A simple step-by-step guide on how to open a bank account in Germany. Open an online Germany bank account and documents required to open a German Bank accountRead More
How to open a German bank account
Selecting and Opening a bank in a foreign country more complicated if the information is not available in English. Though it is generally not too difficult to opening a German bank account if you have the required documents, the application form and information is always provided in German.
First you need to select which is the best bank account for you. The article on how to select a bank account in Germany provides you a list of things you should consider when you are looking for a German bank account (e.g, Maintenance Charge, Cards and Withdrawal charges, English Service and Interest rates). Students are provided with added benefits.
Documents required to open a German bank account
Documents required are simple and you will need the following documents in order to open a bank account in Germany.
- A valid passport (in original) if you are a non-German. An Ausweis (Identity card) if you are German citizen. An identity card from other EU member states is also fine, but it is always better to carry your passport
- Proof of current Residence, this is in form of a confirmation of residence from the local city authorities in Germany (Meldebescheinigung). You will need to have an local address. This can also be a C/O address of your friend or some other place where you can receive the documents by post (Card/PIN etc will be sent by post only).
- In some cases, banks may require you also provide proof of income (e.g payslip or employment contract) if you are applying for a credit card or overdraft facility along with your bank account.
Additional Document required for Student Bank account
- student registration certificate (immatrikulationsbescheinigung). If you have not yet registered at the university and need to open a bank account, banks will accept the admission letter or other confirmation letter from university or the Student Visa depending on the bank.
Take the original and at least one copy of the above documents.
How to Open a German Bank Account in Person
With the above documents, just walk into a branch nearest to you. The bank clerk will then guide you and fill out the application for you. Most banks will requires you to make an appointment before you come. Some banks may also require that you open a bank account a branch closest to your residence or specific student branches in the university which will can service you. Therefore, dont be suprised if you are asked to come back again or make a trip to a different branch. You can avoid this by opening the bank account online even for the banks with branches (e.g. Commerzbank, Postbank, HypoVerinsbank) and not just for the Direct internet banks (banks without branches). Sometime, opening an account online may give you added benefits, for example Postbank has bonus offer for customers opening online, or Commezbank during weekends.
How to Open a German Bank Account Online
Step 1 : Fill the online application
Complete the online application form available on the bank website. This forms will be in German, therefore you will need an English translation of the German banking terms in hand. You can also check the step-by-step guide with screenshots and English translation for certain bank (e.g. DKB, Commerzbank, Postbank, ComDirect). After completing the application online, you can submit the details online and a PDF copy of the filled-up completed application with your details as provided will be generated. Save this completed application form online and print it out. In case you do not have a printer ready, you can save it and print it out later. Some banks also provide you with an option to send you the completed application form to your address in case you do not have a printer. Provide your correct details as it will be printed on the form and you cannot change it after it is printed.
Step 2 : Verification
In order to verify the user, most of the banks follow a PostIdent process where the verification is performed by a clerk at the Post office.
You do not need to make an appointment for this. Take the above documents along with the printed application form which was filled online to the nearest post office (All post offices in Germany) in person. To find out the center which is closest to you, click on Postoffice Finder. Type in the city, postal code or the name of the street and under the option”alle speziellem service” select the option for “PostIdent”. You will be showed on the map the Postoffice branches closest to you.
The clerk at the post office will verify if you are the person as mentioned in the application form and on your passport. Once the documents are checked by the clerk at the post office, you have to sign the application form at the necessary place in front of the clerk. This signature is verified with your signature in your identity documents. After verification of the documents and signature, the forms are then put in an envelope and sent to the Bank free of charge.
A new process called Video-Ident is now possible with some banks where you can complete the identification process through video conferencing. However, even those banks allow PostIdent possibility and for someone with little or no knowledge of German, PostIdent is simpler than Video-Ident.
Step 3 : Operating the account
Mostly, you will now receive a confirmation from the bank account was opened. However, sometimes you may be asked by the bank to provide further details by email if required. This may include student certificate (for student bank account) or work contract (for salary account) in case they were not required to be sent while applying.
The bank will then send you the confirmation documents by post. This includes the cards, PINs etc as separate letters. It takes about a week or two to receive all the documents. However, you may be able to already access the account through the bank branch or online provided you received the necessary passwords.
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