Opening a German bank account for international students

Opening a German bank account for International students

Germany is an ideal destination for international students as it not only offers excellent opportunities for studying but also provides opportunities for students to work, support their life in Germany, and gain valuable professional experience. However, prior to all this, students must fulfil certain steps such as city registration, switching a student visa to a residence permit, and, of course, opening a German bank account (also known as Girokonto).

What is “Girokonto”? 

A “Girokonto” is a type of bank account that allows individuals to deposit and withdraw money as needed.  Having a Girokonto is essential for international students as it allows them to receive their monthly scholarship, blocked account payouts or salary, pay their bills and other expenses, and manage their finances efficiently.

In case you came to Germany using a Blocked Account, you must also provide the IBAN of your current account to activate your payouts. You also need an active Girokonto to pay for your German Health Insurance.

Opening a German bank account as an international student is relatively easy and straightforward. However, as an international student, you should consider certain rules and bank regulations. For example, it will be hard to open a German bank account without having your residence permit and city registration letter in Germany. Depending on the account type, you may also need a wage statement or the tax number.  And of course, to get all the above-mentioned documents, you will need some extra time after your arrival in Germany.

What banks to choose to open a bank account in Germany?

International students can either choose to open a bank account with a traditional bank or an online bank. Traditional banks such as Deutsche Bank, Volksbank, and Sparkasse offer various types of current bank accounts, including student accounts. Those come with additional benefits such as reduced or no monthly fees and free ATM withdrawals. Alternatively, online banks such as Wise, ING Student, and 1822direct offer current bank accounts that can be opened digitally without the need to visit a physical branch.

You should keep in mind, that to be able to open a German current bank account in one of the before mentioned banks in Germany, you should already be in the country and reside here. 

What documents do international students need to open a German bank account?  

To open a German bank account for international students, you should provide a bank with your passport, visa or residence permit, and proof of address registration in Germany (Meldebestätigung). Some banks may also require proof of enrolment or a German language proficiency certificate from a German university. After you submit the necessary documents, the bank will process the application and open the current account within a few days. Afterwards, they send your debit card and other account information to the German address according to the city registration letter.

Opening a German bank account for international students from abroad?

As an international student, you are not only responsible for the university application and obtaining a German visa, but you also need to manage various other aspects along your way to Germany, such as arranging accommodation, dealing with administrative tasks in your first weeks, signing up for phone & internet services, buying groceries, and more.

This is why it is always a good idea to arrange as much as possible from your home country, while most of your friends and parents are close to you and can help you.

We at Fintiba can support you with a lot of those things in advance. Fintiba clients can order a German SIM Card for free with call minutes and mobile data for the first month of their stay in Germany. In this way, they can stay connected with family and friends from the moment they arrive in Germany.

Other than that, within the Fintiba Plus Package, we offer everything you need for the visa application: a blocked account and public or private health insurance so that you could easily enrol at the German university.

When it comes to the bank account, then you should open it after your arrival because, as mentioned before, it is impossible to open a German bank account without having a residence permit and a city registration letter in Germany.

We asked our international colleagues about their experience with the opening of a German bank account, and here is what they shared with us:

Opening a current bank account as an international in Germany can be quite overwhelming. International students usually don’t speak German fluently and are not familiar with the German bureaucracy, which is present while opening a bank account. This is why, I would recommend all the upcoming international students to keep this in mind and bring some cash for the first weeks before they manage to organize the required appointments in Germany.

I was made aware that I wouldn’t be able to access the money in my Blocked Account immediately after arrival, so I brought cash that would help me survive for the initial days until I was able to register myself in the city and use the document to finally open a German bank account. This took about 2 weeks

Although I had a Blocked account with around €9000 in Germany, I took some cash with me anyway when I first came to Germany. Because I knew, that I won’t be able to open a German bank account right away. As expected, I spent around €1000 before I was able to set everything up. The hardest part for me was to wait until I get all those appointments to finally get the documents needed for the bank account opening.

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