Germany is one of the world’s most advanced industrial economies. It has a vast array of commercial banks who offer services for a variety of businesses. It can be quite tricky determining which bank to go to when looking to open an account in Germany.
This easy-to-follow guide will answer all your questions. We will cover how to open bank accounts in Germany for expats, students, foreigners and businesses. We’ll also offer you a peek into offerings and limitations provided by Germany’s biggest banks.
Can A Foreign Person Open A Bank Account In Germany?
There are three types of foreigners that can open a business account in Germany:
- Self-employed individuals with a small number of transactions: These are typically freelancers or small-medium sized companies that require very minor remits into a German bank account.
- Self-employed individuals who have a business under their name: These are generally large business owners who are successfully established enough to be receiving loans from banks and can thus be trusted.
- Legal entities: Partnerships, sole proprietorships, incorporated companies, etc.
What Documents Are Needed For Opening A Bank Account In Germany?
Although the process of opening an account varies from bank to bank, expect to be asked for these documents:
- A valid visa
- Documents proving you are either a student or an employee
- Proof of registration in Germany
- Proof of income (this can either be your pay stubs or utility bills)
Can A Tourist Open A Bank Account In Germany?
A tourist can open a bank account in Germany only under the condition that they are a European resident. However, not all banks implement the option of providing foreign accounts or subject their clients to very tight criteria when determining who gets granted with one, in addition to obscure restrictions.
If you are not a European, it is unlikely that you will be able to open a personal bank account in Germany. If you are planning on moving to Germany in the near future and are looking to open up and account, you will need to provide proof of registration in Germany as well as a German work permit.
Can Non-Residents Open A German Bank Account?
If you are looking to open a foreign bank account in Germany, you can do so if you are a German citizen living abroad or if you are a European resident. European citizens are not guaranteed an account with certain German banks, but the chances are higher than those for non-European residents. No bank is obligated to open an account for foreigners, and may turn one down without a clear explanation.
There are very few banks in Germany that will allow you to open up an account without showing up in person. There are a handful of banks that allow EU residents and German nationals to open a bank account from abroad without having to show up in person, such as DKB Bank, N26, and Comdirect. However, they generally only allow EU citizens to do this and can deny your request at any time.
If you plan on moving to Germany, you can open an account in advance. You will have to provide proof of registration in Germany. You may be required to produce a German work permit. At some point, you must show up in person to present the rest of your documents.
Can A German Citizen Open A Bank Account From Abroad?
German citizens are able to open accounts in the country from abroad only through banks that offer online banking. Usually, most banks will want you to provide your documents in person. But, there are some banks that allow German citizens/EU residents to open an account internationally without being physically present. Among others, the ones that seem to allow this are DKB Bank, N26, and Comdirect.
What Banks Can I Open A Business Account Within Germany?
- N26: This bank offers the ability to open up a mobile bank account that caters to freelancers and businesses.
- Fidor Bank: Fidor offers a highly advanced e-banking platform for businesses and individuals, equipped with smart e-solutions to avail of various banking needs.
- Netbank: NetBank offers reasonable account options for those who are self-employed or operate moderately small businesses, with the option to upgrade to a premium account should you need more.
- Deutsche Bank: This business bank has a reputation for offering business bank accounts for low cost while simultaneously providing very advantageous features, such as mobile banking and low fees.
- Deutsche Skatbank: This yet another business bank is specifically known for providing low-cost and low maintenance accounts to both businesses and individuals.
- Holvi: Holvi bank is a Finland-founded banking platform that is increasingly used by independent business professionals interested in opening up a bank account in Germany.
- Postbank: This bank offers the option of applying for a business account online with 6-month maintenance, a banking card and highly trusted and secure online banking specifically designed to aid small businesses.
What Is The Best German Bank To Open An Account For International Students?
Here is a list of the top banks in Germany for international students looking to open a bank account:
- Postbank Giro Plus
- Volkswagen Bank Young Giro
- 1822Direkt Girokonto Studenten
- Commerzbank Startkonto
- Targobank Starter-konto
- ING-DiBa Girokonto Student
- ComDirect Girokonto
- Deutsche Bank Das Junges Konto
- DAB Bank
You can read more about the specific student account features that each of these banks has here.
International Transfers To A German Bank Account
When transferring money to a German bank account from outside the EU, businesses can easily run into financial problems.
Most often, banks will charge very high fees for transferring the payment. Then, they will hike up exchange rates, giving you a disadvantageous fee to make more profit from your transfer.
These expenses can rack up huge costs, especially if you are making numerous large payments over time.
In the event that you feel your business is losing money when making cross-border transfers to Germany through your bank, consider getting started with an alternative platform like REMITR.
Not only does REMITR offer real-time exchange rates and a reasonably low flat fee of $5 per transfer, but there are no percentage cuts or additional service fees that come along with bank wire transfers. REMITR uses its own high-speed proprietary banking partner network that ultimately saves you more money in the end, in addition to making business payments in as little as one business day.
Save time and money by getting in touch with REMITR today.