Opening a Bank Account


If you are staying in Germany for a longer time, if you are receiving a regular salary and if you are paying rent, it is recommended to open an account with a bank, savings bank or the Postbank. The benefits are similar but there are differences in service and account charges.

In order to open an account, you must be registered with the Einwohnermeldeamt (Residents’ Registration Office) and be able to provide a Meldebescheinigung (registration certificate). After you have successfully opened a bank account, the bank will send you an EC-Karte (bank card). The associated PIN number will be sent separately. You can use the card to obtain statements, withdraw cash, and sometimes also transfer payments. Withdrawing money from the ATMs (automated teller machines) at branches of your bank or other members of the same banking group is free of charge for you. However, there will be additional costs for withdrawals from ATMs from other banks. Transfers abroad may be quite expensive. 

Besides the commonly used  and widely accepted EC-Karte, credit cards can also be used to make non-cash payments. You can use your credit card to make withdrawals from ATMs, however the associated charges are high. The most widespread cards in Germany are Mastercard and Visa cards.

Please note: Credit cards are much less common in Germany than in other countries. Cashless payments in German stores are generally made using an EC-Karte.

Bank opening hours are ususally Mondays to Fridays (8:30 am to 4:00 pm), some banks such as the Sparkasse have longer opening hours on Thursday. ATMs are available around the clock.

Alll major German banks offer online banking these days, however, their menus may be available in German only.

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