Are you planning to open a bank account in Germany? Here’s everything you need to know.

Whether you work in Germany or manage a business abroad, you will certainly need a German bank account. It is the basis for many activities, such as receiving your salary, making settlements with customers or paying taxes. How to open a bank account in Germany? There are a few things you need to know before you do that.


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Opening a bank account in Germany

The key issue is to know all the possible methods of opening an account at a German bank. There are two options. One of them is opening an account directly at a branch of a given bank and, due to the obligation to confirm your identity, it is the recommended solution. But it may turn out that the bank where you want to open an account does not have a branch near you or may not even have one at all (for instance, if you decide to choose a “direktbank”, whose business is based solely online). In this case, all you have to do is open a bank account in Germany via the Internet.

A German bank account for a private individual

As in most countries in Europe, also in Germany bank accounts are divided into ones designed for private individuals and for businesses. They differ in the purpose of using such an account, but also in slightly different conditions applying when opening one. As an individual, you will need a German bank account for practically all your daily financial activities. The choice is really big. As a student, you will need a German bank account to manage your social security benefits from a university, to pay student loans or receive scholarships. As an employee, you will need an account to receive your salary as well as to pay taxes.

Opening a bank account in Germany via the Internet

Keeping in mind that only the largest German banks have branches in most cities, it is a good idea to consider opening a bank account online. You will not need to visit a branch, which may be located far from your place of residence. Also, you have to be prepared for the fact that after completing the entire process, you will be requested to undergo an identity verification process. Some banks cooperate with the German post office (e.g. Deutsche Post) for this purpose, so you can finish setting up your account at a branch of the latter institution.

Bank choices for a private individual

Before opening an account, the first thing you need to do is choose the best offer for you. It’s important to note that you can easily find a free bank account in Germany. Such products are available, for example, by Bitwala. When you use their services, you will also receive cryptocurrency support included in the account services. ING is another bank offering free accounts in Germany. The possibility of opening a bank account in Germany via the Internet is also offered by PostBank, but there are some monthly fees applicable.

Opening a German bank account via the Internet

Once you have chosen the best offer for you, it’s now time to take care of all the formal aspects. The first step is to go to visit your bank’s website and start the application process online. It can vary, depending on the bank, but you will almost certainly be asked whether your salary will be transferred to your bank account, if you would like to open an account with your spouse, if you want to confirm bank transactions with a text message or whether you would like to obtain a credit card as well. In many cases, such information affects the conditions of maintaining a bank account.

Identity verification when opening a bank account in Germany

After completing the application process, the formal aspects related to the bank are basically over. The only thing that remains for you to take care of is identity verification, regardless of the institution in which you open the account. This activity is imposed on banks by German law, which in fact, shouldn’t be a surprise. The key point is to ensure full transparency when it comes to the German banking system by an attempt to eliminate all types of financial fraud, etc.

Identity verification at the post office in Germany

In terms of the identity verification process itself, many banks cooperate with the German post office. In such a case, the entire process will take place at the post office. To go through it and activate your bank account in Germany, you need to visit any Deutsche Post branch with a printed application, proof of identity and identification number, which you will receive after submitting the online application.

Other methods of identity verification in Germany

There are also other methods of verifying your identity. Some banks allow the option of sending an ID card through a dedicated mobile application, which uses advanced methods of encryption and data transfer. It is also possible to confirm your identity with a notary public or with the help of a consulate. Then, you will receive documents that the bank will not questions, thus making it possible to confirm your identity without any problems. Sometimes such a verification process may take place simply during a video conversation with a consultant of a given bank. All you need to do is present your ID to them and confirm your address.

Opening a business account at a bank in Germany

You will also need a bank account in Germany if you run your business there. In fact, it’s even a legal requirement. However, while in the case of personal accounts where the conditions are often not dependent on revenues, in the case of a company it is very often a decisive factor. Different offers in the same bank can be obtained, for example, by an entrepreneur in the footwear industry with a turnover of up to EUR 1 million per year, and different by an owner of an iron ore processing company with a turnover of well over EUR 1 million per year.

Choosing the right bank for a company in Germany

Careful analysis of all available offers is an extremely important element of opening a company bank account in Germany. There are even specialised advisors that will help you choose the best solution for your business for a small commission. An experienced consulting company will help you find a free account for companies in Germany. Although it is difficult, it is definitely possible. Especially considering the fact that the German banking market is very well developed.

When searching on your own, you must use search engines first. A very interesting solution can be found, for example, at hype.pl. This website contains an offer search engine with a useful filter. All you need to do is select the type of your business, your monthly revenues, the average monthly balance on your account, and also specify whether you want a debit or credit card, etc. After clicking “Generate offers” you will see a list of banks that will give you the best conditions for the declared parameters. There are quite a lot of such search engines and using them is one of the best methods of analysing the banking market in Germany.

Opening a bank account in Germany without residence registration

Virtually every German bank will require your home address to open an account. A certain difficulty may be the fact that apartments in Germany are not numbered. The delivery of correspondence is based on the name that appears on the mailbox. So you need to make sure your name is on there. Furthermore, since 2015, the Registration Act (Meldegesetz) has been in force in Germany, which requires you to register at your place of residence. Regardless of whether you rent an apartment in your own name, sublet it or it is your property.

Opening an account in Germany with an address in different country

Considering the above issues, opening an account in Germany without registration is very difficult. However, there is one bank that makes this possible. Solarisbank offers a free Bitwala account, which makes it possible to handle cryptocurrencies as well. You can open such an account even without being registered in Germany. It is also possible to open a Bitwala account outside of this country. The list of countries is limited, but such an option is available, among others for the inhabitants of Poland.

Opening an account in Germany with an address in a different country is also possible at Sparkasse in Oberlausitz-Niederschlesien, which is a German version of a regional cooperative bank. Such banks make it possible to open an account in Germany for citizens of other countries such as Poland, who work across the Oder or live close to the border. Interestingly, as the authors of the bank-komornik.pl portal claim, Poles are the main target group of this financial institution. So if you meet one of the two criteria above, you can easily open a bank account in Germany there.

Financial and banking dictionary

When opening a bank account in Germany, you will be faced with German phrases that you need to understand. These are as follows:

● kontoführungsgebühr – account maintenance fee;      

● meldebestätigung – confirmation of registration;      

● online abschließen – concluding a contract via the Internet;      

● direktbank – also known as internet or virtual bank;      

● Freiberufler – freelancer;

● gewerbe – occupation, business, profession;      

● einzelunternehmer – one-man business; 

● Tagesgeld – daily deposit;      

● Meldegesetz – law regarding registration.      

How to open a bank account in Germany?

Regardless of the purpose and use, the first thing you need to do is to carefully read the offers of German banks. Account conditions can vary significantly, especially for business owners. The offer may be different, e.g. for a freelancer and different for the owner of a large fish processing plant. It is also worth noting that the terms of maintaining an account may depend on monthly cash inflow or an average monthly balance. Therefore, the most important step is to find an offer suiting your needs best. Optionally, you can use the services of a consulting company that will source the best conditions for you to match your expectations, for a small fee.


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