How to Open a Bank Account in Germany


According to Maps of the World, Germany's economy is Europe's largest. The country has 330 private banks, with Commerz, Dresdner, Postbank, Volksbank, Sparkasse and Deutsche being the major banks. "Girokonto" or a checking or current account is the most common banking account in Germany according to Just Landed. Bank accounts can be set up in Germany that allow you to make withdraws with an EC-Card, transfer funds and sign up for electronic payments. Savings accounts come with a passbook or a "Sparbuch."

Satisfy resident requirements. Register with the nearest police station within the first seven days that you arrive in Germany. Go to the Registration Office at the police station. Present your passport and your lease agreement.

Keep in mind that you can also register through the embassy. Contact the embassy in Stockholm and request a residency permit. Complete the application to obtain a German Residence Permit (see the Resources section). Request a free movement permit (Freizügigkeitbescheinigung) if you are a citizen of the European Union and European Economic Area.

Conduct due diligence. Note the different service fees, interest rates and account types that the various banks offer. Check the bank's s tock ranking through a financial tool such as Bloomberg or Morningstar. Consider the bank's global presence especially if you plan to travel broadly. See the "List of German Banks" in the Resources section of this article to find a list of banks in Germany including hyperlinks to their websites.

Present official documentation and complete bank forms. After you decide on a bank to open your account with, provide the bank officer with your residency permit and your passport. If you are a student, show your student identification so that you can open a student account with the bank. Complete all necessary bank forms, pay applicable fees and make any required minimum deposits.

Sign up for online banking. Ask your bank clerk for forms so you can conduct your banking online. Work with a bank that provides services in German and in English as some German banks do not offer English at their websites. Instruct the bank to set your account up for an automatic money transfer so that you can pay recurring expenses like your rent at a set time each month.

Understand how your account works. Review your account number (Kontonummer) and bank branch sort code (Bankleitzahl). Use these numbers to initiate transactions and to receive money into your account. Use the IBAN number and swift code to transfer money internationally, including receiving money from overseas employers. Use your TAN code provided by the bank at the time that you open your account to securely transfer money into and outside your account.

Ask About an EC Card. Speak with the bank clerk about signing up for an EuroCheque (EC) card. Keep in mind that the card allows you to withdraw money from cash machines (Geldautomats) throughout Germany and Europe as well as make purchases at stores similar to when you shop with a debit card. Use your four-digit pin number to secure your store transactions. Avoid sharing your pin number. Check with the bank about the amount of service fees (which can range from 1% - 2.5% per transactions) you will be charged should you withdraw cash from a bank different from the bank you have an account with. Decrease or eliminate service fees by setting up an account with a bank that has a large number of national cash machines. Typically it takes about 3 business days for the EC card to arrive in the mail.