How to open a bank account in Germany as a foreigner

Germans just love their Girokonto. This article guides you through all the necessary steps and explains all the documents to open a bank account as an expat worker or student in Germany.

This post was last updated on February 11, 2022

In this guide

A woman holding bills in front of her face

Why you absolutely need a bank account in Germany

It is very hard to live in Germany without a checking account, a so-called Girokonto. You need it to receive a salary (Gehalt) from your job, to get a phone contract, to freelance, to pay taxes, to pay rent or to buy insurance.

Necessary documents to open a bank account

The amount of papers you have to provide depends on your nationality and is easier for EU residents.

It is helpful to have these documents although not every bank requires them all:

  • Passport
  • A German residence permit for non-EU citizens
  • Registration of a German address (Anmeldung) or proof of your foreign address
  • Proof of income or a letter of recommendation from your employer
  • Proof that you are a student (if you’re opening a student account)
  • Sometimes a Schufa credit rating

Sometimes also an initial deposit is required.

Banks that let you open a bank account from abroad

The following banks allow you to open a bank account from abroad: source

Click here to see the pros and cons of bunq, N26, DKB, Comdirect and other selected banks at a glance.

bunq, N26 and Deutsche Bank have free checking accounts for students.

The identification process PostIdent explained

All banks request you prove your identity. While this can be done in brick-and-mortar banks by simply walking in and showing your ID, online banks usually require you to go through the so-called Postident process. This can be done in two ways:

  1. the bank sends you a barcode which you bring along with your ID and other documents like proof of address to the Post branch near you.
  2. Download the PostIdent app (Android, iPhone). The app asks you to scan your ID or passport and might connect you to a support person which guides you through the verification process. Support is available in several languages.

Read more in my review of the best checking accounts or go directly to the summary of the best German banks review.

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