Bank Account and Taxes

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Setting Up a Bank Account

In Germany, salary payments and other everyday transactions such as rent, insurances and phone bills are handled through a bank account.​​​​​​​

Do I need a German bank aacount?

If you want to withdraw cash in Germany, make cross-border transfers or make cashless payments in shops and you use your foreign bank account, there are usually fees for this. The conditions depend on your foreign bank. In addition, companies or landlords may refuse to collect money from or transfer money to an account in another EU country due to the fees. You can avoid these problems by opening a German bank account.

Banks in Germany

If you're looking to set up a bank account, you can choose between branch-based banks and direct banks. Branch-based banks operate with subsidiaries where customers can approach staff members face-to-face. Direct banks do not have local offices, so your account will be set up and managed online (online account). An overview of numerous Hamburg-based bank institutes can be found in the Hamburg Business Directory (available in German only).

Some banks offer bank accounts that are free of charge under certain conditions, while others demand an account maintenance fee. It is recommended to ask more than one bank institution for their account types and any fees that may be charged, so that you can compare.

In order to use your bank account in everyday life, you will receive an electronic chip card. With this card and the corresponding PIN you can make cashless payments in most shops and restaurants. You can also withdraw money free of charge from your bank’s cash machines (when using cash dispensers from other banks,  a withdrawal fee may be charged).

Required documents

Before setting up a bank account, the bank needs to verify your identity. You will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • a valid ID card or passport, if applicable your residence permit
  • a registration certificate stating your current residence in Germany
  • for some banks and/or account types: a pay statement from your employer

Please note:
Normally, setting up a bank account is a personal affair and can’t be done by a third person. (Exception: persons with parental responsibility filling in for underage children.)

The basic account

Anyone who does not yet have a bank account and lives in the European Union has the right to a basic account. This is a simple bank account with all the regular functions. As a rule, however, it may not be overdrawn and therefore offers no credit. The basic account can be opened at all standard banks and savings banks. The banks may charge reasonable fees for the account.

Loss or robbery

Upon loss or robbery, you should immediately block your bank card to prevent misuse by third parties. The free blocking emergency phone number 116 116 can be reached around the clock (please dial +49 116 116 or +49 (0)30 40 50 40 if you are abroad at the time of the call). For blocking the lost bank card, please keep your account number / IBAN and the bank code / BIC (or at least the name of the bank as an alternative) ready.