of some countries will have difficulties opening bank account in Germany

Documents for opening a bank account that is issued abroad must be certified either by apostille or legalization, depending on the country of issue. In the following country lists, you can see which countries are accepted or rejected by Germany.

Accepted

Documents from most countries that belong to the so-called Hague Convention are recognized in Germany by getting an apostille.

These includes:

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria
  • Chile
  • China (only for documents from Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions)
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Denmark* (except Greenland and Faroe Islands)
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Eswantini
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France* Georgia
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Greece*
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Cape Verde
  • Kazakhstan
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Lesotho
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg* Malawi
  • Malawi
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand (without Tokelau)
  • Nicaragua
  • Netherlands (also for Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten and the Caribbean part of the country, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba)
  • Niue
  • Northern Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Austria*
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland*
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Suriname
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Czech republic
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Hungary
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • United States of America
  • United Kingdom (also for Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands)
  • Cyprus

*-There are additional bilateral agreements with these countries (see III, No.3), which provide the waiver of all formalities, including the apostille, for certain documents.

Countries whose apostille isn’t accepted in Germany:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Burundi
  • Dominican Republic
  • India
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Kosovo
  • Liberia
  • Morocco
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Uzbekistan

Legalization

If the possibility of the apostille isn’t available in a certain country or an apostille isn’t recognized in Germany, applicants can check whether legalization is possible.

However, Germany doesn’t recognize legalization from several countries, including:

  • Afghanistan**
  • Algeria*
  • Equatorial Guinea**
  • Azerbaijan
  • Ethiopia
  • Bangladesh
  • Benin
  • Burundi
  • Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Dominican Republic
  • Djibouti**
  • Eritrea**
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Iraq**
  • Yemen**
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Congo (Democratic Republic of)
  • Congo (Republic of)
  • Kosovo
  • Laos
  • Liberia**
  • Libya*
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Morocco* Mongolia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Zambia*
  • Sierra Leone**
  • Somalia**
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan**
  • Syria*
  • Tajikistan**
  • Togo
  • Chad
  • Tunisia*
  • Turkmenistan**
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Central African Republic

*-Only certain types of documents are affected in these countries.
** For these states, document verification by the German authorities abroad is currently not possible.

Moreover, it’s not possible to open a German bank account from the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Guyana
  • Iraq
  • Lao PDR
  • Syria
  • Uganda
  • Vanuatu
  • Yemen
  • Iran
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

How can a non-resident open a bank account in Germany?

As we mentioned previously, non-residents also can open a bank account in Germany, but they will have only limited options. Non-resident bank account in Germany is offered by direct or international (foreign) banks. Whereas the account options for German national banks are reserved for customers with residency in Germany.

Direct banks allow account opening for non-residence from abroad

Whether a bank account without a residence in Germany can be opened depends on the conditions of the bank. Traditional branch banks such as Sparkasse, Volksbank, Postbank, and others, in most cases, will refuse non-residents.

The situation looks different with direct banks (banks without any branch network), where various providers offer free accounts even without residence in Germany. Such banks operate online and have minimal costs. Hence, the direct banks are more flexible when it comes to the residence.

Direct banks:

Online banks:

  • Revolut
  • Bunq

Foreign banks comparable to German one:

German bank accounts for non-residents

DKB

You can open a DKB bank account with a residence in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and some other countries (regardless of nationality).

  • optional credit card
  • money withdraw – free with Visa Debit Card on all ATMs with Visa sign
  • money withdraw outside Germany in EU-countries – free with Visa Debit Card on all ATMs with Visa sign
  • money withdraw outside Germany (no EU-countries) – free with Visa Debit Card
  • interest paid on overdraft – 6,74%
  • proof of identification abroad – Video Ident, local bank or lawyer

The video chat is possible daily (also on weekends) between 7 am and 10 pm German local time.

How long does the account opening take?

It can take up to one week until the bank carried out the checks and confirmed the account’s opening. Some banks like Revolut and Bunq give you access to the account immediately.

Why your application for bank account was rejected?

It’s not uncommon when your application to open a bank account in Germany gets rejected. Indeed, banks don’t grant accounts left and right.

For example, at some German direct banks, the rejection rate is 60%. It lies firstly on unqualified applicants and secondly on the high requirements of the bank. When opening an account, customers must ensure they fulfill the requirements such as being a resident in Germany or the EU as well as providing a valid ID and address.

Not-resident should provide a reason for opening the account in Germany. Furthermore, some banks want to see that customers receive sufficient monthly income.

Therefore, if these aspects cannot be proven or cannot be proven sufficiently, it can be pretty difficult for foreigners to open an account in Germany. For example, some banks are cautious about students, self-employed, or freelancers.

Moreover, missing SCHUFA or credit score data can also lead to a rejection of your application. Yet, SCHUFA works and collects data exclusively in Germany. Thus, all non-Germans generally face a hurdle when applying for an account at a traditional bank.

Finally, if you feel your application has been unjustifiably rejected, you can contact customer support and ask for a manual review of the application.

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Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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