Opening a bank account in Germany - Guide - (2023)

Expats who plan to stay in Germany for more than three months would benefit from opening a bank account with a German bank. It is not necessary to have a German bank account for your day-to-day transactions. However, it is practical to have a local account to conduct recurring payments such as rent and bills (e.g., the internet, electricity, heating, etc.).

Of course, if you work in a German company, your employer will ask you for a German bank account to deposit your salary. Nowadays, the main requirement for opening an account is a residence certificate, and overall, the process is easy, and you have many banks to choose from.

Expats' requirements to open a bank account in Germany

Your passport, residence permit, and accommodation contract are mandatory documents to open a bank account in Germany. If you study in Germany, you can open a student account as long as you can provide a letter from your higher education institution stating you are a registered student. If you opt for a bank account with an overdraft (Dispositionskredit), the bank may ask you to show your employment contract or payslips as proof of your earnings. Also, some banks may ask for a document called “Anmeldung,” an address registration certificate. However, this can be tricky since some house owners won't rent their estates to expats who don't have a German bank account. To get around this obstacle, search for banks that cater to expats.

If you come from a country whose currency isn't the euro, there are many benefits of having a German bank account, such as a free euro account. A good understanding of the processes and banks will help you easily organize your accounts and savings for all your future financial plans in Germany.

Read also Student life in Germany

Choosing a bank in Germany

The German banking system is divided into three parts: private banks such as Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank, cooperative banks such as Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken, and public banks, which aren't necessarily 100 percent publicly owned.

(Video) How To Successfully Open A German Bank Account As A Foreigner [Step-By-Step Guide]

When choosing your future bank in Germany, you should research the following:

  • Monthly service fees, ranging from free of charge (at least for the first months) to 15 euros per month, depending on the type of account.
  • Transaction fees for international transactions, and especially to/from your home country.
  • Local availability of ATMs. Most banks are part of ATM networks and may charge you for withdrawing cash from a different ATM group. For example, the four most prominent private banks (Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Hypovereinsbank and Postbank) are part of Cash Group, and you may be charged up to five euros per withdrawal when using an ATM that is not part of their network.

Good to know:

Transaction and ATM fees include exchange rate fees, local charges, and home bank's charges.

Mobile banking is increasingly becoming more popular, especially among seasoned expats. As with every online service, mobile banking has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is convenient to manage your money and keep track of your balance via an app on your phone, and most importantly, transfer funds instantly. On the other hand, one has to be careful of online fraud and internet scams. Some of the most well-known and trustworthy mobile banks in Germany are DKB and N26. These banks have no physical offices, but you won't need them anyway with their 24/7 online customer services. Even the opening of your account will take place online.

*Useful links:


Deutsche Bank

(Video) Step by Step Guide: Opening Free Bank Account (Girokonto) in Germany with Detailed Comparisons

Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken




Read also Finding work in Germany

Types of bank accounts in Germany

Banks in Germany offer different types of personal accounts:

  • Girokonto (current)
  • Sparkonto (standard saving)
  • Tagesgeldkonto (overnight or call money account)

Girokonto is usually used for salary deposits and daily transactions, whereas a Sparkonto account is designed to put money into the account and earn interest on this money, as long as it is not withdrawn. Note that withdrawals from a savings account may lead to additional charges. Tagesgeldkonto is merely used as a form of investment. In other words, in this account, you deposit money that you don't intend to use soon, and you want to earn interest on this money while keeping it safe.


Good to know:

It is worth comparing different bank accounts as conditions vary widely, as well as basic fees, interest rates, overdraft and transaction fees, etc.

Depending on your account, you will get a different type of card:

  • Electronic Cash (EC) Card/Girocard is a debit card that is attached to your account for direct payments and ATM withdrawals but doesn't have a 16-digit number for other payments, such as online shopping.
  • Kreditkarte Visa, Maestro, and Mastercard are 16-digit debit cards connected to your account, which you can use for all payments and withdrawals, as well as online purchases.
  • “Kreditkarte” Credit Card has a credit limit that usually gets billed automatically.

Debit cards are accepted in most shops and ATMs (known by the name Geldautomat) available at airports, petrol stations, and shopping malls. However, you will notice that the regional availability of ATMs varies a lot in Germany. For instance, a bank with plenty of ATMs in Frankfurt may not be an option near Lake Constance.

Read also Income tax in Germany

Cards and electronic payments in Germany

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Germans were paying in cash for restaurant meals and groceries “twice as often as the European average,” and they would use their card only when a transaction amounted to more than 50 euros. Since the pandemic, debit cards' use and electronic payments may have become a more common way of payment, but Germans are not ready yet to surrender to non-traditional payment methods such as contactless payment. Maybe this is not the case anymore due to the pandemic, but expats should keep in mind that before the COVID-19-induced measures, many small shops and restaurants did accept cash only. Germans have been loyal to physical money throughout history, and when the concept became too abstract for them (e.g., stocks, shares, cards), Germans were suspicious.

Credit cards are used for online payments but not in physical shops. Moreover, credit cards are more difficult to obtain, and for a bank to issue a credit card, it will require a credit check (Schuf). The process closely examines the applicant's current financial circumstances and financial history in order to establish whether they are a reliable client for the bank, able to meet their financial obligations in the future (creditworthiness). Hence, depending on the bank institute, you may have to wait a few months until you are granted a credit card with a relatively low limit that will gradually increase as per the cardholder's financial behavior.

(Video) Opening N26 Bank Account as an Expat in Germany 🇩🇪

Good to know:

To establish your creditworthiness, the bank will want to know what assets you have, the type of work you do and the amount of salary you earn, family obligations, and previous behavior with credit cards and loans.

Good to know:

EU-EEA citizens can use their international credit card in most German shops without commission or bank fees. However, bank fees may apply if you withdraw cash from ATMs.

Opening a business account as an expat

Setting up a business in Germany will also require opening a business bank account after you have registered your business with the German tax authorities (Finanzamt) and received your tax ID (Steuernummer). The required documents for a business account include a passport, German address registration, and tax ID number. Please, note that for non-EU-EEA citizens, the requirements may differ. Once you have the business bank account opened, you will be able to start organizing your business accounting, use online banking or the mobile app for business transactions, and set up your business's standing orders so you never miss a payment deadline, including employees' payments.

Good to know:

A bank can verify your identity remotely via PostIdent or VideoIdent. In the first case, you visit your local Deutsche Post branch with your passport or ID, and in the second case, you organize a call with the bank and answer the call through a device that has a camera.

(Video) Best Bank Accounts in Germany [2022 Update]

If you aren't sure which business bank account to select, consider the following when making a decision:

  • Monthly account maintenance fee – the higher the fee, the more features your account offers. However, this doesn't necessarily mean these features are helpful to your business.
  • Transaction fees and other charges may not be that obvious at the beginning. For instance, do you have to pay for cash withdrawals and other everyday transactions? Also, how much are the currency conversion fees if your business is taking place in many currencies?
  • If you have partners, enquire about how many users can be under the same business bank account and how many debit cards you can obtain.
  • How easy is it to switch accounts or break the contract with the bank if you are not satisfied?

Good to know:

Freelancers in Germany don't have to open a business bank account, but it may still be worth considering separating your personal bank account from your professional account to make bookkeeping and tax management easier.


How can an expat open a bank account in Germany? ›

To open a bank account in Germany, you should provide the following documents:
  1. Duly completed application form.
  2. Your valid passport and current German residence permit.
  3. Proof of registration/address.
  4. Initial deposit (the minimum depends on the bank of your choice)
  5. Proof of income/employment.

Which bank is best for expats in Germany? ›

Expat-friendly banks
  • bunq – They speak 7 languages. ...
  • Commerzbank – They have basic online banking in English. ...
  • Deutsche Bank – Online banking, customer service and some documents are in English. ...
  • Monese – They speak 14 languages. ...
  • N26 – They speak 5 languages. ...
  • Revolut – They speak 24 languages.
Dec 20, 2022

Can a US citizen have a German bank account? ›

Yes, foreigners can open German bank accounts. However, you'll often be asked for a German proof of address, or at the very least an address from another Eurozone or EEA country. If you're still based in the US a flexible multi-currency account from a specialist provider like Wise or Revolut may be a better option.

Can you open a bank account in Germany without being a resident? ›

Although it is theoretically possible for anyone to open a business account with any bank, non-German citizens who don't reside in Germany can usually only open accounts with so-called direct banks (Direktbanken).

What documents do I need for a German bank account? ›

To open a bank account, you usually require the following documents: a valid passport, a residence permit, a certificate of registration, and a wage statement (depending on the type of account).

Which German bank is best for American? ›


For the third year in a row, it was voted the best branch bank in 2020. It is a private bank and part of the Cash Group (Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank & Postbank). In the past years, Commerzbank has invested heavily to keep up with current trends and to also appeal to foreigners.

Does bank of America have a partner bank in Germany? ›

The "non-Bank of America usage fee" for each withdrawal, transfer, or balance inquiry at non-Bank of America ATMs outside the United States.
Bank of America account holders.
Coverage AreaGlobal ATM Alliance Bank
FranceBNP Paribas
ItalyBNL d'Italia
LuxembourgBGL BNP Paribas
Germany, SpainDeutsche Bank
6 more rows

Are there any American banks in Germany? ›

us bank Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany.

Do German banks accept US checks? ›

Avoid Trying to Cash a US Personal Check in Germany

Even though written personal checks are becoming increasingly rare in the US, if you want to cash one at a German bank, it can be almost impossible. The German banking system is simply not geared to deal with a check drawn on a US bank.

Is it illegal for a US citizen to have a foreign bank account? ›

And, while it is absolutely legal to own a foreign bank account, there are some additional reporting and tax requirements that US persons should be aware of so that they can remain in IRS tax and reporting compliance and avoid unnecessary fines and penalties.

Which bank is best in Germany for non residents? ›

The following banks don't require an Anmeldung source:
  • N26.
  • Deutsche Bank.
  • Commerzbank.
  • ING.
  • *Wise and *Revolut do not ask for a registered address according to some sources. source
  • *bunq.
Feb 2, 2023

How do I transfer money from US bank to German bank? ›

Some of the best money transfer companies to send money from Germany to USA
  1. Fee free online transfers: OFX.
  2. Best for exchange rates, expats or family: Wise.
  3. Better rates for larger transfers: XE Money Transfers.
  4. Ideal for small remittances: WorldRemit.

What is the minimum balance in Deutsche Bank? ›

Easy balance requirement

With Value-Plus Savings Account you have the freedom to either maintain a minimum Average Quarterly Balance (AQB*) of Rs. 1 lakh in Savings Account or a minimum Assets Under Management (AUM**) of Rs. 1.5 lakh enjoy the various privileges of a Value-Plus Savings Account.

What nationalities does N26 accept? ›

We offer our accounts in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (not available for residents in the DOM/TOM), Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Can a US citizen open a bank account in Europe? ›

It's possible to open a bank account in Europe for many US citizens. However, providers, such as Wise offer multi-currency accounts in several different European currencies. You can also get a card that lets you spend like a local in over 170 countries.

Which bank can I open online in Germany? ›

At N26, we've taken the red tape out of opening a bank account in Germany. Open an online account in just 8 minutes—all you'll need is your smartphone, a valid address in Germany, and a valid photo ID. You'll get an official German IBAN, so you can pay and be paid like a local.

Can I keep my German bank account if I move abroad? ›

Many expats prefer to keep their German banking account(s) even after they have left the country. In any event, it's a good idea to keep your account at least for several months after you leave, in order to pay last-minute expenses and take care of other financial matters.

How much proof of money do I need for Germany? ›

In most cases, applicants have to prove that they have around 11.208 euros at their disposal for one year.

Can I open a bank account in Germany without tax ID? ›

To apply for a bank account in Germany, you need the following documents: Your ID card or passport. Proof of address registration or Meldebescheinigung (a registration certificate you must get within 14 days of living at your new address in Germany) German tax ID number.

Can I get SCHUFA without German bank account? ›

Apply in Person at a Bank

If you are in a time crunch and need your SCHUFA report immediately, your best bet is visiting a bank. It does not matter if you do not have a bank account with these particular banks, they will still be able to process your SCHUFA for you.

Can I use my US debit card in Germany? ›

Debit cards from any major US bank will work in any standard European bank's ATM (ideally, use a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo). As for credit cards, Visa and MasterCard are universal, American Express is less common, and Discover is unknown in Europe.

Which bank is best for expats? ›

An Expat Bank Overview
  • Charles Schwab (Best for Americans)
  • STACK (Best for Canadians)
  • N26 (Best for Europeans)
  • Monzo (Best for U.K. citizens)
  • Payoneer (Best for inclusivity)
  • Wise (Best for cheap money transfers)
  • Citibank (Best for countries with Citibank)
  • Revolut (Best for high earners)
Jan 22, 2023

Which is better HSBC or Deutsche Bank? ›

HSBC had 563 more reviews than Deutsche Bank that mentioned "Good working environment" as a Pro. HSBC had 258 more reviews than Deutsche Bank that mentioned "Long working hours" as a Con. Extremely well structured in terms of business deliverable, projected strategy implementation and improvements.

What states have German American banks? ›

German American is a very strong financial services provider in southern Indiana and Kentucky, specializing in banking, insurance, investments and wealth management for business and retail customers.

What US banks are international banks? ›

In this article, we've rounded up some of the best international banks in the US that are great options for international travel.
  • Citibank. ...
  • HSBC. ...
  • Capital One. ...
  • Charles Schwab Bank. ...
  • First Republic Bank. ...
  • Bank of America. ...
  • Citibank. ...
  • HSBC.

Can I open a German bank account online? ›

You can even open an online account before arriving in Germany, although you'll need to verify your address before receiving your debit card.

Is there a Chase branch in Germany? ›

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Frankfurt Branch (Germany) - Bank Profile.

What banks in Europe are affiliated with Bank of America? ›

Traveling Internationally?
  • Barclays United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Channel Islands)
  • BNP Paribas (France)
  • BNL D'Italia (Italy)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany and Spain)
  • UkrSibbank (Ukraine)
  • TEB (Turkey)

What is German American Bank routing? ›

The sheet will include German American Bank's routing number 083904563 and the format for the entire MICR line.

Is Zelle available in Germany? ›

No, Zelle® can only be used to send funds to someone who has a bank account in the United States.

How do I transfer money to my German bank account? ›

Best ways to send money to Germany
  1. Bank Transfer. Bank transfers are usually the cheapest option when it comes to funding your international money transfer with Wise. ...
  2. Debit Card. Paying for your transfer with a debit card is easy and fast. ...
  3. Credit Card. ...
  4. PISP. ...
  5. Swift. ...
  6. Apple Pay. ...
  7. Google Pay.

How do I cash an IRS check abroad? ›

If you live in a foreign country other than Switzerland: Ask your local bank about depositing the US Treasury check. Many European banks no longer allow check deposits, they have moved past checks, so you may have trouble in those situations. When that's the case, opening a US bank account may be the best alternative.

Can the IRS see my foreign bank account? ›

Since foreign accounts are taxable, the IRS and U.S. Treasury have a very rigid process for declaring overseas assets. Any American citizen with foreign bank accounts totaling more than $10,000 in aggregate, or at any time during the calendar year, is required to report such accounts to the Treasury Department.

What are the IRS rules on foreign bank accounts? ›

If you have bank accounts located outside of the United States, the Bank Secrecy Act may require that you report those account balances to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filing form TD F 90-22.1, also known as the Report of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Do I have to report foreign bank account to IRS? ›

More In File

Per the Bank Secrecy Act, every year you must report certain foreign financial accounts, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and mutual funds, to the Treasury Department and keep certain records of those accounts.

Which is the safest bank in Germany? ›

The best bank in Europe is KfW in Germany, which was voted number one in the list of the 50 safest banks in Europe 2023.

Where can I open a bank account without residency? ›

These banks require a social security number, which non-citizens don't have. This is the most common problem that foreigners realize. However, larger banks such as US Bank, TD Bank, Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo will allow non-residents to set up a checking account and a savings account.

Where can I open a bank account without residency in Europe? ›

As a rule, anyone 18 or over with a valid passport or other form of national ID is eligible to open a European bank account. Residents of a certain country can usually apply with just their passport and proof of address. Slovenia, for example, even lets tourists open a bank account without having official residency.

What is the best way to send money from USA to Germany? ›

Some of the best money transfer services to send money to Germany from the USA
  1. Best Exchange Rates (and Fastest): Wise.
  2. Fee Free: OFX.
  3. Sending Money to Family and Friends: WorldRemit.
  4. Large Amounts: XE. Best Big Brand: Xoom, powered by PayPal. Wise (formerly known as TransferWise)

How do I transfer money from my US account to a German account? ›

Today your currency transfer options include credit cards, remittance services (MoneyGram, PayPal/Xoom, Western Union, etc.), forex transfer firms (CurrencyFair, Global Reach, OFX, Wise, formerly TransferWise, etc. – usually with a minimum of $150 to $500 USD), and your local bank (usually the worst option).

Do I have to pay tax on money transferred from overseas to USA? ›

Do You Have To Pay Taxes On Money Transferred From Overseas? Generally, yes. You don't have to pay taxes on international funds under a certain threshold, but if you're importing a significant amount of capital from overseas, you should expect to pay taxes on your transfers.

Can I open a German bank account from the US? ›

Yes, foreigners can open German bank accounts. However, you'll often be asked for a German proof of address, or at the very least an address from another Eurozone or EEA country. If you're still based in the US a flexible multi-currency account from a specialist provider like Wise or Revolut may be a better option.

How much money I can deposit in bank without tax in Germany? ›

As of August 8, 2021, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) will require the presentation of a meaningful document as proof of origin for cash deposits of more than 10,000 euros.

Can I open a Deutsche Bank account in the US? ›

The account opening is possible with a place of residence in Germany or abroad. There is no creditworthiness check.

Does N26 work in USA? ›

N26 has made the decision to sharpen its focus on its European business and will no longer be available to customers in the US after January 18th, 2022.

Can I open N26 account from USA? ›

However, as long as you're a US resident or citizen, you can actually (and a bit surprisingly) have an N26 account both in the EU and the US at the same time.

Does N26 card work in USA? ›

At N26, all our accounts feature free card payments worldwide, as often as you like and with no foreign transaction fees.

Can I open a bank account as an expat? ›

Is it possible to open a US bank account online as a non-resident? No. Most US banks will require non-residents to apply for an account in person. That means you have to travel to the US and walk into a bank branch to set up your account.

How can I open a bank account in Europe without residency? ›

As a rule, anyone 18 or over with a valid passport or other form of national ID is eligible to open a European bank account. Residents of a certain country can usually apply with just their passport and proof of address. Slovenia, for example, even lets tourists open a bank account without having official residency.

Can a US resident open a bank account in Europe? ›

It's possible to open a bank account in Europe for many US citizens. However, providers, such as Wise offer multi-currency accounts in several different European currencies. You can also get a card that lets you spend like a local in over 170 countries.

Can I keep my US bank account without a US address? ›

All you have to do to keep it intact is to have the address on the account changed to a relative or friend's address in America and have your statements sent to you online.

Which country in Europe is best to open bank account? ›


While privacy is fully guaranteed in Swiss bank accounts, these are also generally considered the safest possible investment due to the financially stable economic system.

Which is the best online bank in Europe? ›

Top Digital Banks in Europe 2022
  • Bunq. The Amsterdam-based neobank was founded in 2012 by Ali Nikham and now serves 5.4 million customers. ...
  • Revolut. The London-based digital banking titan probably needs no introduction. ...
  • N26. ...
  • Vivid Money. ...
  • Tomorrow. ...
  • Nuri.

Which European country is easiest to open a bank account? ›

What is this? The good news is that, in some countries, like Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria, you can easily open a bank account without being a resident. In some cases, all you need to provide is your passport. In other cases, you will need to provide a proof of residency from your country.

Where can Americans open foreign bank accounts? ›

The Best Offshore Banks for Americans in 2021
  • Georgia: This country is one of the easiest jurisdictions for an American to open an offshore account. ...
  • Singapore: This is one of my favorite banking locations in the world. ...
  • Vanuatu: This less-known option offers both privacy and is FATCA-compliant.
Aug 4, 2021

Can I use my Bank of America in Europe? ›

Debit cards from any major US bank will work in any standard European bank's ATM (ideally, use a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo). As for credit cards, Visa and MasterCard are universal, American Express is less common, and Discover is unknown in Europe.

Can I open a bank account in Europe remotely? ›

All you need to do to remotely open a bank account in Europe is provide properly notarized documents (if you need to open a personal account) or Apostille (if you need to open a corporate account) that are translated into the language required by the bank.

What documents does a foreigner need to open a bank account? ›

Valid passport. Proof of address not older than 3 months. 3 months' statements from your offshore bank. Proof of income.

Can you have a bank account in a country you don't live in? ›

Yes, but you will likely need to provide extra documentation to verify your identity, place of residence, and the legal purpose of the account.

Which country is easy to open a bank account online? ›

Meet the Republic Of Georgia – The world's easiest country to open an (offshore) bank account.


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