There are several obstacles that non-German investors who strive to start their businesses in Germany face. Key among the challenges is opening a German bank account. Although there are other difficulties that are largely associated with the incorporation process, opening a German business bank account with any bank isn’t easy for non-citizens and for those not residing in the country. Here in this detailed guide, we detail everything about opening a German bank account from abroad. We will further explain the nations from which it is presently impossible or possible to open a German bank account.
Opening a German Bank Account for Non-German Citizens
Theoretically, anyone can open a German business account with literally any German bank. For non-German residents, particularly those who don’t reside in the country, they can still open a business account with direct banks, popularly known as Direktbanken. As opposed to multi-branch banks (Filialbanken) like Volksbank or Sparkasse, direct banks don’t have specific locations where customers can access them from. That means direct banks are strictly available online. In addition, the requirements for opening a German bank account can vary from one bank to the other and thus, banks set different requirements for their clients. When it gets to opening a German business bank account from abroad, direct banks are usually much more accommodating. Non-German citizens, especially those who don’t live in Germany will find it extremely difficult to open a bank account with any German bank.
Documents and Process To Complete When Opening a German Bank Account
Generally, you will require the following to open a German bank account:
- Any documents that confirm your identity
- Legalisation for foreign certificates/ documents (the authentication process is dependent on the nation giving the documents and the country where the business bank account is expected to be opened from. In this case, the nation where the business bank account will be opened from is Germany.
- Proxy form permitting a particular representative to open the business bank account using your name (this is a crucial requirement especially if you will not be there to open the business bank account in person).
- Prior to opening a business bank account with any German bank, ensure all the documents or legalisations from the nation in question are acceptable in Germany. This is also incredibly important, considering there are several nations whose authentications aren’t acceptable in Germany for political reasons, notwithstanding the fact that these nations take part in this process as well.
- Additional proof and information are required for purposes of confirming your identity. You need to submit proof of your identity to a specific bank that you intend to open a business account with in person. Alternatively, you can submit your proof of identify via a representative. Just in case your preferred bank is an online bank (direct bank), or if it isn’t possible to submit proof of your identity, you might have the chance to complete the Videoldent or POSTIDENT process for identity verification.
The POSTIDENT process
To benefit from this process, you must be living in Germany. Visit any Deutsche Post location with a copy of your account application form from your bank. Your bank will cater for the fee hence, making POSTIDENT process absolutely free of charge. There might be problems with this process if the ID doesn’t give all relevant details, such as your specific place of birth. Just to be safe, have additional documents like birth certificate ready with you.
The Videoldent process
The process is quite simple and better still, it can be done outside Germany. After scanning your documents and sending the relevant files to the bank of your choice, you will then video call your bank via your tablet, computer or mobile phone. Verification via mobile phone is especially effective in comparison to a webcam, since your mobile phone will allow you to focus and zoom in. While making your video call, you will be required to raise your ID in front of the camera. Both the back and the front of your ID will be examined thoroughly. Your ID will further be tilted to ensure holograms and other security features are detected easily. You will then receive a TAN via email or SMS, which you will be required to enter online. This verification process is relatively new, having been introduced recently after revision of German Money Laundering Act. Nevertheless, the process takes just a couple of minutes to complete.
Are there other Methods that can be used for Identity Verification?
There are other methods that can be used for identity verification while overseas. For instance credit institutes, banks, lawyers, certified accountants, notaries and tax advisers from EU member nations, are authorised to certify and verify the identities of legal persons.
What to do when your Bank doesn’t Offer Videoldent or POSTIDENT Verification Process
Not all German banks offer Videoldent or POSTIDENT verification processes. If the German bank you would wish to open your business account with doesn’t offer these two verification processes, you can have your identity verified by a local lawyer, bank, tax advisor or certified accountant. A local bank, for instance, verifies your identity directly and then sends it to your preferred German bank. But, this isn’t always possible in all nations. Just in case your country of origin has relatively better or comparable security standards to Germany, then you can benefit from this possibility. It is worth noting that Germany doesn’t accept authentications and legislations from specific nations. Therefore it will be impossible to open your German business bank if you hail from such jurisdictions.
What documents should I have for my Identify to be Verified by an Authorised Third Party?
You must have these documents below for your identity to be verified by an authorised 3rd party in your nation:
- Form for confirming your identity, tax ID number and residence
- A valid passport, EU identity card or ID
- All requisite documents required for opening an account
The authorised 3rd party will examine and fill out all the relevant forms on your behalf; all you will be required to provide is your signature. Nearly all German banks insist that letters written by authorised 3rd parties must be written in German. Therefore, you need to get certified translation if you want your identity verified via an authorised 3rd party. The signature of the authorised 3rd party of your choice also needs to be verified by an extra authentication. Nevertheless, there are exceptions for Switzerland, France, Greece, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and Denmark. If the authorised 3rd party isn’t sure of exactly where to get additional authentication, then contact the German embassy or consulate in your country.Once all the relevant papers have been submitted to the authorised 3rd party, he or she will present them to the German bank of your choice. If your authentications from the country of your origin aren’t acceptable in Germany, then you will require further legalisation. The nation issuing the authentications is the crucial factor while deciding on the validity of the authentications sent to the German bank of your choice. Therefore, legislation will be required to be issued overseas, pre-authenticated and further authenticated in a particular German embassy or consulate. There are specific nations where neither legalisations nor authentications of the documents required to open a German bank account are presently acceptable in Germany. At least, not all legalisations and authentications are acceptable in Germany.
How to have a Representative to Open a German Bank Account on your Behalf
In case the possibilities of opening a German business account that are mentioned here aren’t suitable choices for your, or if there aren’t accepted by the German bank of your choice, then you can have a representative to open a business bank account for you in Germany. To allow a representative to open an account on your behalf, you need to seek authorisation from an attorney. The relevant German embassy or consulate in your country can provide you with written authorisation from an attorney. But, prior to seeking representations, find out from the German bank of your choice if it accepts such representations. In case the bank doesn’t accept representations, then gather all the requisite documents and legislations needed for opening a German account in advance. If your preferred German bank turns down your request to have an account with them via a representative, you can either travel to Germany to open a bank account in person or choose another German bank that allows you to open a German business account via a representative.
What are the Documents Needed for Verifying my Identity Prior to Opening a Bank Account in Germany?
To open a business bank account in Germany, one must be able to verify or confirm their identity. There are many types of documents supporting your identity that need to be submitted, although this is largely dependent on whether the account will be registered under your firm’s name or your name. The documents needed for verifying your identity can be classified into two categories namely, those needed for proving your identity and documents that show the identity of your business.Documents needed for proving your identity- these documents may include any identification documents that bear your date of birth, name, citizenship or residence. The documents may further include tax returns, current utility bills or certificate of registration.Documents proving your business’ identity- if you wish to register your account under your business’ name, you may be required to provide some information regarding your business. This information may include the name of the company, certificate of registration of the company, legal company form, name and addresses of the company’s members. Most importantly, you will have to present official and written proof of right to register your account under your company’s name.
How to Open an Account with either Comdirect or DKB Bank from Abroad
DKB Bank is one of the German direct banks that are presently accepting clients that don’t live in Germany. Although DKB Bank largely accepts citizens from various nations globally, there are, however, some exceptions. For instance, the direct bank doesn’t accept clients from North Korea and Iran due to the prevailing EU sanctions. To open your account with DKB Bank, you simply need to fill out their online registration form. The great thing about this direct bank is that it allows identity verification through any bank. Once you submit your online account registration form, DKB Bank will notify you on the existing options for verifying your identity in the country of your origin. Once the identification process is concluded, your account will finally be opened.Comdirect is another direct bank that allows non-German citizens that aren’t residing in Germany to open an account with them. Nevertheless, there is one condition that anyone striving to open a German business account with Comdirect must meet. This condition is that, one’s account should be easily accessible through Schufa. This is a requirement if you have been an active consumer in Germany, or if you have consumed within Germany.
How long will it take for Non-German Citizens who don’t live in Germany to open an Account in the Country?
The process can take several days, since the bank will have to verify all the documents and information submitted by a prospective applicant. Ideally, the process can be shorter if the requisite information and documents are submitted in time.
Is it Possible to Withdraw Money Overseas for Free?
The possibility of withdrawing money abroad from a German account for free solely depends on the bank you will be withdrawing your money from. The withdrawal fee varies from bank to bank, for some German banks charge a higher percentage when one is withdrawing money overseas. But, there are barely any banks that will allow you to withdraw money overseas for free.
Why did my Preferred German Bank Decline my Application to have an Account with them?
Most Germany banks, especially direct banks reject account applications owing to their requirements for prospective clients. Again, non-German clients who don’t live in Germany are obliged to substantiate their reason for wanting to open a German bank account. Some banks decline account applications from potential clients who are self-employed, while other may reject applications, citing missing Schufa records.
Opening a German bank account isn’t that complicated as it might sound to many aspiring investors. With this guide for opening a German business bank account, you will ultimately know the possibilities that you have, as well as what to expect.
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.Which bank is best in Germany for non residents? ›
- Deutsche Bank.
- *Wise and *Revolut do not ask for a registered address according to some sources. source
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).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.How do I open a German bank account from the US? ›
- Your passport/photo ID with a valid visa or residence permit.
- Proof of address.
- Evidence of income/employment (required by many banks, depending on the account you want to open)
- Proof that you are a student, if opening a student 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.Can I open a bank account in Germany without residency? ›
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 is the best German bank for Americans? ›
If you speak German, look at DKB and ING. People often recommend them. If no banks accept your passport, try Deutsche Bank. Online banks like bunq, Monese, Revolut and Wise also accept more passport types.Are there any American banks in Germany? ›
us bank Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany.How much money do you need in bank for German visa? ›
You need to show the bank statement of your Blocked Bank Account with the required minimum amount of 10,332 Euros deposited.
How much bank balance is required for Germany? ›
As soon as your account is ready, you have to deposit at least 11.208 euros into it. Once you've arrived in Germany, you should make an appointment in a branch office of your bank.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.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 bank account in Europe if I don't live there? ›
In most cases you won't be able to open a bank account with a regular bank in Europe with a tourist visa. You'll need a local proof of address, plus a valid residence permit to show legal status.Is N26 a safe bank? ›
N26 operates with a full European banking license, which protects deposits up to €100,000, as directed under EU law. With 3D Secure and Mastercard Identity Check, as well as fingerprint and face recognition, your online payments are even better protected.Can I open a bank account without residency? ›
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 do I transfer money from US bank to German bank? ›
- Fee free online transfers: OFX.
- Best for exchange rates, expats or family: Wise.
- Better rates for larger transfers: XE Money Transfers.
- Ideal for small remittances: WorldRemit.
Bank Account: Can you keep your German bank account when leaving Germany? Yes, you can. And you should certainly keep it at least a few months until after you have left Germany since you will still need it for some transactions after you leave (e.g., your last electricity bill, your deposit from your landlord, etc.).What countries don't report to the IRS? ›
Bermuda, Monaco, the Bahamas, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are four countries that do not have personal income taxes. If you renounce your U.S. citizenship, you may end up paying a tax penalty called an expatriation tax.How much money can a US citizen have in a foreign bank account? ›
If you exceed the $10,000 threshold, you must report all foreign accounts, not just any single account that exceeds $10,000.
Are Swiss banks still secret? ›
In other areas of privacy, Swiss banking secrecy laws still apply (see “Financial Secrecy Index 2022” at the end). However, Swiss banks still offer the highest level of client confidentiality in the world according to the Financial Secrecy Index 2022. Today, there is practically no untaxed money left in Switzerland.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.
If you come from a country in the European Union, you can open your bank account with Berliner Sparkasse online in just a few steps. Enter your data into the online application form. Verify yourself in a few minutes with a valid ID card or passport via video ident on your computer, tablet or mobile phone. All done!Which EU country is easiest to open 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.Do us debit cards work 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. Check your cards' expiration dates.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.
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.Is there a Chase branch in Germany? ›
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Frankfurt Branch (Germany) - Bank Profile.Does Bank of America have a partner bank in Germany? ›
Bank of America account holders.
|Coverage Area||Global ATM Alliance Bank|
|Luxembourg||BGL BNP Paribas|
|Germany, Spain||Deutsche Bank|
Citibank is one of the best international banks in the US for expat banking because of their very international model. It currently physically operates in 97 markets2, supporting clients from more than 160 countries, making access to their ATMs more convenient.
Is Germany visa free for US citizens? ›
US citizens do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, if you plan to live in Germany (or stay longer than 90 days), you can apply for a residence permit at the German Immigration Authorities after you enter.How much cash can I bring to Germany from USA? ›
Cash sums totalling 10,000 or more euros on trips to and from Germany must be declared to the customs authorities. This applies to both cash and equivalent means of payment.What is proof of income in Germany? ›
proof of income (Einkommensnachweis), which could be bank statements and payslips showing your salary, your German employment contract, proof of scholarship or any other document that proves you can afford your tenancy.Can you open a German bank account from abroad? ›
DKB: Foreigners can also open a bank account. Identity verification is possible at a local bank or a lawyer abroad. The lawyer or bank must complete the registration form and send it directly to the bank. The costs incurred for this are not covered by the DKB.Does Germany monitor bank accounts? ›
It is a fact that credit institutions in Germany commit themselves under civil law not to disclose customer-related data to third parties. Nevertheless, in some cases banks must disclose their customers' account data to the investigating authorities.How much bank balance do I have to show for a Schengen visa? ›
Proof of civil status – birth certificate will suffice. Bank statement – this needs to show a minimum balance of €3000 over the last 6 months.Where can Americans open foreign bank accounts? ›
- 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.
Countries such as Mauritania, Singapore, and Mauritius allow foreigners to open Bank accounts. For example, tourists or foreigners in Mauritius, an island country in East Africa popular for its beaches and lagoons, can open current accounts. They, however, need...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.
If you make or receive an international money transfer of more than €12,500 in Germany (or the equivalent in another currency), you must observe the AWV reporting obligation. This applies to all residents in Germany – including those who have their habitual residence, domicile or company headquarters in the country.
What documents are required to open bank account in Germany? ›
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).Can I open a bank account online in Germany? ›
To open an online bank account in Germany, you will also be required to verify your identity. So, to do so, you might need to use a webcam, email verifying code, or use PostIdent, which is an approved substitute used to identify your identity, with the fee paid by the corresponding online bank.Can I open bank account in Germany without address? ›
You typically need to have a permanent address in Germany to open an account. Many online-only and mobile-only German banks also offer accounts to those living overseas. These are useful for those planning to move to Germany or those who work in Germany.Is opening a bank account overseas illegal? ›
It is 100% legal to open an offshore bank account.
It's true that offshore banking has a history of being used for hiding undeclared income or tax evasion but there's nothing illegal about opening an offshore bank account.
At N26, all our accounts feature free card payments worldwide, as often as you like and with no foreign transaction fees.Why is N26 closed in us? ›
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. What will happen next? US customers have been sent a formal notification email to the email address connected to their account.Can Americans open N26 account? ›
You need to have a European mailing address. The account will be based in Germany (or the United Kingdom), so it's not practical to use for transfers or direct deposits in the US.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.
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.Does my American debit card work 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.
Do I pay taxes on foreign bank accounts? ›
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.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.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.
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? ›
- Bank Transfer. Bank transfers are usually the cheapest option when it comes to funding your international money transfer with Wise. ...
- Debit Card. Paying for your transfer with a debit card is easy and fast. ...
- Credit Card. ...
- PISP. ...
- Swift. ...
- Apple Pay. ...
- Google Pay.
- Norddeutsche Landesbank. ...
- Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. ...
- KfW Bankengruppe. ...
- ING-DiBa. ...
- DAB BNP Paribas, Munich. ...
- N26. ...
- Sparkasse. ...
- Volksbank. 'Volksbank' translates to 'people's bank', and there are several European banks that operate under this name.