Can Foreigners Open a Bank Account in Germany

If you have decided to move to Germany, make sure that one of the first things you do is open a bank account. You have money, you’re an upstanding citizen, it should be easy—right? Not so fast.

Whether a bank account without a residence in Germany can be opened depends on the conditions of the bank. Classic branch banks such as Sparkasse, Volksbank, Postbank etc., in most cases, refuse such an account opening. Branch banks are usually restricted to customers in their own business area. The correspondence is often still postal and with a foreign residence, this is, of course, problematic. 

The situation is different with direct banks (banks without any branch network), where there are various providers who offer free accounts (often including free credit cards) even without residence in Germany. Direct banks have the clear advantage that the account management (for example, transfers, and communication with bank employees) is already happening online, and account statements are made available via e-mail or as a download. Therefore, the direct banks are more flexible when it comes to residence.

To open a personal bank account in Germany, you should provide:

  • A valid passport with a current German residence permit
  • Anmeldung (registration)
  • Completed application with personal info: name, age, nationality, address, income, etc.
  • Initial deposit (minimum amount depends on the bank)
  • Proof of income/employment, a letter of recommendation from your employer, pay slips, etc. (The more of these you have, the better your chances of receiving a full-service account.)
  • SCHUFA credit rating (optional, although it may be required at some banks)

Types of Bank Accounts

There are two basic types of accounts in Germany:

  • Girokonto – current account, similar to a US checking account but without checks
  • Sparkonto – savings account

Most financial transactions are completed using a Girokonto (via a debit card or a money transfer, an Überweisung). Unlike in France and the United States, Germans don’t write personal checks. Most of the time, a Girokonto includes a girocard, the German version of a debit card. Most banks charge a monthly fee for this service, although it may be waived if you keep a minimum account balance.

A Non-Traditional Banking Option

Opening a bank account at a German bank is not always possible for non-residents. The rejection rate is high, and there can be various reasons, that the bank (unfortunately) does not publicly communicate. New arrivals in Germany often find it difficult to set up a traditional bank account. But even non-residents, brand-new expats, and other non-Germans have a good option that they are often unaware of. Even in Germany, banking is changing, and you may want to think outside the box.

Most European Countries are members of SEPA (Single European Payments Area) and Euro payments between SEPA countries have been harmonized since 2014. Cross-border Euro bank transfers within the SEPA area are as quick and cheap as within a single country. A German employer also cannot insist you open a German bank account for euro transfer, by SEPA regulation, they are obliged to accept IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers) from other SEPA countries.

Consider a banking alternative in Germany that is available to you regardless of your citizenship or where you live. Jeton Wallet is a convenient and cheap banking alternative for expats, even before they are expats! People can choose between a personal account or a business account that includes personalised IBAN for your company. Jeton offers you notably lower fees on transactions than traditional banking methods.

Jeton Wallet makes managing your money easy, fast, and secure. Here’s how:

  • Affordable and Quick: Using Jeton Wallet won’t break the bank, and it’s super fast. You can send money or make payments quickly, without waiting around.
  • Convenient: It’s really easy to use. Everything you need to do with your money can be done with just a few clicks, whether you’re paying bills or shopping online.
  • Withdraw to Bank Account: You can easily move money from your Jeton Wallet straight into your bank account, making it simple to get your cash when you need it.
  • Merchant-Friendly: If you’re running a business, Jeton Wallet is great for taking customer payments. It works with lots of different currencies and is easy to add to your website.
  • Secure Payments: Keeping your money safe is key, and Jeton Wallet has strong security to protect your transactions and keep your financial info private.

In short, Jeton Wallet is all about making your financial life easier, whether you’re spending, sending, or saving.