Opening a bank account in Germany as a foreigner can be a daunting task, as the country is known for its bureaucracy and paperwork requirements. However, there are a number of options available, including both new virtual banks and traditional banks that can offer easy account opening.
New virtual banks are making the process easier and more convenient for foreigners, such as expats, interns, and students, who can now open an account in minutes without having to go through any paperwork. Traditional banks, on the other hand, may require some paperwork, but they can offer a wider range of services and features, such as physical branches and ATMs.
Lessons we learned while researching this article:
- Know that not all businesses accept cards. It’s common for smaller stores, bakeries, and restaurants to only accept cash or Maestro cards (not Mastercard or Visa).
- Some German services may not accept non-German IBANs. If you’re planning to set up direct debit payments for utilities or other services, make sure to choose a bank that offers a German IBAN.
- If you’re a freelancer or you run a business, you’ll need a business account. Some banks offer special features for freelancers and businesses, such as lower fees for international transfers or the ability to create multiple invoices. Find out best banks for freelancers.
- Bank account in Germany without Schufa. One of the main challenges you face when opening a bank account in Germany as a foreigner is the Schufa, the German credit score. Fortunately, you can open a bank account without Schufa with N26 Flex account.
Benefits of Non Resident Account in Germany
Having a German bank account for non-resident comes with a number of benefits. They include the following:
- Ability to receive and make payments in Euro. This is useful if you regularly make payments or get paid in Euros.
- Deposit guarantee from the German government.
- Ability to make SEPA transfers.
- Euro IBAN number.
- Ability to use ATMs in Germany for free if you travel to Germany for business or pleasure.
Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account in Germany
The documents required to open a bank account in Germany, especially with a major bank, typically include:
- Valid passport
- Residence permit
- Certificate of registration (Meldebescheinigung)
- Wage statement (depending on the type of account)
- Some banks want to see your credit history
Virtual banks, or neobanks, are a newer type of bank that operates entirely online. Neobanks typically have fewer requirements for opening an account than traditional banks. For example, some neobanks may not require a residence permit or wage statement.
List of Best German Banks Accounts for Foreigners
N26 is a popular online bank account that offers non-residents accounts. Moreover, it is a crypto bank, which allows users in Germany to buy, sell and hold crypto within N26 app. It is easy to open an account before arriving in the country, and you will get a German IBAN, so you can pay and be paid like a local, incoming and outgoing SEPA transfers, and insurance products in Germany. You can also get cash out of any ATM or cash back from stores.
One of the main advantages of N26 is that it is multilingual. The bank provides customer services in multiple languages such as French, Spanish, English and Italian. This is a major plus for foreigners who may not be fluent in German yet. Another advantage of N26 is that it offers a number of innovative features. For example, you can create subaccounts to organize your finances and set savings goals. You can also use N26 to invest in cryptocurrencies.
N26 is so far the best bank in Germany for foreigners where they can open an account without official registration or Schufa with N26 Flex account. N26 Flex is a bank account without the minimum credit requirements usually needed for current accounts in Germany. The N26 Flex for a bank account in Germany without Schufa has a monthly fee of €6. The first fee will be debited ten days after opening the account. The account cannot be combined with an N26 Business, N26 Business You, N26 Business Metal, N26 Smart, N26 You or N26 Metal account.
N26 Flex account is not an N26 Standard account, nor is it a premium membership account. We will offer you the Flex account if your credit score is not enough for you to open an N26 Standard account. You cannot select the N26 Flex account yourself; it will be shown to you before you open your account.
However, there is one downside to N26: it does not issue EC cards. EC cards are a type of debit card that is widely used in Germany. If you only have a Mastercard, you may not be able to pay at some businesses that only accept EC cards.
Wise is a financial technology company that offers multi-currency accounts, non-resident accounts, and debit card. It is a popular option for foreigners and non-residents in Germany because it offers a number of advantages, including low fees, competitive exchange rates, fast transfers, and a physical and virtual debit card.
With Wise, you can hold a balance in any of over 50 currencies, send payments to over 80 countries, and spend around the world with your Wise card. You can also get local bank details for up to 10 currencies, including EU IBAN details, US bank details, and UK bank account details. This makes Wise a great option for foreigners and expats in Germany who need to manage their finances in multiple currencies.
For example, an American citizen who has moved to Germany to work can use a Wise account to receive their salary in euros and then use their Wise debit card to pay for goods and services in Germany without having to pay high foreign transaction fees. They can also use their Wise account to send money back to their family and friends in the US and pay for mortgage, school fees, or any other bills.
Wise does not provide a German IBAN, but a Belgian IBAN. In principle, a Belgian IBAN should not be a problem, but some account holders have complained that their employers or service providers do not accept non-German IBANs.
Revolut is a digital banking platform that offers a wide range of financial services, including multi-currency accounts, virtual cards, crypto trading, stock trading, and money transfer services. It is a good option for expats and students to open a German bank account without the need for extensive paperwork. Account opening is completely done online.
Revolut offers multi-currency accounts in 28 currencies, including the euro. This can be helpful for expats and students who need to manage their finances in multiple currencies. Revolut also offers virtual cards that can be used for online and in-store payments. This can be a good option for people who want to avoid carrying physical credit or debit cards.
In addition, Revolut allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and stocks. This can be a good option for people who are interested in investing in these markets.
Revolut accounts may be closed for “suspicious activities.” We advise against using Revolut as your sole bank account. If you use Revolut for your salary in Germany, keep a copy of your pay check for proof of source of funds. Revolut does not support cash withdrawal at checkout at some big shop and discounter chains like ALDI, LIDL, DM, and REWE.
Bunq is a European bank that offers a German bank account with a passport only. It also offers a German IBAN, instant SEPA transfers, and up to 25 subaccounts on multicurrency accounts. You can open a personal, joint, or business account and get up to 10 free ATM withdrawals worldwide. Bunq has also partnered with Wise to provide a low-cost and transparent money transfer service for international money transfers.
Bunq is a good option for people who need a German bank account without a residence permit or Anmeldung. It is also a good option for people who want a bank account with a variety of features, such as instant SEPA transfers, budgeting and spending insights, and travel insurance. It also offers a credit card, which is what some services such as car rentals would accept.
To open a Bunq account, you will need to verify your identity with a passport or ID card. It offers customer services in 7 languages including English. You can then withdraw cash from ATMs 6 times per month for free, or withdraw cash unlimited times for free at shops with Barzahlen/Viacash. You can also deposit cash at shops with Barzahlen/Viacash.
During our research for this post, we came across many expats in German who complained about their salary accounts being blocked by Bunq. If this happens to you, the fastest way to resolve it is by filling a complaint with Kifid since it is a Dutch bank.
Monese is a multicurrency digital bank that is ideal for expats, interns, students, and foreigners in Germany. It offers a Belgian IBAN, which is generally accepted by most businesses and banks in Germany. Monese also has a customer support team that speaks 14 languages, including German.
To open a Monese account, you do not need an Anmeldung or a German residence permit. You can open an account online or through the Monese app. Once your account is open, you can receive money from other Monese users for free, and you can send money to other Monese users or to bank accounts in other countries for a small fee.
You can also use your Monese debit card to spend money in stores and online, and you can withdraw cash from ATMs. Monese offers a variety of account plans, including a free plan and a premium plan. The free plan includes a Belgian IBAN, a debit card, and basic banking features. The premium plan includes additional features, such as travel insurance and higher withdrawal and transfer limits.
Vivid is a German online bank that is a good option for foreigners who are looking for a German bank account that combines banking and investing with no monthly fees and a variety of features. It offers a multicurrency account with support for over 40 currencies. However, it can only be topped up in EUR. This is something to keep in mind if you are planning to use Vivid as your primary bank account.
It also offers a free broker with fractional shares. This makes it a good option for foreigners who want to invest in German stocks or ETFs.
Vivid offers customer service in English, French, Spanish, and German. To open a Vivid account, you must be a resident of Germany and have a valid ID. You can open an account without Anmeldung (registration), but you must provide a tax ID (TIN) within 90 days.
DKB Non Resident Account
DKB Bank has previously been known to offer quality services to foreigners. It was easy to open an online account for non-residents. However, that era came to an end. The bank has become bureaucratic, and they rarely speak English to their customers. They refuse to speak in English to their customers. You must speak in German and you must be expecting an official registration statement.
With DKB, one can withdraw cash from stores such as REWE, Penny, Real, and Rossmann. To withdraw, you need to use a barcode. You can get a barcode from the online banking app on your Smartphone. You can withdraw cash from an ATM, which is free when you use their Visa credit card. DKB is an excellent choice for frequent travelers because of the free withdrawals using their Visa credit card.
Comdirect Bank is similar to DKB Bank. This is an online bank that has a free Visa credit card. The bank does not have branches around Germany, but this is never a problem since you can still withdraw money from ATMs while abroad and in Germany for free. Signing up for Comdirect is free and easy. Once you have applied for Comdirect Visa Card online, they then mail it to you by post. The bank has few requirements for potential clients willing to join the bank.
They have a user-friendly website while their application is straight forward. However, both the website and the app are all in German; you can do ID verification through Postldent on your Smartphone.
It is free to open an account with ING. You get the freedom to make payment and cash withdrawals. The bank has the best checking account. It is among the largest direct banks in Germany. The bank offers savings products, installment loans, checking accounts, framework loan and real estate financing.
It operates more than 1200 ATMs with some located in shopping malls. Besides, it has a free customer support 24 hours a day, ensuring that in case of a problem, you get help immediately. You can transact through online banking, telephone banking and letter banking and get bank statements via online mailbox or by post. You should note that like many other major banks in the country, it does not give out EC-/Giro-debit cards for free anymore.
You can open a Deutsche Bank account without residence/registration. You will need to get an appointment at a Deutsche Bank branch and bring your passport and any other required documents. The account opening process should take only a few minutes, but your account will not be activated immediately. It should take a few days. You will receive your IBAN number at the branch, but your debit card will be sent to you by mail. Note that, like many other major banks in Germany, they have basic online banking in English, the rest is in German. Deutsche Bank does not have as many ATMs as Sparkasse or Volksbank, but you can use Postbank ATMs to withdraw money without fees.
Choose the Best German Bank for Foreigners for Your Needs
Opening a bank account in Germany as a foreigner can be challenging, but it is not impossible. There are a number of banks that offer accounts to non-residents, including N26, DKB Bank, Comdirect Bank, and ING.
N26 is the best option for foreigners who want to open a bank account in Germany without Schufa. It is easy to open an account, and you can do it before arriving in the country. You will also get a German IBAN and incoming and outgoing SEPA transfers, so you can pay and be paid like a local.
DKB Bank is a good option for frequent travelers, as it offers free withdrawals from ATMs abroad using its Visa credit card. Comdirect Bank is a good option for those who want a free Visa credit card and a user-friendly website and app and ING is a good option for those who want a free checking account and access to a large network of ATMs.