Update March 2021: Wise Borderless Account is one of the best options for a Euro Bank account which can be opened entirely online.
Are you a non-resident and want to open a bank account in Germany? Over the years it has become difficult to open a German bank account for non-residents. DKB bank was one of the few banks which allowed opening the bank account from abroad, but in recent months and due to a high number of depositors trying to open a bank account in Germany after the Euro-crisis, they seem to have made it difficult for non-German-speaking countries. This article is for non-residents who do currently not live in Germany. If you are an expat or foreigner is living in Germany, check out the list of best bank accounts in Germany.
Why open a German bank account for non-residents?
- Free Euro currency bank account in Europe for non-residents
- Tax free in Germany (On completing necessary forms. Home country tax law applicable)
- Deposit guarantee by the German Government (upto €100,000 per account)
Requirement for opening a German bank account for non-residents
Normally, for opening a German bank account in a classical German Bank you would need to:
- verify your identity
- check your credit history.
In order to verify your identity, there are different options available (depending on the bank)
- PostIdent: Verify your documents at the German post office, where the clerk checks your identity. Travel to Germany is necessary.
- VideoIdent: Verifying your identity by a Video call using identification service used by the bank. But this option is only possible for certain nationality depending on your passport has all the necessary information for VideoIdent.
- Notary: Use a foreign bank or a lawyer in your home country to verify your identity. In this case no need to travel to Germany, but there are chances that the bank does not recognise the document are high.
Credit history is also checked by traditional brick-mortar banks. In Germany, the banks use SCHUFA, a credit agency, for checking your credit score and history. However, this history exists only if you have lived or had a bank account in Germany. Therefore, if you are a non-resident who is neither a German citizen nor ever lived in Germany, it will be difficult to open a bank account.
With modern banking, these requirements are now relaxed for non-residents. This article provides some such solutions to open a German bank account for non-residents.
Different category of non-residents
Some banks have allowed non-residents to open a bank account in Germany depending on their nationality or residence status to neighbouring countries. For ease, a non-resident has been categorised into four different categories below.
1. German Citizens living abroad
DKB bank still offers its services to any German citizen living abroad. Please check the link relating to DKB bank
2. Residents of German-speaking countries (Austria or Switzerland)
- DKB bank is open to residents of German-speaking countries of Austria or Switzerland. Please check the link relating to DKB bank.
- N26, a modern bank account a free bank account to residents of Austria.
- Other options for Austrian residents, please check Banks-Austria.com
3. Residents of EU Countries
- N26 (formerly Number 26) – if you are a resident of Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece and Slovakia. Please see below
4. Other Citizens living outside Germany (outside EU)
Wise Borderless Account provides a Euro Bank with an IBAN number which can be opened entirely online.
There are other options, but it requires travel to Germany.
Current Bank account for non-residents
A girokonto (current bank account) provides more flexibility to the customer and allows for normal use as a bank account. In case you have a house and receive rental income in Germany or other deposits, or you have to make or receive payments in Euros from clients, you will need a Girokonto.
- Receive and make payments in Euros. This is particularly useful if you have a rental property in Germany or clients from whom you receive payments.
- Can use cash machines and withdraw money in Germany. This is useful if you regularly travel to Germany for holidays or work.
- Possibility of refusal to open a bank account since banks sometimes perform a credit check.
Important: For reducing the risk of refusal, if you have an option do not apply for a credit card or overdraft facility along with your bank account application. When you apply for these facilities, the banks will have to check for your credit score, thereby increasing the chances for refusal. You can always apply for a credit card after a few months of use of the account, preferably 6 months. This is because, since you already have the account, the bank will more likely accept your credit card request after looking into your bank details.
Wise Borderless Multicurrency Account
Wise (previously Transferwise), the money transfer website now offers a free multi-currency account aimed at travellers, ex-pats and freelancers.
You can sign up and get verified online, all without a local address or visiting a branch. The Borderless Account gives you a free EUR bank account number with your own IBAN number. Additionally, you can also get a free US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand Bank account based on what currency you need to use.
Using this bank account, you can spend or receive money for free, in that currency, just like you would with a local account.
You can also get a Mastercard debit card if you are a resident of a few countries. Using the debit card you can spend in the currency of your bank account free of charge, and withdraw cash up to €200 free of charge.
Apply now for a Wise Borderless Account.
N26 is a bank account offering a free German bank account for residents of certain European countries and also the US.
Currently, residents of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US can open an N26 bank account.
It provides a Free Bank account, with a free Credit card and many more features. Read the detailed review of N26 account here.
The application process is entirely online and does not require any travel.
Apply now for an N26 Bank Account
When applying online from the website, it was possible to enter an address outside Germany. For example below we used Greece to check if the website accepted out input. Not only did it verify that the input was correct (green tick), it also allowed us to proceed further and complete the application form and finally giving us an application number and completed form in PDF format. Check here for a detailed step by step instruction for opening a bank account with Postbank.
Unfortunately, it is only possible to use PostIdent to verify the identity, therefore requires travel to Germany. Check here for more details about Postbank.
Similar to when applying for a tagesgeldkonto, when applying for the girokonto on their website,the users gets a notice informing them to download a form and fill it up in case of nonresidents. Click on the link for non-residents application forms (Für Personen, die nicht länger als 180 Tage in Deutschland leben). From the form, select “Girokonto”. A pop-up list appears as shown below.
From the list, select the appropriate form (single or joint account), download it and fill it up. Once you fill it up, similar to opening a tagesgeldkonto, you can approach a Notary in your country who will then check the information in your form and your identity and sign them to verify it.
- Not required to travel to Germany: Verification of identity is possible using a Notary in your home country. He would check your identity and the forms and sign on the completed application form. Please note however that the since the form is in German, it is possible that the Notary may have issues. In such case, you can still use the PostIdent method.
- Possibility of refusal: Since the bank account comes with a Credit card and overdraft, it is possible that it might be automatically refused if there is no credit history.
Savings account for non-residents
The second strategy is to open a tagesgeldkonto (Day savings account) instead of a normal bank account (Girokonto).
Disadvantages: Unlike a normal bank account (Girokonto), the tagesgeldkonto is a savings account, therefore, it cannot be used for making or receiving payments from different accounts. It also does not provide cards for withdrawal from a cash machine. You can only deposit to the saving account and withdraw from it to your personal bank account. This is a perfect solution in case you need to park your money in Germany. Though the interest rate is not very high, it still earns higher than the normal savings account.
Advantages: The advantage of such an account is that some banks allow you to open a tagesgeldkonto even if you do not have a credit history in Germany. Since tagesgelkonto is a saving account without any overdraft facility, the credit rating is not strictly checked. This will overcome the problem of needing to have a credit score in Germany. This is a perfect solution in case you just need to park your money in Germany.
Note again, not all banks will allow opening an account. In a preliminary check, we found the below banks which allow you to complete the online application by entering an address outside Germany. So in theory, it is possible that you can open a tagesgeldkonto with this bank. However, opening a bank account depends on the bank. So, there is a high chance that the application could be rejected based on the banks internal regulation.
Not technically a German bank, but this French online bank that is well known for the excellent service and tagesgeldkonto account with the German customers.
When applying online from the website, it was possible to enter an address outside Germany (see below).
Unlike other applications, the wording of the application clearly stated entering an address as Tax Residence. This implies that it was possible to be a Tax resident of another country other than Germany and still open an account in Germany. In our example below we used Greece to check if the website accepted out input. Not only did it verify that the input was correct (green tick), it also allowed us to proceed further and complete the application form and finally giving us an application number and completed form in PDF format.
- Withdrawal to another account: FAQ of the Website informs you can enter a bank account where you want to withdraw. Therefore, it is also possible to withdraw to another bank account than the one you deposited from. This is useful in case your primary bank account is closed or has been blocked for use.
- Travel to Germany required: For verifying the identity of the person, it unfortunately only allows PostIdent. Therefore, you will have to be physically come to Germany and go to a German Post office with your passport and the forms to complete the application. This however can be done during a holiday trip to Germany and you do not have to live in Germany.
For more information about Consors Tagesgeldkonto
2. Comdirect – Tagesgeld PLUS-Konto
One of the best online banks in Germany, Comdirect Bank is the Internet bank subsidiary of Commerzbank.
When applying on their website, if you entered a country other than Germany, Austria or Switzerland, the users gets a notice informing them to download a form and fill it up (see below).
The translation of the notice reads “If you live abroad more than 180 days per year, please use the account opening form for non-residents in the Documentation center.”
Click on the link for non-residents application forms (Für Personen, die nicht länger als 180 Tage in Deutschland leben). From the form, select “Tagesgeld PLUS”. A pop-up list appears as shown below.
From the list, select the appropriate form (single or joint account), download it and fill it up. Once you fill it up, you can approach a Notary in your country who will then check the information in your form and your identity and sign them to verify it.
- Not required to travel to Germany: Verification of identity is possible using a Notary in your home country. He would check your identity and the forms and sign on the completed application form. Please note however that the since the form is in German, it is possible that the Notary may have issues. In such a case, you can still use the PostIdent method.
- Low interest rates : Currently, it offers only 0.25% interest rate on deposits made on the account
Though it is difficult and not a lot of options are available, it is still possible to open a German bank account by a nonresident. If you are travelling to Germany in the near future, then it might be a good idea option to try all the above possibilities.
Another possible strategy could be to first open a tagesgeldkonto, wait for a few months (say 6 months) then try to open a girokonto after that. This way it makes it possible to start a credit history with the bank and possible to open a bank account in the future.
Finally as a disclaimer, please be warned that they might not work for everyone. This article is only for your information to help those who look to open a German bank account, the website accepts no liability and the information might change. So please try it out and let me know if it worked for you. I would be happy to hear your input and update the article.