A 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 the end, if you are living in Germany, you MUST have an account in the local or European 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. At the same time, it 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 citizens have to provide some additional documents, including 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 DKB, Consorsbank, Norisbank and Revolut are straightforward 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. Some banks 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 a bank account
General documents you will need to open a bank account in Germany as a non-EU/EEA citizen:
- German residence permit
- Anmeldung (address registration)
- Identity document (passport)
- Job contract or confirmation that you are a student (optional in some banks)
- 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.
An online bank account can be easily opened via the internet. These accounts have all the advantages that a regular 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 there. 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 to most German banks.
Identity proof is necessary if you are opening a bank account online. Every bank in Germany is required by law to verify the new customer’s identity.
There are different verification options available (depending on the bank):
- PostIdent: Verify your documents at the German post office, where the clerk checks your identity. You need to be in Germany.
- VideoIdent: Verifying your identity by a video call using the identification service of the bank. This option might be only available for certain nationalities or passports.
- 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 recognize the document.
The PostIdent verification method
The PostIdent verification method is only available for someone physically located in Germany. To verify your identity, you must 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 the required information, the bank will ask you to make a video call via 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 address registration in Germany. If you have applied for your residence permit but haven’t received it yet, banks might still 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.
Bank account for freelancers and business owners
All business owners and freelancers need a bank account in Germany to receive payments, make invoices and pay taxes.
If you are registered in Germany, you can apply for a business bank account. Commerzbank is one of the best provers out there. For more digital folks, we recommend innovative banking like the app Kontist.
Moreover, freelancers and self-employed can use the services of Kontist to manage and pay taxes in Germany.
Open a 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.
Furthermore, you can open a bank account in another European bank if you reside within the EU. Such accounts are comparable to German ones and can be used in Germany with zero restrictions. Revolut is one of them; it’s a UK bank offering free accounts for everyone living in the EU.
Which banks will open an account without a residency?
A checking account can be opened at DKB without residency in Germany and with Revolut when living in the EU.
Open a 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 that you have limited banking options in the country if you aren’t in Germany and not living here.
Banks like DKB, N26, and Revolut will open bank accounts for EU citizens living outside of Germany. Revolut isn’t a German bank but operates in Germany, and its bank account is entirely comparable to a German one.
This bank opens accounts via VideoIdent for people in the EU, including Germany and Austria. To confirm your identity, an applicant will need to go through the standard verification process using PostIdent or VideoIdent methods.
Other methods of identity verification while abroad
If you don’t have access to either PostIdent or VideoIdent verification processes, you can also have a local bank or a lawyer (or a notary, certified accountant, or tax adviser) 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.
Read more on identity verification here.
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 withdrawal is free of charge worldwide.
To open an account, simply fill out the application form online. As soon as it’s 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 an account for a foreigner in Germany?
Many German banks will open an account for a foreigner, providing they have:
- address 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.
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Revolut has been our favorite bank since 2018. It’s the best bank you can find not only in Germany but in entire Europe! Besides, it’s the fastest-growing digital bank with the widest range of features. For everyone who is 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 since March 2020, in the US as well.
Their bank account and services are totally free. After you sign up for an account, they will send you your debit card anywhere you wish to.
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 possible rate (for you!).
Honestly, 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.
- 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
- Fantastic app with a great user interface and simple navigation
- Customer support via chat 24/7
Furthermore, Revolut has two premium tiers. The first is called Premium, and it costs 7.99 EUR/6.99 GBP per month. The second is called Metal and costs 13.99 EUR/12.99 GBP. Paying this monthly price will get you a chick metal card.
Things to know:
Cash withdrawals in Germany and abroad
Withdrawing money from any ATM is free for up to 200 EUR/200 GBP per month; after that, it costs 2%.
German bank Norisbank is a part of the well-known Deutsche Bank. The bank opens accounts for foreigners if they reside in Germany. The number of requirements is minimal, and their bank accounts are also free of charge.
When opening an account, you will get free Maestro and Mastercard cards which can be used for payments in Germany or/and abroad.
Benefits and features of an account from Norisbank:
- Free bank account
- Mastercard debit card
- Maestro girocard
- Free cash withdrawals in Germany & EU (over 9,000 ATMs)
- Free cash deposits at all Deutsche Bank offices and ATMs
- Overdraft and credit card optional
- Free cashless payments in Germany & EU
- Contactless payments
- Free mobile app
- Open an account online
Be aware that if you are older than 21, you might need to pay a monthly fee of 3,90 EUR. To avoid it, you must receive more than 500 EUR monthly in your bank account – simply deposit cash at any Deutsche Bank ATM.
Non-German citizens can easily open an account with DKB, provided they reside 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 up for DKB, you will receive two cards: a European debit card and an international Visa card.
A bank account at DKB offers:
- Free bank account
- Free online banking
- Free VISA card
- Interest paid on the 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 top-rated gym McFit 15,00 EUR instead of 19,90 EUR
- Free cash withdrawal and payments with Visa card in Germany, Europe, and worldwide
- Numerous other discounts, e.g., shopping, entrance fees
- No yearly fee
Bank 1822direkt is a part of the well-known Sparkasse bank in Germany. At 1822direkt, you can choose between different banking options:
- free online bank account
- classic free bank account
- premium bank account
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, the bank account is free for everyone under 27 years old.
- Free account management.
- Including 4 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany.
- Free debit card.
- Optional overdraft facility (creditworthiness required)
- Free account management when with a monthly turnover of over 700 EUR.
- Including 6 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany (there are over 25,000 of them).
- Free debit and credit cards.
- Overdraft facility: you will receive a credit of 1,000 EUR at your disposal (creditworthiness required).
- Account management for 9,90 EUR per month
- Free debit and credit cards (Visa gold)
- Including free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany.
- Overdraft facility with 1% interest (creditworthiness required).
All accounts are manageable via online banking.
What does the 1822direkt bank account offer?
- Free bank account for people under 27 years old
- Free cash withdrawal in Germany
- Free cash withdrawal abroad in the EUR zone
- You can choose between Visa or MasterCard
- Get a credit card
- Transfers, standing orders, direct debits, and payments with the card are free of charge.
- If you move abroad, you can keep the account and continue to use them
- To keep your account free of charge (for people over 27 years old), you just need to do one incoming monthly transfer.
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 the way!
Consorsbank has existed since 1994 and is well established direct bank in Germany. A bank account at Consorsbank is worthwhile for anyone in Germany, from students to self-employed or employees.
The main reason for this is the affordability of the bank account and other financial services of the bank.
Consorsbank banking account and card provide:
- Bank account with zero fees till the age of 28
- Free debit Visa card
- Free credit card
- Free payments and withdrawals in Germany
- Free payments and withdrawals in EURO countries
- Bonus: As a new customer, you receive 50 EUR on your account!
Things to know:
Consorsbank provides free accounts and cards 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.
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.
Are you looking for the best credit card in Germany? Check out this article – we made the choice easier for you.
Are you an international student in Germany and looking for the best banking account? Read the full in-depth article on that topic.