4 possibilities of account opening in Germany

Opening a bank account in Germany from abroad | Ideas for solution

Lately, we have received many inquiries in English language about how to open a bank account in Germany or in the European Union.

There were citizens of India, who needed an account to receive payments in Euro in order to transfer the money to India on a monthly basis; Australians, who wanted to live a few months in Germany; Greek citizens, who wanted to deposit their savings safely, because of a possible monetary reform; Americans, who bought a property here in Germany and needed an account to pay the ancillary costs; Freelancers from Algeria, who needed a billing account for their clients, and many, many more.

For all of them, our dream account would be a great solution.

Unfortunately, this dream account has not yet become 100% reality. However, we are working every day on its implementation and report on the progress in blog articles.

Some will find the appropriate account today!

Some readers will be able to find and open an appropriate bank account with the knowledge of this page. Others will have to wait a little longer

Please use the comments feature (at the end of this article) to add information to this knowledge and to exchange tips, experiences and new offers. Help each other. Be a smart bank customer. This is truly meaningful.


Part 1: Basics that one must know

Germany is a paradise for bank customers regarding the conditions. However, Germany is not an English-speaking country. 99% of all offered banking services are only available in German language. In any case, the language of contract and online banking is German.

If you can open the account successfully, there are many staff members of banks that will help you in English and possibly further languages. Germany is a friendly and helpful country.

99 % of all banks are only German speaking

Germany has about 80 million inhabitants. These are sufficient target customers for most German banks. Measures to attract customers, as well as most of the processes for account opening are optimized for people residing in Germany.

Nevertheless, there are a few banks that have opened to a wider audience.

One part of the support of this special portal is to present those German suppliers and to show you how to open an account at those banks and how to use it optimally.

Moreover, we are also working in the background, in order that

  • other providers open their offer to people abroad,
  • it will be easier for people abroad to open an account.

Let´s take a look at what already is possible.

Part 2: What is possible already today

There are several providers, where you can become a customer, without residing in Germany. However, those banks do not advertise that. In the technical language, this is called “passive business”.

Background: Often, the account opening is more complicated and therefore more expensive. At the same time, one can earn more money from domestic customers. Keyword: cross-selling.

Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB)

DKB Visa Card with contactless payment

DKB Visa Card, one of the best German credit cards!

As a subsidiary company of the Bayerische Landesbank, the DKB had a program for many years that enabled almost everyone to open a free account in Germany (with legitimating options in more than 40 countries). Even the creditworthiness check was fairly lax to almost non-existent back then.

This has cost the bank quite a lot and in 2014, the executive board decided to abolish the “international department” and to focus on bank customers in Germany. Thanks to some dedicated staff members, a small path remained open for the acceptance of customers.

Who can currently become a customer of the DKB?

  • anyone regardless of the nationality, who resides in Germany, Austria or Switzerland
  • anyone of German nationality, regardless of the place of residence

Due to the combination of current account with credit card and credit line, the DKB carries out a creditworthiness check.

Why do people choose the DKB:

  • free current account in Euros in Germany
  • free Visa credit card in Euros
  • no charges for cash withdrawals from ATMs (applicable worldwide)
  • legitimating possible in many cases via Webcam

Detailed information about the DKB can be found here.

Information page: https://produkte.dkb.de/

Comdirect Bank

Comdirect Visa Card

Comdirect Visa Card, another renown brand!

As an online subsidiary of the German Commerzbank, the Comdirect is much more flexible as its parent bank, however, it may access the infrastructure of the second largest German bank and it does so.

Who can currently become a customer of the Comdirect?

  • anyone regardless of the nationality residing in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein or Switzerland
  • anyone with German nationality, regardless of the place of residence
  • partly also people abroad with a different nationality and corresponding creditworthiness, if they are fluent in German language and have an understandable reason, why they need an account in Germany.

Also the Comdirect carries out a creditworthiness check at each account application. In contrast to the DKB, there is the possibility to set up the account without a credit line (overdraft credit). In this case, this option features a prepaid Visa card.

On the other side, the opening of a savings account does not include a creditworthiness check. This could be the first step towards a current account opening. How this method works, can be read here.

Why do people choose the Comdirect bank:

  • free current account in Euros in Germany
  • free Visa credit card in Euros
  • no charges for cash withdrawals from ATMs (please take note on the details)
  • legitimating is possible in many cases via Webcam

Detailed information about the Comdirect can be found here.

Information page: http://www.comdirect.de/cms/lp/visa

Online account of PayCenter

Motiv-Card von PayCenter

The MasterCard of PayCenter can be produce with an individual photo

PayCenter is not a bank in the legal sense, but an e-money institution. There are currently only three of this type in Germany – but only one at which you can get an account as a private person or a company without preconditions.

For each account, a MasterCard is issued. The account is managed on a credit basis and the MasterCard can therefore not be overdrawn. Consequently, there are no expensive lending rates. Instead, account management fees and a fee for issuing the MasterCard apply.

The account opening takes place without a creditworthiness check.

Anyone can open this account. It is possible, to send the MasterCard in any country in the world (paying the postage).
However, the challenge is the fact that the legitimating can only be made through the PostIdent-procedure. Although this is free of charge for you, you have to visit a branch office of the Deutsche Post in Germany.

Who can currently become a customer of the online account?

  • regardless of the nationality anyone who can complete the legitimating successfully at a branch office of the Deutsche Post

Why do people choose the online account:

  • current account in Euros in Germany
  • MasterCard in Euros
  • Cash withdrawals are possible from the ATM worldwide (free of charge once per month)
  • account opening possible for companies (legal entities currently still have to submit the entry in the German commercial register)

Further information on the online account of PayCenter can be found here.

Infoseite: https://www.onlinekonto.de/mainpage


N26 MasterCard

This MasterCard is partly transparent. Interesting, isn´t it!

Number26 offers a current account specifically designed for smartphone users. And you necessarily need a modern smartphone to open the account and to use it.

Number26 is a Berlin-based start-up company, which has received a lot of investor`s money. Among them is Peter Thiel, who was also one of the first financiers of Facebook.

The technical handling is made by the Bavarian Wirecard Bank.

Currently, one can become a customer, if one resides in Germany or Austria. The background is that the MasterCard can only be shipped to addresses in those two countries.

Number26 is working vigorously on developing its offer and will continue to expand. For many, who cannot become customers today, it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on this provider. The best source of information is, of course, our special portal!

An English language version of the banking app will be available already this summer!

Restriction that one has to know of: Currently, only transfers within the SEPA area are possible. By the way, this also applies to PayCenter. Solution recommendation: TransferWise (special provider for international transfers).

Who can currently become a customer of number26?

  • anyone regardless of the nationality residing in Germany or Austria (other countries will be added in the future)

Why do people choose number26:

  • free current account in Euros in Germany
  • free MasterCard in Euros
  • cash withdrawals are possible free of charge around the globe
  • Banking-App in English language

Details on number26 can be found here.

Information page: https://number26.de/

Part 3: What will be possible soon

The European Union has approved a payment policy for non-discriminatory access to a bank account. This will be implemented by each EU member state in its national law in the following months.

As required by the policy, it should be possible for any EU citizen to set up a bank account on a credit basis.

This will cause challenges for banks: For example, gypsies, refugees and asylum seekers often do not have a permanent address. One will (have to) find solutions for this.

EU law: From 2016, it will be easier to open a bank account in Germany!

Many other people, who had a hard time getting a bank account in Germany, will benefit from this new policy. This issue will be addressed in detail in further articles.

Part 4: Alternatives

There are countries that apply other forms of legitimating when opening an account out of historical reasons. In some countries, for example, one can send a copy of the electricity or telephone bill as a confirmation of the place of residence via e-mail, adding a photo of the license, from which the name and date of birth can be confirmed.

One of these countries is the United Kingdom. There, a new account provider is preparing to start, which is called Monese (https://www.monese.com/). It seems that it is similar to number26, but in English language and with an account in GBP.

For companies or people with a larger financial framework, banks in Liechtenstein or Latvia may be of interest. Both countries are small and are used to open bank accounts for foreigners.

Since this is the special portal for smart banking in Germany, we cannot provide you with detailed information on suppliers in other countries. This is quite understandable!

Bonus: Personal solution

The easiest way to get a bank account in Germany is visiting a branch office of the bank and asking for account opening, presenting your passport and possibly documents that show the residential address.

If you do not speak German, it is recommended to make an appointment with the bank beforehand, so an English speaking staff member will have time for your account opening.

The only retail bank (known to me) that offers online banking in English language, is the Deutsche Bank. If that was the decisive tip for you, then reading up to this point was worth the trouble, wasn’t it?

Your experiences and additions are most welcome!

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Who writes here?

Someone who gained experience with more than 100 banks in more than 20 countries during the past 15 years. My name is Gregor and if you click to continue you can find out why I am here and what this site is for ⇒ continue.

7 Responses to “Opening a bank account in Germany from abroad | Ideas for solution”

  1. Farhad says:

    Hi. I’m an Iranian who wish opening an account abroad , get debit card ( visa n …) . how can I do that?

    • Gregor says:

      As long as there are still sanctions, it is not quite easy to open a bank account. I guess the easiest way will be, if one does it personally in Germany and explains one´s situation. After all, the account opening must be understandable and meaningful for the bank.

      However, I am very hopeful regarding the future and the further development of the Iran.

      Perhaps, the online account opening will even work at https://www.deutscheskonto.org/en/account/online/, however, the legitimating in a post branch office in Germany would be required.

  2. Dipu says:

    Anybody used N26 black card to withdraw money from Indian ATM?Any fee Indian ATM charge?Is there any withdrawal limit?

  3. David says:


    I hold a German Passport but I reside in Australia. I would like to open a bank account in Germany from Australia. How can I do this?

  4. Karan Behar says:

    We are an Estonia based startup company. We want to open a current account in Germany which can accept international wire transfer incoming and remittance.

    Is it possible to open such an account for a foreign company online.

    The founder of the company is a resident of Finland.

    Kindly advise.

    With best regards,

    Karan Behar

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