Can Foreigners Open a Bank Account in Germany

If you have decided to movie to Germany make sure that one of the first things you do is to 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 (bank 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, 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. Mosts 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, which are (unfortunately) not publicly communicated by the bank. 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 out of the box.

Most European Countries are a member of SEPA (Single European Payments Area) and Euro payments between SEPA countries are 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 (Article 9) 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 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.

Here are some of the benefits of using Jeton Wallet:

  • Affordable and quick
  • Convenient
  • Withdraw money directly into your bank account
  • Merchant-friendly
  • Secure payments